I’ve been doing interviews the past couple of weeks as part of the “vetting” process for the upcoming Comp Laude Awards program, which will be held in November. I’ve done this before, as well as serving on the nominating committee and working as a final judge. It can be an inspirational endeavor. Comp Laude, founded by the late David Depaolo, is designed to recognize the best in workers’ compensation; from industry professionals who are making a difference to injured workers who have overcome incredible obstacles. Doing these interviews is a chance to speak to a wide array of individuals who are improving injury outcomes with pioneering ideas and effective programs.

One of those interviewed was Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson of Sydney, Australia. She is a former injured worker and the founder of an innovative organization in Australia called Craig’s Table. I have known Ms. McKenzie-Ferguson for a number of years. While we first met in person at a Comp Laude event in California 6 years ago, we had become acquainted via social media several years before that. Actually, it would be fair to say we first clashed a bit on social media, a minor spat that ultimately appeared to be borne of a mutual misunderstanding of both process and politics on either side of the Pacific. 

And it seems that Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson is not your typical angry injured worker turned activist, endlessly venting in multiple chatrooms about the injustices of the world. No, she was an injured worker who instead channeled her less-than-positive experience into a constructive program designed to actually help people. A novel concept, indeed.

Craig’s Table is a program designed to educate, support, and guide injured workers through a complex and at times dehumanizing system. Their ultimate purpose is not, as one might expect, to see that the injured worker gets everything coming to them. Certainly, they try to ensure that the injured worker gets the care and benefits they are due, but their ultimate effort seems to be to make certain that the injured worker is prepared to land on their feet with an effective plan at the end of the process. It can all be summed up by something she said to me during our recent interview.  

She told me that she often tells these workers that “Workers’ Comp is a detour and not a destination.” 

A big component of the Craig’s Table program is communication. They spend a great deal of time explaining and preparing the injured worker regarding the process they are entering. One thing to really respect about Rosemary and the program she established is their emphasis on the responsibilities of the injured worker. From the outset, they are reminded that they have a responsibility to themselves, their family, and their future. The Craig’s Table program is designed to help them find purpose after a life-altering injury. It has been effective enough that the system is now supported by iCare, the workers’ compensation government insurance program for New South Wales.

There is an informative article about Craig’s Table available here. Their website is here. It is a program that deserves consideration here in the United States. After all, workers’ compensation should ultimately be nothing more than a detour in one’s life, but for too many workers in our country, it seems to become their final destination. 

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