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Member support - our top priority
Throughout each year, and especially in tough times like the bushfire season, we value and respect the enduring effort that you apply to your role.
Your way of protecting life and communities is by using your skills, experience, judgement and teamwork - which you do so professionally.
Our support for you is always top of mind. With the Royal Commission about to recommence its public hearings next Monday, I can assure you that we will leave no stone unturned in assisting those members that have been involved in this challenging process.
The next block of hearings includes the oral submissions on each of the main fires that occurred on 7 February 2009.
Counsel Assisting the Commission, Jack Rush QC, will present his proposed key findings to the Commissioners in relation to each of the fires.
Other parties to the Commission will also have the opportunity to present submissions. This includes the Victorian Government. The Commissioners will consider all of these before preparing their final report. This is due to be presented to the State Government by 31 July this year.
The submissions relating to the fires at Kilmore East and Beechworth will be presented on Monday; Coleraine, Pomborneit, Horsham and Murrindindi on Tuesday; Redesdale, Bendigo, Delburn and Bunyip on Wednesday; and Churchill, Narre Warren and Upper Ferntree Gully on Thursday.
The Bushfires Taskforce and our team at Maddocks have put in a massive effort over the Christmas period to prepare our response to Counsel Assisting's submissions, which were lodged with the Commission on 22 December 2009.
CFA has responded to many of the proposed findings of Counsel Assisting and this is reflected in the whole-of-government response. We will advise you of further developments and provide links to relevant information through CFA Connect as soon as they are approved for public release by the Commissioners.
Because we are in the middle of a fire season and close to the first anniversary of Black Saturday, CFA would have preferred that the scheduling of this block of hearings be held later in the year. We understand, though, that the Commission is working to a tight timeframe.
It is going to be a busy year for the Commission with issues including planning, fuel management and insurance still to be addressed. The Commission may also release further interim recommendations, and we will keep you informed if this occurs.
As the Commission resumes this week, we approach the first anniversary of Black Saturday. This will be an emotional time for many CFA members so I encourage you all to use the support services that are available in your regions.
Once again I would like to thank every member for their outstanding efforts so far this season and also those members who have contributed to the Royal Commission process that will continue this year.