FAQ Surveillance

Surveillance in workers compensation – some frequently asked questions


Private investigators under the magnifying glass:

  • It is not illegal for insurance companies to use private investigators.
  • While the industry is loosely regulated by the licensing of private investigators, the operatives are free to go about their job surveilling people as long as they do not fall foul of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007.
  • Under Section 8 of the Act it is illegal to trespass on private land or install or use surveillance or listening devices.
  • In NSW, it is illegal to enter private property (including vehicles and commercial premises) without a lawful reason unless the owner, occupier or person in charge has consented. If consent is denied or withdrawn, the visitor must leave. Separate consent is required to take photographs or other recordings while on private property. Hidden cameras can not be used without the consent of the owner, occupier or person in charge. Access to hospitals, childcare centres, nursing homes and schools is regulated.
  • Anyone in a public place can be photographed without permission. People on private property can be photographed without permission if they are visible from public property, provided the photographer is on public property.
  • Private conversations cannot be recorded by a third party without the permission of everyone in the conversation. Conversations in public places may be considered private if those involved could reasonably expect it to be private (for example, they are not talking in loud voices or in places where third parties can clearly overhear them).
  • Private investigators also cannot conduct themselves in a manner that constitutes harassment.
  • Like with any victims of harassment, claimants who feel they are being harassed by a PI have the option of taking out an Apprehended Violence Order.
  • In the case of claimants being surveilled it is rare they know the identity of the person they are alleging is behaving in a harassing manner.
  • To many former police officers suffering from PTSD, depression and anxiety, the process of returning to a police station to take out an AVO can cause further anxiety.
  • It is a criminal offence for companies to utilise material that has been obtained illegally.
  • See article: Police officers suffering from PTSD hunted like criminals

Surveillance FAQ

Q. Will a workcover investigator really follow me?

A. Most likely. Employers and workcover insurance companies often use private investigators to conduct covert video surveillance of your activities . Surveillance is done with the hope of obtaining some incriminating evidence that can be used against you.

In Victoria, for example, it is well known that most surveillance, with the exception of where fraud is suspected, is used by WorkCover more to check up on or  to verify the extent of the person injury or incapacity or the impact of the injury on their life at certain trigger points during the life a claim, ie at the 130 weeks (weekly payments) mark, or when the injured worker is seeking ongoing payment for permanent incapacity, or a lump sum impairment benefits, and most surveillance is conducted during serious injury applications via the narrative test to access common law damages.

Q. How will a private investigator track me?

A. Private investigators will generally use video equipment to record/film your activities. Some will call your house under false pretenses to get information. Some private investigators try to speak with your neighbours to see if you are working somewhere else. It is not uncommon to be followed from your home to the supermarket. We have even seen many investigators follow injured workers to medical examinations (IMEs), as the date and time of your whereabouts are known, making surveillance easier.

Q. Will private investigators look at my Internet activity?

A. Yes. Workcover insurance companies will use social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to deny workcover benefits. Investigators examine these websites looking for incriminating pictures and/or comments.

For example, a picture of you sitting on a boat may not seem like a big deal, but it will be argued that it shows you are not disabled, oe not depressed or whatever. Never post anything on the Internet that can be misinterpreted or taken out of context. Even innocent pictures can and will be taken out of context.

That’s the reason why we have a Social Networking Warning on our own site!

Q. Why do insurance companies perform these investigations?

A. Workcover insurance companies will tell you that they perform these investigations to stop fraud and abuse. But in reality, they are just looking for a way to deny or limit your workcover benefits by claiming you are not as injured as you say you are. Real injured workers’ fraud has been estimated to be only around 1 to 2%.

They will also take snippets of video out of context and try to prove in court that your injury is not real.

Q. What can I do to protect myself from investigators?

A. You should be careful at all times when you are out in public or working around your home. Do not perform any activity beyond the restrictions set by your doctor(s). You should also avoid any activity that the insurance company can use against you.

