Representatives of ambulance unions around Australasia came together in Adelaide recently to share information and work towards common goals at the annual conference of the National Council of Ambulance Unions (NCAU).
The first agenda item for the Council to consider was the inclusion of New Zealand Ambulance Union, First Union. First Union has been attending NCAU as an observer and contributing to the discussion for a number of years and the Council determined to accept their application as a full member Union of NCAU. This in turn resulted in a resolution regarding changing the name of NCAU to the Australasian Council of Ambulance Unions (ACAU)in order to acknowledge the contribution of our comrades across the Tasman.
During the two-day conference, the union from each state provided a report on current work and future campaign plans and a number of guest speakers gave presentations which provided some interesting information, in particular –
Jim Arneman reported on the work he is part of with the Council of Ambulance Authorities Inc. (CAA) around health and wellbeing strategy. NCAU / ACAU has been recognised by the CAA as a major stakeholder and as such has been included in work being done across all ambulance agencies in regards to mental health and wellbeing. Some of the work being looked at in regards to addressing cultural barriers to a healthy workforce is encouraging and AEAV representatives will continue to promote this to AV.
Professor Sharon Lawn and Dr Louise Roberts from Flinders University have completed a literature review into mental health of first responders for the AEA SA. The review into peer-reviewed and grey qualitative literature, addressed the psychological, physical and social wellbeing of paramedics, ambulance officers, ambulance volunteers and call takers - looking for information to inform a number of questions we all grapple with. The questions used to frame the research were around what impact does emergency work have, what impact does workplace stress have, what role does stigma and self-stigma play, how do officers articulate their specific needs in these areas, how are symptoms of mental health strain reported by organisations, what other factors influence utilisation of support available, how is mental health affected by workflow, nature of work and changing roles and what effects do organisational structures addressing respite, debriefing and workload have on officers' psychological and physical wellbeing.
Paul Fisher AHPRA Executive Officer for the Paramedicine Board of Australia and Keith Driscoll Practitioner member of the Paramedicine Board of Australia gave an update on the progress of the almost 12-month-old Registration process for Paramedicine. Mr Fisher and Driscoll provided information on numbers of paramedics registered, numbers of notifications received by AHPRA in relation to paramedics and took questions from the floor regarding particular areas of interest and concern.
Senator Anne Urquhart provided a report on the Senate Inquiry – Mental Health of First Responders and provided insight into the submissions received by the Senators during the inquiry and committed to continue to speak up to progress these issues on the national agenda.
There are a number of Executive positions on NCAU/ACAU and we are happy to advise that United Voice members fill two of these national positions. These two representatives will ensure Victorian Paramedics have a voice at this national forum and will ensure we act as a national voice on important issues and take advantage of a membership that reaches across four states and territories.
If you would like a copy of the AEAV presentation, please request a copy from [email protected]