If the NSW Government does not move the NSW Rural Fires Service head office to a regional or rural locality, we are in danger of losing any hope of restoring faith in the NSW RURAL Fire Service. We need to take immediate action. Any delay puts the future of our volunteer based RURAL Fire Service at greater risk.
Leaving the NSW RURAL Fire Service in Sydney will further exacerbate the situation with catastrophic levels of bureaucracy and red tape that is far removed from the grass roots service delivery that regional and RURAL people once knew. Today’s city-centric management has lost touch with the original intention of the RURAL Fire Service with skilled and experienced firefighters walking away after many years of dedicated service.
The Legislative Council, Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Legal Affairs will inquire into and report on emergency services agencies, and in particular:
a) The prevalence of bullying, harassment and discrimination, as well as the effectiveness of the protocols and procedures in place to manage and resolve such complaints within emergency services agencies, including: New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue New South Wales, New South Wales Police Force, Ambulance Service of New South Wales, and New South Wales State Emergency Service.
b) The support structures in place to assist victims of workplace bullying, harassment and/ or discrimination within emergency services agencies.
c) The support services available to emergency services workers and volunteers to assist with mental health issues resulting from workplace trauma and the effectiveness of those programs.
d) The appropriateness of uniforms provided to personnel in emergency services agencies.
e) The relocation of the New South Wales Rural Fire Services Headquarters to Orange, Dubbo or Parkes.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Member for Orange Philip Donato has declared that the prospect of relocating the NSW Rural Fire Service Headquarters to a rural community is back on the agenda.
He said that the message is loud and clear that the Central West wants to see the Rural Fire Service based in a rural community such as Orange, Parkes or Dubbo.
His Upper House Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party colleague Robert Borsak launched an inquiry into emergency services agencies last week. Part of its focus will be on where the Rural Fire Service should be based.
A very big and sincere well done to the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business, John Barilaro as he explains the “Easy to do business” program.
Mr Barilaro talks about streamlining business operations, boosting the NSW economy, making it easier and the removal of red tape.
He also suggests that much of the bureaucracy associated with the red tape is typical of government.
The VFFA fully supports this fantastic approach but are disappointed in the short sightedness of the NSW Nationals when it comes to the failure to see the vast benefits of relocating the NSW Rural Fire Service Head Office or larger parts thereof to a regional area.
Moves are being made in the Shoalhaven to revive the ancient art of firestick teams and cultural burns.
Eight members of the Djuwin Mudjingaalbaraga Men’s Group have undertaken fireground training with the Rural Fire Service in preparation of forming a local firestick team.
Through his job, National Parks and Wildlife Services ranger Noel Webster, one of the facilitators of the program, has attended a number of workshops around the country and came up with the idea that could be adopted at a local level.
“We have developed a partnership with the Djuwin men’s group, Grand Pacific Health, RFS and NPWS to facilitate the program,” Mr Webster said.
Did you know that the bullying and harassment issue has been around for a long time in the NSW RFS and it is not limited to RFS Volunteers?
Where does this bullying and harassment come from and where will it end?
It looks very suspicious when we see the NSW State Government failing to respond to the views of regional and rural communities. One example is the decentralisation of the RFS Head Office.
Are they being influenced by the NSW RFS?
Are they being bullied in some way?
The St Ivan fire razed an estimated 55,000 hectares of farming-land east of Dunedoo, destroying vital agricultural infrastructure like sheds, machinery, homes, over 5,500 kilometres of fencing and more than 5,000 head of sheep and cattle.
When the question “How do we stop volunteer emergency service workers quitting?” is asked, many volunteers will respond with “listen more and dictate less”
The NSW RFS Annual Report for 2014 / 2015 stated that there was a total of 74,516 volunteers.
The NSW RFS Annual Report for 2015 / 2016 (one year later) stated that there was a total of 73,162 volunteers.
This is a reduction of 1354 volunteers.
Although this decline was recorded in the NSW RFS Annual Reports, the VFFA believes that the total number of actively engaged NSW RFS Volunteers is grossly overstated.
Volunteer firefighters in many rural areas of NSW are distancing themselves from the bureaucracy and many farmers are choosing to “do their own thing” as we see an increase in “freelance firefighting” in rural areas.