Today the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) has released the second volume of its review into Ambulance Victoria (AV). The Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated (VAU) welcomes the release of Volume 2.

The VAU provided a detailed 80-page submission to VEOHRC from 164 written submissions provided by our members. We also received an enormous amount of anecdotal evidence from members and delegates, and met with VEOHRC on nearly 25 occasions to provide this information.

The Report by VEOHRC has clearly captured the extreme levels of harm and distress caused by incivility, disrespect, discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and victimisation at AV. This second volume also captures the many organisational drivers of this behaviour which is important to understand if we are to fix the culture.

We are pleased with the recommendations and AV’s acceptance of them. In particular it is good to see a focus on accountability in the more senior ranks of the organisation. The lack of accountability for more senior staff in the organisation has been a fundamental factor leading to poor behaviour throughout the organisation. The VEOHRC recommendations take serious aim at this area by introducing new accountability standards for managers.

We are also pleased that AV has seconded Simone Cusack from VEOHRC as a new Executive Director of Equality & Workplace Reform. Throughout the VEOHRC review, the VAU met with Simone on approximately twenty occasions in order to discuss the issues covered by the review. The VAU has called for more external expertise to be brought into the organisation rather than looking to other emergency services who often have had their own similar issues. Bringing external expertise into AV directly from VEOHRC is a welcome development especially in the area of flexible work.

However, the ability of AV to deliver tangible change remains to be seen.

For many members with childcare responsibilities or medical conditions there has been little to no improvement, nor has there been any improvement in the time taken to investigate allegations of misconduct, including discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. The VAU continue to assist members who made complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation over one year ago and who have not yet had any resolution to their complaint.

Since the release of Volume 1 of the VEOHRC Review, the VAU continues to receive complaints from members about bullying behaviours from management staff including:

  • allegations of members being bullied by their managers including assault;
  • allegations of managers behaving in an aggressive and confrontational way to members requesting adjustments to accommodate childcare responsibilities
  • senior managers targeting members with medical issues and concerns about responding to COVID patients.


AV has managers who think their job is to enforce the right behaviour, but they can’t get their own behaviour right. They bully, they intimidate, and they throw their weight around only to be promoted into higher positions. They promote a fear culture where paramedics and ambulance workers are terrified to use their clinical judgement.

AV talks a lot about its values. But as long as we have people in management positions not modelling those values, we have little hope of positive change. In some areas, the wrong behaviours have been modelled for a long-time, breeding intolerance and disrespect through the whole organisation. If senior people can’t model the right behaviours, then they should not be in those positions.

What is needed most is a strong mechanism for management accountability that ensures the right people are promoted into senior positions and held accountable for their actions and performance including preventing bullying and harassment. We are pleased with the VEOHRC recommendation to introduce new accountabilities for people at senior levels of the organisation because they need to be held to a higher standard than the staff they manage.

The work of repairing the culture in AV will take a long time. It is likely that more matters will come forward, including historical incidents that have not been dealt with effectively in the past. Promisingly, we have started to see a positive shift with some members finally feeling comfortable reporting senior people in the organisation for inappropriate behaviour. We have started to see more people come forward, including longstanding matters that had been mismanaged over many years. The VAU is providing support to a number of members in this area.

For many members, the release of this report will be triggering and may cause distress to members who have been harmed in the AV workplace. Please have this in mind when discussing the report in the workplace. There are many strong opinions, and it is important that it is discussed. But please be aware that some views come about through reading the report, while some will come through lived traumatic experience.

We thank all members who have taken part in this process for coming forward and being heard. The VAU is committed to delivering tangible outcomes for our members and will continue to work constructively with AV, VEOHRC, and the Victorian Government to see that occur.

Members are reminded of available support services including:


SafeSpace is an independent 24-hour independent phone line for Ambulance Victoria employees and their families to seek confidential information about complaint pathways and support options for discrimination, harassment and bullying matters.

Call 1300 596 424


AV Peer Support and VACU

1800 MANERS or 1800 626 377


1800 Respect – 1800 Respect is a 24-hour national sexual assault and domestic violence and support service.

Call 1800 737 732



Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue is a 24-hour service offering free information and support to people working through mental health issues.

Call 1300 224 636



Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA)

CASA offers confidential support and intervention for victim-survivors of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

Call 1800 806 292




Headspace is a national youth mental health foundation with clinicians available.

Call 1800 650 890




Lifeline is a 24-hour telephone crisis support service for mental health support and emotional assistance.

Call 13 11 14




Mensline is a national phone and online support service for men that includes video counselling.

Call 1300 789 978




Switchboard offers peer-driven support services for LGBTIQ people and their families, allies and communities.

Call 1800 729 367




WIRE offers free support, referral and information for Victorian women, nonbinary and gender-diverse people.

Call 1300 134 130.



In solidarity