First Responders: Australian Stories
Let’s work together to prevent crime against first responders.
When Victorians are in a crisis, First Responders are there to help our community. It’s an unfortunate fact that while on the job, many first responders are victims of crime and abuse.
Let’s talk statistics:
- Incidents of assault are on the rise against emergency services workers. The Crime Statistics Agency reported a significant increase of 17.2% from 2019 to 2020.
- Australian Medicare has estimated that work-related stress/stress-related work absence costs the Australian economy $14.8 billion annually.
- One paramedic is assaulted every 50 hours, with 147 paramedics assaulted in 2019.
We’ve teamed up with the Motorola Solutions Foundation to bring you a four-part podcast to acknowledge the incredible work first responders do in our community, while highlighting their risk of being harmed or abused while trying to help.
By understanding more about how first responders serve the community, and what they experience; it is easier to empathise and learn what we can do to ensure they can do their job efficiently as well as get home safely.
Together we can rally behind our front-line workers, and act as allies to prevent crimes against first responders.
Episode One: Only a Phone Call Away
From an early age we’ve been taught to pick up the phone and call for help when in an emergency or if we’ve seen suspicious behaviour. When encountering a crisis, the first place Victorians naturally go is their phones. With thousands of calls a day across the state, we can only imagine what kind of situations our call takers manage to keep us safe.
We speak to three call takers with different lived experiences – ESTA (000) police call taker Caitlin, Ambulance call taker Cindy and George from Crime Stoppers.
This episode showcases how our first responders don’t have to meet someone in person to be a victim of verbal abuse, and how we can help them help us.
Episode Two: Expect the unexpected
When Victorians go to work, many of us have a rough understanding of what we will encounter during the day. For any first responder working an emergency service provider, during any shift and on any day, one thing is understood: be prepared for the unexpected.
In this episode of the series, we speak to three different first responders – Fire Rescue Victoria firefighter Rachel Cowling, Life Saving Victoria lifeguard Tommy Williams and Victoria Police’s Leigh Johnson from the Proactive Policing Unit.
By listening to their unique experiences, we’re able to gain insight to how unexpected each day can be for our first responders, and how they’re prepared and trained to help no matter the situation.
Episode Three: Working Together to keep us safe
When Victorian’s are in crisis, no matter the situation, there are a plethora of emergency services available to best serve our needs. Emergencies are not always a one size fits all situation, and each organisation knows how to work together to keep us safe.
We speak to Ambulance Victoria paramedic Nathaniel Zahariou, VICSES volunteer Liam Wickham and Victoria Police Superintendent Craig Peel from the Priority and Safer Communities Division about their experiences encountering difficult situations, persevering through the unknown together.
Episode Four: No Matter the situation
Crime and emergency situations against the most vulnerable can often be the most difficult to deal with, let alone suspect it occurring in the first place. Two of these often happen behind closed doors: family violence and child abuse. One of the most challenging jobs in emergency services are those who work to protect children from abuse and harm, and engaging with those who have been victims of, or engaged in family violence.
In the final episode of the series, we talk to Detective Senior Constable Shaun Livori and Detective Inspector Marty Allison from the Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team and Dr Steve O’Kane, a specialist family violence counsellor at the Family Relationship Centre at EACH.
This episode contains a content warning, as it contains potentially distressing topics such as family violence, child abuse and exploitation, which may be difficult for some people.
"First responders leave their homes every day to protect us; they shouldn’t have to take abuse from the public home with them.”
Chief Executive of Crime Stoppers Victoria, Stella Smith says the best way to Thank a First Responder is to stop the physical and verbal abuse towards them:
“First responders leave their homes every day to protect us; they shouldn’t have to take abuse from the public home with them.”
“The First Responders: Australian Stories” podcast lets first responders tell the stories we usually don’t get to hear. While these stories are often impacted by grief and trauma, stories of hope and life reveal to listeners why first responders persist with their incredible work.”
Stella Smith reminds us that first responders show up when we need them most:
“These are the very people we rely on in a crisis and we expect them to help us when we need them. It makes absolutely no sense to be abusive to first responders. Whether you are asking for help over the phone or face to face, the first responder helping you deserves to be treated with respect.”
“Excuses like ‘being in the heat of the moment’ or ‘feeling frustrated’ will not cut it. If first responders can save lives, we can put our frustrations aside to treat first responders with the respect they deserve.”