Ambulance Victoria review – Update 16 (31 March 2022)
Volume II of the Final Report of the Independent Review into Workplace Equality in Ambulance Victoria has now been published.
31 March 2022
The Commission has today released Volume II of the final report of the Independent review into workplace equality at Ambulance Victoria. The report can now be accessed online, together with a video from Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Ro Allen.
In releasing this report we again want to acknowledge and thank the current and former employees and first responders who came forward to share their stories, views, and suggestions for change with the Commission. The Commission is also grateful to the unions, professional associations and other key stakeholders who provided invaluable insights and contribution throughout the review.
Volume II sets out our findings and recommendations with respect to equality, fairness and inclusion within Ambulance Victoria. It builds on the earlier findings and recommendations of Volume I, which was published on 30 November 2021 and focused on safety, respect and trust.
What are the key findings?
Equal representation, progression and pay
The Volume II report finds that Ambulance Victoria has adopted a range of general and targeted measures to ensure fair and inclusive attraction and recruitment efforts. However, there are ongoing barriers that impede access to promotion and progression for women and workers from diverse backgrounds. Correspondingly, there is a need to proactively increase diversity across the organisation and, in particular, a need to increase the representation of women in senior operational and specialist clinical roles.
Flexibility and accessibility
While Ambulance Victoria has trialled new ways of working flexibly, and has made gains particularly with respect to its corporate staff, systemic barriers to flexible work persist. These barriers are most pronounced for operational staff and include an inflexible approach to assessing flexible work applications and pervasive, negative attitudes towards flexible work.
Ambulance Victoria also does not have a dedicated policy, process, or data capture system regarding reasonable adjustments, nor a comprehensive transition to retirement strategy with options, guidance, and planning to support older workers.
There are significant opportunities for Ambulance Victoria to strengthen its organisational capability to advance workplace equality, including by: ensuring equal opportunity training programs accord with best practice and promote cultural change; addressing key management and leadership capability gaps; and ensuring the operating environment enables managers sufficient, meaningful contact with their staff and teams and the time and resources required to acquit their workplace equality responsibilities and proactively foster safe and inclusive team cultures.
Oversight, accountability and continual improvement
Despite Ambulance Victoria’s professional and modern governance system, as well as risk management strategies and previous audits, the Board and Executive Committee did not fully anticipate, recognise, analyse, prioritise, or systemically address, the unlawful conduct and harm identified by this review. The gap between the stated values and priorities of Ambulance Victoria and the experience of its staff on the ground has eroded trust and confidence in Ambulance Victoria’s leadership which must be rebuilt.
What recommendations do we make?
The Commission makes 19 recommendations in Volume II. These recommendations focus on strategies to embed workplace equality, non-discrimination and inclusion across the employment lifecycle and across all levels of the organisation. Some of the key recommendations include:
- harnessing and increasing diversity on the Ambulance Victoria board
- adopting conscious inclusion strategies throughout the recruitment life-cycle
- disrupting stereotypes and removing structural barriers to career advancement
- advancing equal pay
- embedding flexibility into immediate and long-term workforce planning and the employment life cycle
- creating an overarching reasonable adjustments policy and procedure and strategies to support workers transitioning to retirement
- strengthening workplace equality education and training
- prioritising sustained learning and development, particularly for middle and frontline managers and creating an operating environment where uplifted people management and leadership capability can be realised
- embedding workplace equality and safety into risk management and health and safety systems to enable ongoing monitoring, oversight and continual improvement.
These recommendations, together with the 24 recommendations in Volume I, provide Ambulance Victoria with a complete roadmap to prevent and respond effectively to unlawful and harmful workplace conduct and embed equality across the organisation.
Ambulance Victoria has accepted all recommendations.
What happens next?
Ambulance Victoria will now begin work to implement the recommendations in Volume II and continue the implementation it has begun on priority recommendations from Volume I.
The Commission will remain engaged with Ambulance Victoria to provide ongoing expert guidance, support and scrutiny as Ambulance Victoria implements our recommendations.
We will then conduct a public audit in 2023, publishing our findings on the extent to which the priority recommendations have been implemented and any areas for improvement in November 2023.
Where can I go if I need help?
The Commission acknowledges that the material in this report can make for difficult reading and may cause distress. Appendix A (Page 494) of Volume I identifies a range of support services that are available for those who need it.
If you wish to enquire about, or make a formal complaint of discrimination or sexual harassment, you can also contact the Commission:
- Call 1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583
- For hearing impaired (TTY) call 1300 289 621
- Visit humanrights.vic.gov.au