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.
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 RFSA telemarketing scandal has damaged the reputation of the RFSA as seen in this newspaper editorial.
We are still waiting to find out how much was spent on the RFSA birthday celebrations at Penrith Panthers using money donated by the public.
The VFFA has received numerous complaints from volunteers who are bullied, harassed and pushed aside when they dare to speak out against issues that contradict the direction of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS). In more recent times, The NSW RFS has openly targeted RFS Brigades and individuals that have openly supported the VFFA.
The VFFA is dedicated to ensuring that ALL volunteers (not limited to VFFA members) are provided with a voice. The VFFA respects that all persons (RFSA members, all volunteers and staff) deserve an opportunity to provide input into the future direction of the NSW RFS.
The VFFA conducted a survey of volunteers over a period of 9 months (21st May 2016 to 6th March 2017) with the following results:
Click the Read More button to view the results page.
The VFFA is concerned that in NSW volunteer rural fire-fighters who are subject to disciplinary action and who lodge grievances against paid staff have no option than to place faith in a system that is owned, controlled and arbitrated by the RFS.
Under the NSW Rural Fires Regulation 1997 a member of a rural fire brigade can be guilty of a breach of discipline if they are negligent, careless, inefficient or incompetent in the discharge of their duties. Hence the grounds for bringing discipline charges against a volunteer rural fire fighter are very broad, poorly defined and wide open to interpretation.