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Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

2 Minute Briefing - HR, Welfare & OH&S

Issue 15: December 2015

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 29/11/2015)

ROLE OF GROUP The committee was advised that the new Chief Officer has requested that the Role of Group publication that was due to be distributed to brigades be put on hold whilst he conducts a review. The committee has been provided with a much condensed version for feedback. Whilst members will no doubt be disappointed with yet another delay, the committee will work with the new Chief Officer to try and resolve the current impasse affecting this long delayed project.

SECTOR COMMANDER COURSE

The Sector Commander course was developed by the IMTTP team and originally released for delivery in 2014. The course was written with the assumption that a student undertaking the course has no prior knowledge of the subject matter. Feedback from students is that the course is quite lengthy and duplicates material that is covered in earlier courses such as crew leader. Exacerbating the problem, there were restrictive pre-requisites to undertake the course. CFA has decided to conduct a full review of the course, with the State Incident Management Training Delivery Project Steering Committee to oversee the course review.

The committee has highlighted to CFA that the course was originally designed to be delivered in unique modules, yet all CFA delivery to date has been to deliver all modules consecutively which has frustrated students, and led to courses running over consecutive 3 or 4 full weekends, causing understandable member backlash. CFA has agreed to rework and rewrite the course, with the intent to break the course into four distinct modules, with duplication to be removed. This will assist members who may already hold existing units that can be mapped to parts of the new course and allow members to undertake just those parts they do not currently hold. A reworked assessment will ensure all members exit the course with standardized learning outcomes. It is anticipated that this may reduce the Sector Commander course to one night and 2 days. Piloting of the new course is anticipated early in 2016.

FATIGUE MANAGEMENT

The Committee has for some time been reporting the District and Regional variances in how fatigue management is implemented, especially for larger incidents. Examples of two neighbouring districts implementing completely different fatigue guidelines for strike teams dispatched to the same job provided a case study of the issue. The Committee has requested state-wide guidelines be developed and communicated to the field which amongst other things outline crew changeovers, appropriate rest periods between deployments and long haul strike team travel arrangements, including the use of coaches and/or fresh drivers to return appliances to their home locations.

VOLUNTEER UTILISATION IN IMTs

The committee has reinforced the need for proactive and deliberate action to be taken to encourage, and strengthen the use of volunteers in IMTs. The critical importance of planning and the effects of poor or last minute planning on volunteer utilisation are well known and the committee has requested that the Chief Officer lead this work amongst the agencies this fire season. The view amongst some senior leaders over previous seasons has been that there is very little volunteer interest, yet discussions with the field constantly highlight not only high interest, but that many volunteers were either unaware of any requests or only requested on extremely short notice (sometimes with less than four hours’ notice) which makes it difficult for them to arrange availability with their employer. Short notice also ignores that many volunteers qualified in IMT roles will commit to other Brigade or District roles in the absence of any request for their services in IMT roles. The committee has requested a robust system be developed to ensure transparency and accountability is maintained in requests for resources, including sufficient planning and flexibility that supports volunteer participation.

Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

2 Minute Briefing - Training

Issue 15: December 2015

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 22/11/2015)

RECOGNITION OF MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS, PARAMEDICS & NURSES

The committee has for a number of years been pursuing the recognition of volunteer members who are current medical practitioners, paramedics and nurses and hold the relevant qualifications. In the past, CFA has been unable to accept these qualifications and provide credit for national units without provision of an adequate evidence portfolio and assessment to ensure CFA meets its Registered Training Organisation requirements. Qualifications for these members has been obtained through the higher education sector and are subject to a different accreditation process that usually involves either central or self-accreditation. The medical practitioner, paramedic and nursing qualifications were not developed, validated or assessed against agreed vocational education and training standards which are required for the awarding of CFA’s national competencies. This has resulted in these highly qualified and experienced members having to regularly re-sit basic first aid courses in order for their skills to be recognised and approved by CFA.

