Independent review of Ambulance Victoria
Ambulance Victoria has engaged the Commission to complete an independent review into workplace equality in Ambulance Victoria, following reports of alleged discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and bullying in the organisation.
What is the review examining?
What will the review examine?
The Commission will:
- examine the nature, extent, drivers and impact of discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and bullying experienced by current and former staff and volunteers
- examine the adequacy of measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and bullying within Ambulance Victoria
- identify leading practice strategies to ensure a safe, equal and inclusive organisation that supports and promotes positive workplace systems, values and behaviours, in accordance with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
In late 2021, the Commission requested a variation to the Terms of Reference to enable us to deliver the final report in two volumes to ensure we could properly consider all the information provided by the larger-than-anticipated number of employees and first responders who shared their experiences and views with us.
Volume I was delivered on 30 November 2021 and details our findings and recommendations in relation to safety, respect and trust. This includes the Commission’s findings in relation to:
- the nature, extent, drivers and impacts of discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and victimisation at Ambulance Victoria
- how safe and respected AV’s employees and first responders feel in the workplace
- the adequacy of AV’s response to reports and complaints of unlawful conduct.
This volume also sets out the Commission’s recommendations with respect to the immediate steps that AV can take to improve safety, respect and trust within the organisation.
Volume II, was delivered on 31 March 2022, and details our findings and recommendations in relation to equality, fairness and inclusion within the organisation. This includes the Commission’s findings and recommendations in relation to:
- equal representation, pay and progression
- flexibility, accessibility, support for parents and carers, and transition-to-retirement
- organisational capability, leadership development and continuous improvement.
What is discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and bullying?
Workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and bullying are unlawful. Each have a specific legal meaning.
Discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfavourably because of a personal characteristic that is protected by the law. Protected characteristics under the Equal Opportunity Act include, among others, a person’s age, race, disability, religion, sex and sexual orientation.
Discrimination can be direct or indirect. Both kinds of discrimination are against the law.
- Direct discrimination is treating or proposing to treat someone unfairly because of a protected attribute. For example, not giving someone a promotion because of their sex.
- Indirect discrimination is when an unreasonable requirement, condition or practice – which may appear to treat people equally – disadvantages or potentially disadvantages a group of people with a protected attribute.
Sexual harassment is any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, which could reasonably be expected to make the other person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It can be physical, verbal or written (including electronic communication). Sexual harassment can be a single incident or repeated behaviour.
Victimisation occurs when a person punishes or threatens to punish another person because they have:
- asserted their rights under the Equal Opportunity Act
- made a complaint or allegation of a contravention of that Act (formally or informally)
- helped someone else make a complaint
- refused to do something because it would be discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation.
Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed at someone that creates a risk to health and safety – such as verbal, physical and written abuse (including on social media).
Under the Equal Opportunity Act, bullying at work can amount to discrimination if it happens because of a personal attribute protected by the Act. For example, repeated verbal, physical or written abuse of a person because of their sex, race or religion.
Bullying can also amount to sexual harassment under the Equal Opportunity Act if it is verbal, written or physical abuse of a sexual nature.
Reasonable management action is not bullying – such as genuine and reasonable instructions or setting reasonable performance goals, standards and deadlines.
Waiver of confidentiality obligations
Waiver of confidentiality obligations
To enable as many people as possible to come forward and share their experiences through the review, Ambulance Victoria issued a limited waiver of confidentiality obligations in non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
Ambulance Victoria has also provided a subsequent clarifying letter regarding non-disparagement obligations.
Over the course of the review, we will be providing regular updates for people wishing to participate in the review.