Lisa Clinch with Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson
Succession planning is vital to ensure the ongoing capability of CFA brigades and groups, allowing for the development of members in line with future role demand.
Lisa Clinch and Kirsten Dudink from North West Region’s Volunteer Sustainability Team led the development of CFA’s Succession Planning Framework. Launched statewide in February 2021, the Framework can be used by all brigades and groups, no matter their size, to support the identification of key areas of succession and assist in the development of prospective leaders. In doing so they can ensure their members are resourced, skilled and have the opportunity to continually learn.
The Framework includes comprehensive tools and resources to support brigades and individual members to develop a plan for the future. The project originated in North West Region in 2017 where a lack of succession planning to support continuity of leadership was identified as a risk for the region’s brigades.
Lisa and Kirsten were tasked with identifying the barriers to succession planning. Through their engagement with volunteers, catchment teams and CFA staff across the state they discovered a broader need to develop flexible succession planning resources and tools. Only a small percentage of brigades and groups were succession planning, with most planning being informal due to limited supporting resources. This had the potential to impact operational capability.
What followed was an extensive process of consultation to ensure that the Framework and supporting resources would be flexible, practical, relevant to volunteers and above all easy to use. Designed to empower brigades and groups in their future development, the Framework guides members through six foundational areas for developing leadership and skill capability: Structure Review, Skills Review, Membership and Roles Review, Developing Our Members, Retaining and Recruiting Members and Preparing for Elections. Brigades can choose one or more of the six areas to work through. Support to work through the Framework is provided to brigades through volunteer sustainability team members from across the state.
Lisa and Kirsten’s leadership and commitment to consultation, connection and engagement with members has been vital to the project’s success.
“We wanted to make sure we really listened to the field and developed resources that were relevant to their specific needs,” Lisa said.
“The framework and associated resources were developed from the ground up alongside the people impacted by succession planning. In this way members could be part of developing the solutions.
“There were a lot of steps along the way. We wanted to take our time and maintain the integrity of the feedback we received so we could ensure any issues raised at the brigade level were addressed in a strategic manner.”
Evaluation of Framework is now underway to ensure the resources are meeting brigade and group needs. The evaluation process is again underpinned by extensive consultation with members across the state and is part of a process of continuous improvement that will ensure the resources are regularly reviewed and updated if required.
Lisa said both she and Kirsten were excited and proud to receive a Spirit of CFA Award.
“It has and continues to be a privilege to work with volunteers and staff across the state on the development and rollout of the Framework,” Lisa said.
“This award is not just for Kirsten and I. The development of the Framework was a team approach and we would be very proud to accept the award on behalf of the team.
“We have had so much input and feedback from people right across the state. Winning this award is worthy recognition of the contribution of all the volunteers and staff involved in the development of the Framework.”