NSW Government funding for new paramedics and a new ambulance station for the Illawarra

  • Published June 5, 2022
  • Industries

The Illawarra Mercury, 5 June 2022

An Illawarra paramedic woke up with a feeling of joy on Sunday, with news of a $1.76 billion rescue package to help a fatigued and overworked ambulance service.

The NSW Government is set to employ 1850 new paramedics and 300 support positions around the state, plus 30 new ambulance stations including one at Warilla.

The 2022-23 Budget announcement means funding over four years to provide NSW with 1,858 extra paramedics, 210 ambulance support staff, 52 nurses and eight doctors.

"I woke up this morning and I could just feel my shoulders sat that little bit lower, knowing that everything we've been fighting for is going to start to change," said Tess Oxley, Health Services Union delegate for the ambulance division in the Illawarra.

She said the announcement of a new station at Warilla was a welcomed relief, as the area between Wollongong and Shellharbour was crying out for services due to a rapidly increasing population.

"The extra station at Warilla, as well as the station that's due to be commenced building at Fairy Meadow later this year, will both go together to support the increasing Illawarra population," Miss Oxley said. 

"I very much look forward to the day at work when I realise the pressure has slightly lifted and I can turn up and just do my job."

Other new ambulance stations on the cards for the next 12 months include Kincumber, Lisarow, Gateshead, Swansea, Cherrybrook, Raby and Narellan, with 22 more stations to come over the following three years.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said expressions of interest for employment would be sent out on Monday following the announcement.

"Ambulance services across Australia are experiencing unprecedented demand but this funding will ensure NSW is well placed for the challenges ahead," Mr Perrottet said.

"The investment will help increase capacity both in terms of available paramedics to respond to patients, and available staff to help answer the record volume of calls.

The HSU has pushed for the extra positions for the past five years, taking serious industrial action on multiple occasions, pressing the case to politicians on Macquarie Street, and continually highlighting the community impact of short staffing in the media.

The union will now work with NSW Ambulance to work out the mapping of where the extra staff will go and how many will be allocated to the Illawarra.

Miss Oxley welcomed this increase in infrastructure saying it would not only help ease the pressure on paramedics but also increase services to the community, but she said they would continue to push for the pay rise they've also been campaigning for.

"The government has agreed to work with the HSU on a task force for professional recognition, and hopefully that will bring about the pay increase we've been asking for as well," she said.

"It just shows that they're listening and hopefully they'll continue to do so."

HSU NSW Secretary, Gerard Hayes, said paramedics said it was a "historic win" as paramedics had "worked themselves to the bone" to protect the community for too long.

"The Premier is making the right noises on this issue by committing to a professional pay taskforce," Mr Hayes said.

"However our hope and expectation is that the budget will contain a pay rise that reflects both the surging cost of living and the extraordinary productivity of our paramedics.

"A modern ambo can deliver emergency medicine that not only keeps a patient alive but drastically reduces their stay in hospital. That's a massive saving for taxpayers yet paramedic wages simply don't reflect this reality.

"Without a serious pay rise it will be hard to recruit and retain the extra paramedics announced today. We will continue to press for fair pay."