Paramedics in clash with state government over Working with Children Check fee

The state president of the Australian Paramedics Association says members will continue to refuse to stump up $80 for a Working with Children Check (WWCC).

Chris Kastelan said a survey of members showed that 83 percent supported the WWCC but not the $80 'administration fee' attached to it.

"The police don't pay the fee; this is the state government reaching into the back pockets of hard-working paramedics," he said.

"We are still in negotiations with the NSW Ambulance and the state government through health minister Brad Hazzard.

"Paramedics are refusing to pay this outrageous fee as a matter of principle."

Not happy: Australian Paramedics Association NSW president Chris Kastelan. Photo: supplied

Not happy: Australian Paramedics Association NSW president Chris Kastelan. Photo: supplied

Mr Kastelan said the premier Gladys Berejiklian and treasurer Dominic Perrottet will shortly come out and say the state govenrment has 'significant surpluses'.

"Why not reinvest in the community and pay the $80 WWCC fee?" he added

The state president said paramedics have been taking hit after hit to their working conditions over several years and have clearly had enough.

“We won’t be meeting the April 1 deadline.

“Paramedics perform a valuable service for the community and we know when their child is in need of urgent lifesaving care, parents will back us over a bunch of greedy politicians any day,” he said.

"Paramedics support the Working with Children Check. We believe in good governance for clinicians working in the field. But we don't and won't support a simple cash grab by a state government.

"We are working at absolute maximum.

“NSW Ambulance is now sending out emails informing paramedics they could face fines of up to $11,000 each if they don’t pay this fee.

“What NSW Ambulance and the government need to understand is we won’t be paying for something we believe they should be responsible for,” he said.

The Australian Paramedics Association NSW represents some 1700 members across the state.

Paramedics are refusing to pay this outrageous fee as a matter of principle.

Chris Kastelan

Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said the safety and protection of children remains paramount.

Since 2013, anyone wishing to work with children in NSW must have a Working with Children Check (WWCC) from the Office of the Children’s Guardian, Mrs Williams said.

“As part of keeping children safe, the Working with Children Check applies to a wide range of people in the private and public sectors. It includes front line public sector staff such as teachers, doctors, nurses, and paramedics,” she added.

“It costs $16 a year for a Working with Children Check clearance, this equates to about four cents a day. The fee is fully tax deductible for employees who are required to apply for this check. As the WWCC is owned by the individual, they may use it to work with children in any organisation in NSW.

“The WWCC involves a national police check through the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, a check of workplace misconduct findings and notifications by the NSW Ombudsman concerning reportable conduct allegations.”

Mrs Williams said people convicted of relevant serious violence offences against children or sex offences are automatically barred from working with children. Clearances are continuously monitored by the Office of the Children’s Guardian for new criminal charges or misconduct reports during the five year validity of the WWCC.

“NSW Health  is one of the last organisations phasing-in its existing staff, including paramedics to the Working With Children Check scheme,” Mrs Williams said.

“NSW Health remains committed to the protection of children and to the Working with Children Check as an important part of the overall strategy around keeping children safe.”

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