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Bureaucrat's compensation bid over gay murder denied

Date

Phillip Thomson

A former federal public servant has lost her bid for compensation from Comcare after claiming she was traumatised by two gruesome deaths.

One was a murder investigation involving the bashing death of a homosexual man in Sydney and another was a dead body she saw while at a workplace snag-cooking social event in Brisbane.

The woman was a man at the time she was employed at the federal government's revenue collection agency, the Australian Tax Office, at Sydney and Brisbane in the early 1990s.

She claimed she identified a dead female body near the Story Bridge in 1992 while at a barbecue team-building event run by the ATO in working hours. 

"When I saw the dead female lying head down in the sand and Customs Qld water police yelled at me to check whether it was alive or dead I did this in shock," she wrote in her worker's compensation claim form lodged in 2013, two decades after the incident.

The woman said the incident prompted nightmares and led to bankruptcy and destroyed life goals. 

The same worker's compensation claim outlined her trauma at having to identify jewellery, namely three rings, owned by murder victim Gordon Mills.

Mr Mills' attacker was eventually convicted of manslaughter apparently after having been told Mr Mills had tried to sexually abuse him when he was unconscious after heavy drinking.

The ATO employee making the Comcare claim had no connection to this incident, apart from the fact she later identified the rings and, the tribunal was told, had worked next to Mr Mills in the ATO office in Sydney. 

"I was disciplined shortly after being put on fixed hours and made to terminate my employment by my supervisor in around May-June 1994 and forced into debt and bankruptcy and told never come back again," she alleged in her claim.

In its published decision the Administrative Appeals Tribunal said no records of the two alleged incidents could be located by the ATO.

"To date, the applicant has made numerous unsuccessful claims for compensation from Comcare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and, in one instance, pursued the matter through this tribunal," the AAT's decision said.

"Further claims were made to the Victims Compensation Board, and other claims have been made with respect to time as a cadet, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and gender identity disorder."

"From 1998 onwards, the applicant was hospitalised for psychiatric treatment on many occasions. In 2005 he (as she then was) was granted a Disability Support Pension for schizophrenia.

"There is no evidence before the tribunal that the applicant’s employment by the ATO contributed in any way to the causation or aggravation of any health condition of the applicant.

"In particular, there is no evidence that the employment was related to his psychiatric condition or any 'acute reaction to stress' - of which there is no evidence in any event."

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