Putting the RURAL back into the RFS – Petition

Putting the RURAL back into the RFS – Petition

The objective of this campaign is to decentralise the operations, logistic and training sections of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) Head Office to country New South Wales, west of the Blue Mountains.

The existing plans to build a new RFS Head Office in Greater Sydney could easily be modified to create a State Emergency Operations Centre that is badged as such (with a State Government Logo) and used by all emergency service agencies.

Rural Fire Service faces accusations of bullying and nepotism

Rural Fire Service faces accusations of bullying and nepotism

With the state already facing “extreme” bushfire risks with hot and dry weather, a parliamentary inquiry has heard of allegations of bullying and nepotism within the Rural Fire Service. The hearing was told by vice-president of the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association that the community could no longer be protected.

At the public Emergency Services Agency hearing, chaired by Shooters and Fishers’ Robert Borsak, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons was quizzed by Greens member David Shoebridge after it was revealed 48 per cent of RFS members had witnessed bullying while 18 per cent had been victims of bullying and that “only two people have been dismissed because of it”.

Inquiry hears of bullying, nepotism in RFS

Inquiry hears of bullying, nepotism in RFS

THE Rural Fire Service (RFS) has lost touch with its regional roots, and volunteers who have spoken against the bureaucracy have faced bullying and harassment, including election interference at a brigade level, a parliamentary inquiry into the emergency services has been told.

Workplace Relations Amendment (Protection for Emergency Management Volunteers) Bill 2003

A number of politicians on both sides have expressed their concerns about the possibility that New South Wales Rural Fire Service volunteers and Victorian Country Fire Authority volunteers could be dismissed because of their work to protect communities in trouble.

This post shares two resources to assist volunteers and their employers.

Scientists tracing ancient Aboriginal fire practices on remote Tasmanian island unearth fresh timelines

Scientists tracing ancient Aboriginal fire practices on remote Tasmanian island unearth fresh timelines

A core sample taken from a remote Tasmanian island suggests Aboriginal people were using fire management on the island at least 41,000 years ago, experts have said.

The findings by a joint project involving the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) and scientists could provide insight into how people adapted to changing climates.

The TAC invited fire ecologist David Bowman and Australian National University natural history professor Simon Haberle to lungtalanana/Clark Island in Bass Strait to conduct research after it was ravaged by fire in 2014.

They took a core sample from a lake on the island which contained charcoal and pollen.

From that they were able to reconstruct the island’s fire history by determining how often vegetation had burnt over thousands of years.

Some parallels with WA

There are many common problems that volunteer firefighters face in an Australia wide context.

One issue that has been raised by the VFFA is the need for the NSW State Government to look at the rural culture that has been eroded by city-centric RURAL Fire Service management.

This media content is being shared to highlight the parallels that exist with our WA counterparts.

“Whilst you’ve got a city-centric department running a state-wide business you’re always going to have this conflict”

2017 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey Now Open

2017 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey Now Open

The 2017 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is now open to all NSW RFS volunteers.
The survey will run until 16th October 2017.
The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion, which includes 33 questions on issues chosen by volunteers. Last year a record number of volunteers completed the survey and over 7,000 volunteers took part across the interstate surveys. Your comments are confidential, but the results go straight to the decision makers.
The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete and is open until close of business 16 October 2017.
The survey continues to be an important and reliable method to capture the views of volunteers and track what has been achieved and is improving, as well as addressing areas that are the cause of dissatisfaction for volunteers.
Note: This survey is hosted by the VFBV and RFSA (NSW). The VFFA supports any initiative that promotes consultation with volunteers.

Establishing WHS procedures in the NSW RFS by Michael Eburn

In Mr Eburns’ post:

1. Mr Eburn can’t say whether there has been any, or adequate consultation on the establishment of workgroups.

2. The fact that Mr Eburns’ correspondent does not ‘believe that 49 HSRs are sufficient nor does this represent the different work groups’ is irrelevant. The question is ‘has the establishment of the workgroups been arrived at in consultation, and by agreement, with the workers?’

3. The process for the RFS to conduct elections of HSRs appears to Mr Eburn to be inconsistent with the Act. It is up to each workgroup to determine how HSRs will be elected.

4. Without a detailed examination, the Service Standard looks broadly consistent with the Act and Regulation (with the exception of the election of HSR representatives discussed at (3), above) noting that if there is an inconsistency, the Act and/or Regulation will prevail.

5. Mr Eburn does not see any issue with respect to a perceived ‘lack of urgency’ in the resolution of health and safety issues.

Of course if there has not been proper consultation on the establishment of workgroups and the health and safety consultation arrangements then that is another matter.   The model of the Act anticipates that resolution of health and safety issues, including the processes for consultation and resolution, will be subject to cooperative negotiation between the PCBU and its workers.  If that has not occurred the PCBU’s policy, no matter how comprehensive and otherwise in line with Act, fails at the first hurdle.  As noted, Mr Eburn cannot say whether or not there has been adequate consultation on the preparation of this service standard.