It feels appropriate, on this anniversary, to suspend the countdown for a day, and instead recognise the amazing work emergency services personnel do the world over.
Nurses and midwives work closely with first-line emergency workers, and we were supported by members of the police force, ambulance service, fire brigade, State Emergency Service and Country Fire Authority during our campaign.
They drove by hospitals with lights and sirens to show support.
They took a sausage and signed our petitions at community rallies.
When prohibited from directly demonstrating support, testing of smoke detectors at hospitals increasingly coincided with times nurses and midwives were walking out.
Our fight is over for now, and the police EBA was settled first, but negotiations with the Ambulance Employees Association’s EBA are in progress. Ramping is an increasingly serious problem in Victoria – a problem that could be alleviated by increasing the number of nurses in Emergency Departments at known peak times. One extra nurse would free up to three vehicles and six officers, allowing faster road responses to emergencies. ANF (Vic.) proposed this during our negotiations and were told that it wouldn’t count as a productivity measure because it wasn’t a nursing improvement. I have no doubt that AEA will be told the same thing, clearly by a government less interested in the smooth running of the system as a whole than point scoring and penny-pinching.
The same mentality explains why, just as we’re due to enter what promises to be another bad bushfire season, fire fighting to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the Country Fire Authority is being cut by a combined total of $66 million. Mr Baillieu’s office says frontline services will not be affected – without support staff, no essential service can function effectively, and we’ve seen last week that the Premier’s Queensland counterpart, Campbell Newman, who promised not to sack frontline workers, has fired 45 nurses who apparently don’t count as frontline.
To support Victoria’s firefighters, join the Protect the Protectors march this Thursday, from 11:30 at Trades Hall, and/or like their Facebook page.