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Family Support for Police Officers Critical information from the Police Association of South Australia

Information for families of police officers It is important for police officers who are physically or psychologically injured on duty to recover and, ultimately, return to work. Families play an invaluable role in assisting officers to achieve this aim through day-to-day support. Family Support for Police Officers provides general information only. It is designed to help families understand the workers compensation system and the recovery process in relation to police injured in the workplace. It outlines some practical strategies aimed at assisting families to maintain their well-being as the recovery takes place. This information is neither medical nor legal advice and should not be relied on as such. It is a guide only and not intended to diagnose your police-officer family member with a medical condition. The Police Association has taken care to ensure that the information is accurate but changes in circumstances since publication might impact on that accuracy. MARK CARROLL President Police Association of South Australia







Trouble at home


Sharing information about your police-officer family member 10 Watch out for the “sick role”


What is the sick role?


4. HELPING YOURSELF Coping strategies

12 13

Strategies for the family


Your relationship


Your well-being




Lodging a workers compensation claim


The insurer


Provisional liability


Claims determination


Claim entitlements


Disputes 21 Who is likely to contact the police officer during this process? 21 Treating practitioners (doctors)


Rehabilitation co-ordinator


Police medical officer/police psychologist


Police Association of South Australia


Referral to a lawyer




1 Signs and symptoms

Early intervention is the key in any recovery process.

Your police-officer family member might have had involvement in a traumatic, life-threatening incident at work or home. If so, he/she could be affected emotionally and unable to make sense of what has happened. It is perfectly normal in these circumstances for officers to process and compartmentalize what they have experienced. This is a survival response, a healthy part of the healing process. As a family member, you play a key role in talking to and supporting your police-officer spouse, child or sibling through this period. Post-trauma symptoms might include: • Anger. • Increased irritability. • Recurring nightmares. • Poor concentration. • A tendency to be easily startled by noises or sudden changes. • Feeling numb or detached, disconnected, withdrawn. • Undue concern about his/her safety and excessive paranoia. • Excessive emotion and tearfulness. • Being fearful.

If you notice your police-officer family member to be suffering some or all of these acute distress symptoms, encourage him/her to seek medical and psychological assistance. Early intervention is the key in any recovery process. See your general practitioner to arrange further specialist assistance. If you hear talk of suicide or the expression of other dark thoughts, or you notice your police-officer family member withdrawing from loved ones, seek urgent medical help.


2 Advocating wellness 6

An injured police officer might undergo changes to his/her health during recovery. Your knowledge of these changes is likely to help you cope with the pressure associated with them. To be informed is to avoid a sense of helplessness and isolation. Information will help you understand the plight of your police-officer family member, any changes in family dynamics, and the injury management process. Evidence indicates that, insofar as injury management is concerned, certain factors are critical in improving recovery and clinical outcomes. They are: • Good communication. • Co-operation among those involved in the healing process. Establishing agreed goals among the injured officer, health providers, and police management. The less time off work the better the quality of life for the injured officer. Understanding this will enable you to play a key role in the injury management and recovery process. Encourage your police-officer family member to: • Stay active (encourage him/her to participate in the injury management process and recovery). • Continue usual activities and routines (where changes are needed, incorporate them into the family lifestyle. But, one way to promote wellness is to maintain a sense of normality. Keeping your usual activities

and routines in place, within the limits of the injury, promotes better recovery than does simply resting). • Stay connected as a family (a supportive family helps build your own personal resilience as well as that of your police-officer family member. Maintain personal relationships, outside interests and social connections in your own life during the recovery. Encourage your police-officer family member to do the same. Staying connected assists in the healing process and reduces the risk of damage to the family unit). Maintaining key police relationships with, for example, a work colleague, police supervisor or officer-in-charge, or a Police Association committee member or delegate, can also help. But, with some people, your police-officer family member might prefer to avoid contact; and some aspects of the job are probably best avoided too. Establish what workplace news your police-officer family member wants to hear about – and from whom he/she wants to hear it. Encourage him/her to inform the rehabilitation providers and police co-ordinators what will help.


