Firefighting injury costs Muckleford man's job

UPDATE

PARKS Victoria says it has provided ongoing support for sacked seasonal firefighter Joseph Brown.

A spokesperson for the organisation said it had helped Mr Brown in his recovery and return to work following an injury during a planned burn off in April.

“Parks Victoria has been supporting Mr Brown throughout his recovery and return to work,” the spokesperson said. 

“Parks Victoria ensured Mr Brown had a high level of support, access to appropriate and ongoing medical treatment, support in the submission a WorkCover Claim for Compensation, continued wage entitlements until he was declared fit by his doctor, and planning for Mr Brown’s return to work.

"Parks Victoria organised for a rehabilitation counsellor to work one-on-one with Mr Brown to ensure his return to work duties assisted his recovery.”

The spokesperson said Mr Brown was ineligible for a summer contract as he was still injured when the contracts were awarded and said he could still apply for future roles.

EARLIER

JOSEPH Brown fears he will be made homeless after losing his firefighting job following a workplace injury. 

Mr Brown, a seasonal firefighter with Parks Victoria, suffered life-threatening internal injuries during a planned burn-off at Mt Cole in April. 

The Muckleford resident and his family were told by doctors he might not survive. He eventually recovered from his injuries, only to be recently told he no longer had a job. 

He said he had been told prior to the injury he would be re-employed for summer. 

“This was my career path and they’ve stopped it... I’ve been left without a career,” he said. “I’m disheartened by the whole system. 

“Being a firefighter, I thought they’d look after me more and they’ve promised a lot of the things and told the community we’re being looked after but it’s not the case.”

Mr Brown said he was cleared for work by a doctor but Parks Victoria chose not to re-employ him. 

“I handed in my clearance form,” he said. “The next day they had a meeting with me and told me I didn’t have a job. On top of that, they underpaid me.

“All that time I was working towards recovery and when I did recover I was told I was fired. 

“The more I try to resolve it, the worse it gets.

“All I can do is try to find work and keep a roof above my head but I don’t know where it’s all heading.”

Mr Brown said he had only had one meeting with Parks Victoria managers since the injury and attempts to schedule more meetings and find answers had failed. 

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said Parks Victoria “had a lot to answer for”. 

“Particularly regarding the WorkCover situation, it would seem he’s been treated inappropriately,” she said. 

“His treatment has been appalling.”

A spokesperson for Minster for Environment Ryan Smith said he had asked Parks Victoria to review its processes around Mr Brown. 

“He’s also encouraged Mr Brown to apply for any positions that may come up,” the spokesperson said. 

“It is an operational matter for Parks Victoria in terms of how they fill their roles.”

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