NSW Government responds to bullying inquiry in Emergency Services
Jan 24, 2019
NSW Legislative Council inquiry into bullying in the Emergency Services
July 24, 2018
The cross-party New South Wales Parliamentary Report entitled Emergency services agencies was tabled on 24th July 2018.
The committee was convened to report on, among other things, the prevalence of bullying, harassment and discrimination within NSW Emergency Services. As well, the committee investigated the effectiveness of existing protocols and procedures designed to manage and resolve bullying, harassment and discrimination complaints within the agencies.
The committee inquiry revealed that while bullying problems in the NSW Ambulance Service were the most extreme, every NSW emergency service had an unacceptable and endemic problem with bullying and harassment.
The committee received 194 submissions and 60 supplementary submissions, and held six public hearings at Parliament House in Sydney.
The report as well as submissions, transcripts of evidence and other related documents may be found on the Parliament of NSW website.
Some of the recommendations pertained to specific agencies. The Government is required to consider the report and respond to the recommendations within six months. In Media Release dated 25th July 2018, the NSW Shadow Minister for Police, Corrections and Emergency Services, Mr Guy Zangari MP, stated:
“It is clear from the Inquiry’s findings that this Government has allowed a culture of bullying and harassment of our emergency services workers to fester. Our emergency services workers and volunteers put their lives on the line for the people of New South Wales, we have a duty to ensure that they are supported and cared for in the workplace.
I urge the Government to adopt the recommendations of the Inquiry immediately.”
Let us hope that this inquiry is a once-and-for-all catalyst of major, positive change in the NSW Emergency Services.
The report made 27 Recommendations. The first recommendation is:
That the NSW Government establish an independent, external complaints management oversight body for workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination in the NSW PoliceForce, NSW Rural Fire Service, Ambulance Service of New South Wales, NSW State Emergency Service and Fire & Rescue NSW, which:
is available to workers who have exhausted their agency’s internal complaints management processes, or whose complaint has not been determined within a reasonable timeframe
facilitates the timely resolution of complaints
promotes procedural fairness and natural justice
provides advice and support to all involved parties
works with the agencies to improve policies and procedures relating to complaints management.
Other recommendations included those in relation to:
prevention and management of the nominated risks
prevention, early intervention and response in relation to psychological injury
provision of mental health support and resources for staff
provision of relevant training and information for all staff.