News & Media

Bass Coast Group Fights!!!

By: Garry Wilson

  11.00 AM 26 January, 2010

Views: 6915

CFA Bass Coast Group - Westernport Area - Region 8, is currently fighting proposals to be moved to Region 9 to conform with State and Local government boundaries.

Bass Coast Group consists of Bass RFB, Corinella RFB, Dalyston RFB, French Island RFB, Glen Alvie RFB, Kernot RFB, Kilcunda RFB, Phillip Island UFB, San Remo RFB and Wonthaggi UFB.

In 2005 and again in 2007 these changes were vigorously fought and won and the Group had reassurances from the then CEO, Neil Bibby, and the Director of Strategic Planning, Geoff Spring, that if this topic was to be ever put back on the table that the organisation would come to Bass Coast to discuss the issue before any announcements were made.

  • In October 2009, CEO M. Bourke announces, via CFA Connect, that the CFA will move to state government boundaries and local government area boundaries. He further states that Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria and the United Firefighters Union have been consulted on the new direction.
  • The “Fairer Victorian Boundaries” plan was established as a way to divide the state for the use of Government Departments, not for the current operation or future viability of a volunteer fire fighting service. On a map this change may make sense but for those who live in our community, it is completely unworkable and unacceptable.
  • The Bass Coast Group of Brigades has a very long and proud history of serving the needs of our community.  We are an integral part of our community and are held in high regard.  The community that we protect is the community in which we live.  We know our strengths, and for that matter our weaknesses.  We are the best ones to determine the best direction for the future of the provision of fire fighting capability and volunteerism in the Bass Coast, yet an announcement has been made regarding our future without us having the ability to input into the discussion or put forward our concerns.
  • To date, there has been No Consultation.

Operational Issues

  • Bass Coast Group already has an excellent working relationship with the other agencies in this area, particularly with Bass Coast Shire. The facilities and resources of the Shire are always available to us and are usually offered before we request them. Bass Coast Shire fully supports the retention of the existing Regional Boundary.
  • The Bass Coast is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Victoria. We also accommodate major international events such as the Moto GP and the like.  We are one of the most visited areas in Victoria and have risks that match that level of tourist activity.   We are the home to major infrastructure projects including the new Desalination plant and the social impact issues associated with that project.
  • In the event of a Major Incident in Bass Coast Group the majority of our support will come from Westernport Area as the road network is far superior meaning assistance will arrive faster.
  • Specialist assistance such as High Angle Rescue and Platform are all located in Westernport Area.
  • Over the years, members of Bass Coast Group have developed very strong working relationships with members from other Groups within Westernport area. This includes working in Incident Management Teams, composite Strike Teams and Task Forces and have assisted each other with training. To change to a different Region would negate these relationships.
  • Currently, our DMO’s are based in Cranbourne. If our Regional boundary were to change, our DMO would be in Moe, almost twice the distance of the current workshop.
  • Brigades within Bass Coast Group currently work through Vicfire. Brigades within Region 9 currently work through a largely Group based radio network. To have to return to such a system would be a retrograde step.

Westernport Area has a reputation as the Area that sets the standard for Training. Bass Coast Group has benefitted greatly. To move to a different Region would impact on our Training standards and hence our operational capability. Member Welfare

The future viability of any volunteer organisation revolves around the ability of that organisation to retain and recruit volunteers. The proposed Regional Boundary change stands to jeopardise the ability of CFA to do this.  This is simply because the demands of CFA today are so great that as volunteers we need to be able to co-ordinate our normal daily activities to include our commitments to CFA.  The community of interest of the members in Bass Coast is to the North West, not the East.  We currently report to Dandenong as a Regional and Area Headquarters.  Our DMOs are based in Cranbourne and our Training Ground at Bangholme.  This works with our day to day activities and allows volunteers to blend their private and CFA lives with little disruption, thus creating major benefits to CFA and our communities. Anyone familiar with the Bass Coast will be aware that having to access similar locations in Region 9 is totally unworkable and its introduction would geographically alienate our volunteers from the services and access to CFA that they need and deserve.

For any person who has read the CFA Volunteer Charter they will know that it has been deliberately bypassed and ignored in relation to the previous issues:

The Charter states:

  • It ensures the State of Victoria and the Authority will commit to consultation with Volunteers about all matters which might reasonably be expected to affect Volunteers;
  • It will recognise and acknowledge the value of the time that Volunteers provide to CFA and ensure that Volunteer time is used to maximum advantage;
  • It will acknowledge that policy development and change should always be considered in terms of its potential to support and facilitate the Volunteer contribution and the particular situation of local brigades;
  • It will recognise that the Associations represent Volunteers in general and ensure there is meaningful consultation, allowing enough time for real involvement, with the elected representatives of Volunteers on all matters which may impact upon Volunteers before the adoption or implementation of any new or changed policies, procedures or approaches;
  • It will ensure that Volunteer views, opinions and concerns are fully considered before adopting any new or changed policies, procedures or approaches which impact on them as CFA Volunteers;
  • You don’t have to be Einstein or a Rhodes Scholar to work out that we are being bullied and hoodwinked into thinking these moves are for the best for CFA Volunteers and more importantly the safety of the general public.
  • I again reiterate that “TO DATE THERE HAS BEEN NO CONSULTATION” which is a direct breach of the CFA Volunteer Charter !!!!!!
Last Updated: 10 December 2015