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The VFFA has received reports from numerous NSW RFS members that their personal information has been disclosed to the Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) against their wishes.

Please Note: This article is not against the RFSA. Opt-out membership to any third party organisation or group is a bit deceiving.

The VFFA has received evidence that completed NSW RFS Membership Forms (with the opt-out of RFSA membership tick box checked) have been ignored by the NSW RFS. One particular Brigade has had five new memberships dealt with in this way.

“Personal information shall not be disclosed”

Not our wording, those words have been taken directly from the NSW RFS Personal Information and Privacy Service Standard 1.1.14, Page 4, Version 2.4, dated 4th August 2014.

That NSW RFS Personal Information and Privacy Service Standard 1.1.14, clearly states:

3.13 Personal information shall not be disclosed to another person or body unless:

(a) the disclosure is directly related to the purpose for which the information was collected and there is no reason to believe that the person concerned would object to the disclosure

(b) the person from whom the information was collected is reasonably likely to have been aware or to have been made aware that information of that kind is usually disclosed to that other party

Lies, Deception or Simple Oversights? (you decide)

Here is some NSW RFS Membership Form history:

The NSW RFS Membership Forms were modified in 2009 from an Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) opt-in system to the current opt-out system (see evidence below)

membership_form_extract_2009_August

The image (above) is an extract from the August 2009 NSW RFS Membership Form. This version presented new RFS Members with an option to select YES or NO to become a member of the RFSA.

membership_form_extract_2009_November

The image (above) is an extract from the November 2009 NSW RFS Membership Form. There was a major change to the RFSA membership option. RFSA membership had become an opt-out system.

membership_form_extract_2012_June

The image (above) is an extract from the June 2012 NSW RFS Membership Form. This form remains in use at the time of publishing this article. The RFSA opt-out system continues to be used.

What should you do?

If you are happy with this system – do nothing.

If you received your RFSA Membership Card in the mail, thinking that the RFSA and the RFS is the same thing then you have been deceived – you could complain to the RFSA if you wish.

If you became a member of the RFSA after selecting the opt-out option then your personal information has been disclosed against your wishes – you could make a formal complaint.

What should the RFS and the RFSA do?
  1. Get rid of the opt-out RFSA membership system, it is deceitful and unethical.
  2. Remove any other third party opt-in or opt-out systems from RFS Membership Forms.
  3. By all means, place some RFSA or VFFA marketing material into your RFS Membership Packs if you like.

It is important that we allow all volunteers to have their own views and opinions. They can decide if they wish to become part of any third party organisation or association (including the VFFA).

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