A proposed solution has now been developed that will involve the creation and issuing of a new enterprise (CFA) competency (not a nationally recognized competency unit) which will be called “Eligible to provide first aid in the workplace”. This will be used to record those members who have evidence of formal and current qualifications as a medical practitioner, paramedic or nurse. This new enterprise competency can then be considered as satisfying the CFA skills profile requirements for first aid for those members. Consultation with key stakeholders has now commenced seeking their support prior to official approval being sought. Members will be kept updated on progress.

BROWN COAL MINE FIREFIGHTING TRAINING

The Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry made recommendations for the introduction of critical safety concepts specific to the risks presented by brown coal mine firefighting. CFA have been leading the development of delivery and assessment materials that further enhance and support CFA’s capability and capacity to respond to fires within Victorian coal mines. These materials have been developed in collaboration with the MFB and will be shared with other fire agencies to meet their specific training needs. The delivery and assessment materials have been drafted and will shortly be ready for piloting. The draft program consists of six modules consisting of; About the coal mine industry, Coal fire behaviour & development, Extinguishing methods, Importance of safety, Maintaining situation awareness and Command & control. A pilot is being planned for early next year, with the aim being to evaluate the content and activities and then confirm the time required for each session. At the end of the pilot final refinements will be made and will then be submitted to the Chief Officer for approval

CFA F&EM TRAINING STRATEGY SURVEY 2015 RESULTS

The Committee is reviewing the results from this year’s Training Strategy Survey results. Whilst there has been a slight improvement overall when compared to the 13/14 results, the results clearly identify access to training as the single biggest frustration and area of complaint amongst members. In the worst performing question across the whole survey, over 51% of respondents either strongly disagreed or disagreed with the statement “The number of training programs and resources available in their Districts is fair and reasonable”. There were very high dissatisfaction levels with the statement; “training is available in locations that are easy to participate” with dissatisfaction surging 10% over the previous year to now 35% dissatisfaction, with courses seen as too long, or located too far away with the closure of Fiskville being a significant contributor. Only 44% of members agreed that “training is available at times that are easy to participate in.” The committee has urged CFA to develop a full action plan across all key result areas that will drive improvement and performance. The committee was pleased to hear that improving the training experience for members is new CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan’s top priority for the coming year. The Committee stands ready to assist.

Published in Training Committee

Issue 14: December 2015

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 21/11/2015)

FIRE STATION MODIFICATIONS Responding to feedback from Brigades contemplating minor works, alterations or additions to fire stations through the VESEP program, the committee has endorsed a new registration process that will now be available year round & apply to all proposed works up to the value of $75,000. (Or over if the Brigade proposes to fully fund the initiative) Due to the long lead times to get accurate quotes and approvals, Brigades can now register and plan for minor works well before they apply for a potential grant. The registration process involves the Brigade providing a brief description of the proposed works, an estimate of the cost, funding source and nomination of a Brigade contact. CFA Land & Building will then work with the Brigade to undertake an initial desk top review of the proposed scope of works, undertake a site inspection where required, and a cost assessment prior to the Brigade seeking local approval to proceed. Brigades wishing to register a project or simply seek assistance in planning a project can contact CFA’s Bruce Rowley who is the VESEP Minor Works Project Manager on (03) 5833 2425 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Start planning for next year’s VESEP round now!

ULTRA - LIGHT & SLIP-ON CREW PROTECTION SYSTEMS

The committee continues to work on investigating efficient and effective crew protection systems for CFA’s light vehicles. There are over 150 ultra-light tankers and slip-ons vehicles that were not covered under the crew protection system retrofit program due to a lack of an appropriate protection system for small vehicles. Therefore, crews of these appliances have very limited protection against radiant heat and direct flame contact in the event of a burn-over. Two new products are now being evaluated which includes a Polymer Gel System and a Compressed Air Foam System. Both products have shown very promising early signs, with experimental testing during field burn-overs in moderate bushfire intensity conditions planned for early Autumn 2016. The committee will continue to update members on developments.

