17 MARCH 2018
When Dr Louise Reynolds begins her tenure as Victoria’s new Chief Paramedic Officer on Monday, she will become the most senior female paramedic in Australia in what is a milestone for both the profession and for gender equity in the workforce.
It is also another first for Dr Reynolds, a Fellow of the Australasian College of Paramedicine (the College), who has the distinction of being Australia’s first female paramedic to complete a doctoral qualification in a career that has spanned national and international academic research and teaching roles.
College CEO John Bruning said Dr Reynolds’ appointment, following Adj Assoc Prof Alan Eade ASM’s successful six-year inaugural term, was another step forward for the profession, for the representation of women in paramedicine, and for advancing the shared goal of greater integration of paramedics in primary healthcare.
“Dr Reynolds has long been a leader and a pioneer in the field, and as both a College Fellow and a valuable member of our Research Committee has helped to spearhead the development of an ever-growing body of evidence-based professional knowledge and research, and continued academic achievement. Her new role as Victoria’s CPO benefits not only Victoria, but all of the country in helping to guide and shape new professional pathways in addressing Australia’s health system crisis and improving person-centred care, and we strongly advocate for other states and territories to follow suit.”
Dr Reynolds said her priorities were national health workforce reform, overcoming the legislative impediments involved in expanding the scope of paramedic practice, and working to eradicate cultural and gender-based discriminatory behaviour and beliefs across the profession.
“I want to ensure that the government’s reforms embrace paramedics as a safe, viable, and available workforce to address the inequities in access to healthcare that currently exist. We need to shift from paramedics being seen only in an emergency response role and put them in community primary healthcare roles to address those issues.
“What I want to see as my legacy is greater integration and acceptance of paramedics outside of jurisdictional ambulance services and more acceptance of paramedics in the wider healthcare system.”
For women in paramedicine and paramedics from culturally diverse backgrounds, her vision for genuinely equitable, bias-free representation is clear.
“There are still inequities in the workplace, particularly for women and paramedics from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Fifty percent of Victorian paramedics are female and we still don’t have a workforce that is representative of our population. If I can be driving that change and addressing the inequities that exist, then that's part of the legacy that hopefully I will leave, and that’s a real privilege.”
Mr Bruning said the College looked forward to working with Dr Reynolds in continuing the outstanding efforts of Alan Eade in advancing recognition of and respect for paramedics within government and the health sector.
Jemma Altmeier, Advocacy and Government Relations Manager, Australasian College of Paramedicine, on 0409 911 681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org