New South Wales paramedics are campaigning against a recent decision to reduce disability insurance payouts.
The payment for career ending injuries was slashed from a maximum of $699,635 to $123,487, as a result of, the Health Services Union (HSU) says, the NSW Government not being able to afford the premiums.
NSW Health reviewed death and disability entitlements, in light of premiums increasing near five-fold and, in August, the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) approved a new award.
Under the previous scheme, if a paramedic was seriously injured to the point where they could no longer work as a paramedic, they would receive payouts ranging from $253,515 to $685,642 depending on their age.
If seriously injured and not being able work in any profession: payouts of between $559,708 and $699,635, also depending on their age, were made, with younger ambulance officers receiving more money.
Now, ambulance officers receive $123,487 no matter what their age or the state of their injury.
Last week, the state government promised to overhaul the disability insurance scheme, bringing it into line with protections for the NSW Police, however, paramedics are continuing their campaign, with a focus on Premier Mike Baird.
The HSU subsequently posted on its issue-related Facebook site, www.facebook.com/01code1: “Mr Baird … promised that this will be achieved in 90 days. He said that whatever is agreed to will be back dated to the day of the IRC Full Bench decision that stripped our protections in the first place.
“This is good news … but it will only matter if it’s delivered.”
HSU North Coast councillor, Terry Savage, said: “When the government of the day in 2008 introduced the scheme [that has been replaced], it was mandatory … and anybody who had any other [insurance] had to drop it, because you can’t afford both.
“The campaign will be kept going – [however], we have given our word to Mr Baird that there will be no derogatory remarks or animosity shown to him personally.
“Mr Baird has promised us that he will fix our death and disability insurance in 90 days.
“He said he would take control of it himself.
“People can sign a petition at any ambulance station … or go on line to the Facebook page.
“We have over 12,000 signatures and will table it in parliament in November.”