Q. Are Private Investigators bound by a Code of Practice -YES

The latest VWA (WorkSafe VIC) 2014 Private Investigator Code of Practice can be read here:

VWA Code of Practice for PIs 2014

If that link no longer works, here is a saved copy of the VWA-Code-of-Practice-for-PIs-Final-Authorised-2014 on our server

The previous version of the VWA 2004 Private investigator Code of Conduct can be read here:

VWA Code of Practice for PIs 2004

If that link no longer works, here is a saved copy of the Investigators code of practice on our server

As an injured or ill worker, there are basically six (6) important things you should know about surveillance:

  1. As mentioned above in our FAQ list, many private investigators take advantage of the times that you are at doctor appointments, particularly at independent medical examinations. They’ll make sure they can properly identify you, your car, where you live, and how active you are.
  2. The private investigator may not find anything suspicious, but that doesn’t mean that the PI won’t try again. The surveillance may happen again in a few weeks or even months.
  3. Private investigators don’t just work from 9-5 on weekdays. They’ll also work on nights and weekends, when you may not expect them to be watching.
  4. Try not to talk about your daily activities with people. After filing a workcover claim, your employer may try to get information from your co-workers about where you like to go in your spare time. Investigators may go to these places to check up on you. Same goes for mentioning what you’re up to and where you’ll be going on your Facebook page!
  5. Make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions. If you are caught doing something that you were told not to (or told your doctor you can’t do!), your case may become less valuable and you may be seen as not credible. You should avoid activities like carrying heavy groceries, playing sports, making car repairs, or working on the outside of your home.
  6. The only income you receive should be from your weekly payments. If you earn additional income, even from odd jobs like babysitting or cutting grass, it is considered to be fraud.

There are heaps of articles on our site related to workcover surveillance and private investigators, you can find them under the tag ‘surveillance’ or conduct a search with typing in the keyword ‘surveillance’ or ‘private investigators’ in the search box and wait a few seconds while the ‘wheel’ spins, like so:

surveiallance-search private-investigator-search

There is also a PIs and Surveillance Page >>

42 Responses to “FAQ Surveillance”

  1. Can you ask for information pi’s have obtained under freedom of information (even through work safe?)

    • Yes, I have obtained copies of PI reports, pics, video and even invoices. I’ve seen instructions issued to PI’s as well. Everything should be provided unless they claim an exemption and they can be challenged. The only time it might lawfully be withheld is if you were caught malingering and they had obtained evidence – that is fraudulent and they would keep that to prosecute. FOI Act 1982 is your friend (in Vic) or equivalent in whichever State. Usually they will follow you in the lead up to an IME exam, on that day, and sometimes after. They can also use PI’s to do Circumstance Reports. You can get copies of those as well. I would advise to NEVER agree to doing one.

  2. Hi I am due to see a investigator about my workers comp claim (only 2 months into it) Should I be concerned even though I had a number of people from work witness my injury? Could I record the conversation for peace of mind.

    • Hi there,
      I am now a recipient of benefits after having had a truck run over me and am not looking forward to seeing forensic specialists. I’d recommend asking the examiner for permission to tape the session or at the very least take an independent witness. Subject to certain exceptions under the Telecommunications Interception Act it isn’t lawful to tape another person without their permission. Don’t underestimate the importance of the facts being stated accurately in reports. You can’t do anything about facts which are misstated unless you have some kind of record of what was said during the interview. If the report relies on inaccurate facts then at least you have recourse to have the facts corrected under health records legislation and other privacy legislation to the extent that they are misleading, inaccurate or incomplete. Sometimes erroneously recorded facts by the examiner can form the basis for them drawing flawed conclusions and they can then contaminate further reports if relied upon by subsequent examiners.

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  8. @Peter, that is AMAZING! What a great Specialist. You can emails us at workcoverorg@gmail.com but you should know some more things about the IME’s that can help protect you. Eg. you need to revoke/revise your medical authority and also make them put EVERYTHING in writing i.e. no verbal/oral contact. The dirty tricks like you describe are very common. if everything is in writing then we gain strength bc we can FOI info and that can be used against them. Also the same advice we gave MAdChef is that you can have power of whet IME you see and what documents etc are supplied for consideration. We’re working on unravelling this corrupt system and are very impressed and inspired by your great work and advice. Let us know if we can help.

