State Member for Williamstown Wade Noonan has spoken on the ambulance crisis, and about the challenges he faced whilst in the position of opposition parliamentary secretary for health and mental health.
In his recent valedictory speech to the Victorian Parliament, Wade Noonan revealed that the crisis gripped him for two years, as he travelled the state speaking with families who had lost loved ones, and he believes their stories helped change the government in 2014.
“Not every moment in public life is littered with fulfilment or joy. I want to touch on a few because I think they provide an insight into the challenges of public life but also the depth of the human spirit,” he said.
“Let me start with the ambulance crisis. This crisis gripped my life for two years between 2012 and 2014. When we were in opposition our leader, Daniel Andrews, appointed me to the position of opposition parliamentary secretary for health and mental health.”
“After taking careful advice from former Bracks minister John Thwaites, I systematically worked every day to reveal cases of ambulance ramping at hospitals, patient waiting times, mismanagement, paramedic stress, health and safety issues and poor staff morale.”
“I travelled to every corner of the state and spoke to every paramedic and local journalist I could about the depth of the crisis. No-one had to be convinced, though, as response times continued to slip to increasingly dangerous levels.”
“I enjoyed a wonderful relationship with paramedics and their union and will always rank Steve McGhie and Danny Hill amongst the best and most respected union leaders of our generation.”
It was morning on a day in August 2013 when Wade Noonan was invited by ABC broadcaster Jon Faine to attend a Southbank studio to discuss the crisis, a morning that broke his heart, a morning he will never forget for the rest of his life.
“It was on this morning that I met Julie Wilson and came face to face with a woman so stricken by grief that her on-air account of losing her son Brodie after waiting 27 minutes for an ambulance simply broke my heart,” he said.
“In the months that followed I also met Steve and Jo Gibbs, who lost their gentle giant son Matthew after he collapsed playing indoor soccer and waited 16 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.”
“Their trauma and loss have never left me. Their determination and relentless pursuit of change is something I will never forget, and in my view helped change the government in 2014.”
“Today almost 84 per cent of code 1 life-threatening ambulance call-outs are arriving within 15 minutes, compared to just 73.7 per cent under the previous Liberal government. This is a truly outstanding achievement.”
“I want to thank the Premier, the health minister and the cabinet for delivering what is arguably the greatest achievement of this government to date.”
“I also want to pay tribute to Steve and Jo Gibbs and Julie Wilson for standing up and fighting for change. Their efforts are helping save lives today.”