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St John WA says volunteer shift changes no detriment to Augusta-Margaret River services

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
St John WA has defended its roster changes.
Camera IconSt John WA has defended its roster changes. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret River Times

St John WA says a change in its roster system requiring volunteers to be onsite all shift has had no effect on its ambulance operations since paid paramedics took up duties in Margaret River late last year.

The Times understands some long-serving volunteer ambulance officers have opted out of duties for St John WA since the new approach to rosters was brought in around November.

Before the service unveiled a team of paid paramedics to help the service meet requirements flowing from a Parliamentary inquiry into country ambulance services, volunteers were on-call and ready to drop their day jobs to swing into action when needed.

But the move to have volunteers onsite all shift is forcing out those who are unable to give up whole days when holding down jobs or tending to family.

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A St John WA spokesperson said the new arrangement was working smoothly with no ill effects on operations.

“Crews in regional hubs where volunteers work alongside paid team members are deployed direct from the local station,” the spokesperson said.

“However, the roster is locally developed and managed to meet individual needs.

“The model improves training, education and engagement opportunities.”

St John WA confirmed the new arrangement had come into effect in November.

“This is to ensure a timely response to the community,” the spokesperson said.

“Since transitioning to a hybrid sub-centre, volunteer shifts have been adequately covered in Margaret River, with volunteering still strong in the region.

“Volunteers who choose not to fill on-station shifts can make themselves available for back-up attendances and/or special events.”

The Times canvassed volunteers, who provided mixed views on the change.

Several said the demands of the region with an increased population and visitor numbers meant Margaret River was no longer a small country town and volunteers were busy.

But there were concerns that volunteer numbers were very low in Augusta, forcing more Margaret River residents to help out.

Another volunteer told the Times she felt the service was losing some of its experienced personnel because it was impossible to balance a working life with giving up whole days for the sake of helping the community.

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