Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 April 1997



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 April 1997

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Parliamentary Record 32


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 23 April 1997 person is engaged in rescue work while the other is used exclusively to drive, obviously that will present a peculiar problem. No doubt the drivers would assist in some cases, but I understand their specialised skill will relate to driving. We have come to expect a very high quality of care from St John Ambulance personnel in the Territory. Clearly, rural people in Nelson and Goyder have a distance problem because they are farther away from ambulance stations than are people in Darwin and Palmerston. However, given what is under consideration by the St John Ambulance Association, they will be disadvantaged even further. In addition to its using volunteers on the road in place of paid officers, it will be using fewer of them. This is separate from the issue I mentioned previously. It appears that the St John Ambulance service will be degraded even further. There is an interesting question which I would like answered. I have not asked this question of the administration of the organisation, but it is likely that I would not be given an answer if I did. How many senior qualified staff have been lost to the ambulance association in the last 18 months? I ask that because I know a number of them personally, and I know for a fact that there has been a high turnover. I have been told that the reason for that was not because they did not like the paint on the walls. However, these people are skilled in their work, they all like their jobs, they are dedicated officers and they could obtain higher wages in other places in the Territory. I believe they are not paid enough. The administration of the organisation needs a rethink. I do not believe that the skills these people use in the community are recognised adequately, nor are they consulted sufficiently about the work. I have spoken previously about deficiencies I have seen in the St John Ambulance organisation. I do not like to talk about it in this way because the volunteers give of their free time and are highly skilled and very hard working. They should be supported. They are supported extensively by the community, but they should be supported extensively also by their own organisation. I would like to be proven wrong about all this, but I believe my information is pretty spot on. I would like the Minister for Health Services to make it his business to inquire further into the situation and prove me wrong if he can. I would like it if he could do that. However, as 65% of the operational grant to the organisation comes from the Territory government, it behoves the minister to take a little responsibility and determine how that money is actually used by the organisation. In the short time remaining to me, I want to speak briefly about a games day that I attended recently at Berry Springs Reserve between the Bushfires Council Volunteer Brigades and, for the first time, a couple of the Fire Service Volunteer Brigades. There was also a volunteer bushfire brigade from Braidwood in New South Wales and a group from Alice Springs. I thought it was a pretty good day. It was held before the fire season really got started. The timing was pretty accurate because I had not seen smoke around my place until that day but, on the Monday following, I saw bushfires in my area. Once the bushfires start, the volunteers are not available for games days because they are busy with call-outs. They have to be ready day and night, 7 days a week. I do not think enough people in the rural area, who are serviced by the volunteer bushfire brigades, realise the worth of these volunteers. They give freely of their time. They are not paid. Admittedly, both the Fire Service and Bushfires Council provide them with equipment and vehicles. Over the years, the vehicles and equipment have been upgraded and they are now of a high standard. In addition, they provide uniforms and training, but the work is done 11514