Going with the flow

The integrated ethnic communities forming the new multicultural Australia may have been influenced by the Cosmos during their lives, or by the laws which govern the Brownian movements of particles in a medium. This is pure speculation. What is clear is that many immigrants were going with the prevailing cultural flow. They adopted, with some exuberance, an old Aussie tradition. Workers’ compensation was a well-known lurk; as were reported claims for neck injuries (whip lash) resulting from obviously minor accidents involving close relatives; RSI (repetitive strain injury) was claimed even when no physical work had been involved.

Clever refugees widened the game. They obtained additional low-rent public accommodation because their families were suddenly unable to get along with one another; refugee family structures were denied when the alternative offered additional benefits (eg. a wife becomes a sister, thereby enabling an enhanced family reunion); refugees were able to change their personal particulars (except gender, nature being inflexible) – that is, they were not what they now are (how is officialdom to know better?); doctor-shopping, with prescription (ie. subsidised) medication being posted overseas; accompanied minors being let loose on arrival.

That these pattern claims had only a brief lifetime suggests that the lurks were countered successfully. But there was the issue of the role of certain medical practitioners and gullible public officials . With the Minister’s consent, I ended the personal particulars practice. The insurance companies prevented further whip lash. A serious attempt to reduce ‘mediterranean backs’ claims was reportedly unsuccessful; yet an Immigration colleague of mine had pointed out to him, by the owner of a taverna on a Greek island, a number of men working their farms – they were, he said, Australians who had retired on compensation.

Lurks do tend to wither in time. Yet a team member of mine had his medico offer to write RSI as the cause of an injury resulting from a gardening accident. It was significant that the take up or creation of loopholes was multiethnic, indicating either adaptation or that men behave uniformly whatever their cultural origin.