My name is Qu'ach Nhung. I was a Vietnamese Boat Person. HealthQuest ruined my life here in Australia.
I am Qu'ach Nhung. I came to Australia aged 12 with my parents to start a new life. On the way I saw unspeakable horrors, I saw people die and their bodies thrown into the sea. But it was no worse than what I had seen in Vietnam before the journey. I started school here with no English. I completed the H.S.C. and was able to attend the University of Sydney, where I completed a degree, the first person in my family to do so. My parents were so proud of me. By then my aunts, uncles and cousins were also here in Australia and they all came to my graduation.
I obtained employment with the Gaming and Racing Board. I enjoyed my job. But I have always had bad lungs and although smoking in the workplace was now illegal, my workmates continued to smoke all around me. My eyes would water and I would cough and have to go outside for fresh air. I asked them not to do this, but I think they did not like Vietnamese migrants and it seemed they would blow their smoke deliberately towards my work desk.
I approached the boss a number of times with my complaint. I knew what they were doing was illegal. They were supposed to go to the smoking room but they ignored the rule. The boss was not sympathetic. He said "We Aussies smoke - if you don't like it, you can go somewhere else."
I was a member of the union. I also approached the union. They did not help me. My lungs were getting worse. One day the boss called me into his office and said "Your work is not up to standard, we are referring you to the government medical officer." I thought this is good, I can explain him about the smoking and maybe something will be done.
I went to my appointment at HealthQuest. When I went in the doctor said "I am a psychiatrist." He made me fill out questionnaires and IQ tests. I said "Why do I have to do this?" He would not tell me. I tried to tell him that I was having trouble with the smoking. He was not interested. He asked me about my past, he made me recall horrors that I did not want to think about any more. He questioned me about Vietnam and about the journey to Australia until I was crying. Then he said I could go.
He did not listen to my lungs. He gave me no proper examination. I had a letter to say I was on sick leave and I was not allowed to go to work until the government medical officer said I was fit again.
Two weeks later a letter came in the mail. It was a certificate that stated that I was permanently unfit for work and had been medically retired. The certificate stated that I had schizophrenia. It was signed by Dr Helia Gapper and Dr Jagger. I was so shocked and ashamed. My family started to ask why I was not going to work. Eventually I had to tell them that I had been sacked. They wanted to know why and one day I told them, the government medical officer says I have schizophrenia. My parents were shocked. They said "But there is no schizophrenia in our family." I said "I do not have schizophrenia. I have been to my doctor. He said you have not got schizophrenia, this is a lie."
My parents thought that the government medical officer at HealthQuest must be the highest medical authority in the state. They thought that such an important person would never lie. They had respect for the office of chief medical officer. For years they believed I had schizophrenia. I was shunned by my family. I was unemployed. I could not find a job, because they wanted to know why I left my last job. What am I suppose to say, because I have schizophrenia?
One day I found an organization called Whistleblowers Australia in Balmain. I went to a meeting and I found out I was not the only one to be certified as mad by the government medical officer. I was so glad to know I was not the only one. I was advised to do a freedom of information request on my employee and HealthQuest file. I found out that the people that I worked with had written statements telling lies about me. They had given these false and malicious statements to HealthQuest. The boss had stated I was dangerous and had to be medically retired. How is it that public servants can get away with such lies? Why are they not brought to justice and imprisoned?
Now, years later, my family realize that Dr Gapper and Dr Jagger lied about me. I am employed managing some of my family's rental properties in Sydney. I have never married, because the whole Vietnamese community heard that I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and no girl would marry me for this reason. Mostly I cannot talk about these things, they are too distressing. For me, they are worse than what I went through in Vietnam. My family came here to make a peaceful life, and to give their children educational opportunities. I came here only to be subjected to corruption and lies that labelled me as mad for the rest of my life.
These doctors must be put on trial for what they have done to so many public employees. As far as I am concerned the Public Service Association are traitors, they knew what was being done to me and they did nothing to stop it and after I was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia, they said "We don't interfere in medical matters." They are just as corrupt as HealthQuest.