Rosemary is recognised globally as a leader in innovation in the field of supporting people who suffer workplace injuries and the families of those who lose loved ones in workplace accidents.
Rosemary’s first exposure to workplace tragedy was in 1969, when her 16yo brother died in a workplace accident. The family impact has never left Rosemary, and the traumatic impact of injury and death on families is what she feels most when working with others in her chosen field, the death of Rosemary’s brother also was the main impetuous for establishing the Deceased Workers Memorial Forest in Adelaide and being invited to be a part of the committee to put the Australian National Deceased Workers Memorial in Canberra in place.
Rosemary was injured in 1994, and her post-injury experience drove her desire to improve the workers compensation system for injured workers and their families and the wider community.
In response, Rosemary founded the Work Injured Resource Connection (WIRC). Its objective was to improve social justice in workers compensation in the face of bureaucracy, complexity, jargon and lack of trust. WIRC is now well established in South Australia; it has a media presence and is recognised elsewhere in Australia as a model for supporting injured workers.
Rosemary states her objectives in simple terms - to remind the ‘experts’ in workers compensation that:
Schemes exist because injured workers exist.
If a scheme fails to serve injured workers adequately, it is an expensive waste.
What is most lacking in this regard is adequate communication with injured workers.
Rosemary’s experience with injured workers whose desperation was such that they could not afford to feed their families led to her founding the ‘Bags of Love’ program to provide basic supplies to families in need. The program has grown into a substantial operation that distributes approximately $3,000 Australian worth groceries and essentials each week. This project is growing with the need to be able to put more food on to the tables of injured workers every week.
More recently, Rosemary has also founded Craig’s Table, an ambitious project aimed at transforming the lives of those with whom she works.
Craig’s Table is the first (to the best of Rosemary’s knowledge) community based return to work programme where injured workers with nil medical capacity hours to 15 medical capacity hours can be re-trained and re-skilled so that the injured worker can return to their workplace without sustaining the added mental and emotional injuries that can happen post an accepted workers compensation claim.
It needs to be remembered that Rosemary is an injured worker, everything she knows about workers compensation is self learned. Despite being told that she would most likely be in a wheelchair by 2005 and that she would never work again, Rosemary refuses to give in to the torments of the pain that fills her body Rosemary works around 80 hours a week.