An accident while travelling to or from work could be financially ruinous without NSWNMA insurance coverage.
The accident that ripped a muscle in Shari Bugden’s shoulder would have also torn a hole in her finances had she not been a member of the NSWNMA.
In November 2014, midwife Shari was travelling from her home to Bowral and District Hospital to begin a 12-hour night shift when she had an accident. Shari was taken to hospital with bad whiplash and a high-grade tear in her right shoulder.
It was four months before she could go back to work part-time on restricted duties.
STATE government abandoned its responsibility
Two years earlier, the NSW Liberal government had cut the heart out of the state’s workers’ compensation scheme.
Among the changes was the abolition of cover for injuries suffered during journeys to and from work.
That would have left Shari without any income for many months but she wasn’t worried because she knew the union had stepped in to ensure members would not be disadvantaged.
“I’ve been in the union since I started nursing and I knew they had stepped in to cover travel to and from work – that was a big bonus.
“I could not have coped with months of no money coming in because I’m married with five children. A big chunk of my pay goes to support my family and we couldn’t survive without it.”
Shari said the union helped her to lodge an insurance claim and she received her first payment about three weeks after the accident.
“The hospital wasn’t sure of the steps to be followed but I contacted the NSWNMA and they helped me all the way through the whole process.”
She said someone from the union was always available to provide advice.
“The Association has been absolutely marvellous. The union’s insurance cover has allowed me and my family to live the way we had done without falling to pieces.
“The union also helped me to get back to work on restricted duties and, in conjunction with the doctor, told me what I could and couldn’t do.”
Though she could no longer help women in labour without risking further injury, Shari was able to assist mothers during return visits to the hospital and handle paperwork and auditing.
Given a chance to heal
Shari believes that without journey insurance she would have been forced back to work earlier and probably full time to maintain her earnings.
“That probably would have been to the detriment of my own body and I would have had to leave work completely.”
Shari recently attended the union’s annual conference as a delegate representing Bowral members.
“I’ve had so much support from the union that I’ve become a delegate for the Bowral area. Now I get lots of support to deal with issues other than my own.
“The whole of annual conference has been exceptional and I’ve realised by being here that the more nurses who get involved the better the team – and the more chance we’ve got of getting what we want.”
Her advice to nurses who are not members of the NSWNMA?
“You don’t know when you’re going to have an accident and you’re silly if you don’t get yourself covered, so join the union.”
The Liberal National government’s 2012 workers’ compensation “reforms” were one of the worst attacks on compensation rights ever seen in New South Wales.
By abolishing journey accident insurance, the changes left nurses and midwives dangerously vulnerable if they injured themselves while travelling to or from work.
The NSWNMA stepped in to establish a safety net by providing accident journey insurance as part of its membership fee.
If you are a financial member of the NSWNMA at the time of your accident travelling to or from work, or while travelling during recess breaks, you are entitled to claim under the scheme.
What the cover provides
How to claim
When will I get paid?
Initial payment will be made to the member within five business days of our insurer receiving the claim form.
Further payments will then be paid directly to the member on a monthly basis for the life of the claim.
Payments will continue until you are fit to return to work, but are limited to a maximum of 104 weeks from the date of your injury.
You'll automatically become a member of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation