CFA has been on a journey to improve its culture, to ensure it is a great place to volunteer and work and grow diversity in its membership base. We want to see, and have, a positive environment for all who want to contribute to CFA. We have made some inroads, but we know there is more to do.
CFA is an iconic organisation with a long and proud history. It is critical that we provide the best environment to support our people so they can continue their vital service to the Victorian community today, and well into the future.
We know that CFA has seen in recent times, and historically, examples of behaviours and actions that would not meet today's community standards. And we know that CFA has not always handled these issues well when they have arisen.
As the senior leaders we do not, and must not, shy away from these issues, and we accept the challenge for CFA to build further on actions taken to date to ensure that people feel welcome and supported when they are part of this great organisation.
Today we are at the next stage of our improvement journey. CFA is publicly releasing the External Review of Culture and Issues Management to Support the CFA of the Future (‘the Review’) by Allen & Clarke Consulting, with Lead Reviewer Dr Helen Szoke.
We thank Dr Szoke and Allen & Clarke Consulting Team for their dedicated efforts and all those members who have contributed to the review over a number of months.
We commissioned this Review in September 2021 to examine how CFA can enhance its culture and improve the management of issues when they arise. We commissioned it because we knew more needed to be done to support our people.
Some parts of the report are distressing reading. It will be distressing for those who have experienced any of the behaviours described, but also for the many thousands of CFA members who serve their communities with pride and exemplify the CFA values of safety, teamwork, respect and integrity.
We are deeply sorry to those current and past members who have experienced unacceptable behaviours at CFA and we are committed to doing better.
We wish to thank and gratefully acknowledge all the CFA members who courageously contributed to the Review, and the many more who will see themselves or their experiences reflected in the report body, its findings or recommendations.
The Review has made ten recommendations which we accept in full.
We will now work with our leaders, members and key partners over the coming weeks and months to develop a five-year action plan in response to the findings.
This will be our roadmap to building a diverse, safer, more transparent, inclusive and fair CFA for the future. We will report on progress regularly and we will facilitate independent validation throughout this journey, to ensure that CFA has a culture which attracts and supports volunteers and staff from all backgrounds and to give confidence that our words meet our actions.
The Review acknowledges that the changes we have already made are steps in the right direction, with the establishment of Women’s and Young Adults Advisory Committees, the rollout of Behavioural Standards, our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and a focus on resolving a backlog of outstanding complaints. But we must look at what else we can do to make CFA the best we can be.
Every day, tens of thousands of volunteers and staff dedicate their time in service to the Victorian community through CFA. We owe it to all of them to ensure our organisational culture is supportive of diversity and provides a great place to volunteer and work.
Over many years our people have shown a tremendous ability to grow, adapt and respond to changes in the organisation and the broader environment.
We have every confidence that working together, we can build a brighter, stronger future for CFA.
Chair Greg Wilson
CEO Natalie MacDonald
Chief Officer Jason Heffernan
Click here to read the full Review.