I rise to inform the house of how the Andrews Labor government continues to support and grow Victoria’s world-class ambulance services. This past weekend I had the pleasure of presenting our latest paramedic and mobile intensive care ambulance graduates with their authority-to-practice certificates. The 97 graduates, 62 of whom are women, will be stationed in Melbourne, Barwon South West, Gippsland and Loddon Mallee regions, helping Victorians get access to emergency care when they need it the most. These graduates join Ambulance Victoria with the knowledge that the Andrews Labor government will always have their back.
Our government has also reached an in-principle agreement with the Victorian Ambulance Union and the United Workers Union, giving paramedics fair pay and conditions in line with government wages policy. Key outcomes of this agreement include paid defence force leave for staff who also help during national emergencies such as the recent bushfires; additional career progression that delivers a more skilled workforce; new unsociable shift payments that recognise the disruptive and sometimes dangerous work our paramedics do every week; better paramedic coverage in regional and rural Victoria; and promoting gender equality with extra paid parental leave, reimbursement for childcare expenses and the introduction of prenatal leave.
Upon coming to office, our government has resolved the paramedic pay dispute and referred paramedic pay rates to the Fair Work Commission, ending the war on paramedics. Labor is committed to working with our paramedics, not against them. This paramedics enterprise bargaining agreement was resolved without protected industrial action, the first time this has occurred in nearly 20 years. Since coming into office we have invested $1 billion to rebuild Victoria’s ambulance system, after the previous Liberal government went to war with our paramedics while Ms Crozier was the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, causing response times to become the worst on the Australian mainland.