Distressing claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and bullying of women within Ambulance Victoria will be independently reviewed by the state's human rights commission.
Ambulance Victoria boss Tony Walker and board chair Ken Lay met with Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton on Tuesday to request an immediate independent inquiry.
The commission confirmed the invitation had been accepted and expects to examine sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation inside the workforce, although the terms of reference are yet to be finalised.
"Ambulance Victoria has acted decisively, and we look forward to working with them," Commissioner Hilton said in a statement.
She and Associate Professor Walker commended paramedics for speaking out about experiences of workplace sexual abuse, sexism from senior male managers and bullying that led to mental health problems
"I will provide the VEOHRC (Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission) with every possible assistance and resource to help us stamp out the terrible behaviours that diminish us," he said.
"What we have heard today is simply unacceptable."
Four cases of sexual harassment are already under investigation, Mr Walker said, after the allegations emerged in The Age on Tuesday.
Danny Hill, secretary of the Victorian Ambulance Union, said his team had been "bombarded" with complaints, concerns and examples of inappropriate behaviour since posting a bulletin last week.
"It is issues we've known we've had for quite some time," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"But I don't think we were ready for the sheer number of people that have been coming forward."
Many cited examples concerning occasions when paramedics discussed avenues for career progression into specialised roles, particularly for women.
"They're forced into some quite humiliating and demeaning conversations," he said.
"In many instances, they've been asked 'are you going to be a good paramedic, or are you going to be a good parent? You can't do both'.
"It extends from anything from eye-rolling behaviour, right up to people being forced to go and get a medical certificate in order to justify the need to breastfeed their child and to have a roster arrangement that allows them to breastfeed the child."
The conduct, he added, had become "normalised" and members hadn't spoken up until now because they didn't feel supported.
Associate Professor Walker admitted Ambulance Victoria had been addressing some "deep cultural challenges" in recent years.
"It is distressing to hear that despite all this work, there are still colleagues who don't feel safe or respected," he said.
"Today this stops."
The commission will lean on its past experience in public sector culture investigations, having last year concluded a five-year review into sex discrimination and harassment at Victoria Police.
Health Minister Martin Foley said the state government had a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and bullying in workplaces, especially those in the public sector.
Australian Associated Press