PTSD BILL PASSED IN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL TODAY 

UFUSA AEA

Today members of our union together with members of the Ambulance Employees Association attended Parliament House as Independent MLC Frank Pangallo sponsored a private members’ bill to adopt presumptive liability workers compensation provisions for first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. 

It was very pleasing to see the bill passed in the Legislative Council, now to proceed to the House of Assembly and thank you to those members who were able to come along and show our strength. 

As our members know, first responders are regularly exposed to traumatic incidents, including injury and death, in the line of your service to the community. 

So it is no surprise that first responders suffer from significantly higher rates of psychiatric injury caused by employment, including post-traumatic stress disorder, than the general population. Under South Australia’s current workers compensation laws, insult is far too often added to injury with first responders burdened with proving that your injury was caused by employment in order to be able to access support, and many claims are incorrectly denied at first, and only accepted after protracted and psychologically damaging disputes. 

This results in lengthy delays, often of many years, in the provision of support including critical medical treatment, it places those suffering injuries into severe financial hardship, and forces them to re-live the traumas that caused their injuries throughout long litigation processes. 

It is no less than an inhumane betrayal of first responders who are there for our community in their times of greatest need, and then have suffered an injury from doing so. 

Presumptive legislation will reverse the onus of proof for first responders so that their psychological injuries are presumed work-related, and their workers compensation claims are accepted without a need for evidence, enabling early and appropriate support. 

The UFU and AEA are sincerely grateful to Mr Pangallo for bringing this important issue to the South Australian Parliament. Mr Pangallo has been a consistent advocate for first responders and presumptive legislation would not be progressing if it were not for his recognition of the sacrifices first responders make to serve our communities and the corollary need to adequately support them. 

But there is still work to do. 

There are complexities around how psychological injuries, including PTSD, often present in first responders that must be adequately accounted for in presumptive legislation. The current bill must be expanded and clarified to ensure the operation of the presumption, and broader legislation, adequately protects first responders.  

To that end, we now call on the Malinauskas Government to immediately commit to expanding the presumption to ensure that it applies to, and ensures the support of, all first responders suffering from a psychiatric injury caused by their exposure to trauma at work. We do acknowledge the Malinauskas Government’s commitment to consultation on the bill, but their commitment must go further than consultation, because without amendment the bill will not adequately protect our first responders. 

THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING TREADMILLS 

Without consultation, treadmills were removed from full-time stations last year. While most stations have had their treadmills returned, concerningly some stations had their treadmills removed, never to be seen again. 

Following discussions with Chief Officer Swann, it has been agreed that the treadmills at O’Halloran Hill and Oakden stations will be replaced. Members at other stations which have not had their treadmills returned should advise your union office ASAP on 8352 7211 or info@ufuusa.com.au

MOTHERS DAY CLASSIC FAST APPROACHING 

Mother’s Day is a red letter day on all of our calendars and will take place this year on Sunday 11 May. 

As always we are looking for a huge crew of members, families and friends to turn out for the Mother’s Day Classic. Once again, our intrepid volunteers are working hard in conjunction with the MFS to set up another brilliant morning of family, friends, fun and fitness, enhanced by our fantastic barbecue breakfast in raising much-needed funds for breast cancer research. Please watch this space for more details very soon. 

CENTENARY OF TRAGIC LOSS IN CITY OF SINGAPORE FIRE 

Friday, 26 April 2024 marks the loss of the lives of three firefighters in the fire on the City of Singapore, moored at what is now known as Tragedy Wharf at Dock 2 in Port Adelaide. A ceremony will be held at the site at 11:00 hours on 26/4, with a plaque to be unveiled by Minister Szakacs, an address by the MFS Chief Officer, attendance by The Gallantry, the Archie Badenoch and MFS appliances followed by morning tea in Shed 13. The public are invited, and members are especially encouraged to come along with family and friends, to learn more about our history and to pay our respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

ELECTIONS: Nominations for positions on the UFUSA Inc State Council are still open and will close at 17:00 hours on Friday, 26 April 2024. The Returning Officer will then determine whether a ballot is required and if so this will be conducted electronically. Have you lodged your form? 

More details and nomination forms are available on the UFUSA website www.ufusa.com.au 

In solidarity 

PTSD BILL PASSED IN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL TODAY 

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United Fire Fighters Union Of South Australia - UFUSA

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