Prompted by revelations of workplace discrimination and harassment within its ranks, Ambulance Victoria has now called for an independent review by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) into its frameworks, which AEAV Secretary Brett Adie says has allowed disturbing behaviours and actions to go unchallenged for too long.
“Bullying and workplace harassment is rife inside Ambulance Victoria and it must stop,” says Brett Adie, Secretary of the union for ambulance workers, Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria (AEAV).
“AEAV has received a number of complaints from our members in recent months involving discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment, and much of it is still happening today.
“We’re concerned that the culture within Ambulance Victoria and management practices create an environment where blatant discrimination against paramedics by managers is routine.
“AEAV welcomes this review into sexual harassment and discrimination which is long overdue, but its scope must be expanded to address all forms of bullying and harassment for paramedics to feel safe at work.
“Over recent days the Victorian community has learned of the appalling bullying culture at Ambulance Victoria. Even after incidents are reported, systemic failures mean that many are still subjected to bullying and harassment.
“The current internal investigation process used by Ambulance Victoria does not protect victims of harassment. In one instance, a perpetrator was promoted shortly after Workcover accepted a bullying claim against them. Workers are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal.
“A review which may take 12 months does not protect staff who are experiencing bullying today. Ambulance Victoria has admitted that the current process has failed, so they must step up and protect staff who are being impacted today.
“Staff who are still being bullied and harassed now cannot be asked to resubmit their complaints to a system that has already failed some of them multiple times over years of employment. Many of their tormentors are still in the workplace, and they have no confidence that their employer will protect their safety.
“AEAV calls on Ambulance Victoria to come to the table and work with AEAV representatives and affected workers to develop an independent review and investigation system that protects staff now.
“No one should have to wait 12 months to feel safe at work. The current system has failed them. Ambulance workers need protection now.”
Currently affected paramedics are available for interview but wish to remain anonymous due to fears of reprisal by Ambulance Victoria and the tormentors who remain in service.
Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria (AEAV) is a section of the United Workers Union.