Legislative Council: Tuesday, September 06, 2022


Mental Health, First Responder

42 The Hon. S.G. WADE ().6 July 2022). What action is the government taking to protect the mental health and wellbeing of first responders within state government services:

1. SA Police

2. SA Ambulance Service

3. Country Fire Service?

4. Other state government agencies?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has advised:

The member is advised that questions relating to police and emergency services should be referred to the Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services.

In relation to the SA Ambulance Service, it is extremely well documented that members identify their mental health and wellbeing as at an extreme risk suffering the chronic understaffing and under-resourcing endured under the life of the Marshall Liberal government.

The Malinauskas Labor government is firmly committed to improving working conditions for our Ambulance Service, creating a safe and well workplace that can better respond to South Australians in a crisis.

This starts with sufficient staffing so that paramedics have a far greater ability to reach patients on time, take sufficient breaks, and support colleagues following challenging callouts—some of the key issues paramedics have identified as risks to their wellbeing.

The SAAS employee assistance program (encompassing peer support, mental health professionals (MHPs) and chaplain services) has been operating since 1991, providing early intervention and support with any personal or professional stressors for all people across SAAS and their immediate families. The SAAS staff wellness and assistance programs are all managed by an operations unit to ensure those who develop the programs understand the challenges of the role, thereby encouraging early help seeking. All levels of staff (including volunteers) are proactively contacted after potentially traumatic events to offer psychological support.

Operational career staff are psychologically assessed for suitability prior to employment and all operational staff and volunteers complete psychological awareness training upon induction to SAAS, further reiterating the supports and services available.

Psychological health is further promoted through initiatives such as the SAASfit physical health program, transition to retirement seminars, excellence reporting and awards, intranet information pages, links to external support services, WorkFit services, work health safety and injury management, fatigue management processes and training, White Ribbon accreditation and anti-violence campaigns.

To ensure best practice is considered and implemented, SAAS participates in several wellbeing committees from within SA Health, across ambulance services within Australia and New Zealand and with other South Australian emergency services.