What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 20 January 2020 – 26 January 2020

NSW Paramedics in Crisis

NSW Audit Office 2017 ‘Managing Demand for Ambulance Services’: https://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/pdf-downloads/Managing%20demand%20for%20ambulance%20services.pdf

Australian Paramedic Association Survey: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/58451/0091%20Australian%20Paramedics%20Association%20NSW.pdf

A recent report published by the New South Wales Audit Office has found that overtime payouts to NSW paramedics have ballooned from $74.8 million in 2017–18 to $83.1 million in 2018–19. The report found that overtime now comprises almost 10 per cent of total NSW Ambulance salary and wages. The report also confirmed concerns that paramedics are being overworked. The Audit Office’s report showed that inadequate staffing meant paramedics often missed meal breaks during 12-hour shifts. These overtime habits have places paramedics at risk of fatigue and stress. The report also showed that paramedics were fearful of making treating errors in those working conditions, and that the demands of the job have led to accidents behind the wheel. Steve McDowell, a former paramedic and founder of the emergency services support group ‘No More Neglect’ said ‘[i]t is clear to on-road paramedics and control centre staff that they are a “bum on a seat”.’ In other words, the welfare and fatigue are considered secondary to meeting the NSW Ambulance’s key performance indicators. ‘The impact upon morale, psychological welfare and fatigue are immeasurable for staff who don’t feel they are valued or that their needs are being met on a regular basis,’ McDowell said. He also noted that higher sick leave statistics were symptomatic of strained resources and poor working conditions. Indeed, the 2017 NSW Ambulance report found that in 2016–17 paramedic staff took an average of 85 hours of sick leave each, a rate ‘considerably higher than the NSW Health average of 62 hours.’ Importantly, the findings of the 2019 Audit Office report take place against the backdrop of increased rates of workplace bullying, harassment, intimidation and abuse among NSW Ambulance employees. An Australian Paramedics Association (APA) survey, submitted to a 2017 parliamentary inquiry, found that more than 70 per cent of NSW Ambulance staff reported experiencing bullying. The survey also found that 59 percent of those who made a complaint to NSW Ambulance about bullying felt that their complaint was unresolved. While APA (NSW) secretary Steve Pearce welcomed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s pledge to fund 700 additional paramedics, the additional funding and resources are still unlikely to meet demands.

Job Ad Against ‘Over-Entitled Millennials’ Considered Discrimination

Job hunting site, seek.com.au, has forced a user to remove a job advertisement which discouraged ‘over entitled millennials’ from applying, citing a breach of age discrimination requirements. The listing stipulated that the ideal candidate would be well-presented, eager to learn, proficient with a computer and ‘unfortunately, the successful applicant will not be an over entitled millennial with an inflated sense of entitlement.’ The advertisement’s author, Angela Cramp of the Warilla Licensed Post Office, defended the statement, saying it wasn’t a joke. ‘We want someone who understands that it is an entry-level job,’ she told nine.com.au. ‘If they think they will be equal to people who have been doing this job for five years just because they got there on the first day, then I’d rather them not bother or waste our time applying for our job.’ While the statement was removed by Seek, which flagged the post as a breach of anti-discrimination laws, Ms Cramp said that the post ‘is by no means age discrimination.’ Standing by her post, Ms Cramp said that ‘[i]t’s time to get through to young people – there are job requirements, you need to take instructions and if you’ve never heard the word ‘no’ in your life, this isn’t for you so don’t waste your time or mine in applying.’