News

Ambos tell Baird the writing is on the windows

Local paramedics taking part in the death and disability liquid chalk campaign with the Lismore City Hall in the background
Local paramedics taking part in the death and disability liquid chalk campaign with the Lismore City Hall in the background

PARAMEDICS across the state are using liquid chalk on ambulance windows to protest the recent stripping back of their death and disability scheme which has left many feeling vulnerable and unprotected.

Health Services Union (HSU) North Coast councillor Terry Savage, who's been a paramedic for 35 years, said the campaign was about making sure paramedics' families were safe if something tragic happened to them on the job.

"We just want to go to work knowing that we're covered if we don't come home," he said.

"We're not asking for anything more, we're not asking for a pay rise, we're just asking for a fair go."

Under the previous death and disability scheme, a 20-year-old paramedic permanently injured on the job and unable to re-join the workforce as a paramedic would get a payout of $685,642.

Since the changes which came into effect on August 20, that figure has been stripped back to $123,487 for a maximum of two years.

 

Local paramedics are taking part in the Health Service's Union liquid chalk campaign with this ambulance parked in front of the Byron Bay lighthouse.
Local paramedics are taking part in the Health Service's Union liquid chalk campaign with this ambulance parked in front of the Byron Bay lighthouse.

In a statement, NSW Ambulance said the new death and income protection award widened the eligibility criteria so it could apply to more paramedics.

"The new income protection scheme provides new benefits to sick and injured paramedics who received nothing under the old scheme because their illness or injuries did not result in permanent total or partial disability," the statement says.

"The previous lump sum benefits for disability have been replaced by a two-year income protection benefit to support staff during a period of recovery and rehabilitation before they return to work. This is not a lump sum or 'payout'.

"The new scheme continues to provide benefits in the case of incidents at work and also those that occur outside the workplace. Paramedics will no longer have to contribute to the cost of the new scheme."

The first slogan to appear in the liquid chalk campaign was 'NSW Paramedics, Most Trusted, Least Protected, Thanks to Mike Baird'.

 

Local paramedics taking part in the death and disability liquid chalk campaign with Mt Warning in the background.
Local paramedics taking part in the death and disability liquid chalk campaign with Mt Warning in the background.

The second slogan will be 'We had your back Mr Baird, why don't you have ours?'

The HSU-led campaign began with Yellow Vest Day earlier this year which saw paramedics put on their high-visibility safety vests with the word 'Unprotected'.

The union needs 10,000 signatures to force a debate on the issue in state parliament and is well over half way there.

Mr Savage said the feedback from the community had so far been positive, however many people were unaware of the risks paramedics face.

"Assaults on us are increasing," he said. "I had an incident two weeks ago where one of our staff was assaulted with a lounge chair.

Mr Savage said there were also a lot of strain and back injuries from lifting patients, high rates of PTSD and long hours on the road.

 

Local paramedics taking part in the death and disability liquid chalk campaign at Point Danger
Local paramedics taking part in the death and disability liquid chalk campaign at Point Danger

Topics:  health services union, liquid chalk, mike baird, paramedics



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