  9. Hi Admin,
    It is as you say very disheartening. Also to think that people write legislation on how W/C should work and these people have no knowledge of an injured individuals self worth, ability nor issues they face with their condition whilst on W/C . In fact these individuals write amendments, special statute and Administration Law all in an attempt to save (face) money for the Tax payer. The W/C system has been made into such a mess the only people who suffer are the people with a disability /condition. On a humorous note l consulted with an IME for 6 mins his report stated l could work maybe half time with rests and a special chair. The previous IME (well over 40 mins) report stated no capacity for work now nor in the future as my condition would get worst. W/C sent the second IME report to the first IME and ask the DR to change their report. The first IME informed W/C in writing that individuals who have no formal qualifications should not comment on a Dr’s report and that he would not under any circumstances change any part of his report.
    I do believe that there are decent individuals out there doing the right thing.

  10. Hello,
    The more l read and think about the issues that occur to individuals under the umbrella of Worksafe/WorkCover and their Agents it seems that it is very important to learn as much as possible about the tactics used against an injured individual. The majority of injured people would prefer to be at work. When an organisation is allowed to do as they like, which is the case with W/C and Agents then where does it stop. Some of the articles l have read highlight that illegal activities have taken place and been reported and no accountable action was taken. This really is a mess, we have Dr’s providing miss information and inappropriate reports that go against everything that a Dr should stand for, we have individuals working for W/C and agents providing incorrect information to Dr’s and the legal system and all this is open and can be seen by anyone, yet nothing is done. I attend my Dr who does not even charge W/C a fee and will not do anything that is not up to his professional and personal standard and which is directly for the welfare and wellbeing of the patient.

    • Hi Peter, I’ve started to read the Act recently and was HORRIFIED at what they can get away with by Law (they’ve written self-protection clauses into the legislation). It’s absolutely appalling. The things they have done, and still do, are disgusting. Unfortunately we can’t do much alone. We need to unite to change the system . This site has been the first step. Whilst they have us scared, bluffed, ignorant, naive, vulnerable and confused, they can get away pretty much with whatever they want. It’s been going on for too long and people lives are at risk. In a supposedly transparent system, why do u need secrecy clauses? This is not a Gov force against terrorism. There is literally buggar all in there about the health and welfare of workers. They should not be able to self-regulate. We need find them accountable on some issues where we can get them outside of their own jurisdiction to try to get some justice. It’s very frustating and disheartening.

  11. @Peter, you are more than welcome to email info across to our site where we can post it as well as here. We set up an online forum to support this website so that workers can talk in private. We agree with the advice from this site about being cautious about online forums because of security issue and the potential for spying or abuse. So to counter that our forum is a “research forum” and uses only hypothetic cases. i.e. This is a research Forum for people who are interested in the WorkCover System to discuss hypothetical scenarios and brainstorm ideas for identifying problems within the system and exploring alternate solutions to problems or clarifying issues within the systems complex management of the relevant Legislation. So providing no personal info is disclosed we should feel pretty safe. If you feel like you want to join then we would be happy to help and accommodate. We think it’s a good idea to have any info duplicated on several sites so that if one site is crashed (as has happened here) then we have a back-up support system. I think we should also put out a call to all VIC injured workers to perhaps consider joining the Injured Workers group of Vic where perhaps we can gather to talk in person. Cheers

  12. @Peter, I’m in Vic and with Alianz and I know they had a PI set-up in the waiting room of the Specialists office at a majr hospital. I note their surveillance report says I presented as an invalid in a wheelchair (which I did not), they organised a private ambulance to take me and instructed I be wheeled to the Specialists rooms. I obviously got up out of the chair once there and presented normally to reception. I remember the guy sitting up from me staring intently. Once I got FOI on the surveillance I realised I had been set up and that they followed me all that day. Not that I care but I now know from the stuff you have uncovered that they should not have been filming me in the Specialists private rooms. Hence why they won’t produce the surveillance video, it’s illegal! Nor will they produce the “special instructions” given to the PI. I’m happy to help you fight this but we need to work out how we can try to share the load and common info and save duplication. I think it would be interesting for one of us to try to get a restraining order. I think I saw someone on here suggested it or got one. Not too sure as although there is great info on here, sometimes it can be hard to find.

