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Kilmore East Trial
Two allegations were made against CFA in the proceedings:
• the ‘suppression' case, alleging that CFA failed to suppress the fire; and
• the ‘warnings' case, alleging that CFA did not adequately warn the community.
We are very pleased that on 19 February this year, with the consent of all parties, the Supreme Court dismissed the suppression case against CFA. We know all of our firefighters did an outstanding job fighting the Kilmore East fire and are pleased to see that this has now been validated.
The initial stages of the proceeding will involve the parties presenting their opening submissions. These may briefly mention the roles some CFA members played during the Kilmore East fire.
We recognise that some of our members may be concerned about the proceedings and we encourage anyone with concerns to access CFA's welfare services. Peer support can be accessed through the Rostered Duty Officer, Office in Charge, Line Manager, the Peer Coordinator or via the CFA Welfare line (ph 1800 628 616). Chaplains can be contacted directly or by contacting Converge International on 1800 337 068. Psychologists/ Counsellors can be contacted directly by contacting PPC Worldwide on1300 361 008. These services are not just for members who have been subpoenaed but for anyone who has concerns about the trial.
The judge has recently ordered that the opening and closing submissions of the parties be streamed on the internet. The presentation of each party's case and hearing of evidence will also be streamed although viewing will be restricted to those registered as members of the class. A link to the webpage streaming the trial will be made available on CFA News and Media site (www.news.cfa.vic.gov.au)
We are now finalising our preparations to vigorously defend the warnings case and this includes further refining our witness list. All parties to this proceeding are required to submit a list containing the names of people they intend to call to give evidence in court.
Many of you have assisted our Bushfires Litigation Team in preparing CFA's defence and we thank you for the time and energy you have already given. If you are no longer required to give evidence on behalf of CFA, we will let you know. Others may yet be added to our witness list.
If you are already on the witness list, we will contact you to finalise your written statement if this has not already been done. If CFA needs you to give evidence in court, we will arrange a further meeting with our lawyers to brief you about the process. Welfare support will also be provided.
Although the trial is scheduled to begin on 4 March, we don't expect CFA to present its case - including presenting our evidence - until mid-2013.
Once again, I thank everybody who has assisted CFA in defending these proceedings so far.