Ambulance Victoria investigation detailing bullying, discrimination, assault made public

Asia's Tech News Daily

Disturbing claims of bullying, rape and sexual assault have been made public in a damning report into workplace culture at Ambulance Victoria, with almost half the organisation’s workplaces reporting discrimination.

The year-long investigation was released on Tuesday by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

The commission, which spoke to the organisation’s employees, found more 52.4 per cent of those interviewed had been bullied, 47 per cent had experienced discrimination and 33 reported pressure for sex or requests for sex acts at work.

“This organisation‘s culture is unsafe for people who are not white males,” one participant told the commission.

“It’s really bad.”

Ambulance Victoria investigation detailing bullying, discrimination, assault made public

Camera IconAround half of the organisation’s workforce took part in the investigation. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

The report, which was made public on Tuesday, highlighted severe workplace issues within the organisation, with some employees telling the commission they had been so distressed they’d attempted suicide.

Over the course of the review, the commission examined 1213 documents, conducted interviews with 255 people and spoke to many more staff across a series of focus groups, site visits and observational shifts.

Around 2163 employees completed the commission’s in-depth survey and 145 written submissions were received.

Disturbingly, 12 Ambulance Victoria employees reported rape or attempted rape or sexual assault at work, with two men referred to Victoria Police for the alleged sexual assault of colleagues, the report found.

Around half of the workforce experienced discrimination and bullying while at work, with 21.4 per cent telling investigators they “did not feel safe at all” at work.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Ro Allen said the report were difficult to read.

“For many people, the impact of these experiences has been profound,” Allen said.

“The experiences detailed in this report make for difficult, confronting reading. It is essential reading, however, as every one of those stories deserves to be heard and the nature and scale of the problems understood so that they can be addressed.”

Ambulance Victoria investigation detailing bullying, discrimination, assault made public

Camera IconAmbulance Victoria chief executive Tony Walker said he was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the findings. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia

Ambulance Victoria requested the investigation in October 2020 following claims of an unsafe culture within the organisation.

The head of Ambulance Victoria, Tony Walker, on Tuesday apologised to the workforce and said he was deeply disturbed by the findings.

“The stories many of our people shared with the commission – experiences of discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and victimisation – are deeply confronting,” Professor Walker said.

“To those of our people who shared your experience, either with the commission or directly with me, I thank you for your enormous bravery.

“To those of you who have been subjected to behaviours and actions that are disrespectful, hurtful or unlawful, I unreservedly apologise.”

Ambulance Victoria investigation detailing bullying, discrimination, assault made public

Camera IconAmbulance Victoria has accepted all 24 recommendations made by the VEOHRC. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia

The report ultimately made 24 recommendations – all of which were accepted by the organisation.

They include a redesign of the complaints system, a new division dedicated to driving workplace equality and a governance committee chaired by the chief executive.

“There is no place at Ambulance Victoria for people who engage in such harmful or unlawful conduct or for those who seek to protect it,” Professor Walker said.

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