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From the CEO – improving training our top priority
I’ve met many CFA members in my first three months as CEO and one of the consistent themes that arises in discussions is the subject of training.
Many of you have told me that there are some ways in which we conduct training that need improvement.
That’s why we have made training our top priority this year. As I’ve said before, we need to get training right – from needs identification, priorities, type, format, scheduling, delivery and benefits. We need to improve our learning and development opportunities for the frontline – both volunteers and career firefighters – and for staff in non-operational roles.
We want to ensure that every member has an equal opportunity to get the training essential for the job they do, and beyond that build on their individual skills and capability.
In discussion with senior leaders in CFA, we are now putting together a 12-month ‘Action Plan’ that will prioritise the short-term priorities that we will focus on to make real improvements to support our frontline. Some of these improvements are already underway.
Since 2008, there have been 13 independent reviews, strategies or plans related to CFA Training. They have identified issues with our training program and procedures and this feedback is shaping the action plan.
These issues include the availability of training in suitable formats, places and times that recognise and respect our people.
Some members want training minimised and to just focus on the basics. Others want new options for experienced members who want to continue to advance and learn, not only into diverse roles or Incident Management Team (IMT) positions, but into leadership and advanced firefighting.
There has been support for the general direction that the new volunteer recruit program (to replace minimum skills) is taking, however some are not yet familiar with this upcoming change.
Many members have highlighted a continued and frustrating lack of recognition of prior learning or current competency, and find this disrespectful and limiting to membership. In addition, the importance of mentoring has been repeatedly raised by members as essential to the safety of our members.
In coming weeks, we will make this action plan available to all of you so you can provide feedback. The final plan will then be implemented.
With the Learning and Volunteerism directorate’s new structure now in place, we have a centralised area from which training can be organised and delivered.
We want you to have the skills needed to do your roles safely and with confidence, and training has a critical role in ensuring this.
I look forward to presenting the action plan for your feedback.
Last Friday, CFA Acting Chair John Peberdy and I gave evidence at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the former Fiskville Training College.
For more about what I outlined at the hearing, I’d encourage you to read my blog that was published last week. ABC Online published a report about the hearing: CFA trainers unfairly 'tarnished' by Fiskville cancer scandal, fire chief says