A worker at a conservative Christian organisation who relied on pornography to relieve his stress has won compensation after suffering a stroke in the office.

Michael Bowker, 47, served as national office manager for Family Voice Australia in Adelaide when he collapsed in April 2016.

The South African native from a ‘seriously religious family’ had struggled with dependence on pornography after witnessing a drive-by shooting in 1993, but he ramped up his consumption in the weeks running up to his stroke.

An employment tribunal heard how Mr Bowker ‘felt this was in conflict with his religious beliefs and moral standards’ and ‘he believed looking at pornography was a sin’.


Family Voice Australia, which has campaigned against same-sex marriage and sex work, argued watching porn contributed to his stress.

But tribunal deputy president Stephen Lieschke said workplace anxiety caused by poor staff morale, high workload and long hours drove him to watch the explicit videos and ‘significantly contributed’ to his stroke.

He ruled the management style of then-national director Dr David Phillips ‘demoralised staff’ and that ‘tensions in the office were palpable’ when he came in.

Mr Bowker, 47, was in hospital for three months after his stroke and suffered from ‘various complications’. The tribunal ruled he remained ‘significantly impaired’ ever since despite making improvements.

Family Voice Australia were told to pay two years of weekly compensation payments to the anxiety Mr Bowker suffered at work.

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