A detailed report that is expected to find bullying, discrimination, victimisation and sexual harassment rife throughout Ambulance Victoria should be a watershed moment, and present an opportunity for seismic cultural reform that must not be missed, the Ambulance employees’ union said today.
“Early information released by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission indicates that large numbers of AV staff have reported serious issues including bullying and sexual harassment to the inquiry,” AEAV secretary Brett Adie said today.
“Issues within Ambulance Victoria have been exposed in the most recent People Matters survey that show job satisfaction plummeting to the lowest levels in the state’s health system – just one of a large number of atrociously performing Ambulance Victoria indicators.”
Members have detailed to AEAV examples of a toxic culture, including:
– An Ambulance Victoria manager promoted after WorkCover found a claim of bullying by the manager substantiated.
– A female Paramedic told that she needed to make a decision between having a family and applying for a Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance course.
– Paramedics reporting a current senior Ambulance Victoria manager who, whilst working on the road, bragged about how many graduates he could make cry.
“We are confident that issues such as these will come to light and paint a picture of a toxic workplace culture that has been protected and perpetuated by senior executives within the organisation,” Mr Adie said.
“It is unfathomable that AV could have allowed its own staff to be so poorly treated and for harmful practices to prevail for so long. The AEAV has highlighted the indicators which have been ignored or downplayed by AV for a long time.
“The findings due within a week (EDS: November 30) should at the very least lay the foundation for an apology from Ambulance Victoria and the implementation of an independent complaint system – measures that the AEAV have advocated for, and we hope to see in Volume One.
“But that’s the least we should expect. This report will be the line-in-the sand moment for AV and cannot just sit on the shelf with other historical reviews that were not acted on.”
Mr Adie said that given the track record of Ambulance workers raising concerns that were never addressed, he was calling on the Victorian government to:
– Hold accountable senior executives within Ambulance Victoria by sacking those that protected and perpetuated the toxic culture.
– A formal Victorian Government apology to workers who have been impacted by inadequate or non-existent resolution procedures.
– Reform, expand and fully fund an independent investigation unit with autonomy to conduct investigations and support staff without bias.
– Endorse and fully fund all the recommendations.
– Take an active role in ensuring the recommendations are implemented to the fullest extent possible.
“The historical mandate of performance at all costs has destroyed careers and resulted in staff feeling their contribution is not valued. Rebuilding trust is going to take more than just words,” Mr Adie said. “Funding must flow to fix the problems that have been identified.
“In addition, those responsible must be removed from the organisation for there to be any hope of transformational change.
“AV should implement a culture in which ambulance workers are no longer living in fear of retribution from their managers if they raise legitimate concerns.
“Ambulance Victoria should be the model organisation for staff welfare, not for ignorance, arrogance and intimidation.
“We hope the biggest lesson from this cultural review will be that AV lifts its eyes from implementing KPIs at all costs, and moves to a sustainable model which values the contribution and experience of all employees.
“The release of Volume One will be a great step forward and we look forward to continuing to work with VEOHRC to ensure Volume Two continues to drive a cultural shift.”
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