    • Unfortunately there truly are some IMEs who spy on injured workers
      IME or his staff (e.g receptionist) will watch you as you are walking in to his building and will also watch you when you leave his office. For example, if you are walking normally in the parking lot, but limping or using a cane and wincing in his office, his IME report will say that you are full of it and malingering, and this will hurt your case big time. He will also often leave the exam room for a few minutes, but rest assured he is watching what you are doing and how, for example, you undress, hold your injured limb, hop on the exam table etc. Some even deliberately drop something from their desk or pocket… just to see how you’ll pick it up!
      See: http://aworkcovervictimsdiary.com/2014/08/imes-undertake-surveillance-watch/

      • We have heard from quite a few injured workers that they were surveilled at doctor appointments, for example in 2 cases there was a PI who posed as a ‘patient’ and asked personal questions etc; in many other cases injured sods are specifically targetted by means of their IME appointments for surveillance – because that way the PI knows where to find and identify the injured sod, saving money on stalking. It is an all time favourite as Gilly explained, they will watch how you move before, even during (by the IME and his staff), and after the examination. As far as we know nothing is “off-limits” by the VWA, but whether or not it’s admissible in a court of law remains questionable. Remember that most injured sods do not end up in court, rather their surveillance material gets passed onto IMEs and even a Med Panel. As for hard evidence that this really occurs read: http://aworkcovervictimsdiary.com/2011/12/a-workers-compensation-private-investigator-tells-it-all/

        • Not only is that unethical (and possibly illegal) behaviour on the part of the PI, it’s definitely a breach of The Privacy Act (2008) if anyone is to hand over any information about you without your permission.

          The role of a PI is to gather facts without bias. If you start with an agenda of trying to prove a desired outcome, you’re never going to be unbiased.

  13. Thanks for the info, I would assume one would have total privacy within a Medical Practice. l also found out that under the law it is illegal for a person to take surveillance pictures of individuals in a Medical Service facility, which, one would assume is a Doctor’s Practice especially if all rooms of the building were occupied by Dr’s., and the pictures were taken inside the building which had no external viewing areas from where the pictures could be taken. It is therefore a question of what to do as both WC (vic) and Agent have said see the other organisation.Well I will read a bit more of their Admin Law and other relevant legislation’s etc. to see what options are open, might even seek a bit of legal advice.
    It is amazing that people do illegal things to people who are disabled, and are allowed to continue on doing these things, and to think that there is no entity out there to stop these actions or other illegal actions is very intimidating. I know for certain that when l was working, if any staff member performed in such a manner they would be immediately brought up on charges as well as loose their position.

    • I’m not sure about areas like doctors waiting rooms. They may be deemed ‘public places’, in the same way that you can take surveillance photos inside a nightclub for instance. I’m unsure if a doctors waiting room would have any special protections.

      • @McAwesome, I reckon in Vic it’s off-limits. Here is what is in the Code of Conduct

        5.2.4. A provider must not record film inside any medical or health service or centre

        So a medical centre or health service centre should be off-limits, including hospitals where yu are in the waiting rooms of private consulting suites.

        • Ahh, right.

          Sorry, I was only looking a the general legality of surveillance, not the VWA’s code of practice, which is obviously more helpful and applicable here.

