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Friday, 10 October 2014 00:00

Joint HR, Welfare and OH&S Committee - 2 Minute Briefing August 2014

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Issue 10: August 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 31/08/14)


The Wellbeing Pilot Program has been progressively rolled out to CFA Brigades in recent months. Contact with the Wellbeing Field Officers who are able to provide support for issues such as Mental Health concerns and Relationship Issues (which may be related to Interpersonal conflict within a Brigade) can be initiated at a number of points, including individual referral, through the Brigade and CIS Peers. The initiatives being implemented support CFA members to be better able to operate in a psychologically healthy and safe environment and as a result support the ongoing viability of Brigades. Anecdotal feedback to VFBV at this point in time has been positive.

CFA has agreed to the Committees request for it to be actively engaged in the Pilot Program’s evaluation, and delivered upon that commitment with a briefing on how the program is being evaluated. VFBV is keen to ensure that the Pilot Program is developed in a manner that delivers the best results to members and it is important that broad ranging and rigorous evaluation of the program is conducted in an ongoing manner.

Depending on the circumstances of each contact with the Wellbeing Field Officers the evaluation process will have the flexibility to be sensitively undertaken according to the needs and appropriate follow up for each case’s ongoing health and progress. Evaluation will in most instances not be limited to one opportunity to provide feedback as it may be that initially the outcomes of the support from the Wellbeing Field Officers may not be known for some time or that events at a local or personal level may require that implemented strategies are reviewed.


CFA has undertaken a review of many OH&S policies and procedures as a result of recent and ongoing changes in Legislation. The Committee has been provided with draft copies of the changes, and had a productive discussion surrounding the purpose and objectives of the procedures.

Delegates have raised their concerns that many of the organisations OH&S Policies and Procedures are written very much in the context of a CFA Office location, and are extremely difficult to understand within a Brigade context. Given the vast majority of CFA workplaces are in fact Fire Stations, and volunteers operate in a far more complex and dynamic environment than administration offices, the Committee has urged CFA produce far simpler, practical and easier to read guidance for Brigades use.

CFA has agreed to investigate an alternate strategy that would still ensure member and community safety is maintained without Brigades incurring an unnecessarily onerous burden of paperwork and training in procedures that are rarely used and/or are not applicable. An example used by the Committee was the requirement for all locations to conduct a fire drill once a year. There are 1,219 CFA work locations that would find this requirement humorous to say the least.    


CFA has advised that they will no longer be supporting the voluntary EEO Officer network that was established in the early 90’s. CFA data indicates that in recent years there have been very few contacts made by members with these Officers, and that training and skill maintenance has been progressively scaled back over the years as the complexity of legislation in this field has increased. CFA feels this role can now be better managed through the Wellbeing Field Officers and specialist support available through the Wellbeing Pilot. The Committee has cautiously accepted the decision, but has raised its concern with the sustainability of a paid only model. Delegates still see value in a voluntary network similar to the CIS Peer Program, which would embed these skills and knowledge within Brigades.

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CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.


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