Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 1 December 2022) . . Page.. 4163 ..
It is not just the health of Canberrans that is being put at risk; it is also the health of the ambulance officers themselves. A review in New South Wales found that those working in health care were more than twice as likely to claim for psychological injury than other workers, with paramedics most likely to claim for PTSD.
Research by Beyond Blue and others shows that there has been an 11 per cent increase in PTSD reported by ambulance officers. Those interviewed for the studies reported a lack of adequate support, compensation to meet financial burdens or proper redeployment, with some losing as much as $30,000 out of their pay package.
PTSD, diabetes, inhibited mental performance, increased risk of injury and accidents, weight gain, depression, and anxiety from chronic fatigue are all consequences that are being faced by our paramedics, who are working long hours without adequate breaks, holidays and time off. Most of the research on PTSD and other health problems has been done elsewhere, with no data available in the ACT.
It is an ongoing roundabout of being not enough and not adequate and, everywhere, a lack of detail. In this motion I am calling on the minister to detail to the Assembly all actions he has taken to address the issues raised by the ambulance officers—issues over additional staffing; how rosters are being managed and will be adjusted; what is being done about the workload through increased incidents; and how the minister intends to respond to their health concerns—and to report back on the first sitting day of 2023.
I, along with the paramedics on the front line, will look forward to hearing from him. In my discussions with the minister today in relation to this motion, I was pleased to hear that he will agree to the “calls on” in this motion. I know he will be talking to the amendment that he has circulated and which the Canberra Liberals support. I think that is a good outcome, and the community will be looking forward to seeing, on what has been a long issue, some outcomes and a resolution, and working towards correcting some of the issues that our paramedics have been facing.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (3.57): I thank Mr Milligan for his motion today. We will be supporting it, as we do support our paramedics, with some minor changes. We have had a discussion with him, and Mr Braddock and the Greens as well, who support the amendment. I will move that amendment now:
Omit all text after paragraph (1)(b), substitute:
“(2) further notes that:
(a) annual reports show that demand has increased by 11 percent over the last year;
(b) major issues for the paramedics present at the meeting include long night shifts, with paramedic rosters scheduling workers on back-to-back night shifts of 14 hours long per night;