          Cheers! 🙂

          • @ McAwesome, the info and examples you have given are great and very helpful. Let us hope that our interpretation is correct , although it seems they can do anything they want as the VWA are conveniently asleep at the wheel. 😉

        • @Admin, can you provide the link to that code of conduct? Is it a PI Code of Conduct or what? The only PI Code of Conduct in VIC I can find is 2004 – http://web.archive.org/web/20091002185453/http://worksafe.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/resources/file/eb5ccf42bf46dc6/Investigators_codeofpractice.pdf
          which does not contain this info.
          There is a difference between a ‘provider’ and a ‘PI’ – both can and will undertake passive observation. A medical provider is allowed to ‘observe’ you and then write up what s/he ‘observed’ such as the way you walked in and out of an examination/appt. Does not necessarily be filmed, just an ‘observation’. Just my 2 cents worth

          • @Injured & McA. Thnx for the info Injured on Providers, that makes sense. McA has posted the document I referenced. It seems the one u have posted is the older version (2004) which we will post over on our site as well in case there are workers with older injuries for whcih that document might apply. I read on here someone was confronted by a PI in the hydrotherapy session where they were pretending to be a participant. These guidelines clearly state that is off-limits. I’ll post the relevant section here as well. I wonder if the new guidelines came into effect “after” the cases that people have mentioned on here? Also whether there is another Code between 2004 and 2014 and what that says? We really need to get on top of the disgusting acts that are occurring.

            One important note for all people is that at the beginning of your Claim when they send a PI to interview, DON’T talk to them. I don’t think there is any legal reason they have. I have been burnt by this in the past so have refused to ever talk to them after that without any consequences which makes me believe that you shouldn’t need to. Unfortunately most of us think they will help us, not expecting that they will twist and manipulate the truth.

            5.2 Surveillance
            5.2.1. A provider must not conduct surveillance on business premises unless a reasonable person would believe that those business premises were open for persons to enter without necessarily expecting them to enter into any form of transaction.
            5.2.2. A provider must not communicate with a neighbour, work colleague or other acquaintance of a subject, in a way which might directly or indirectly reveal that surveillance is being, will be, or has been conducted of that subject, or imply that the subject is involved in dishonest conduct.
            5.2.3. A provider must not record film inside any court, tribunal, conciliation or mediation service or centre, or any other quasi-judicial facility.
            5.2.4. A provider must not record film inside any medical or health service or centre
            Victorian YVorkConer
            Effective 1 July 2014
            5.2.5. A provider must only conduct surveillance or observation and record film from a public vantage point during an investigation. A provider must
            avoid any act or behaviour which might unreasonably interfere with a person’s legitimate expectation of, or right to, privacy. Examples of unreasonable interference include, but are not limited to observation and film recording of:
   persons who are not the subject of the investigation, such as family and friends, where it would unreasonably interfere with their privacy;
   a subject within private residential premises used solely for domestic purposes where they would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. An exception would be when business activity is conducted from a separate building not attached to the home, e.g. garage, shed, bungalow or office, and if the subject’s activity is performed in open view to the public without the use of any optical aids;
   any activity within change/wash rooms, showers, lactation rooms, toilets or bedrooms (including those in a workplace), swimming pools, gymnasiums or any indoor facility used by the person under investigation as part of their rehabilitation and/or treatment program;
   any religious or ceremonial occasion such as a christening, wedding or funeral, or whilst the subject is attending a place of worship;
   any educational facility where minors are under care and supervision, e.g. a school, kindergarten, or day care facility;
   any other place or circumstances specified by the VWA.
            5.2.6. A provider must not continue surveillance if it suspects that the subject has become aware of the surveillance. Surveillance must not be recommenced until approved by the instructing officer.
            5.2.7. If a provider is approached or confronted by the subject during an investigation, the provider must, having regard to their own personal safety, attempt to defuse the situation. This might involve departing the location. If considered advisable, it may provide identification to the subject, confirm that it has been instructed by a VWA authorised representative and advise that it will now cease the activity and notify the authorised representative.
            5.3 Mental injury claims
            5.3.1. All providers conducting circumstance investigations for mental injury claims are required to have obtained a certificate of competency from a VWA approved training program such as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.
            Victorian YVorkConer
            Page 10 of 16 CODE OF PRACTICE FOR PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS Authority
            Effective 1 July 2014
            5.3.2. Providers conducting mental injury claim circumstance investigations must:
   Allocate the investigation to an investigator with a minimum of 5 years relevant experience and who has completed the training referred to in 5.3.1;
   Offer the subject the option of being interviewed by an investigator of the same sex;
   Advise the subject of their right to have an independent representative or support person present during the interview and encourage them to exercise this right. If a subject requests or nominates an independent representative or support person, the provider must not commence the interview until that person is present;
   Prepare all relevant information prior to commencing the interview, in order to minimise the time required for the interview;
   When arranging the appointment, tactfully and carefully tell the subject what to expect during the interview. Appointments should be confirmed in writing;
   At all times consider the demeanour and apparent mental state of the subject and determine if it is appropriate to commence or continue the interview at that time, and if necessary, terminate the interview;
   At the start of the interview, clearly outline the subject’s rights and advise of the following:
            • the right to terminate or reschedule the interview, at any time;
            • the right to suspend the interview to have a break at any time;
            • the right not to answer a question that is put to them;
            • that the provider is not responsible for making decisions related to their claim;
            • that the provider has a responsibility to ask a wide range of relevant questions in order to enable the decision maker to assess their claim.
   The provider must limit the length of the interview to 4 hours; if after 4 hours the interview is complete, the provider may extend the time for no longer than 30 minutes to enable the subject to read through and sign their statement, if the subject agrees.
            5.4. Investigation information
            5.4.1. A provider must store any material (including originals) collected for 7 years.
            Victorian YVorkConer
            Page 11 of 16 CODE OF PRACTICE FOR PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS Authority
            Effective 1 July 2014
            5.4.2. A provider must take all steps to ensure that the evidence it obtains in an investigation is stored securely and in such a way as to ensure its admissibility under the Evidence Act 2008.
            5.4.3. A provider must document an audit trail of all digitally stored evidence in a way that:
   Logs all subsequent original images made from the primary image and any person provided with a copy;
   Ensures any action performed on the original image, or subsequent copy, are appropriate and documented (e.g. dovetailing sequences from different cameras into a chronological sequence);
   Records all activity relating to the capture, access, storage or transfer of digital evidence.
   The audit trail documentation should include:
            • Details of the case;
            • Date and time of action;
            • Description and log of images or video footage taken;
            • Details of the media used to capture the images or video footage;
            • Details of how the primary image was created;
            • Details of how the original image was downloaded and created;
            • Details of how additional original images or working copies were created.
            • How the original image was stored.
            • Details of any person who has accessed the original image in a manner that could affect the integrity of the image.
            • Details of any copying that was required to ensure the longevity of the original image.
            • Details of what adjustments were made to the working copy and how they were done.

