Ambulance Victoria owes its staff a better response than an apology and a “we’ll fix it”, ambulance employees union Ambulance Employees Australia – Victoria (AEAV) said today.
A Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) report released on Tuesday detailed a culture in Ambulance Victoria where bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation were rife, with workers reporting they had been “broken” and felt “unsafe” within the organisation.
AEAV secretary Brett Adie said while he welcomed the organisation’s commitment to adopting the VEOHRC recommendations, there needed to be a complete leadership refresh if the agency and the government were serious about instigating change.
“The Ambulance Victoria CEO issued an apology on Tuesday, but “sorry, we’ll fix it” is not enough,” Mr Adie said.
“The outcomes have highlighted areas of the organisation that have harmed hundreds, if not thousands of Ambulance Victoria staff. So how is it that those responsible can now become the heroes for change?
“After years of ignoring the issues we need to stop pretending they are now the good guys because they asked for change once the culture was exposed.
“A review of the report shows that the only way to ensure a cultural renewal is that the leadership team must be held accountable, and those responsible must be removed from the organisation.
“The report’s release has vindicated what AV workers and I have been saying for a long time – the culture within the organisation is toxic.”
Members have reacted with scepticism to Ambulance Victoria’s response to the report saying “actions will speak louder than words”, “the power imbalance still exists… it’s the same people”, and “the Teflon-coated executive walk away unscathed.”
Mr Adie said that many workers would have burned-out well before the audit and encouraged the Government and the Ambulance Victoria board to act quickly before the harmful culture damaged more lives.
“They’ve already waited twelve months for the outcome and will have to wait many more months to see any real change and then an audit by VEOHRC in 12 months,” he said.
“Workers deserve to know that when they turn to Ambulance Victoria for help, they will be supported and protected, not bullied and intimidated. They need a tangible signal that this is more than just empty promises again.
“Ambulance workers are at the end of their tether, we need immediate action, otherwise more workers will walk away, further contributing to the skills shortage and talent drain.”
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