Protecting the Brand – The abuse of Psychiatry


Since starting this couple of blogs I have been made aware of many examples of AV survailling its staff online.
Some like the last I find sad but amusing, but today’s effort I just find astounding.

A short while ago there was a vocal union delegate at an Ambulance Victoria station. This delegate was becoming increasingly frustrated at what he saw as changes for the worse in the job that he loved.
He put in many OH&S reports when he thought they were necessary, he had several discussions with the new Team Manager at his station.
He no doubt proved a right pain in the behind at times for managers.
He was quite vocal in social media.

One day he made quite a passionate post on Facebook, nothing to do with ambulance, not on an ambulance related page nor was it directed at any person connected with ambulance.
Knowing the guy it was quite possibly rather, shall we say blunt in nature. The delegate concerned like most of us has some fairly strong opinions.

Some time later he was contacted by his Group Manager, and told not to come in.
He was told he had been stood down pending psychiatric examination to establish his “fitness for duty”
On inquiry, he was told it was related to the Facebook post, as well as several incident reports he had submitted.
He was not to return to work until he had been seen by a psychiatrist selected by their in house medical contractor.

Needless to say he contacted the union immediately to find his rights in this matter, and Ambulance Victoria were quite within their rights apparently.
So there he was excluded from the workplace until the appointment.

When the appointment time finally arrived, the psychiatrist apparently came to the conclusion that indeed there was nothing wrong with the delegate, he was just outspoken.

I have no doubt that Ambulance Victoria will argue that it has a duty of care to make sure its employees are “fit for duty”.
I am sure they will no doubt argue even that they were concerned for him.

The cynic in me cannot help but wonder if that is indeed the case.
If their concern was so genuine, why was he not referred to either peer support or VACU (AV’s psychologists)
He was simply rung and told don’t come in.

The thought of this as a method of control or intimidation scares the hell out of me.
Ambulance is an industry well known for stress, mental health issues and suicide.
It would break my heart if paramedics out there became reluctant to use the services of peer or VACU should they be perceived to lack independence.Even though they had nothing to do with this, they are simply overseen by the same Health, Safety and Welfare Department. When you are anxious and alone though will you make the distinction?
But if Health, Safety and Welfare gets seen as “toecutters”, I pray they will not be tarred with the same brush.

This once vocal union delegate has now withdrawn, closed all social media accounts for fear of retribution.
A once confident and outspoken man is now withdrawn and afraid to use social media.
I cannot help but wonder if that was the point.

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3 Responses to Protecting the Brand – The abuse of Psychiatry

  1. MCCOY 8064 says:

    The whole social media surveillance phenomenon is a new tactic in an insidious game.
    I hadn’t realised the extent to which organizations will go to, until Wcover Court. Then when I got hold of the Organisation’s paper work? Holy Schitt puts it mildly!!!!
    Its cheaper to cop an Unfair Dismissal settlement, than reemploy an “undesired” staff mbr. As we have seen at least twice.
    Indeed, it’s very touching, that an employer would allegedly cyberstalk an employee, seeking the status of their mental health!!
    A mate was first Ambo to reqiire a Certificate of Sanity!;)
    I got one also & posted on wall in messroom.

    Mission Accomplished! Silenced a problem child & scared off others!
    To expect tactics otherwise, would be lamentably, naive.
    The nastiness exceeds even my expectations!!

  2. Pineapple Man says:

    Interestingly enough, I had to see a psychiatrist because I thought that going to chemical spills wearing just the basic ambulance uniform wasn’t safe. (The Firies were wearing gas suits).

    MAS thought I was being silly, and hoped that the Shrink would see me as neurotic.

    Sadly for them, I was given a certificate to say that I had no major psychiatric problems. The HR manager had no comparable certificate.

    Surely that says something?

  3. Invisible says:

    Their tactics had the desired effect. Very sad. What a shitty organisation to work for. Unfortunately, this seems to be the standard approach of most management connected with Government.

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