  14. Hi all,
    Just a question about surveillance, as l understand it, according to Worksafe, a person who is under surveillance can not be video recorded or be under surveillance whilst they are at a medical type service which l assume includes a doctors premise’s and the person can not be under surveillance on private property without permission of the premises’ owner, then at law, would the individual under surveillance have a claim of harassment, stalking etc. against the person conducting the surveillance and harassment, fraud, collusion etc. against the premises’ owner (Doctor) and Worksafe.

    • @ Peter – Hi, in short, no I’m afraid, I don’t think so. I presume you are talking about Vic. From what I’ve read here on aworkcovervictims diary my understanding is surveillance is generally allowed on public land which includes anything into private land from a public place. Video & Audio can have different laws so more information about situation needs to be considered. In any case keep in mind if you are making a criminal complaint (to police) for harassment &/or stalking or breach of privacy under civil laws/common law (tort). In Queensland there is Invasion of Privacy Act which is about Audio recording people including old style ‘phone tapping’ which is a criminal offense. The introduction of smart phones with various apps for recording is a grey area & the law is yet to catch up to be clear.

      To answer your question I would think Worksafe could not be held vicariously responsible for the action or actions of who is conducting surveillance unless there was an unlawful direction which could be proven. The responsibility lies with person or people doing the surveillance. But that assumes they are not employees of Worksafe which could change things.

      Not legal advice, just my view being interested in the law.


