Cobar paramedics have joined their NSW Ambulance counterparts around the state in welcoming the announcement of a $48 million paramedic protection package.
Local paramedic Anita Hodgkinson told The Cobar Weekly that she is extremely happy with the result.
“After a huge fight which shouldn’t have been needed in the first place and campaigning with so many people involved from the community, paramedics, politicians, emergency services, health professionals and more, this result is what we deserve!” Ms Hodgkinson said.
The announcement was made by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian last Wednesday and comes after a year-long campaign by Health Services Union (HSU) paramedic members who protested cuts to their existing injury protection scheme.
“To have Premier Berejiklian acknowledge and commit to preventions, mental health and a proper death and disability scheme proves what we have been saying all along, that the previous scheme was sub standard,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
Under the new package paramedics will be provided with access to specialised health services to prevent injuries and also provided with income protection for at least five years for those injured at work.
The HSU paramedic members commenced their protest campaign after their injury protection scheme was cut back to only two years financial cover for seriously injured paramedics who can no longer work.
Commissioner Dominic Morgan, chief executive NSW Ambulance, said the funding package comes as a significant boost with the $48 million investment to include $20 million over two and a half years, then $5 million per year ongoing for a wellbeing program.
He said this will include health services aimed at ensuring paramedics stay safe and well; and increased income protection for paramedics injured at work to at least five years.
As part of the package the State Government has offered a number of options to provide income protections for injured paramedics.
“I definitely look forward to sitting down with fellow colleagues and the union to work out which scheme fits us correctly to ensure correct coverage for not only us but our families!” Ms Hodgkinson said.
The offer also includes $18m in injury prevention funding and will be directed to pneumatic lifting equipment, specialist post traumatic stress disorder and psychological support and injury support from physiotherapists.