Worker’s win over the ABC in a fever­ishly de­bated case

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

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.

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