Former paramedic Steve McDowell set up the “No More Neglect” Facebook group. Photo: Dallas KilponenThe NSW ambulance service is targeting employees who have accused it of harbouring a culture of bullying on a closed Facebook group.
At least one paramedic is being investigated for misconduct over a post to the group and NSW Ambulance has warned all staff not to post inappropriate content, in what paramedics have interpreted as intimidation.
“No More Neglect” is a secret Facebook group set up by former paramedic Steve McDowell who was medically discharged in January suffering post traumatic stress syndrome.
People can only join by invitation from a member.
Since it was started in mid-November it has attracted 2600 members, who use the forum to lend one another support, share their stories and raise issues about their employer.
These range from allegations of bullying, to the revelation that the paramedics who are being cited for bravery over the Lindt cafe siege will need to take a day in lieu to attend the ceremony.
NSW Ambulance emailed all staff last week to indicate it was aware of “concerning content” on the page.
Executive director Kylee Wade warned staff to be mindful of the social media policy, which required staff to respect the privacy of their colleagues and protect the reputation of the service.
Those who had raised issues in the forum should take them to their manager, their peer support officer or a counsellor, she said.
The Australian Paramedics Association said staff were interpreting the bulletin as an attempt to silence workers who were sharing stories of neglect.
Industrial officer Harini Kasturiarachchi said some APA members had received letters from NSW Ambulance indicating that they would be investigated for misconduct and possibly disciplined.
“APA (NSW) is of the opinion that the Facebook group is invaluable to these injured paramedics, it is a support network for many and it would be unfortunate for any member posting with good intentions to be reprimanded by NSW Ambulance,” she said in a written statement.
“Our members … have indicated to us that they view this action by NSW Ambulance to be a continuation of the alleged bullying and harassment which they outline in the group.”
Mr McDowell addressed NSW Ambulance through the page this week, calling on them to change their social media policy and listen to the feedback from staff.
“Ask yourself why staff feel the need to speak,” Mr McDowell said.
“In a supportive workplace, one does not find thousands of staff joining a group based on the neglect of their employer. It just doesn’t happen! Especially in these numbers. It’s the majority of your staff.”
NSW Ambulance denied monitoring the page in a statement to Fairfax Media.
It said mechanisms existed within the service for staff to make confidential complaints, but allegations of bullying made outside the service could not be investigated.
“Whenever concerns, complaints or grievances are received by NSW Ambulance regarding staff and manager, including inappropriate posts on public social media, they are assessed and managed in accordance within our policies and guidelines.”
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