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CFA welcomes Victorian Fire Services Review
CFA has welcomed today’s release of the independent Victorian Fire Services Review and State Government’s response.
The review, titled ‘Drawing a Line, Building Stronger Services’, focuses on the resourcing, operations, management and culture of CFA and MFB and was conducted by former Minister for Police and Emergency Services in the Tasmanian government, David O’Byrne.
While the review found the Victorian community remained well serviced by fire fighters and the “passion, courage, competence and commitment of the state’s firefighters … remain outstanding”, it also identified a range of issues that needed addressing.
CFA Chief Executive Officer Lucinda Nolan said the review built on work already underway to strengthen CFA’s operations.
“We support measures that improve CFA’s ability to protect the community,” Ms Nolan said.
“Victoria is changing and the State Government’s response to the review is about making sure CFA volunteers and paid firefighters are supported to continue serving our community effectively.”
Ms Nolan said work to address cultural, bullying and harassment issues had already begun.
“Bullying and harassment has no place in any workplace and we are already taking action to address this,” she said.
“Changing our culture won’t be easy and it will take time, but it will be done.
“This won’t be solved by strategies and initiatives alone – everyone in CFA needs to take a stand and do their part to improve our culture.
“We want to make sure our people feel safe to report bullying or harassment.”
Work being implemented includes:
- CFA will establish a dedicated independent hotline that will provide members a place to report bullying, harassment and other unacceptable behaviour. The hotline will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and an external team will be set up to manage the complaints. This hotline will be available within the next few weeks and an education campaign developed to ensure members are aware of the service.
- CFA will establish a taskforce to address workplace culture, diversity and inclusion. The group’s focus will be wide ranging and will include finding ways to increase diversity as well as improve workplace culture and behaviour. It will also work with VEOHRC during its review of the fire services and implementation of any recommendations; and
- CFA will increase resources to investigate workplace conflict and support local managers to address unacceptable behaviour.
The report also identified the need for stronger focus on interoperability between CFA and MFB, while emphasising it did not mean amalgamating or making CFA and MFB the same.
Ms Nolan welcomed the greater focus on interoperability between fire services and how CFA’s services were delivered.
“Ensuring fire services can share resources, equipment and have common protective clothing, breathing apparatus, communication and training is a sensible approach and will improve our members’ safety,” she said.
“It’s important we review how we operate in different communities to keep up with changing demographics, volunteering patterns and growth of our regional communities.
“We are looking at different ways to provide our service to communities. This could be through seasonal staffing, day staffing, hub and spoke models or industry partnerships.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to delivering our services and we will work with our members to determine the right model for our brigades and the communities they operate in.”
CFA will continue reviewing the recommendations and will work with the State Government, Emergency Management Victoria, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and our members to implement them.
The Victorian Fire Services Review report can be read here.