RTBU members in front-line roles would be aware of a media release from the Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos and the new Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne. The media release outlined a new plan to have ill passengers removed from trains in order to minimise delays and inconvenience to the travelling public.
In this proposal, Authorised Officers, public transport staff, Protective Service Officers and Victoria Police are asked to help unwell passengers off the train.
While the media release advises there has been a review into this, the RTBU has not been involved in the review, nor have we been consulted at any point. The media release goes on to say that the review “found it is safer to treat sick passengers on the platform or station where there is more space and privacy, better access to water, toilets and medical equipment such as defibrillators and a higher likelihood first-aid trained staff and bystanders will be on hand to help.”
This all sounds well and good in theory, however front line members know that it is still far from sunshine and daisies.
The facts are that:
- The RTBU has been given no information as to the proposed timeline towards implementation and how they plan to engage with the RTBU moving forward.
- The RTBU has been given no information as to on who’s authority a passenger would be moved and where will liability rest in the event of further injury or complication.
- The RTBU has been given no information as to who was involved in conducting the review and why the RTBU was not included, nor has a copy been made available.
- The proposal is based on the assumption that sick passengers will have access to essential facilities if they are moved onto a station, however the vast majority of stations across Victoria remain unstaffed without basic amenities.
- Defibrillators are available only at a handful of stations.
- Not all front line public transport staff are trained in first aid.
- No clear policy and procedure has been discussed with the RTBU that would provide members with the confidence required to facilitate such a change in practice.
- The network is currently under resourced to meet current and growing demand before consideration is given to the additional duties demanded by this proposal.
After discussion with members around this, I have written to both Ministers highlighting the above concerns and asking for clarification.
I have also requested that the review document be made available and that the RTBU and our Delegates are engaged in consultation to ensure any issues can be resolved.
I have also written to the CEOs of both Metro and V/Line to get some information as to whether they have agreed to this proposal. It will be extremely disappointing if the companies have agreed to this new procedure with the Government without any consultation with the people who are expected to perform this task, the members.
We are yet to receive a response from the letters and we will update members as further information becomes available. Until then, status quo will remain.