As a volunteer firefighter, you may have experienced exposure to many stressful events while carrying out your duties. These stressful events, such as working on dangerous and unpredictable firegrounds during bushfire threats, can have an impact on the way we feel. The ways in which people experience and process their involvement in such events affect many aspects of their lives.
The Victim summaries contained in this document are from volunteers and staff who have bravely contacted the author to express their distressing and desperate plights. What is clear in every case is that the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) knowingly showed an arrogant disregard of its duty of care as an employer. It, the RFS, fosters a culture where reports of Bullying, Harassment, Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct were ignored, suppressed or dismissed. Complaints and grievances are systematically lost and investigations delayed and incompetently mishandled to the point complainants simply give up and leave the service. Retaliation is a common occurrence for victims of the RFS. It is common for a complainant to be the subject of a new counter complaint especially when the original complaint is about a Captain or other senior member of their Brigade.
The VFFA made a submission to an Upper House inquiry into Emergency Service Agencies on the 23rd of July 2017.
In that submission, the VFFA highlighted the following key issues:
• RFS failure to properly engage local knowledge.
• Prevalence of bullying, harassment and discrimination in the RFS.
• RFS disciplinary procedures do not provide appropriate procedural fairness and impartiality and have been developed in a way that appears to favour the salaried NSW RFS staff, not the volunteer.
• Nepotism, Favouritism and Similar Forms of Discrimination.
The VFFA also pushed for relocation of the RFS Headquarters to a regional area to break the city centric and ‘Boy’s Club’ culture that had developed.
A total or 27 recommendations were made to the NSW Government by the Legislative Council, Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Legal Affairs.
The NSW Government response was disappointing without any significant actions by the NSW RFS until the most recent display of interest by the current RFS Commissioner, Mr. Rogers.
It’s great to see so much Hazard Reduction taking place all across the state and we’ve summarised some of the stories reported in the last week.
Bullying & harassment remain in the news and the Sydney Morning Herald quoted VFFA President Mick Holton as saying it was a step in the right direction, but we’re not there yet.
David Littleproud tells us he is disappointed that only NSW & Tasmania have supported the Royal Commission recommendations.
The Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released a report today examining how effectively NSW emergency response agencies address public inquiry recommendations.
The audit found that agencies’ governance arrangements to address public inquiry recommendations have important and consistent gaps.
Dearly loved husband of Valerie.
Much loved father and father-in-law of Adam, Megan and Mitch, Todd and Clare, and Wade.
Adored Poppy of Tahlia, Max, Joey, Edith, Lucy, and Harriet.
The Cortège is appointed to leave St James’ Catholic Church, Peak Hill after a Requiem Mass commencing at 10.00 am, on Friday, April 23rd, 2021, for interment in the Catholic Portion of the Peak Hill Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, Donations to the peak Hill Hospital Auxiliary will be gratefully accepted at the service.
This is a very sad day for the Volunteer Firefighters Association of NSW with the passing of our Founder and inaugural President of ten consecutive years.
Mr. Peter Joseph Cannon OAM passed away overnight at Peak Hill Hospital having been born there on June 15th 1950.
Capital Community Radio has produced a three-part radio play commemorating the bravery and stoicism of all those involved in the fires at Dwellingup in 1961. These podcasts were created from the actual experiences and memories of survivors. Each part runs for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Well worth a listen.
Happy Easter everyone!
The fire season officially comes to a close with a number of brigades on the east coast doing flood cleanup work. Armidale gets a new tanker. Lots more news from around the state …