With the state already facing “extreme” bushfire risks with hot and dry weather, a parliamentary inquiry has heard of allegations of bullying and nepotism within the Rural Fire Service. The hearing was told by vice-president of the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association that the community could no longer be protected.
At the public Emergency Services Agency hearing, chaired by Shooters and Fishers’ Robert Borsak, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons was quizzed by Greens member David Shoebridge after it was revealed 48 per cent of RFS members had witnessed bullying while 18 per cent had been victims of bullying and that “only two people have been dismissed because of it”.
THE Rural Fire Service (RFS) has lost touch with its regional roots, and volunteers who have spoken against the bureaucracy have faced bullying and harassment, including election interference at a brigade level, a parliamentary inquiry into the emergency services has been told.
A number of politicians on both sides have expressed their concerns about the possibility that New South Wales Rural Fire Service volunteers and Victorian Country Fire Authority volunteers could be dismissed because of their work to protect communities in trouble.
This post shares two resources to assist volunteers and their employers.
The 2017 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is now open to all NSW RFS volunteers.
The survey will run until 16th October 2017.
The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion, which includes 33 questions on issues chosen by volunteers. Last year a record number of volunteers completed the survey and over 7,000 volunteers took part across the interstate surveys. Your comments are confidential, but the results go straight to the decision makers.
The survey will take 10 – 15 minutes to complete and is open until close of business 16 October 2017.
The survey continues to be an important and reliable method to capture the views of volunteers and track what has been achieved and is improving, as well as addressing areas that are the cause of dissatisfaction for volunteers.
Note: This survey is hosted by the VFBV and RFSA (NSW). The VFFA supports any initiative that promotes consultation with volunteers.
The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) has secured a site at the Henty Machinery Field Days. The focus of our presence at Henty will be to “Put the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service”.
Our site will feature a couple of tanker trailers in an effort to create some discussion upon the need for the State government to formally recognise the firefighting capability that farmers bring to the table.
A VFFA Annual General Meeting is being held at the Parkview Hotel, 281 Summer St, Orange NSW on Saturday August 5th, 2017 from 10.00am to 11:00am.
It will be followed by an ordinary meeting from 11.00am to 5.00pm at the same venue with a lunch break in the Services Club Bistro from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
The VFFA would love to see our members, supporters and special guests attend this important event.
Radio 2UUU morning host, Barry Mac talks to the Hon. Robert Borsak MLC (Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party) about the inquiry into and report on emergency services agencies with a focus upon:
1. Bullying, harassment and discrimination
2. Support structures in place to assist victims
3. Support services available to emergency services workers and volunteers with related mental health issues
4. The appropriateness of uniforms provided to personnel in emergency services agencies
5. The relocation of the New South Wales Rural Fire Services Headquarters to Orange, Dubbo or Parkes
Submissions close on the 23rd July 2017
Please don’t remain silent, the VFFA is prepared to assist where possible and we have been assured that a range of protective measures can be applied if you are worried about retribution.
A newsletter (from the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades WA Inc) clearly highlights that volunteer firefighters in Western Australia are endangered unless radical changes to the existing city-centric management occur. The VFFA continues to campaign to protect the future of volunteer firefighters in New South Wales from the same demise.
The decline of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has been documented in their own financial reports.
… our diverse volunteer family needs specialist understanding and better support… something that a city-centric, para-military bureaucracy simply can not deliver.
The following Draft Service Standards are currently out for consultation and members are encouraged to provide feedback.
The VFFA is sharing this material to help provide the widest circulation possible.
Send you feedback or enquiries by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or provide your feedback via the MyRFS forums.
1. Consultation Draft Service Standard 1.1.3 – Notice of Grievance Form.
2. Consultation Draft Service Standard 1.1.3 Grievances v3.0
Dear VFFA Members, Friends, Supporters and Sponsors
You are invited to join us for an important General Meeting to be held at the Murrumbateman Inn (near Yass) at 9am on Saturday April 1st 2017.
Yes… we do realise that this date is April Fools Day, but only a fool would deny that the voice of the volunteer firefighter in NSW is gaining strength, volume and resolve.
Last year’s meeting (at this location) drew over one hundred people from around NSW along with a number of media representatives including the ABC’s Landline Programme.
We expect to have some of those affected by the Sir Ivan fire in attendance along with representatives from NSW Farmers Association. As such, we are expecting this meeting to be quite feisty and productive.
Morning and Afternoon Tea will be provided and a pub style lunch can be purchased. Sorry, but we don’t have millions of dollars in the bank to put on a five star show like other associations, you will have to buy your own lunch. Having said that, we do offer support for those who may be facing financial hardship on a case by case basis, please contact your VFFA Rep if you need assistance.
Currently accommodation at Murrumbateman is full but there is plenty available at Yass (only ten minutes away). Give us a shout if you need assistance securing accommodation.