Tag: Workers Compensation

RFS Response to Volunteer’s Conviction for Fatal Traffic Accident

Associate Professor, Dr Michael Eburn (PhD), provides advice on his Australian Emergency Law blog.

1. A service such as the RFS should have a clear policy of when ‘response’ driving is permitted. It should be when a faster response is likely to significantly improve the outcome and is it necessary to save life, property or the environment. That will require consideration of the nature of the call, time of day, traffic environment etc. It may be appropriate for a first responder to a triple zero call to respond under lights and sirens, but once the service is ‘on scene’ the incident controller needs to consider whether an ‘urgent’ response will make a significant difference to the outcome.

2. The faster response must be necessary, not merely convenient.

3. When the criteria to justify response driving is not met, drivers must drive in accordance with the Australian Road Rules as adopted in your state/territory.

4. The fundamental obligation on all drivers is not to crash. Crashing an emergency service vehicle creates another emergency, delays the response to the first event and causes more trauma. People may die in floods, fires and other events but more people die in car accidents. Drivers should be reminded that no matter what they are responding to, the most important objective is not to crash.

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Firefighter Cancer & Presumptive Legislation

The Commonwealth Act titled “Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988” includes a statutory presumption that relates to a person who develops a listed cancer after being employed as a firefighter for a qualifying period. It is deemed (without proof) that their employment as a fire fighter has contributed (to a significant degree) to the contraction of the disease. This makes that person eligible for compensation.

Unfortunately, the Commonwealth Act does not relate to NSW FRS fire fighters and many other firefighters around Australia.

Firefighter Unions and other Firefighter Associations around Australia have been pushing for this legislation for some time.

Apart from the Commonwealth legislation, the Tasmanian, South Australian and Western Australian state governments have all introduced presumptive legislation recognising twelve occupational cancers.

The VFFA has recognised that this is an issue for NSW FRS Volunteer Firefighters and we are watching how the other states are progressing in the hope that NSW will follow.

Here are some facts about the issue:

  • Without this type of legislation, firefighters would be asked to provide details of specific exposures to carcinogens and/or the names and dates of any large fires or incidents.
  • Scientific evidence clearly highlights that firefighters are more prone to certain cancers than the general public (because of their work)
  • The scientific evidence (above) has been accepted by the Australian Parliament and four other State Governments.
  • The Australian Parliament passed presumptive legislation for Federally-employed firefighters in 2011, listing a number of cancers found to be more prevalent among firefighters.
  • Monash University researchers have confirmed that there is already good evidence from a very large number of previous human studies that work as a firefighter is associated with an increased risk of several types cancer.

Other links relating to this issue:


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Workers Compensation Review

Recent media publications outlining the State Governments plans to review existing Workers Compensation entitlements  should not be viewed as a threat to the level of coverage currently afforded to RFS Volunteers.

The VFFA is well ahead on this issue & have been in communication with the relevant Government Department looking into this review.

We feel comfortable that RFS Volunteers will not see any change to what we currently have in place, most particularly traveling to & from the station for bonafide callouts.

We will keep you abreast of any updates.

If you have any questions on this or any other matters, feel free to contact us at: feedback@volunteerfirefighters.org.au

VFFA – Keeping Volunteers Informed

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