O'Donovan v Western Australian Alcohol and Drug
Authority [No2]  WADC 13
Ms Anne Helen O'Donovan was employed by the defendant as a
registered nurse and in December 2004 made a workers'
compensation claim against the defendant, allegedly caused by a
series of stressful management decisions taken by the
Once WorkCover proceedings had established liability for the
psychiatric injury, she issued District Court proceedings seeking
Common Law damages against the defendant, alleging that their
breach of duty of care and breach of contract caused her
She based her claim on several events involving management's
treatment of her including:
unfair roster changes which she claimed were designed to
intimidate her for raising issues with management over the running
of the facility
a stressful work environment
an incident involving her self-administering medication at the
defendant's premises and the disciplinary process that
Foreseeable Risk of Injury
The plaintiff relied on the evidence of colleagues who spoke of
their concerns about management's treatment of others.
The evidence was deemed to be of limited relevance as it failed
to demonstrate that they showed signs of illness that management
should have noticed and therefore that the plaintiff could also
suffer illness as a result of her treatment in the work place.
There was no evidence of abnormal sickness or absenteeism among the
plaintiff's colleagues such that the defendant should have been
alerted to a risk of injury to the plaintiff.
Breach of Duty
The trial Judge was satisfied that the defendant had complied
with all relevant awards and the contract of employment except for
the unfair roster changes and the enforced leave. The Judge noted
that some of management's conduct could be characterised as a
genuine mistake and some as an intention to bring the practice into
line with modern clinical practice standards.
Early concerns raised by the plaintiff were said to have been
adequately dealt with. Managers had been required to attend
workplace bullying workshops and the defendant had adhered to all
discipline and harassment policies in its dealings with the
The trial Judge was satisfied that the defendant provided a safe
workplace and exercised reasonable care in the discharge of its
obligations as an employer and accordingly dismissed the
Plaintiff's claim against the defendant.
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This was an interlocutory decision about the appointment of a tutor for the child appellant, to carry on his proceedings.
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