15/16 FINANCIAL YEAR FLEET REPLACEMENT PROGRAM UPDATE

The 15/16 Fleet Capital Replacement Program is on target, with all production lines well progressed and on target for completion this financial year. (Base, VESEP & Special) This year’s program is delivering; 40 Heavy Tankers, 28 Medium Tankers, 12 Medium Pumpers, 10 Light Tankers, 7 Ultra-light Tankers, 3 BigFills, 2 Replacement Tech Rescue Cab Chassis, 2 prototype Bulk Water carriers, 1 Medium Rescue, 1 Prototype BA Van, and 1 G Wagon (DELWP).

COLD CLIMATE JACKET PROGRESS

Development on the Cold Climate jackets is well progressed, with results from the state-wide field evaluation being considered by the committee.

84 evaluation jackets were sent out (4 per CFA District) for evaluation. Over 100 individual evaluation responses has been received and studied, with feedback overwhelmingly positive. The committee has endorsed the jackets now progressing to Stage 1 implementation, with 2 minor changes made to the specification.

Some feedback indicated that there was some unwanted tightness in the sleeves. The specifications have now been updated to provide a more relaxed fit in the sleeves. There was also considerable feedback that the jackets were sometimes mistaken for the green nomex structural jackets, so orange reflective tape has now been added to the jacket to make it visually easier to identify these as cold climate jackets.

The committee has endorsed the revised specifications with the jacket now to proceed to tender.

Full details of the Stage 1 implementation will be made public in early 2016, with delivery and rollout expected to be completed by June 2016.

Stage 1 of this program is being funded through a successful joint CFA/VFBV State Initiative through the 2015 VESEP program and is being conducted in collaboration with the State PPE & C Consultative Committee.

Issue 15: December 2015

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 28/11/2015)

LISTENING SETS A reminder that Brigades & Groups only have a few weeks left to submit their Tier 1 and Tier 2 orders. Orders are due by January 15, 2016 at the latest. Any scanners left over after this time will be sold. Order forms and advertising of the subsidy program commenced on the 16th October, giving brigades over 90 days to lodge their orders.

As at writing, over 800 brigades and 70 groups have placed their Tier 1 & 2 orders, representing orders for almost 8,000 digital scanners. Under the Tier 1 program, every Brigade is entitled to a minimum of 8 guaranteed units at the subsidized price. On average, Brigades are ordering 3.5 units on their Tier 1 orders, with Groups on average taking up 1 of their guaranteed minimum of 2 units.

VFBV is providing the logistical and administrative support for the ordering process and is currently processing orders and forwarding to CFA for dispatch within 24 hours of receiving your brigade/group orders.

PAGER AND DIGITAL COMMS

The committee has for some time been reporting concerns regarding diminished pager and radio reception issues amongst new fire station builds. Due to the current design and construction, there is an increasing incidence of a Faraday cage phenomenon. A Faraday cage or shield is essentially an enclosure formed by conductive material that is used to block electric fields. It is commonly used to protect sensitive equipment from radio frequency interference etc and as many of our stations are essentially large metal boxes – this unintended effect is leaving some Brigades being unable to receive any pager messages when members are inside the station. CFA representatives have raised the issue with CFA Building and Property requesting design modifications that will help minimize the problem. Comms is currently investigating technological solutions to existing stations that are impacted by this problem, with the committee being briefed on two solutions currently being explored. Members should also be aware, that the committee is investigating some anecdotal evidence that this Faraday cage phenomenon may also be occurring under certain conditions when members are inside vehicles, including fire trucks. A related but similar issue is being explored with a report of decreased performance of a portable radio when operating within the cabin, and in cases where all the windows are tinted (with some window types being metalized.) In one example, portable reception was restored by simply opening the appliance’s windows. This is a good example of the importance of Brigades using observation reports to report issues which allow trends and issues to be identified.

NEW FLEXIBILITY IN PRE DETERMINED STRIKE TEAM DISPATCH

CFA and ESTA have finalized additional flexibility to cater for pre-determined strike team dispatching. Last year the committee raised concerns about some Districts reverting to District wide paging of all Brigades to activate strike teams under the mistaken belief it was not possible to customize CAD rules. This can have a significant impact on members across an entire district being unnecessarily woken during the night for the dispatch of strike teams that having nothing to do with them.

