Worker’s win over the ABC in a feverishly debated case
AN ABC rural affairs reporter who claimed she became unwell following a Q fever vaccination program ordered by the organisation has won her fight to obtain compensation.
According to NSW Health, Q fever is a bacterial infection that can cause a severe flu-like illness, spread mainly from cattle, sheep and goats.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal heard the ABC recommended Begabased reporter Keva Gocher and others who attended high-risk sites to be vaccinated against the fever.
The ABC-funded vaccination procedure involved a blood test and a skin test to determine any adverse reaction, followed by the full vaccine.
Gocher did not get the vaccine but argued the skin tests caused her to become ill, triggering debilitating symptoms such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Lawyers for Comcare told the tribunal that in its doctor’s view, the real problem with Gocher was “lack of motivation”, with her symptoms more likely to be a chronic pain condition.
However, infectious diseases physician Professor Andrew Lloyd said it was not unknown for CFS to last longer than five years in infected persons.
In ruling in favour of Gocher accessing Comcare payments, tribunal deputy president Brian Rayment QC said he preferred the view of Prof Lloyd.
An ABC spokeswoman said it was organisation policy for workers sent to locations where there was the potential to contract Q fever to be vaccinated, or obtain permission for alternative risk controls such as masks, gloves, suitable clothing and hygiene.