Earlier today, the Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated (VAU) became aware of a serious breach of privacy relating to alcohol and other drug (AOD) testing at Ambulance Victoria (AV).

Confidential spreadsheets have been accessible to any staff member on the AV intranet containing results of pre-employment AOD screens of AV graduate paramedics from 2017 and 2018.

The information in the spreadsheets includes first names, surnames, date of AOD screens, results (positive or negative) and, where the result was positive, the drug that was detected.

The VAU immediately contacted AV and had the information taken down from the AV portal. We can confirm the information in question has now been removed.

The VAU has urgently written to AV seeking the following action:

1. Confirm that any AOD screen results are removed from the intranet immediately.

2. Inform any affected employee (including past employees) of a potential breach of their privacy.

3. Conduct an audit of who has accessed these files since they were uploaded and take steps to ensure that any further copies of the files are deleted.

4. Comply with its responsibilities to report the breach to relevant authorities, including but not limited to the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC).

5. Take all necessary steps to ensure that there are no further breaches in relation to employees’ AOD screen results.

6. Immediately pause AOD screening of employees until such time as the VAU and its members are satisfied that there is no possibility of further breaches in relation to AOD screen results.

The VAU, on behalf of its members employed by AV, will report this matter to the OVIC and will consider our legal options in relation to the breaches where appropriate.

We have requested an urgent meeting with AV to discuss these measures and any other concerns arising out of the breach.

This will be extremely stressful to anyone affected. Members are invited to make contact with the VAU to seek support and advice if you are advised that you are involved in this breach.

This is one of the biggest examples of organisational incompetence we have ever seen in AV. Employees deserve to have the highest confidence in the ability of their employer to protect their confidential information. AV have dismally failed this test today and will have to work very hard to regain the trust of the workforce in relation to private employee information.

In Solidarity