A spike in threats of violence against St John Ambulance volunteers while they attend callouts in Kununurra has prompted their manager to speak out, demanding respect from those responsible.
St John Ambulance North West regional manager Philip Strapp said volunteers throughout the Kimberley were being “misused and abused” by some members of the communities they served.
“They are actually receiving threats of violence and some verbal abuse when they are attending the scene,” he said.
“It’s in areas of high alcohol consumption.
“(Volunteers) are concerned if they turn up to a scene if they are going to be physically confronted or threatened with violence against them.”
Mr Strapp said the volunteers were trained to respond to safety risks and there were measures in place to protect their safety.
He said threats of violence were not common but there was an overall lack of respect for ambulance officers in the Kimberley.
“It doesn’t make the job easy,” he said.
“Nobody has specifically quoted the violence against them as a reason for leaving but it surely must contribute to if people choose to leave.”
Addressing mistreatment of the region’s ambulance volunteers is a priority for Mr Strapp.
He said it was important the wider Kununurra community was aware of the problem.
“We’ve been working lately with the local authorities, indigenous groups and support groups to raise the awareness that this sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable,” he said.
“We are an ambulance service provided in Kununurra by volunteers.
“These people are taking time out of their lives, they are not getting paid, to contribute to this essential service.”
An educational campaign which targets young people is being trialled in Broome.