Ballarat State Emergency Communications Centre (BalSECC) staff have been raising concerns about adequate staffing levels for many years. With over 2200 new paramedics recruited over the past eight years, there has not been a commensurate increase in areas such as communications. Ambulance Victoria (AV) has failed to permanently recruit sufficient staff for the control rooms. This is despite the Victorian Ambulance Union (VAU) advocating to temper large volume paramedic recruitment and to target recruiting for areas such as communications, rosters, education, payroll and HR, who support the crews on-road.

On several occasions, BalSECC has run not only understaffed with only one Clinician, but unstaffed altogether with no Clinician overnight. This role AV have had to ‘switch’ over to Tally Ho (ThoSECC).

BalSECC Clinicians have been frequently raising specific concerns about their workload and the need for an additional Clinician to assist with the growing rural workforce, increased clinical scope of practice and more frequent calls for clinical support. 

A Health and Safety Representative (HSR) for the BalSECC Clinician group issued a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) in December 2023. It related to actual safety hazards regarding Clinician workload, fatigue, psychological injuries and insufficient staffing of this role.

AV disputed the PIN and then WorkSafe issued an Improvement Notice (IN) on 4 December 2023, giving AV six months to comply. WorkSafe subsequently attended at BalSECC on 11 June 2024 and were not satisfied that AV had taken any measures to comply with the WorkSafe Improvement Notice. WorkSafe provided them with another four weeks to comply, or risk having this PIN sent to the prosecution division to be prosecuted on this matter.

A week before date of compliance, AV advised staff that they would be removing Clinicians from BalSECC and transferring them to ThoSECC in Burwood (over a 2-hour drive away). This notification of change of work location to our members created a lot of distress and members have all lodged individual grievances referring to the consultation clause in the AV Enterprise Agreement 2020. As a result, the HSR issued a further 3 PINs under the OH&S Act 2004:

  1. Section 21 (1) failure to provide a safe working environment
  2. Section 23 exposing the community to risks to the health and safety due to the undertaking of the employer
  3. Section 35 failure to consult with affected employees relating to systems of work and controls

Of these PINs, AV are disputing points 1 and 2 above, and did not notify the HSR that they are doing this as per the OH&S Act 2004

To say that this process has been very frustrating and distressing for these members is an understatement! These members have been feeling totally undervalued and not heard by their senior management team.

Then to add insult to injury in this situation, AV were scheduled to meet with the BalSECC Clinician HSRs, the VAU and WorkSafe on Tuesday 9 July 2024. WorkSafe, the HSRs and a VAU representative attended (at Geelong), as organised by all parties only to find that AV were not there. This final follow up meeting has now been scheduled for the Wednesday 24 July 2024.

On Wednesday 10 July 2024 we met with AV Communications management team under the guise of ‘consultation’. We believe this is to comply with point 3 above. However, none of this has been communicated to the BalSECC HSR or designated work group (DWG). Again, we do not believe that AV notified the HSR or affected members of their intentions as per OH&S Act 2004.

Please notify your HSR and the VAU if you are one of these effected workers including Triple Zero Victoria members at both the ThoSECC and BalSECC comms rooms.