ACT paramedics and Transport Workers Union calls for better working conditions, staffing and support from the Emergency Services Agency

ACT paramedics and Transport Workers Union calls for better working conditions, staffing and support from the Emergency Services Agency

More than half of the ACT’s paramedics gathered at an ambulance station in northern Canberra to protest current working conditions.

The ACT Ambulance Service, supported by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), held a union meeting to call for a better listing system, more support from the Emergency Services Agency ESA, and better working conditions.

The union said paramedics faced long night shifts with little support and a faulty communication system.

Yesterday, more than half of Canberra’s 220 paramedics supported the TWU’s campaign for better staffing and conditions.

The group also cast a vote of no confidence in Emergency Services Commissioner Georgeina Whelan.

ACT Paramedic Darren Neville said current staffing was a major issue, but he didn’t think the government was listening to this feedback.

«We do 14 consecutive night shifts, 10 hours apart. So you work 28 hours out of 38 hours,» he said.

«We don’t feel like we’re being listened to or taken seriously.»

‘I think it’s time to end’

The proposed resolutions were accepted unanimously by the union members present.(ABC News: Mark Moore)

ACT paramedic Simon Gallagher spoke at the meeting and offered the resolution approving an improved posting system to be implemented by July 2023.

Mr Gallagher said the current staffing is hurting workers and driving them off their feet.

He said paramedics were exhausted after long shifts, and many of them nearly fell asleep on the way home.

«exhausting [and] «It’s dangerous not just for us, but for everyone involved,» Gallagher said.

«I don’t know how many people half fall asleep on their way home after a night shift – I’ve certainly fallen asleep in a series of lights, ‘what am I doing?’

On the side of the ambulance
Paramedics wrote protest messages against working conditions in ambulances.(Provided: Facebook)

«I think it’s time to finish.»

«Hear, hear» sounds came from the gathered paramedics.

Commissioner Whelan said the new staff will provide two things: adequate staffing for the welfare of paramedics and community safety.

«It will offer a roster system to meet the demands of a growing ACT community, but [it] We will also address the training, fatigue, well-being and well-being of our paramedics.”

This kind of squad will be the only one of its kind in Australia.»

He said that while developing the staff, the government has invested «significant amounts» of money to increase the number of paramedics and reduce staff overwork.

But listing is just one of the concerns ACT paramedics have.

Ben Sweaney of the Transport Workers Union said the overhaul of the contact center had failed.

«The only ComCen program has been delayed for seven years and has brought nothing but a uniform change,» he said.

«The ComCen is, unfortunately, a rudderless ship lost in the fog at sea while doing an average of 5,000 jobs a month.»

Vote of no confidence for the commissioner

A gray-haired woman in an emergency uniform looks serious.
ACT ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan says the district has nothing but respect and gratitude to its paramedics.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

The Transport Workers Union voted unanimously against Commissioner Whelan.

Commissioner Whelan said he has been working with the paramedic leadership team at the ESA and TWU to modernize the ACT Ambulance Service, and has done so since his appointment as commissioner in 2019.

He said he respected the views of paramedics and the TWU, but was disappointed by the vote of no confidence.

«As you can imagine, I am very disappointed that there will be a vote of no confidence, but I will continue to do what I have always done, namely working with the ambulance chief to ensure we have a safe and capable ambulance service,» he said.

“The paramedics who work with me every day know how committed I am to this organization and its services, and I stand behind the work I have contributed to this day.”

Commissioner Whelan said he greatly appreciated the work of paramedics in the area, despite a vote of no confidence against him.

«I have nothing but respect and gratitude for the hard work paramedics are doing here at the 24/7 ACT,» he said.

“I too enjoy the services an ambulance provides, and as a citizen of this community – as I do as commissioner – I am grateful for what they do every day.”

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