A public servant who developed a hoarding compulsion after being bullied at work is not entitled to compensation for a permanent impairment, a tribunal has found.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal was told that the applicant, a worker from the Defence Materiel Organisation, had been on sick leave from the department since September 2012, after suffering a major depressive disorder in 2009.
It was not disputed that her condition was the result of being being bullied by her supervisor.
She developed agoraphobia, a fear of the outdoors, among other symptoms, and while living by herself in Sydney she had a hoarding compulsion.
The compulsion left her apartment filled to the ceiling with various items, making it difficult to move between rooms.
The woman moved to Brisbane to live with her family and, by November 2012, had overcome her compulsion.
However she was fearful of returning to work at the same organisation, and the tribunal heard evidence that her depressive disorder was ongoing.
The woman lodged a compensation claim for permanent impairment in April 2014, but this application was refused by Comcare.
Her legal counsel submitted that based on medical evidence, there was no likelihood of her condition improving, as despite extensive rehabilitation therapy her improvement has plateaued since 2013.
This was refuted by Comcare, who said the woman had given medical experts a false impression of her functional capacity.
Tribunal senior member Graham Kenny found that there were prospects for the applicant to continue to improve and find suitable employment.
He rejected evidence about the level of her impairment and her ability to engage with others.
"She meets up with friends she has met since returning to Brisbane, she attends functions where large numbers of people congregate, she has participated in learning and teaching groups on a regular basis," he said.
"She drives her mother's car to venues such as Movie World, she has participated in themed evenings by dressing in the style appropriate to the function... There are prospects of the applicant continuing to improve and finding suitable employment."