Why it pays to belong: back at work, thanks to Federation

A teacher has praised the union for the “extensive professional support” afforded to them on their road back to full-time teaching after a protracted recovery from a work-related injury.

The member’s experience navigating the Department with Federation’s assistance is just one reason why it pays to be a member of the union.

Federation’s Professional Support and Organiser sections provided the member with extensive advice throughout the return to work process, said Country Organiser Mercurius Goldstein.

The member said: “I am in no doubt that Federation’s consistent guidance and support throughout this five-year period played a crucial role in enabling me to return to work at full capacity.

“Navigating one’s way back to full-time teaching duties after a work-related injury can be a complex and lengthy process, which involves dealing with medical and legal professionals, the WorkCover insurer, and the Department’s Injury Management Unit. Without the guidance of Federation in dealing with these many and varied parties I don’t know where I’d be today, but I’m certain it wouldn’t be teaching in a school.

“The protracted nature of my recovery was exacerbated at times by operational shortcomings within the Department’s Injury Management Unit that introduced unnecessary delays and obstacles to the process. Again, it was Federation’s guidance and support that enabled me to navigate the thicket I was presented with so that I could return to my base school at full capacity.”

Mr Goldstein said he concurred with the member’s assessment that it is essential any member of Federation who has undergone a work-related injury does not suffer in silence, but instead files a Workplace Health and Safety Notification through the Department of Education intranet, informs their Federation Representative, Women’s Contact or a Workplace Committee member; and follows the required process, including the advice of accredited health professionals (if applicable).

“Thanks to Federation, I have been able to return to the profession I love, that I’m qualified and trained for, and proficient in,” the member said.

“It is difficult to convey the sense of pride and accomplishment that came with re-entering the gates of my base school to do my first day’s paid work as a teacher after a five-year hiatus.

“Throughout all the years in which I managed my recovery to full-time work capacity, it was the professional support of Federation that stuck by me, including at those times when it seemed my employer was ready to abandon me. For that I am most grateful and proud to be a member of the union.”