News & Media

Fiskville Update #14

By: Sherry Herman

  11.00 AM 24 August, 2012

Views: 4075

I am pleased to take this opportunity to issue my first formal communication to you since my commencement in the role of ‘Program Manager - Informing the Future' on Monday of last week.   I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to take on this important program of work, which is vital to ensuring the ongoing health and safety of our people, care for the environment, and the re-establishment of Fiskville College and the Regional Training Campuses as providers of best practice training for CFA volunteers, staff and other emergency services workers across the state.

My key accountabilities in this role are to develop and manage the program of work to implement the recommendations and management initiatives from Professor Joy's Report of the Independent Fiskville Investigation and CFA's response - Informing the Future.  In this capacity I will be reporting to the CEO, who will continue to actively lead these initiatives.

The CFA executive management team and the Board accept the facts, conclusions and recommendations established in Professor Joy's report, and are strongly committed to ensuring they are addressed as a matter of priority.  All of my work in the ‘Informing the Future' program office will be monitored and audited externally to ensure that the approach is consistent, thorough and transparent.

For those of you who perhaps have not had the time or the opportunity to read Professor Joy's report or the CFA Board's response, I strongly encourage you to do so.  

You can easily access the report and all related information on CFA Connect at the following link:

The Professor Joy report does not make for comfortable reading, and the recommendations within it will require significant changes to the focus we all place on health, safety and the environment.  It will also require us to change some of our established work practices.  Although the report focuses on Fiskville and the Regional Training Grounds, it is important to understand that the changes we need to make go beyond the training grounds and will affect all of our places of work.

In the coming weeks I will issue further communication directly to you that will explain the Informing the Future program of work, and the scope, timing and deliverables for each item within it.

For the purposes of this communication, I wish to focus on two key issues.  Firstly, I would like to address the initiative within my program of work that will possibly be the most visible to you, which is to allocate the executive responsibility, management and control for all training grounds to the Executive Director Operational Training and Volunteerism.  Essentially, this means that all of our training grounds will soon report directly to Lex de Man.

This change reflects the CEO's and the Board's recognition of the fundamental importance of our training facilities.  For many of our members, Fiskville College and the Regional Training Campuses provide the most significant ‘touchstone' to CFA.  It is where our members are inducted and trained, where graduation ceremonies take place, and where we honour those who have lost their lives in the course of duty. 

The Regional Training Campuses under the direction of the Regional Directors have achieved very good outcomes over the years in the services they have delivered to our volunteers, staff and other emergency services customers.   This change will build on those achievements and enhance the delivery of these services by providing a new focus on the management and operation of the training grounds.  This will enable us to quickly drive improvements and achieve consistency of practices, systems, processes and standards for all of our facilities.

Some of you have expressed concern that this change in reporting line will distance the training grounds from the Regions.  Mick, Lex and I all wish to reinforce that the training grounds will remain strongly focussed on delivering high quality services to our regional people.

In the coming weeks, Lex and I will work with the Regional Directors to organise a workshop with key people from each region and the training grounds to identify the actions we need to undertake to transition the training grounds' reporting structure.   The outcomes of this workshop will feed into a project plan and timeline for the transition, which we will use to manage and track our progress.

Secondly, I wish to address and acknowledge the work that is already being undertaken to implement many of the recommendations from the Joy report.  As many of you will have read in the weekly Blogs on CFA Connect, our People and Culture team have launched the voluntary Health Surveillance Program.

As part of this program, we have begun contacting present and past members identified in the Professor Joy Report as belonging to high and medium risk of exposure groups compared to all others who were at Fiskville between 1971 and 1999, inviting them to participate in the program.  Individuals in the identified groups, which could include up to 250 people, will be offered annual medical assessments involving a medical examination and health questionnaire. 

In addition, CFA have engaged the services of Cardno Lane Piper to undertake extensive Health, Safety and Environmental investigations at Fiskville and the Regional Training Campuses.  Cardno Lane Piper is one of Australia's leading environmental engineering firms and will provide CFA with the expertise we need to give all our people confidence in our training grounds.

You may have already met or seen Cardno Lane Piper representatives as they go about their work at the training grounds.  They are currently undertaking assessments of soil, groundwater, fire-fighting water supply, dams and lakes, and landfill.  All of their work is directly related to implementing the recommendations and initiatives in the Joy report and in CFA's response.  I wish to thank all of the staff at Fiskville and the Regional Training Campuses for your assistance and ongoing support for these activities.

One of my most important tasks in the coming weeks will be to prepare a simple, easy to understand workplan which summarises each of these activities so that you are aware of what has occurred to date and what is planned.

In closing, I wish to reaffirm that we remain deeply committed to the Fiskville Training College and the Regional Training Campuses.  Fiskville and the other CFA training grounds have been inspected by hygienists and environmental consultants Hazcon, who found there were no significant risks to the health and safety of those who work there (including trainees and visitors).

Sherry Herman
Program Manager - Informing the Future

Last Updated: 10 December 2015