The announcement to build a Centre of Excellence in Dubbo is a victory for the people of Dubbo, the VFFA, all volunteers, regional and rural people of NSW.
This news is certainly a step in the right direction as it will pave the way for increased regional and rural influence in the RFS Learning and Development Directorate.
The VFFA congratulates MP Troy Grant, Dubbo Regional Council, NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers for this commitment but does it goes far enough? The VFFA believes that a much larger chunk of the NSW Rural Fire Service, if not all, needs to be decentralised.
This post includes a VFFA video that was created to help promote the NSW Legislative Council, Upper House Committee inquiry into Emergency Services Agencies.
Submissions close on the 23rd July 2017.
This inquiry is not limited the the RFS. It is looking at bullying, harassment and discrimination in all emergency service agencies as well as relocation of the NSW RFS head office or Headquarters to a regional location.
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.
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 Fire and Emergency Services Levy Bill will establish a fairer way of providing the funds needed by our fire and emergency services – Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and the New South Wales State Emergency Service (SES). This bill will abolish the insurance based Emergency Services Levy (ESL) and introduce in its place a Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL).
The Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) will not disclose how much their 20th Anniversary celebrations cost and where the money came from.
Did attendees make a contribution?
Did Panthers do the RFSA a special deal?
Were special guests looked after in the, now famous RFSA “Gala” style?
Were there any special guests flown in and at what cost?
Was it all paid for using RFSA funds that were generated from generous public donations and raffle ticket sales?
How many new style firefighting helmets, radios or other much sought after items could this event (and others like it) have funded?
Perhaps those who have made donations and purchased raffle tickets will think twice before doing so again unless the RFSA provides a great deal more transparency.
Rural communities are not impressed. The VFFA campaign to put the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service will continue…. the next state election will be interesting.
It is very disappointing that the government has not heeded the warnings made clear in the Orange By Election.
Orange and Dubbo (like many other regional areas) have a lot to offer, flying from Sydney to Orange or Dubbo would be comparable and a lot more enjoyable than dealing with city traffic. The Commissioner could even have the chopper standing by just outside his office.
It is a very short sighted decision and it may proof to become extremely costly in terms of voter confidence in the lead up to the next election.