As National Volunteer Week commences, the Opposition has called on the Government to extend PTSD protections to volunteer fire and emergency service volunteers.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and Volunteering Hon Martin Aldridge MLC said it was important for the State Government to not only thank volunteers but to deliver policies which support them.
“Western Australia is served by more than 20,000 fire and emergency service volunteers who regularly face traumatic events in their community, often with limited support,” Mr Aldridge said.
“Despite volunteers outnumbering career fire and emergency workers twenty-to-one, the State Labor Government has stubbornly refused to extend PTSD protections to volunteers.”
In Parliament last week, Mr Aldridge called on the State Government to explain why PTSD provisions would not be expanded to volunteers in a similar manner to other presumptive protections for illnesses which impact both career and volunteer firefighters.
“As someone who has served as both a career and a volunteer firefighter, volunteers are not immune from traumatic incidents, nor the impact on our mental wellbeing,” Mr Aldridge said.
“The Minister for Emergency Services was given an opportunity in Parliament to commit to protecting volunteers however he instead avoided the difficult questions and instead re-stated current arrangements.”
Mr Aldridge said it was disappointing the McGowan Labor Government were dismissive of this important
issue, given the important role fire and emergency services volunteers play in protecting regional
“The theme for National Volunteer Week is ‘The Change-Makers’ and the State Government has an
opportunity and an obligation to make a change which will benefit the health and wellbeing of our 20,000
plus fire and emergency service volunteers.”
Mr Aldridge also criticized the State Government’s bungled rollout of the new PTSD protections for firefighters, which has already required amendment only days after being announced.
“While ambulance communications officers were granted PTSD protections since 1 February 2022, the new protections for firefighters did not cover the similar role for Department of Fire and Emergency Services Communications Systems Officers,” Mr Aldridge said.
In response to questions asked by the Opposition in Parliament on 9 May, the Minister for Industrial Relations confirmed further amendments to the regulations would be made to include communications officers.
“If it was not bad enough that this Labor government left firefighters out in the cold for more than a year after first protecting paramedics, they have failed to cover those DFES officers working in our 000-call centre in a similar way.
“While the communications role is different to a firefighter, they still face trauma on a daily basis, which the Government recognised when they extended protections to ambulance communications officers.”