An Australian politician has been caught up in a controversy over his request to have the state of Victoria pay for a Nintendo Wii for a man who claims he needs it as a “rehabilitation aid” to help him get over panic attacks.
The whole mess started when Assistant Opposition Treasurer and Liberal MP Gordon Rich-Phillips asked Victoria State’s WorkCover Authority to pay for “a certain rehabilitation aid” for one of his constituents. It soon came to light that the “aid” in question was a Nintendo Wii, however, and that WorkCover had already assessed and rejected the claim.
Of course, the Wii’s usefulness as a rehab tool is already well established, but in this case the claimant isn’t suffering from a physical injury: He says he suffers from panic attacks whenever he tries to go to work as a “funeral celebrant” and hasn’t worked in four years because of it.
“I can’t articulate the effect it has had on me,” he said. “I’ve tried to go to work but every time I do I have a panic attack.”
How the Wii would help him deal with his panic attacks isn’t explained and even Rich-Phillips admitted the case is “complicated,” although he maintained that WorkCover failed to take the matter seriously. Does he really wonder why? The Wii is a fantastic tool and dismissing it out-of-hand is a foolish mistake to make, but I think it’s safe to say that “no” was the right answer this time around.