Hundreds of paramedics rallied on December 11 for a better deal from the Victorian government. Poor pay and long hours have adversely affected ambulance response times. Negotiations have been delayed 16 months by the Napthine government.
Victorian paramedics are the highest trained and achieve the best cardiac arrest survival outcomes in Australia. Yet they are also the lowest paid paramedics in the country. Victoria pays its paramedics up to 30% less than other states. Victorian paramedics are finding it harder and hard to support their families on their current wages.
This is why up to half of all Victorian paramedics -- 1500 -- are planning to leave Victoria to practice their skills in other states that have far better wages and conditions, a recent survey found. An exodus of this many paramedics would have a devastating impact on emergency reponse times in Victoria and put lives at risk.
Julie Wilson, who lost a son due to ambulance delays, told the protest: "The first step in providing Victorians a reliable and functional ambulance is to to pay you, the workers correctly."
Steve McGhie, general secretary of AEA Victoria, said: "This is not just about wages and conditions, this is about safety for Victorians. If we don't have a good outcome in this campaign, our ambulance service will be decimated.
"The Napthine government is seeking to turn the clock back 50 years with greater utilisation of volunteers to replace trained paramedics. While volunteers do a good job, they can not replace paid paramedics."
Paramedics will rally again in late January.
[Visit www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/value-our-ambos to sign a petition and for updates on the campaign.]