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CFA refuses to fund mental health treatment for woman who was punched, duct-taped to fire truck


Elizabeth De Rosa said she had already provided the CFA with extensive medical records for her daughter.

In another letter dated last Thursday, Bergles warned that funding for travel and accommodation costs associated with treatment in Melbourne could be cut if Katelin De Rosa fails to provide further medical information within 28 days.

Katelin De Rosa has launched legal action against the CFA over allegations of serious assault at the Eaglehawk fire station in 2017.

The CFA has also refused to pay several of De Rosa’s medical costs from treatment by Bendigo Health, and instructed her to make claims as a public patient under Medicare, according to her mother.

Elizabeth said her daughter was again hospitalised in Bendigo following the CFA’s recent rejection of her funding request.

“Their approach has exacerbated Katelin’s mental health issues to the point where she is under full-time care. Due to their current actions, things are just getting worse,” Elizabeth told The Age.


“The CFA has failed us in its claims about support. They had agreed to financially support Katelin with her mental health needs, and now they are trying to wriggle out of it.”

She referred to CFA correspondence from August 2021, when CFA general manager of people and culture John Hussey appeared to give an undertaking to cover the cost of De Rosa’s treatment.

“The CFA confirms that it will continue to provide Katelin with support through the VCS and is committed to exploring ways in which to provide Katelin with further support,” Hussey said in a letter in August 2021.

“If you or Katelin and her mother have any specific suggestions as to appropriate supports that could be provided, we encourage you to raise them with CFA so that they can be considered.”

Elizabeth also received assurance from then-police minister Lisa Neville, who in an April 2020 letter said: “The CFA will continue to case manage the claim and communicate with you regarding your family’s ongoing needs and circumstances.”

Last week, a CFA spokeswoman said the organisation required relevant medical information when assessing entitlements under its volunteer compensation scheme.

“When additional treatment is requested, there are occasions where CFA will require an assessment by an independent medical specialist to determine if the treatment is linked to the compensable injury under the scheme,” the spokeswoman said.

“Once provided, and if assessed as being linked to the injury, support options can be considered.”

De Rosa’s alleged abuse first came to light in December 2017, when CCTV footage of her attack was leaked to the media, which sparked an internal investigation by the CFA.


Four members were immediately stood down by then-CFA chief executive Frances Diver, who said at the time she was “sickened” by the incident.

While the CFA referred the matter to police and WorkSafe, no charges were ever laid. At the time, De Rosa and her mother were unwilling to take the matter further and claimed the CFA did not provide all CCTV footage of the incident.

After years of failed negotiations with the CFA, De Rosa and her mother decided to proceed with the civil case against the organisation in October last year.

De Rosa and her mother, Elizabeth, who is acting as her daughter’s litigation guardian, have both consented to The Age publishing disturbing details of her alleged abuse contained in legal documents and the devastating toll it has had on her life.

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

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