I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Emergency Services a question about South Australian Ambulance Service recruitment.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have been contacted by some constituents who are concerned about the recruitment process of the SAAS. These constituents completed their Flinders University training in 2004. A number of them were declared fit for physicals last year, while students. Not surprisingly, the physical includes managing things such as lifting a certain amount of weight and holding sit-ups. When undergoing the physical to apply for the SAAS, students have found that they mysteriously have not passed, even if they have scored the same result as the previous year when they were declared fit.
These were for things such as not holding a sit-up for two minutes or failing weight tests, particularly for grip strength of less than one kilogram. The students have come away with the impression that failing the test is ‘a bit random’ and that ‘it seems like the SAAS is finding anything to reject potential entrants’. These graduates are also aware that there was under recruitment in the previous year. When they apply, they are not allowed to know the benchmarks for fitness and, in successive applications, additional criteria have been added to the test. My questions are:
1. How many times has the application process been changed in the last two years?
2. Why are potential recruits being refused information about benchmarks so that they can at least work towards being declared fit and gaining employment?
3. How does this practice of the SAAS enhance the recruitment process?
4. Is the difficulty with the application process simply a rationing mechanism to reduce the number of new entrants into the SAAS?
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO (Minister for Emergency Services): I thank the honourable member for her question. I will refer her question to the Minister for Health in another place and bring back a response.
Thursday 1 December 2005
In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (11 April).
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: The Minister for Health has provided the following information:
1. The medical and physical assessment criteria has been changed twice in the past two years, specifically targeting the required grip strength and lifting capacity, due to the increasing physical demands of the heavy work ambulance officers are required to perform.
2. Applicants are able to gain information in relation to the preemployment medical and physical assessment from the South Australian Ambulance Service (SAAS) website. Degree students undertake a medical and physical assessment while studying with SAAS. If students are declared unfit, they are provided with an opportunity to receive a briefing with SAAS medical providers to discuss how they can improve their fitness to gain employment.
3. In order for SAAS to meet occupational health and safety duty of care responsibilities, pre-employment medical and physical testing criteria has been established, with applicants tested for their fitness to drive and perform ambulance work.
The driving test uses standards that are set externally and are evaluated using the National Standard for Commercial Vehicle licensing.
Applicants are required to have medical and physical testing to determine their fitness to perform ambulance work. The medical evaluation tests overall health, including height and weight and clinical assessment.
The physical aspects include testing of joints, clinical assessment of muscle endurance, fitness, strength and dynamic lift capacity.
Physical standards are set based on applicants being able to endure the demands of ambulance work, with SAAS analysing workers compensation data comparing similar industries that also have heavy work demands. Protocols have been established based on the analysis of tasks ambulance officers are required to perform.
4. SAAS uses human resources (HR) best practice when recruiting applicants. Each applicant is assessed to ensure they have the abilities, aptitude, skill, qualification, capacity, knowledge, experience, characteristics and personal qualities to carry out of the duties required. This is assessed as part of a fair and equitable process by SAAS staff who have been trained in recruitment and selection processes.
SAAS has also recently been audited by an external provider (Deloittes) and was found to be using HR best practice in relation to recruitment and selection.