3 Helping your police-officer family member

TROUBLE AT HOME Police work often spills over into family life. You might, at times, become the sounding board for your police-officer family member when he/she talks about difficulties at work. But, at other times, when he/she is ill and continuing to work, he/she might not even inform you of what transpires in the workplace. Your family should act as a team in order to manage the “spill-over” of policing into your private life. When a police officer goes off work injured, his/her family dynamics will likely change. Some officers become angered or distressed by, or even complacent about, their physical or psychological limitations. Police officers are highly active. They respond to crises, work the range of shifts, and commit to overtime, but relish the variety and spontaneity of the job. Front-line officers also value their physical capacity to perform their work. Any injury or illness which lessens that capacity frustrates them, as does their absence from the high-energy police environment. Some officers think that, through their injury or illness and absence from work, they have let their colleagues down. They might also think they are missing out on job opportunities or become frustrated with consulting numerous health professionals.

You might, at times, find your police-officer family member’s frustration directed at you. Try to discuss these issues and help him/her to acknowledge where the source of his/her frustration and anger lies. Do not take on his/her frustrations. You have likely done no wrong. It is possible for disruptive attitudes and behaviours or negative coping strategies to develop. They might include alcohol misuse, gambling or seeking to exercise excessive control. The injury or illness might also come with an emotional impact on you and other family members. If you feel unable to solve these issues, and they continue for long periods, seek help from external sources, particularly if any behaviour seems to be harmful to you or your family. Your local GP can refer you to the relevant services. Not all injured-officer scenarios play out negatively for families. Many families might only have to make minor adjustments. Nonetheless, you and your family can serve as a critical support base for your injured police-officer family member. You are the ones most likely to notice changes in him/her away from work. Your observations of the effectiveness of his/her treatment will help the professionals understand what does, and does not, work.



SHARING INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR POLICE-OFFICER FAMILY MEMBER Injured police officers might not always want their family members to share information about their circumstances. Undertaking sensitive conversations with your police-officer family member might help him/her to see the benefit of information-sharing. It can also allow you to share your experiences with him/ her as another aid to recovery. Take these steps before you approach your police-officer family member’s practitioner/s: • Obtain your police-officer family member’s informed consent in writing (a letter or e-mail). • Notify the treating practitioner at the beginning of your discussion that you have informed, written consent to speak with him or her. • Attend a session with your policeofficer family member and have him/ her indicate his/her support for you to discuss the family’s observations. • If you hold concerns for yourself or other family members, seek your own counselling from a practitioner not connected with your police-officer family member. This is for reasons of confidentiality and to avoid any conflict of interest a practitioner might have in treating both of you. Your GP might also be equipped to support you.


WATCH OUT FOR THE “SICK ROLE” Research has shown that those with the strongest coping skills and minimal resentment toward their illness are best able to reject the sick role and gain strength.

WHAT IS THE SICK ROLE? • It is an over-identification with being injured and sick and has a negative impact on the long-term recovery process. • It is generally attitude- rather than physically-based. • It usually involves excessive negative self-talk and dependent behaviour – which inhibits the recovering person from attempting either regular or new tasks – and prompts the avoidance of things that are known to improve one’s condition. (You might notice an overuse of language such as: “I will always be like this”, “I am broken”, “I can’t do anything anymore because I’m sick”, “I’m no good to anyone anymore” despite evidence to the contrary from practitioners and visible actions.) • Those who feel unmotivated might become overly dependent on you or another family member and withdraw from usual routines and other social supports. You might soon see the person become comfortable in this scenario and difficult to shift.

• Being seen as sick might be filling a psychological need. • It is not necessarily a case of faking it: often the person is unaware of how he/she is presenting. The cluster of negative thoughts and actions is a sign that something is wrong. It requires a professional assessment to know exactly how to help remove some of the emotional, behavioural and/or physical blocks your police-officer family member might be experiencing. If you notice these signs in him/her, seek professional assistance in order to put him/her back in control of the recovery process.

Undertaking sensitive conversations with your police-officer family member might help him/her to see the benefit of information-sharing. It can also allow you to share your experiences with him/her as another aid to recovery.

Professionals can also help remove external barriers that impact on his/her motivation to recover. This could involve the provision of greater accessibility to and satisfaction with health-care services and managing his/her treatment expectations.


4 Helping yourself Individuals who take a positive approach to recovery are most likely to achieve wellness and enjoy maximum functionality.

