Coalition Senators acknowledge and honour the work done by first responders and emergency service workers and volunteers across Australia.
Society owes a great debt to those who serve in what are extremely stressful and high pressure work environments and circumstances.
Without our ambulance officers, fire fighters, police officers and all the emergency response professionals and volunteers, our society would be much poorer and less safe.
Those who suffer illness and injury in the course of this work and in volunteering should be supported.
While Coalition Senators are supportive of the intent of this report and a vast majority of recommendations, we believe a few additional points need to be considered.
Coalition members of the Committee believe there is a need for greater focus on early intervention and prevention mechanisms.
Coalition Senators understand evidence clearly shows that mental health issues, such as PTSD, are difficult to diagnose and treat.
We also believe that it is important that first responders, emergency service workers and volunteers are able to access treatment before a workers’ compensation claim is accepted. As such, the Coalition government has previously sought to amend legislation to give effect to this.
Additionally, within highly stressful environments, it is important to help workers and volunteers build resilience through improved core training programs and support structures in emergency organisations.
It should be noted that state and territory governments have the primary role in employing first responders and delivering emergency services.
Workers’ compensation arrangements are also, largely, the responsibility of state and territory governments.
Additionally, there are significant differences between Commonwealth, state and territory workers’ compensation arrangements.
Therefore, state and territory governments should have a key role in addressing and implementing the recommendations and improvements identified in this report.
Careful consideration will also need to be given to which governments and agencies would be appropriate to address a range of those recommendations.
Senator Slade BrockmanSenator James Paterson