VFFA response to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Bullying and Harassment in the NSW Emergency Services

VFFA response to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Bullying and Harassment in the NSW Emergency Services

The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) President Mick Holton says he is encouraged by the release of the NSW Upper House report, entitled Emergency Services Agencies NSW.

The report focused heavily upon bullying and harassment in the NSW Emergency Services.

“The report confirms what many NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers have known for a long time – that bullying, harassment and abuse of power is occurring in the RFS” said Mr. Holton.

“The VFFA recognises the courage of RFS volunteers and salaried staff in coming forward and working with the Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Legal Affairs, during this Upper House inquiry.”

“Volunteering with the RFS should be non-threatening, respectful, safe and free from all forms of bullying and harassment.”

“All volunteers have the right not to bullied or discriminated against in the RFS” said Mr. Holton.

“We are pleased to continue to lead and to participate in efforts to support volunteers who have suffered bullying and harassment in the RFS and will continue to challenge and call out this unacceptable behaviour,” said Mr. Holton.

The VFFA welcomes the release of the report and calls on NSW Government and the RFS to adopt all the recommendations of the Upper House Inquiry into Emergency Service Agencies.

Major Reform is Required.

Bega Valley Independent Review (Keelty Inquiry 2018)

Bega Valley Independent Review (Keelty Inquiry 2018)

In the interest of promoting an open and honest debate, the VFFA has decided to publish our submission. We hope that other groups will do the same.

The VFFA is somewhat disappointed in the way that this inquiry has been handled as follows:

1. The timeframes for groups to make submissions was very short and rushed
2. The information regarding the review was not actively promoted by the NSW State Government, and
3. What is happening with the referral of this fire to the Coroner?

One could be excused for thinking that the NSW State Government just wants these problems to go away, particularly with an election just around the corner.

The VFFA is promoting open debate from all persons involved. This includes the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Forestry Corporation of NSW, the Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA), the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA), the Fire Brigades Employees Union (FBEU), the insurance companies and most importantly, the firefighters (from all fire services) and the public of NSW.

Click the Read More link to see the VFFA submission.

Update – Inquiry into emergency services agencies

Mick Holton, Brian Williams and Neil Crawley represented the VFFA on Monday, 18 September 2017 before the Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Legal Affairs Inquiry into Emergency Services Agencies.

A transcript of the proceeding is available as an uncorrected proof for anyone who may be interested in following the progress of this inquiry.

Rural Fire Service faces accusations of bullying and nepotism

Rural Fire Service faces accusations of bullying and nepotism

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 Hon. Robert Borsak MLC talks about bullying, harassment and discrimination

The Hon. Robert Borsak MLC talks about bullying, harassment and discrimination

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.

More to say on the Wambelong Fire – Kevin Humphries MP

More to say on the Wambelong Fire – Kevin Humphries MP

Mr Humphries refers to the Wambelong fire that occurred on 12 and 13 January around the Coonabarabran district and the Warrumbungle National Park.
On that day Bureau of Meteorology fire information, according to the continuous Haines index which measures atmospheric instability, was extreme.
On those days there were temperatures of more than 40 degrees and winds from the North to North‑West of 20 to 30 kilometres per hour.
The resulting fire damaged hundreds of thousands of acres of National Park, destroyed private property, destroyed 52 houses and numerous stock.

Wambelong Fire – Position of NSW State Government

Mr Elliott stated that the Coroner is still to hand down findings arising from the Coronial inquiry into the Wambelong fire and that the NSW Government will finalise its position on all of the Committee’s recommendations once the findings and any recommendations that may be made by the Coroner are released and considered.
His correspondence does visit the following topics:
1. Fire Trails
2. Protection of Pastoral Assets
3. Support Services, and
4. Funding Models