COPING STRATEGIES Learn as much as you can about the illness and/or injury. Knowledge is power. It can assist you to: • Understand the changes in your family situation. • Avoid unrealistic expectations of progress and recovery outcomes. • Recognize signs and symptoms and identify counterproductive behaviours in your police-officer family member. Keep detailed records of consultations with and referrals to professionals. You might need to refer to this history later. Use your treating GP as the key co-ordinator of all reports and assessments your police-officer family member might have undertaken. With the consent of your police-officer family member, your GP can share this information with other professionals to whom he/she might be referred. Understand that you and your police-officer family member might have to tell the injury story numerous times to different health professionals. Remember that they are trying to get the best outcome. Refer all the details of other written professional reports to your GP for co-ordination, and request that these reports be provided to the allied health professionals. Maintain your own health. Do not underestimate the impact that managing a person with a psychological illness, such as anxiety or depression, can have on you and your family. Be prepared to seek professional help for yourself. A qualified

professional will be quite willing to offer you effective coping strategies. Address these issues sooner rather than later. If you find the reactions of your policeofficer family member hard to deal with, ask for professional help. His/her reactions or behaviour could be a symptom that needs further professional input. If he/she is willing to include you, attend a session with him/her. Alternatively, leave a phone or e-mail message with his/ her treating practitioner. Your information is important for professionals who might see some of the actions as a sign of ongoing distress or the development of another illness. Intervention might be necessary to deal with the impact of negative behaviour on the family. If you feel unsafe at any time, take steps to make yourself safe rather than trying to change the person with whom you are dealing. You might need to move yourself to a safe location. Stay with other family members or supportive friends. Call for professional assistance. Keep handy the office and after-hours contact numbers for the professionals who are treating your police-officer family member. If you are unsure of the processes affecting him/her, seek assistance from the Police Association. The association can refer you to external services. If you are limited geographically or prefer to use online services, there are several good websites with supporting information. (See pages 25-28 for details.)

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STRATEGIES FOR THE FAMILY Although the recovery period can prove a difficult time, try to reconnect as a family unit. Talk about more than just police work in the family setting. Police can become over-involved in their work and in themselves and end up alienated from the family unit. Over-investing in the job can lead to disappointment when injured. Communicate openly with each other. Include your police-officer family member in decisions about your family while he/ she is off work to avoid him/her slipping into the sick role. But, if he/she becomes too controlling, address this with direct communication. You can allocate an aspect of family responsibility to him/her and be clear about what are still your responsibilities. Recognize that the injury limits him/her physically and therefore prevents his/ her active participation in policing. This causes frustration, even grief. Try to live your life as normally as possible. Do not to be drawn into a cycle of hopelessness or the sick-person role. This is a potential trap with mental illness. Be sure to focus on other family members and relationships. Maintaining family ties and outside support helps protect you. So as not to lose your own identity, do not become too involved in your police-officer family member’s work identity. Do not expect too little (not asking for anything and doing it all yourself) or too much (pushing too hard) from your police-officer family member. Let him/her adapt to the injury but encourage him/ 14 her to rise to his/her challenge bit-by-bit.

Get a grasp of the treatment and returnto-work plans so that you understand the professionals’ expectations. If you notice that your police-officer family member is comfortable taking on more, inform the relevant professionals. They can then ensure that the recovery process is appropriate for him/her and he/she can return to work successfully. Equally, report what isn’t working. Resist the urge to take over or speak on behalf of your police-officer family member as a means of protecting him/her. It is far better to encourage him/her to take an active role in his/her recovery by scheduling appointments and participating in routine family activities, no matter how big or small but within the limits of his/her physical or psychological condition. If he/she is engaging in contact with work colleagues, consider talking to them about setting some boundaries. Work out who the key contact is and let him or her know what matters might be off limits. If the injury is psychological, talking about the last death a colleague dealt with is probably inappropriate. Find out from your police-officer family member who he/she has a good rapport with in his/her LSA. Through the LSA commander, you might be able to arrange for this person to be your police-officer family member’s contact. Conversely, find out who is least suited to this role to ensure that he/she is not used as a contact. Avoid the presence of large amounts of liquor in the house. It is a depressant and can easily change attitudes from positive to negative. If your police-officer family member talks of suicide, discuss it with him/her. If there is any threat of self-harm or suicide, act swiftly and report it immediately to your GP or other health professional. Use emergency numbers or 000.



