The Board held a short In Camera session, where it discussed the recruitment of the Chief Executive Officer. The Board agreed to start preparations for the recruitment process to ensure that there is no delay once there is further clarity on fire services reform.
At the start of formal proceedings the Chair gave an Acknowledgement of Country, noting the importance of acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation.
A special guest provided the safety share for the meeting. Operations Officer Emma Conway attended the meeting to provide the Board with her views on safety issues from an operations perspective. OO Conway focused on the risks involved with road rescue, noting that new speed restriction laws were still to be fully understood by the community and CFA. She suggested that it would be helpful to incorporate short duration drills into communications about new requirements such as road rescue, using the Learning Management System (LMS). The Board acknowledged this as an excellent suggestion.
Fire Services Review
The Board received a briefing on Fire Services Reform (FSR), noting that the Select Committee Inquiry process was continuing with consultations in a number of locations across the State, and that the Victorian Government had made a submission to the Inquiry. The Board also noted that CFA is represented by the Chief Officer and the CEO on various FSR governance processes, including the Fire Services Operational Implementation Committee chaired by Mr Greg Mullins AFSM, and an Inter-departmental Committee chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Justice and Regulation.
Performance and Policy Consultative Committee paper
John Haynes, Executive Director, Volunteers and Strategy, briefed the Board on a Discussion Paper being prepared by the Ministerial Performance and Policy Consultative Committee (PPCC) to facilitate engagement on challenges facing CFA and opportunities for reform. The Committee has identified four key areas where reform is required, including:
- reforming our service delivery;
- modernising our brigades;
- enhancing volunteerism; and
The Board noted that it is expected that the Discussion Paper will be released shortly, and that this will be followed by a robust consultation process over the next two months.
Zemeel Saba, Executive Director, People and Culture, briefed the Board on two issues related to child safety. The Board noted the implications for CFA of recent changes to the Working with Children Check (WWCC) legislation, which will require more CFA staff and volunteers to obtain a WWCC.
The Board asked that a detailed paper be prepared to inform discussion on a CFA policy on obtaining a WWCC, as opposed to just meeting the requirements of the Act.
The Board also considered a paper on the issue of operational involvement of 16 and 17 year old members, and there was concern about the risks to young people’s safety and wellbeing of attending certain events. The Board requested a further paper outlining the implications of involving 16 and 17 year olds in operational matters and consideration of options for engaging young people in CFA and protecting their safety and wellbeing.
Preparing communities for major emergencies
The Board discussed a report from the Inspector General for Emergency Management on Connecting with and Preparing Communities for Major Emergencies in Victoria, presented by Gwynne Brennan, Executive Manager of Community Safety. The Board’s Community Engagement Committee will give the report detailed consideration in the context of the Community Engagement Framework that is currently being developed.
Draft Business Plan
The Board received a draft of the CFA Business Plan for 2017/18, noting the benefits of releasing the Plan early in the financial year to assist in planning for the year ahead. The Board endorsed the Plan for release.
Annual Brigade Review Project
The Board noted the progress that has been made by the Annual Brigade Review Project. It agreed that the Brigade Viability Indicator Tool that has been developed through the project will provide a valuable device for brigades to determine how they are going, as well as supporting improved analytics and the targeting of support to brigades at a statewide level.
The Chief Executive Officer provided a report to the Board on key issues, noting particularly that the PTA Staff Agreement had been certified by the Fair Work Commission, and implementation of the Agreement will now commence.
The Board then heard from Chief Officer Steve Warrington, who highlighted that:
- Safer Together funding of $23.4 million over two years has been confirmed for CFA and DELWP, with $11.4 million allocated to CFA;
- The Victorian Parliament had released the final report of its Inquiry into Fire Season Preparedness;
- All emergency services have been put on notice to improve management of Hazardous Trees as a result of a Coroner’s Report associated with two firefighter fatalities, and a Worksafe compliance program related to Hazardous Tree Management. To address this need, CFA and Forest Fire Management Victoria have developed education material and a training package.
End-of-year financial results
The Chief Financial Officer, Nigel McCormick, provided a presentation to the Board on the end-of-year financial results. The Board noted the significant improvement in CFA’s financial position compared to a year ago.
Meeting with VFBV Board
Following the Board meeting, CFA Board members met with members of the Board of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV). Following a productive dialogue, the two Boards agreed to meet again for further discussions in the not too distant future.