      HardRockTuffNut April 12, 2015 at 5:45 pm
      • Thanks for your response, l know that W/C are covered by Admin law but what l have a problem with is how or what do l do for justice, it seems that l am the criminal and have to prove l did not do anything wrong. I have been on W/C for 10 yr and have not sought compo other than weekly payments. Included in the surveillance was photos of my wife who is most upset, so you can see that we have a delema as there is no court action from us pending and all IME (15) stated l have no capacity for employment now nor in the foreseeable future. So what is W/C up to?

        • @Peter, you are correct and they have also done this to me. What you need to do is FOI all the documents including the Agents reasoning and instructions to the PI and the invoce stating costs. I have but so far they will only provide the surveillance report. What they are trying to claim with me is that I am misrepresenting my injury but I am not and I can prove it. They basically are using that excuse to do the surveillance and then trying to twist things to suit their very biased and false allegations. if you get the info under FOI then you have a chance to prove that it is not justified and that they are also breaching Privacy and probably other laws. Just making a complaint without anything solid to substantiate your allegations will just get whitewashed over. FOI the docs and then look to proceed from there. I saw someone on here mention getting a restraining order. That might be possible if you can prove they are not actually acting appropriately given your Claim history and Medical condition. Also show the surveillance to your THP’s and get them to confirm that it is “consistent” with your injury. You also have the right to comment on what they have and if they are misrepresenting what they have then that is “false and misleading” if supplied to another 3rd party. I would also argue it could be defamatory. There are ways of fighting these arseholes who are just doing their job but are more fabricating and manufacturing a false representation of your condition. You can fight this. We all just need to get our heads together about it. Here is some info of the vwa onlines manual:

 The collection process

          Surveillance is undertaken by licensed and trained investigators/surveillance officers registered with WorkSafe.

          Surveillance activity

          All surveillance activity must comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations (including the Private Security Act 2004 (Vic), the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (Vic), the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), the Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic)) and such policies and directions notified by WorkSafe Victoria from time to time.

          Video surveillance activities as part of an occupational rehabilitation program should not occur.

          Strict instructions on the conduct of surveillance should be issued to the surveillance officers, in line with the Surveillance guidelines for PI and Surveillance Form for PI:

          In performing all surveillance activity in connection with the performance of these instructions, the investigator agrees to be bound by the Information Privacy Principles set out in Schedule 1 to the Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic) in the same manner and to the same extent at WorkSafe would be bound by those principles if the surveillance was engaged in by WorkSafe.


          Avoidance of any actions which may unreasonably impinge on the privacy and rights of other people, for example, when using photography, avoid, where practicable, including other individuals such as relatives and friends, who may be in contact with the worker during the surveillance period, in the photograph.

          Collect relevant material

          Only material relevant to the purpose of conducting the surveillance should be collected. There should be a clear separation of facts from opinions and only relevant personal information is to be included in surveillance records.

          Instructions on the manner of collection of personal information include:

          the collection should not involve the commission of a criminal offence or give rise to a civil action, for example, trespass to land or goods
          the collection should not involve entrapment of the worker. Hence, passive observation is permissible, however, any attempts to actively induce the worker into a situation in which that person would not ordinarily and voluntarily enter, thereby creating a false or misleading impression of the person’s disabilities, should not be permitted.

          • Hi Jude,
            Very helpful. I had investigators following me during rehab activities ie. Swimming, gym.
            Do you know if “the restrictions from recording rehab participation”, also applies to NSW as well?

        • @Peter,

          This illustrates my point a bit more about “how” are they justifying it:

 Application to conduct surveillance

          Make an application in writing to conduct surveillance and include a clear statement on the following, in line with the Surveillance Form for PI.

          Purpose and worker details

          Provide a clear statement of the purpose for the surveillance and details of the worker. This includes:

          the name, address and other relevant details of the worker
          the personal characteristics of the worker to minimise the risk of misidentification
          a description of the worker’s premises (for example, a particular office location or building).

          Claim details

          Provide the nature and details of the claim (for example, muscular-skeletal injuries) and the kind of information to be collected. This could include the performance of physical activities that may indicate that the worker is making a false claim (for example, ability to lift objects known to be very heavy).

