On the 4th of February Ambulance Victoria COO, Libby Murphy sent an email to a cohort of paramedics involved in a lateral transfer process for Team Manager and Senior Team Manager positions.
Members had received verbal offers of appointment for management positions that had later been retracted based on Libby’s email which outlined that AV had failed to implement and follow fair internal recruitment processes.
These “processes” (or lack of) have been an issue that the union has been demanding Ambulance Victoria address since 2019 with little to no response from the service. More recently, the union commenced discussions with the VPSC to outline AV’s failure to adhere to public sector employment principles.
What is important about the admissions by AV in the email is that all the process failures identified have been used by certain managers to build a “boys club” and to preference mates into career advancement opportunities. These failures (as detailed by AV) include:
- the absence of an independent member on the panel, where a panel was used
- the assessment matrix and decision-making criteria were not readily available to the applicants subject to the decision
- there is evidence of inconsistency in the decision-making process
- a scoring matrix was not used across all regions for assessment
- there is no selection report or documentation as to the rationale for decision making where a competitive selection occurred, in one region the method used was Area Manager determination of ‘best fit’.
It is understandable that members who were verbally offered management positions might feel disappointed that offers have now been withdrawn and that they will need to reapply for positions. The union however accepts AV’s decision to re-advertise and follow a fair recruitment process to ensure workplace recruitment can shift from who-you-know to merit-based outcomes. To not accept the re-advertisement would be to endorse the culture of favouritism and discrimination which has harmed so many AV staff and destroyed careers.
The question for AV is what will the service do about the people who have allowed there to be unfair recruitment “processes” for so long?
Surely those Directors who have failed to adhere to policies and procedures should be held accountable. Furthermore, those in recruitment who should be equipped to ensure a fair process for recruitment be held to account also. A paramedic who unintentionally makes an error on a case sheet may be accused of fraud and threatened with termination, but a director cherry picking their mates for promotion is reasonable?
The union disagrees.
So, what’s next?
Although Libby’s admission of significant internal recruitment flaws is a step in the right direction, the union will not be satisfied until AV has an appropriate pathway for reviewing recruitment decisions other than members submitting a grievance. The AEAV will continue discussions with the VPSC on this matter. In addition, the union will be lobbying AV to ensure recruitment decisions are made using a range of criteria, rather than the subjective outcomes of an interview. You can read more about the weighting of the selection tools here.