• Make sure that you and your policeofficer family member share time which is not focussed on the injury. • Take time out for yourself without feeling guilt. (Managing your own stress is important. Find a recreational activity to schedule regularly into your week. If necessary, explain the need for this with your police-officer family member to gain his/her support.) • Encourage him/her to do the same. (Attending a weekly sport or even a coffee club with other injured officers might prove helpful.) • If he/she is your partner, make a point of going on regular dates. (Share a dinner or meal together and talk about subjects other than the injury or the changes to your situation.) • You now have more time with him/her than you did when he/she was at work – take steps to grow your relationship. • Sexual intimacy might change during recovery so touch and words might be more important means of showing affection. • Reflect on what you have achieved together through the recovery, despite times when tension has arisen.

The way you perceive your situation will impact on the way you cope with it. Practical strategies are important, and it helps to adopt certain perspectives.

NOTE TO THE INJURED POLICE OFFICER: show your family members your appreciation for their help. Do not assume they already know. Receiving your gratitude is important. It gives your family members a sense of security as well as your love for and bonds with them.

• Acknowledge that you might have difficult days but think of them as only days rather than never-ending, hopeless and overwhelming. • Focus not on what has failed to work but on what you have achieved. (Keep a diary of those achievements. Each day in the process is a step closer to recovery.) • Set realistic goals with your policeofficer family member and for your family. (Despite changes in the family, you can still plan for the future. Be prepared to make changes depending on the progress of the injury. Reviewing and changing your family’s goals is perfectly acceptable.) • Do not take part in negative talk. (It is natural to feel disillusioned or negative toward the situation, the police force or others during recovery. But continuous negative talk will draw your police-officer family member into a downward spiral.) • Acknowledge his/her personal achievements during recovery. (Name at least two things, big or small, that he/she has achieved in a week.) • Acknowledge yourself for the support you have given. (Treat yourself to a reward.)


5 Workers compensation The information in this section (3) relates only to police officers who suffered injuries after September 30, 1987. Officers who suffered injuries before that date are covered under the Workers Compensation Act 1971. All injuries suffered after this date are covered by the SA Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986.

LODGING A WORKERS COMPENSATION CLAIM If you have been injured at work you must: • Consult a doctor as soon as possible after an injury occurs to discuss it and get immediate treatment. • Obtain a WorkCover medical certificate, not the usual sick certificate. • Report the injury as soon as possible to SAPOL and complete all relevant paperwork to commence the workers compensation claims process. (This includes completing a HIRS report/ incident report as well as a separate workers compensation claim form.) Once a claim for workers compensation is lodged, South Australia Police Injury Management Section (IMS) will appoint a case manager to your claim.

A claim should be submitted as soon as possible, but at least within six months, after the injury occurs. If the claim is lodged outside of this time, it might be rejected because it is out of time and SAPOL IMS is therefore compromised in its ability to determine it.

THE INSURER SAPOL is self-insured. This means that it manages its own workers compensation claims in-house at the Health Safety and Welfare Branch – Injury Management Section. Therefore, SAPOL IMS is responsible for determining the liability of your claim.


The case manager will request certain information from you in order to determine liability for the claim. He or she might require a statement from you, statements from within the workplace, information from the treating doctor and, if necessary, an assessment by an independent medical specialist arranged by SAPOL IMS.




You might see this term when a claim is submitted. Under the SA workers compensation legislation, “provisional liability” means that an injured worker can access weekly payments for up to 12 weeks from the date of incapacity and medical expenses, up to a certain limit, can be approved before a decision is reached as to liability (acceptance or rejection of the claim).

Under the SA workers compensation legislation, SAPOL IMS has to make a determination to accept or reject your claim within 10 days of receipt of your claim form and supporting documentation. However, if SAPOL IMS decides that it requires further information, it is allowed an extension of time.

SAPOL IMS must begin paying provisional weekly payments within seven days after receiving an initial notification of injury (unless a “reasonable excuse” exists). Payments made under this provision do not mean that the injury claim has been accepted. If provisional liability is accepted, SAPOL IMS has up to 12 weeks to make a determination as to the actual liability of the claim. If SAPOL IMS pays provisional weekly payments and/or medical expenses and later rejects your claim, it cannot seek reimbursement from you unless fraud is involved. If SAPOL IMS determines that a reasonable excuse exists, provisional liability can be declined. If it is, SAPOL IMS then has 10 days in which to make a decision as to actual liability. This can be extended should SAPOL IMS require more time to investigate and determine the claim.


