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19 January 2022 - Cairns

Date19 January 2022

The worker was charged with the following offences against the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the Act):

Charge One – Fraud – sections 533 & 535

Charge Two – Failure of worker to notify of engagement in a calling – section 136

Charge Three – Knowingly making a false or misleading statement to an insurer – section 534

Charge Four – Knowingly making a false or misleading statement to a registered person – section 534

CourtCairns Magistrates Court
CaseThe worker was charged with defrauding the insurer by failing to disclose their engagement in a calling while in receipt of workers’ compensation and for making false or misleading statements about their working status and sources of income.
FactsOn 22 January 2020, the worker sustained an injury to their upper back which arose in the course of their employment as a childhood educator.

On that day, the worker lodged an application for compensation with the insurer by completing a ‘Claim Form’. In that form, the worker signed a statement requiring them to agree that it is an offence against the Act to make a statement that is false or misleading. The worker also agreed to advise the insurer if they undertook any employment (paid or unpaid), including self-employment, during their claim.

The worker’s claim was accepted by the insurer and they received compensation until 30 June 2020.

Prior to and from the outset of their claim, the worker was engaged in a calling by running their own business. The worker had opened a bank account under the business name, operated a business website, and opened an online sales shopfront through Shopify. The worker also registered an ABN for the business and extensively marketed the business on social media.

The worker’s business offered consumers the option to create, order and purchase custom made personalised gifts. The worker did not have any employees and completed all duties required for running the business.
Throughout their claim, the worker was certified as totally incapacitated for any type of work until 14 April 2020, after which they were only certified fit to perform 3 hour shifts for 4 days per week.

The worker was also given reminders in telephone discussions with the insurer about their obligations to notify the insurer about any engagement in a calling.

The worker did not inform the insurer of their engagement in a calling within 10 business days as they were required to under the Act, or at all during their entire statutory claim.

During the claim, the worker also denied having a second job or source of income to the insurer and made a false or misleading statement to a psychiatrist about their sources of income.

The worker’s offending was discovered during their common law proceedings, during which the worker disclosed the existence of their business.

The worker entered into an early plea of guilty and was 21 years of age at the time of offending and 23 years of age at the time of sentence. The worker had no criminal history. The worker was considered a low risk of reoffending and had good prospects of rehabilitation. The worker had a good upbringing and several character references noting they are a thoughtful, generous, hard-working, and kind person. The worker was considered remorseful of their offending.

12 months imprisonment, wholly suspended for 2 years for the fraud charge

6 months imprisonment, wholly suspended for two years for the false or misleading statement charges

Convicted but not further punished for the failing to notify charge.

Terms were ordered to be served concurrently.

Restitution$25,210.39 and referred to SPER for enforcement
Costs$3,648.20 and referred to SPER for enforcement

Common law rights extinguished

Conviction recordedYes

Consideration for Prevention

Workers must provide all information about any work that they are engaged in, including if they operate their own small business, to their insurer.