Employer of slain mental health worker ruled negligent

MISSED: Mental health worker Michael Corkhill died at the hands of a mentally ill man he was meeting through work.
MISSED: Mental health worker Michael Corkhill died at the hands of a mentally ill man he was meeting through work.

THE North Coast employer of murdered mental health worker Michael Corkhill pleaded guilty in the Industrial Court of New South Wales this week for failing to ensure a safe working environment for its staff.

WorkCover instituted proceedings against On Track Community Programs in August 2011, after initially clearing the service of any negligence in Mr Corkhill's death at the hands of one of his clients, David Rodriguez, during a home visit in East Lismore nearly four years ago.

WorkCover now alleges that there was a known risk that Rodriguez might become violent and should have insisted two employees be present to accept him into its program following his discharge from the Lismore Adult Mental Health Unit (previously the Richmond Clinic).

The workplace authority added that On Track should have not accepted Rodriguez without a written discharge summary from the unit.

Rodriguez was charged with Mr Corkhill's murder but found not guilty on the grounds of mental illness in the Supreme Court in 2010.

Mr Corkhill's family, including his partner of 13 years, Giovanni Cordeiro, fiercely fought the initial ruling, saying it blamed Mr Corkhill for just doing his job and caring about his clients.

A weary Mr Cordeiro told The Echo this week that his life had effectively been on hold since his partner's death and that he intended to deliver a victim impact statement to the three-day sentencing hearing listed in Sydney next month.

"Initially I felt flat about (the plea) because, in spite of achieving the outcome we were seeking, it doesn't bring Michael back," he said.

"It just lays bare the fact that no matter what the outcome, there is still no Michael."

Mr Cordeiro described Mr Corkhill as an extraordinary man and a "dedicated, highly skilled professional" who cared deeply about his clients.

He has no ill-will towards Rodriguez, but has been frustrated by the judicial delays.

Mr Corkhill's death sent shockwaves through the mental health sector and the wider community, sparking calls for an overhaul of the current system.

Australian Services Union North Coast organiser Naomi Worrall said that while nothing could make up for the tragic loss that occurred, steps must be taken to prevent the same happening to any other worker or their family.

"We cannot take it for granted that employers will have adequate workplace protections in place," she said.

"Workers must have strong representation on WH&S matters; the risks are just too great, it is just too important.

"No one should have to go through what Michael and his family have gone through simply because he was doing his job.

"No family should have to hear their loved one will not be returning home from work."

Topics:  court murder accused on track community programs workcover

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Traditional Country music festival across the region

LINE UP: Country singer Reg Poole.

The Cedar Guitar Country Music Awards 2017

Jimmy Willing returns to punk roots in big smoke

PUNK ART: Jimmy Willing with the print to be exhibited at The Night Of The Iguana at the Newsagency Gallery in Petersham Sydney. INSET: Jimmy Willing in his punk rock days.

Willing exhibits in Sydney to celebrate Iggy Pop's 70th birthday

My right as a feminist to be on The Bachelor?

As mother of three daughters future seems bleak in Bachelor era

Local Partners

Chaos creates beauty at Lismore City Hall

Acclaimed director brings special performance to Lismore - Out Of Chaos Comes Beauty

Goodbye Cunny, hello Josh

YOUNG: Australian comedian and Youtube star Josh Wade.

Wade is getting rid of the character that made him an online star

A super hot date with Lismore's cowboys

GIG: Poster for the Humans of Lismore show this August 2017.

Humans of Lismore comedy show is on this weekend

Lismore will turn into a Neon Garden this NYE

FUN: The main space at the Tropical Fruits New Year's Party 2015/2016.

Tropical Fruits are also looking for a new club manager

Survivor twist bound to shock

TARA Pitt benefited from a shock twist on Australian Survivor, but will everyone be happy? She’s bracing for a viewer backlash.

The Block goes back to school with gorgeous kids rooms

Ronnie and Georgia's winning kids bedroom in a scene from The Block.

ONE magical bedroom received the first perfect score of the season.

A prince is sailing around the Whitsundays

Prince of Denmark Frederik is racing on Wild Oats in the Whitsundays.

Rumours circulating about where the princess is

What's on the small screen this week

Rob Collins and Jessica Marais in a scene from season two of The Wrong Girl.

JESSICA Marais returns in The Wrong Girl.

Playing Tom Cruise's wife was a dream for Sarah Wright

Tom Cruise and Sarah Wright in American Made.

The actress stars opposite Cruise in the action comedy

Taylor Swift wipes presence off social media

Singer Taylor Swift has deleted her social media accounts

Social media wipeout prompts rumours of a new album

Swedish TV drama turns up heat

Louise Nyvall stars in the Swedish TV series Farang.

Scandinavian crime thriller goes troppo

199 home sites approved in Evans Head

The Evans Head Manufactured Home Estate plans. Zoran Architecture.

Manufactured Home estate approved near aerodrome

Airbnb, Stayz and co tipped to squeeze Coast housing market

HOLIDAY BOOM: Airbnb letting is putting a further squeeze on long-term rentals.

Councils exploring options to manage the industry

Developer tears up couple's contract for new home

Jade and Edward Roberts were stung by the sunset clause on the first day of their honeymoon.

The developer has the right to do this under the sunset clause

Reports of Ibrahim family connections to farm and food hub

John Ibrahimat Bluesfest 2012.

REPORTS circulate colourful Sydney family have investments on the NR

Stunning, heritage-listed Coast home going under the hammer

STUNNING: Buderim House, a stunning heritage-listed Queenslander estate, is going to auction.

Coast home that played host to royalty is set for auction

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!