If you believe there has been undue delay in the determination of your claim, you can lodge an application for expedited decision at the Workers Compensation Tribunal. The tribunal will then ask SAPOL IMS for an explanation as to why no determination has been issued. If that explanation is unacceptable, the tribunal may list your matter for a hearing which might ultimately result in the tribunal’s acceptance or rejection of your claim.


Medical and like expenses

Once a workers compensation claim is accepted, the claimant has several potential entitlements.

Under the SA workers compensation legislation, section 32 stipulates that SAPOL IMS will pay for medical and other treatment when liability is accepted for an injury.

Weekly payments are: • To be paid for periods of incapacity, either total or partial, as long as you are covered by a WorkCover medical certificate for your restrictions. • To be calculated having regard to an average of what you earned for the 12 months before the date of incapacity (including leave periods, allowances and so on). • Paid at 100 per cent for the first 13 weeks of incapacity, 90 per cent for the next 13 weeks of incapacity and at 80 per cent thereafter. After you have received weekly payments for 130 weeks, a review of this entitlement is allowed. This provides SAPOL IMS the opportunity to discontinue your weekly payments in circumstances in which you are not totally unfit for work or you are not working to the full extent of your capacity. Weekly payments rise with EA increases annually.

The treatment must be reasonable and the expense must be reasonably incurred. Hospital treatment, chemist expenses, physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment and the cost of medication are all covered, in addition to treatment from a doctor/specialist. Also covered are travel expenses to and from medical treatment. There should be no need for you to pay for your medical treatment. Your providers should, upon receipt of your claim number, submit their accounts directly to SAPOL IMS for payment. If, however, you are required to pay for anything, keep the receipt and send it to SAPOL IMS for payment/reimbursement. Keep a copy of everything you send. If SAPOL IMS believes that the treatment you have incurred is unreasonable or unnecessary, it will issue a written determination declining to pay for the treatment and a dispute can then be lodged with the Workers Compensation Tribunal.



Rehabilitation assistance

Section 43 lump-sum compensation

The workers compensation legislation provides assistance for rehabilitation and return-to-work.

If you are left with a permanent physical impairment, you might have an entitlement to lump-sum compensation for your injury. This needs to be assessed by an accredited assessor who will determine your level of wholeperson impairment (WPI). There is no entitlement to compensation for psychological impairment.

Owing to your injuries, you might not be able to return to your original duties and will therefore have a rehabilitation co-ordinator appointed to help find alternative and suitable work placements for you. Placements must be approved by your doctor/s and the police medical officer/ police psychologist. Rehabilitation aids, such as alternative chairs or work stations, or aids around the home such as rails, to help you cope with your injuries can also be provided. A rehabilitation programme can be formulated to incorporate the provision of rehabilitation aids and assistance. This can also include the provision of house cleaning or home or garden maintenance. A rehabilitation and return-to-work plan is prepared when you are unfit for work. It sets out the intended return-to-work schedule in terms of hours, days, and restrictions in the workplace.


Section 42 redemption If, during the course of your claim, it becomes apparent that you are never going to be able to return to your original duties with SAPOL, it is possible to negotiate a redemption payment. This is a lump-sum payment made to you to finalize all your workers compensation claims and all future medical expenses. It generally involves the finalization of your employment with SAPOL too. Accepting a redemption is not compulsory and cannot be forced on you. There is also a requirement to get legal, financial and medical advice before settling your claim. When deciding whether to accept a redemption and leave the employment of SAPOL, it is vital to consider the possible effect on your superannuation entitlements. You should seek advice from the relevant fund, Police Super or Super SA, as your ability to access the pension or various lump sums can be affected.