          Alternative investigative methods

          Provide details of alternative investigative methods that have been considered or undertaken to obtain the information required and the results of these investigations.

          Alternative methods may include:

          interview workers
          interview witnesses
          review agency records
          review worker’s records.

          Cost and benefits

          The relative cost/benefits of undertaking or not undertaking the surveillance, for example:

          an estimate of the financial or other resource costs of the surveillance
          whether the amounts involved in a worker’s compensation claim warrant the costs involved in the surveillance.

          Investigation details

          Record details of the investigator and whether the procedure has been recommended by WorkSafe’s Enforcement Group, Investigations Unit.

          Record how information is to be collected:

          video recordings
          recording of observations in a log
          combinations of the above.

          Period and scope

          The period and scope of the surveillance may include:

          surveillance period (for example, daily)
          surveillance dates
          activities to be observed (for example, gardening, lifting, shopping)
          whether the surveillance is to be confined to the domestic environment or extended beyond the worker’s premises.

          © 2005 Victorian WorkCover Authority Melbourne Australia.

        • @Peter

          And more here:

 Surveillance (activity) investigations

          Surveillance investigations are a claims management tool used by Agents to discreetly determine a worker’s activities and capabilities. These investigations are also referred to as ‘activity reviews’.

          Surveillance should only be used if:

          other less intrusive methods of investigation have been considered and have been assessed to be ineffective and inadequate or have been tried and found to be inconclusive
          there is adequate evidence to suggest the worker may be:
          misrepresenting their disability
          claiming excessive disabilities
          involved in the commission of a fraud.

          Conditions Action

          An initial surveillance investigation

          PI is permitted a maximum of 15 hours (not including travel time)

          If additional hours are required

          PI is to obtain permission from the Agent – Case Manager or suitably qualified person (technical).

          If the PI has been unable to sight the worker within 8 hours of surveillance time

          PI must contact the Agent for further instructions/authorisation.

          Information privacy

          In performing surveillance activities, Private Investigators are bound by the Information Privacy Principles set out in the Information Privacy Act 2000.

          Prohibition on release to third parties

          Agents must instruct Private Investigators not to forward information directly to another third party unless exceptional circumstances apply. Private Investigators must not divulge any information obtained in the course of their instructions to any other person or company without the express written permission of WorkSafe pr its authorised representatives or unless that disclosure is required by law, as specified in the legislation.

          See: Code of practice for private investigators

          The Agent must restrict the contents of the material to relevant personnel on a ‘need to know’ basis.

          See: Access to information & Privacy

          © 2005 Victorian WorkCover Authority Melbourne Australia.

    • @Peter – go to the VWA onlines Manual and type in “survellance” in the search box down bottom on left. It brings up LOTS of intereesting and informative information. Just reading it now. From there you can reference what is in the WIRC and also any Privacy Acts and other Acts relating to PI’s. We should get a little group happening where we research some of these hot topics and together combine the knowledge we find we our own experiences and start a little knowledge database. Anyone interested in helping, just give us a yell.

    • Surveillance is legal where the person under surveillance “would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy”.

      In real terms, this means
      – If you’re in your front yard with no fence, surveillance is okay.
      – If you’re in the front room of your house with no curtains, surveillance is okay.
      – If you’re in your backyard, with fences and the surveillance operative needs to climb a ladder or sit on your neighbours roof to see you, the surveillance is not legal.
      – If you’re in your house with curtains and someone is using a zoom lens on their camera from the street to get pictures of you through a small gap in your curtains, the surveillance is not legal.
      – If you have a window on the side of the house that wouldn’t normally be visible from public property, so someone has had to enter your property to take the pictures of you, the surveillance is not legal.

      This is for Victoria – I’m not sure about other states, but my understanding is that they are similar.

read-before-u-commentThis is a statement pointing you to our seriously injured but esteemed and honourable Social Networking Sites Warning and our comment policy. A must read in the context of a very adversarial workcover system! Remember to mention in which state you reside if you seek advice.

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