Waterfall train disaster police denied compensation

2 September 2009

The NSW Court of Appeal has denied compensation to two police officers who developed post traumatic stress disorder after they rescued victims of the 2003 Waterfall train disaster.
The court agreed with an earlier Supreme Court ruling that senior constables Phil Sheehan and David Wicks could not be compensated because they didn't witness the crash, only its aftermath.
The Head of the NSW Police Association says it could have serious implications for other rescuers who develop psychological illnesses.

In an interview with ABC Radio Current Affairs Program PM, Associate Professor Barbara McDonald said the 2002 Civil Liability Act was introduced in order to restrict the number of people who have a right to compensation as a result of government negligence.
"For instance, a person cannot recover damages for psychiatric injury unless they were either a member - a close family member - with the victim or they were at scene at the time when the victim was killed, injured or put in peril."

However, she conceded that this case represented a signficant test as there was nothing the police officers could do to prevent their injury.

"The police officers were just simply doing their duty. They were called to the scene as inevitably police officers will be."

View the entire transcript or listen to the podcast - Waterfall train disaster police denied compensation

Contact: Greg Sherington

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