DISPUTES Disputes can arise at various stages during the course of a workers compensation claim in relation to a range of issues. Among the most common are: • Rejection of a claim. • Incorrect calculation of weekly payments. • Refusal to pay for medical treatment. • Attempts to discontinue weekly payments. • Entitlements to compensation. Strict time limits apply for lodging a notice of dispute (28 days from the date of the determination). Notices are lodged with the Workers Compensation Tribunal. The dispute process involves three stages: • Reconsideration – SAPOL IMS has the opportunity to reconsider its original decision based on the details set out in the notice of dispute. • Conciliation – the tribunal appoints a conciliation officer who conducts one or more informal conciliation conferences with the parties to the dispute to try to resolve it. • Judicial determination – ultimately, after a pre-trial process, a judge hears evidence from relevant witnesses and writes a binding judgment to settle the dispute.

WHO IS LIKELY TO CONTACT YOU DURING YOUR CLAIM? A number of stakeholders and agencies are involved in the workers compensation process. The various parties that will contact you are: • SAPOL IMS, case manager. • Treating practitioners (doctors). • Rehabilitation provider. • Police medical officer/ police psychologist. • Police Association of South Australia. • Lawyer.


SAPOL IMS is usually represented by lawyers from the Crown Solicitor’s Office.


TREATING PRACTITIONERS (DOCTORS) You have the right to elect your own treating doctor/s. This doctor will likely be contacted by SAPOL IMS during the claims process. Doctors will also be consulted in relation to WorkCover medical certificates, treatment recommendations and for the development of rehabilitation and returnto-work plans, including discussions concerning the provision of suitable duties. Medical practitioners can include your GP or a treating specialist. During the workers compensation process, the treating doctor’s role is to: • Act as a central point of contact for your treatment. • Co-ordinate, recommend and organize treatment for you. • Complete WorkCover medical certificates. • Inform SAPOL IMS and rehabilitation co-ordinator about your progress as needed/requested. • Assist SAPOL IMS and rehabilitation co-ordinator in developing an injury management plan. • Review your condition in terms of fitness for work. • Consult with your SAPOL IMS rehabilitation co-ordinator and other treating health professionals (physiotherapist, psychologist, etc.) to determine what work is suitable for you.


A treating medical practitioner’s role is very different from that of an independent medical assessor arranged by SAPOL IMS. Treatment with a medical practitioner is an ongoing relationship regarding your injury/illness and paid for by SAPOL IMS. SAPOL can request that you be independently assessed for a number of reasons relating to the management of your workers compensation claim. This can be to assist in: • Determining liability for your claim. • Arriving at a diagnosis of your injury. • Providing treatment recommendations. • Determining your fitness for pre-injury duties. • Determining what might be suitable duties. An independent medical examination can occur at any time during your claim. It is a one-off assessment when there is not an ongoing treatment-style relationship with you. Be aware that an independent assessment of the injury/illness arranged by SAPOL is not treatment. Moreover, the information you divulge to an independent examiner is not subject to the usual patient-doctor confidentiality and will likely be published in the report prepared by the independent doctor.



SAPOL IMS will appoint a rehabilitation co-ordinator to contact you. The co-ordinator may be someone internal within SAPOL or an external provider.

You have the right to seek advice and assistance from the Police Association in relation to the claims process or for assistance with return-to-work and the provision of suitable duties. If you seek assistance from the association, a referral to its lawyers generally follows.

The role of a rehabilitation co-ordinator is to assist you to return to work within SAPOL. This return is either to your full, usual duties or suitable alternative duties, which accommodate whatever temporary or permanent restrictions might be necessary. The rehabilitation co-ordinator will discuss with you your treatment, rehabilitation aids and assistance you might need, and ensure your WorkCover medical certificates are up to date. He or she may also arrange case conferences with your treating doctors to ensure that your return-to-work plan is appropriate. Contact with you may be by telephone, e-mail or face-to-face.

POLICE MEDICAL OFFICER/ POLICE PSYCHOLOGIST If you have had time off work as a result of your injuries, you are likely to need a clearance from either the police medical officer and/or police psychologist before returning to work.

If a concerned member of your family contacts the association, it can only provide general advice. Only with your consent will specific information and advice concerning you be provided. This is for reasons of privacy.

