It has been revealed that former House Rules contestant Nicole Price suffered a 'permanent' psychological injury as a result of being a contestant on the show.
Nicole appeared on the reality series with her friend Fiona Taylor on the 2017 season, and last year won a landmark workers’ compensation case against broadcaster Channel Seven.
Nicole and Fiona were the second team to be voted off their series, in which NSW Workers Compensation Commission found they were deliberately portrayed in a “negative light” by Channel Seven.
The broadcaster was ordered to pay compensation to Nicole, who was then referred to a medical specialist to determine the seriousness of her ‘psychological injury’.
In a medical assessment in March, Nicole was assessed as having 7 per cent “whole person impairment”, but after appealing that result, a subsequent assessment found that Nicole was unlikely to work again as her psychological injury was ‘permanent’.
“In my opinion I accepted Ms Prince as suffering from major depression with features of anxiety and agoraphobia and that her complaints were consistent with this diagnosis,” Dr Julian Parmegiani, a member of the Commission’s Appeal Panel, noted.
“This is equivalent to a whole person psychiatric impairment rating of 22 per cent.”
Dr Parmegiani added that Nicole found simple things difficult. That she “showered on average three times per week” and “could not remember when she last had a haircut”.
The report also revealed Nicole barely left the house, afraid she would be recognised by strangers, and had no contact with friends, having last attended a family function back in 2018 - a cousin’s wedding.
She would not take part in any activities that required “significant intellectual effort” and was “only able to read for 15 to 20 minutes before losing focus”.
“I believe that she cannot work at all,” Dr Parmegiani said, adding Nicole rated her energy at 10 per cent of former levels.
Channel Seven also had a doctor make a medical assessment, providing his own report. Dr John Roberts claimed Nicole’s symptoms were “highly improbable” and it was “premature” to assess her as permanently impaired.
However, the full Appeal Panel, including two expert medical practitioners, did not agree, stating “we do not share Dr Roberts’ opinion of the appellant’s symptoms being disproportionate and otherwise highly improbable”.
“We have read the documents contained in the application which include internet commentary derogating the appellant,” they said.
“We observe that it is not surprising that the appellant developed a serious psychological illness following such sustained abuse.
“The AP is satisfied that the assessment of impairment is permanent. Our expert medical view is that there is no likelihood of improvement.”
Channel Seven has been contacted for comment.
The finding in 2019 ruled the reality TV contestant was technically an employee of the network while appearing on the series, and had incurred serious ‘psychological injury’ as a direct result of appearing on the show.
The initial ruling marked a landmark moment for Australian reality TV.
Was Nicole found not to be a worker employed by Seven, the network would not have been responsible for any injury sustained.
The contestant even signed a contract that stipulated; “your participation in the program is not employment, does not create an employer/employee relationship between Seven and you and is not subject to any award or collective bargaining or workplace agreement and does not entitle you to any wages, salary, corporate benefits, superannuation, workers compensation benefits or any other compensation”.
She was upheld as an employed worker regardless.