Big win for career firefighters as PTSD protections granted

The Opposition has welcomed the announcement that presumptive protections would be implemented for firefighters affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Martin Aldridge MLC said the State Government’s commitment had been a long time coming, after ambulance workers were afforded PTSD protections over a year ago.

“I welcome this decision to provide greater protections to our firefighters, which recognises the serious trauma and mental health risks firefighters face every day as they work to keep our communities safe,” Mr Aldridge said.

“The Opposition has been standing side-by-side with firefighters and emergency services personnel for the past year, calling on the Government to address the inequity between firefighters and ambulance workers by extending these protections.

“While the Emergency Services Minister’s admission that firefighters deserve fair access to PTSD protections due to the dangerous and traumatic events they face, I query the 429 day delay in providing this much needed support for our front-line firefighters.”

Mr Aldridge said a growing body of research had identified strong links between firefighting and PTSD.

“Studies have shown firefighters have far higher rates of PTSD than the general population, with suggestions up to 20 per cent of firefighters will reach the diagnostic threshold at some point in their career.

“Implementing presumptive legislation will provide a significant benefit for the health and wellbeing of firefighters and their families, reducing the need to undertake long and costly workers compensation claims.

“This common-sense measure accepts the science behind the impacts of trauma on emergency services personnel and at long last creates equity between firefighters and paramedics.”

Mr Aldridge also called on the State Government to confirm the new protections would be extended to volunteer firefighters.

“Volunteer firefighters often provide the first and only response to emergencies in their communities and will witness unthinkable tragedy and trauma in the course of their duties.

“WA is well served by almost 4,000 volunteer ambulance officers and more than 25,000 fire and emergency service volunteers who work alongside our career personnel on a daily basis.

“It is only fair that PTSD protections are extended to volunteers in the same manner other presumptive illnesses are.”

The former Liberal-National Government introduced presumptive compensations for career firefighters
impacted by a range of cancers in 2013 and extended these protections to volunteers in 2014