REFERRAL TO A LAWYER The Police Association provides a process by which it refers injured members to lawyers who are experienced in dealing with police workers compensation matters. Referrals relate to such issues as: • Disputes regarding declined claims. • Delays in determining a claim. • Advice as to whether there is a claim. • Claims for lump-sum permanent impairment compensation. • Disputes as to suitable duties and return-to-work. • Medical treatment disputes. • Advice on resignation and claims resolution options. When a lawyer provides advice and representation in a dispute, the ability exists to claim legal fees from SAPOL IMS. A lawyer will give you further advice about other legal fees you might incur at your first meeting. Contact the association for a copy of the legal assistance information. 23

6 Useful references

If your police-officer family member experiences any symptoms outlined in this document, he/she should be strongly encouraged to contact his/her GP for a referral to a mentalhealth practitioner.

PSYCHOLOGICAL AND COUNSELLING ASSISTANCE Professional counselling can be sought and co-ordinated through your treating GP. To make treatment more affordable, some psychologists are registered in line with Medicare arrangements under the federal government’s Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative. To be eligible for a rebate, certain conditions need to be met. If eligible, you might qualify for up to 10 individual sessions in a calendar year with a review taken after six sessions. Fees vary – some psychologists might bulk-bill or you might have to pay a small difference between the rebate and the fees. Your GP will be able to assist you with this information. Information is also available on the Australian Psychological Society website (

AUSTRALIAN PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY (APS) To find the name of a psychologist in your area, contact the referral line at the Australian Psychological Society (APS) which will put you in contact with a qualified psychologist close to your work or home. Contact the APS on 1 800 333 497 or via its website (

SAPOL EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE SECTION SAPOL offers free counselling sessions to families through its employee assistance programme. Police employees are entitled to six sessions over a two-year period and family members are entitled to three sessions over a two-year period. Extensions may be granted depending on the individual circumstances.

BEYOND BLUE Beyond Blue is a federal government initiative established to increase the capacity to deal with anxiety and depression. It has a number of online e-learning programmes to look at symptoms for diagnosis and contains a register of clinical psychologists matched to an area of your interest. Website: Information line: 1 300 224 636 E-mail: 25

BLACK DOG INSTITUTE The Black Dog Institute ( offers educational and research information as well as a number of online computer-based assessment and treatment tools. This institute also has a Medicare rebated treatment clinic for depression.

Family and Relationships Services Australia is the national peak body for family relationship and support services. Its advice line is available by phoning 1 800 050 321 or find further information at



This website offers facts sheets and podcasts on mental-health conditions. You can visit or, for crisis assistance, phone the helpline on 1 800 18 SANE (7263).

In an emergency, call 000 or 131 444 for police attendance. For support, phone the Domestic Violence Crisis Service on 1 300 782 200 or Crisis Care on 131 611.

RELATIONSHIPS AUSTRALIA Relationships Australia is a not-for-profit organization which offers counselling and education services for couples and individuals. Telephone and online counselling is available. This is a fee-paying service. For further details contact Relationships Australia on 1 300 364 277 or find further information at



There are also phone-based crisis counselling services such as: • Lifeline (13 11 14). • Salvation Army Hope Line (1 300 467 354). Crisis Support Services: • Suicide Call Back Service (1 300 659 467). • Beyond Blue Information Line (1 300 224 636) For any emergencies or threats of self-harm, call emergency 000



WorkCover (13 10 50) offers free counselling of up to 10 hours (initial grant) for immediate family members, including children of injured workers who have what is deemed to be a serious injury, and in cases that WorkCover is prosecuting for that workplace injury. Counselling can be arranged through the co-ordinator, Counselling and Liaison, WorkCover (1 800 806 626). Counselling is available to families at any point in the injured worker’s recovery process.

Ph: (08) 8212 3055 Fax: (08) 8212 2002 PASAweb:

USEFUL READING I Love a Cop. What Police Families Need to Know by Ellen Kirschman, 2007 ( Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Kevin M Gilmartin, PhD, 2002 (

WorkCover has also developed a number of brochures to assist injured workers to understand the workers compensation process: • Fact Sheet 2 – Injury Management and Return-to-Work programs. • Fact Sheet 3 – What to do if there is an injury. • Workers Compensation information for workers. • Your recovery and return to work after a workplace injury. • Doctors and WorkCover: your nominated treating doctor. These brochures are accessible on the WorkCover website (


WORKING FOR YOU Police Association of South Australia | 08 8212 3055

Family Support for Police Officers  

Critical Information from the Police Association of South Australia

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