Police compensation scheme 'too little, too late'

The fight continues: Former Mandurah police officer Michael Thornbury says an election promise to provide workers' compensation for police is not good enough. Photo: Richard Polden.

The fight continues: Former Mandurah police officer Michael Thornbury says an election promise to provide workers' compensation for police is not good enough. Photo: Richard Polden.

A former Mandurah police officer has described the Liberal party’s promise to introduce a compensation scheme for medically retired officers as nothing more than a pre-election stunt which offers little to those who need it most.

Michael Thornbury has spent the past four years fighting for the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he left the force with to be recognised as a work-related injury, and to be compensated for his loss of income.

This week police minister Liza Harvey announced a “landmark workers comp scheme for WA police”.

She said the Liberal National government had “cemented its role in protecting WA police officers” by ensuring officers would be protected under her party’s workers’ compensation package.

Ms Harvey said workers’ compensation would allow officers requiring extended leave or retirement through a work-related injury to access funding.

According to the minister, “no other government has done more to support and protect our police officers”.

This is a statement Mr Thornbury finds hard to stomach.

“This is a political stunt aimed at appeasing an issue that’s been festering for 30 years,” he said.

“And to say this legislation will only be introduced if her party is re-elected is bull***t.

“She could fix it now.”

While Mr Thornbury’s personal fight for compensation has been resolved in an out-of-court settlement he is prohibited from discussing, the former cop said he planned to continue his fight for justice for former officers suffering from PTSD, and to continue his fight to have the government’s compensation plan include restrospective payments.

“I have seen ex-serving members living in squalor,” he said.

“Three I know of have had to declare bankruptcy.

“Five have killed themselves.

“This [planned scheme] is of little comfort to those who have been through the system.

“It’s too little, too late.”

Mr Thornbury did concede that “anything is better than nothing”, but said the state government’s plan didn’t go far enough.

Shadow police minister Michelle Roberts said WA Labor supported workers’ compensation for police officers and that the party would also review the cases of previously medically retired officers.

“We'll resolve workers' compensation this time,” she said.

“It's long overdue and we'll make it a priority.”

Ms Harvey said if the Liberal National state government was re-elected the scheme would be in place by July 1, 2017.

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