Ambulance and Firefighter Unions demand commitment from Malinauskas Government to support first responders suffering from psychological injuries

April 10, 2024 / Comments Off on Ambulance and Firefighter Unions demand commitment from Malinauskas Government to support first responders suffering from psychological injuries

Media Releases

The United Firefighters Union of South Australia and Ambulance Employees Association of South
Australia will attend Parliament House on Wednesday as Independent MLC Frank Pangallo
introduces a private members’ bill to adopt presumptive liability workers compensation
provisions for first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

First responders are regularly exposed to traumatic incidents, including injury and death, in the
line of their 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: first responders are burdened with
proving that their 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, 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 an inhumane betrayal of first responders who have
repeatedly put themselves at risk to be there for our community in their times of greatest need,
and have suffered an injury from doing so.

Presumptive legislation would 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

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 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 Malinauskas Government has before it a timely opportunity to take meaningful, nationleading action to support our first responders in their time of need. It must take this opportunity.