Australian medic says staff bullied him

The paramedic claims to have received harassing emails while on leave and feeling intimidated during meetings with management staff

By Nino Bucci
Canberra Times

CANBERRA, Australia — Senior ACT ambulance service staff have allegedly bullied a paramedic since March last year, leaving him "victimised and disturbed".

The paramedic claims to have received harassing emails while on leave and feeling intimidated during meetings with management staff.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety has appointed former deputy director of prosecutions Michael Chilcott to review the conduct of staff.

A department spokeswoman said Mr Chilcott would review a single allegation of misconduct, but the paramedic raised several concerns with Emergency Services Minister Simon Corbell in the email which prompted the review.

"I believe I have experienced bullying, harassment and victimisation from ACT Ambulance Executive for the past 10 or so months," the paramedic says.

"This has been a prolonged, drawn out, stressful and demoralising situation. I feel significantly singled out, bullied and harassed over these issues. I do not feel that any step in this 'process' has been handled appropriately or with procedural fairness.

"In my eyes this has been purely victimisation and discrimination and that it has been harsh and unconscionable."

The conflict between the paramedic and management is alleged to have started because of concerns about secondary employment approval raised by the ACT Ambulance Service.

Paramedics often receive approval to work with private ambulance service providers, which are employed at events such as race days or concerts.

The paramedic was denied approval and is considering legal action against the service over restraint of trade.

On December 6, the paramedic met management staff to discuss the secondary employment stalemate.

Six days later, the paramedic's legal representative sent a letter to one of the staff who had been questioning his client. He said the experience had left his client "most disturbed and shaken".Another paramedic, who did not wish to be named, said it was a good sign a colleague had decided to speak up about concerns within the service.

Government data issued last week showed the ACT had the second-highest attrition rates for paramedics in the country, with almost 8 per cent leaving in the 2009-10 financial year.

The ACT previously had the worst attrition rate in Australia, with more than 10 per cent leaving in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

"It's encouraging that somebody has spoken out, but unfortunately the whistleblower often goes down with the case they blow the whistle on," the paramedic said. "This is just another indication of how inappropriate the conduct of those running the ambulance service is."

A Department of Justice and Community Safety spokeswoman said the allegations would be taken seriously. "In line with standard practice, the review is to gather relevant information, to consider the circumstances surrounding the individual concerns and then to determine whether a full investigation is warranted."

Copyright 2011 The Federal Capital Press of Australia PTY Limited
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