Regional and District Duty Officers now have an improved ability to advise ESTA of day by day strike team configuration, including individual appliances and Brigades, which also caters for cross crewing etc so paging of strike teams can be isolated to only those Brigades and personnel that need to be notified. All OM’s and OO’s have been advised of the new system via CFA’s Operational Communications department.

Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

2 Minute Briefing - Community Safety

Issue 15: December 2015

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 28/11/2015)

FIRE SAFETY PLEDGE The committee discussed the resounding success of the inaugural Fire Safety Pledge. The Pledge ran for 8 weeks from October 8th to December 3rd. Between 1000 and 1500 people visited the webpage each day. Over the course of the campaign, almost 13,000 Victorians had visited the site and chosen to take the pledge. This was an innovative approach to enabling the community to commit to improved personal fire safety. As part of the pledge, there was a Brigade competition element where people taking the pledge could nominate the Brigade they wished to support, therefore creating a connection between them and their Brigade. Point Cook, Parwan and Dartmouth have taken out the Brigade prizes. The committee supports this initiative and the running of the fire safety pledge in coming years.

CFA IS A HIGHLY TRUSTED & RESPECTED EMERGENCY SERVICE

The results from this year’s market research is in, with 94% of respondents considering CFA to be a highly trusted and respected emergency service. In its second year, this year’s quantitative research was conducted by computer assisted telephone interviewing which was completed by 2,503 Victorians aged 18 and above, with minimum quotas based on ABS 2011 figures on age and gender obtained, providing a very robust sample size. The survey is designed to address several key research questions including; what people feel are the most important CFA services, what are people’s expectations of CFA and CFA key services and what are people’s perceptions of current service delivery. In total, 14 service areas were measured, and pleasingly all were seen as performing well, with the top ranked being fighting bushfires and grassfires (95%) and fighting house and building fires (92%). Reinforcing the high impact CFA’s volunteer and community based model has on its community, 82% of respondents rated they had a high level of ‘connectedness’ with CFA.

WINDROWS There was robust discussion from the committee around the need for better education of property owners who burn off on their properties with stubble burns etc. but also those who construct and burn windrows. The discussion included the inherent problems of long duration burns and the inability of many property owners to plan for or mitigate these long burns when fire danger ratings change from day to day. Alarmingly, many property owners are not aware of the substantial penalties which exist under the Summary Offences Act, which could apply to residents whose fires do not comply with their permit. Fines of as much as $18,000 can be issued and there are reports of police showing ‘zero’ tolerance in some areas. The committee has stressed the need for property owners to be advised of the risks and assisted/supported to administer their burns safely and legally to avoid fines. The committee suggested an awareness campaign be launched to address these and other issues with a request for a new “Think Before you Burn” brochure. The committee has agreed to further workshop these ideas at its April 2016 meeting, and encourages members to discuss their concerns or suggestions with VFBV District Councils so it can be passed onto committee members for consideration.

TYRE STOCKPILING

In 2012-13 almost 50,000 tonnes of waste tyres (around six million car tyres) were stockpiled or dumped in Victoria. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has introduced new legal requirements for storing waste tyres. Existing and new sites that store more than 40 tonnes (or 5,000 equivalent passenger units (EPU) of whole tyres) at any time, need an EPA works approval before they are built or modified, as well as an EPA licence to operate. Be aware that 5,000 EPU represents about 5,000 car tyres, 10,000 motorcycle tyres, 1,000 truck tyres or a mix of tyres that equates to 5,000 EPU. If your Brigade turns out to an incident at a site that is stockpiling more than 5,000 (EPU) please ensure the incident is reported through FIRS and the chain of command. If Brigades have identified stockpiling sites or require more information, contact Matt Allen (Dangerous Goods Unit) on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 5240 2713.

Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

2 Minute Briefing - Volunteerism

Issue 15: December 2015

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 22/11/2015)

CFA VOLUNTEERISM STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION The Committee reviewed CFA’s implementation progress of the Volunteer Strategy across CFA. The new Volunteer Support Model was presented, which sees Regional BASOs being appointed to implement the programs of the Volunteer Support Program. VFBV highlighted the importance of the original BASO program and the need to continue their direct support of Brigades, reconfirming their critical importance as one of the most trusted and respected resources CFA can provide to assist and support Brigades with their ever increasing administrative and logistical workloads.

The new Regional BASOs have been employed full time and are ongoing in these roles providing much needed stability. The Committee will be continuing to watch the implementation of the Regional BASOs and asks Brigades to provide feedback on the programs and ensure that direct support to Brigades is not only maintained but enhanced & increased.

The Leadership and Management Development Program for Volunteers framework has been developed and presented to the committee. This program is a key priority of the Volunteer Strategy and we look forward to this being developed across the state for the benefit of our leaders and brigades.

LA TROBE UNIVERSITY ASPIRE EARLY ADMISSIONS PROGRAM

CFA have partnered with the La Trobe University Aspire program, which provides year 12 students who are also CFA volunteers with priority access to their chosen course at La Trobe. This includes being offered a place prior to exams, acceptance of a lower ATAR score, access to on campus accommodation, participation in the Enrichment Program and capped fees. This is a great opportunity for our younger members and please ensure that members intending to going to university know of this opportunity, more information can be found at

http://www.latrobe.edu.au/study/aspire

JUNIOR MEMBER SERVICE RECOGNITION The committee has been asked to look into the possibility of Junior Members having their service recorded to be included in their overall service for the awarding of CFA Service Awards. The committee has been advised by CFA that there are no barriers for this to occur. The next step will be to gain feedback from members across CFA as to whether their service should be included. The survey commenced in December and closes 29 February 2016. Members are encouraged to complete the survey online at

or a hard copy can be obtained from CFA. http://cfa.engagementhq.com/

Recognising Junior Service in a members overall service will only apply to the awarding of CFA Service Awards and not external awards i.e. National Medal etc.

JUNIOR MEMBER ID CARDS

A reminder that Junior Member ID cards are available. So far, since the start of the program only

35% of Juniors across CFA have obtained an ID.

Brigades are encouraged to obtain ID cards for their Junior Members and if there are any issues with the cards or system, please feed back the information.

Brigades can use Brigades Online to order individual cards.

BUSHFIRE NATIONAL HAZARDS CRC – VOLUNTEER RESEARCH

The committee is monitoring relevant research from the Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative

Research Centre. Two topics of particular interest are ‘Out of Uniform – Building resilience through non - traditional emergency volunteering’ and ‘Improving the retention and engagement of volunteers in emergency service agencies’. Updates will be provided as the projects develop as it is hoped this kind of research supports & contributes to build long - term volunteer sustainability.

Published in Volunteerism Committee
Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

2 Minute Briefing - Operations

Issue 15: December 2015

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 29/11/2015)

ROLE OF GROUP The committee was advised that the new Chief Officer has requested that the Role of Group publication that was due to be distributed to brigades be put on hold whilst he conducts a review. The committee has been provided with a much condensed version for feedback. Whilst members will no doubt be disappointed with yet another delay, the committee will work with the new Chief Officer to try and resolve the current impasse affecting this long delayed project.

SECTOR COMMANDER COURSE

The Sector Commander course was developed by the IMTTP team and originally released for delivery in 2014. The course was written with the assumption that a student undertaking the course has no prior knowledge of the subject matter. Feedback from students is that the course is quite lengthy and duplicates material that is covered in earlier courses such as crew leader. Exacerbating the problem, there were restrictive pre-requisites to undertake the course. CFA has decided to conduct a full review of the course, with the State Incident Management Training Delivery Project Steering Committee to oversee the course review.

The committee has highlighted to CFA that the course was originally designed to be delivered in unique modules, yet all CFA delivery to date has been to deliver all modules consecutively which has frustrated students, and led to courses running over consecutive 3 or 4 full weekends, causing understandable member backlash. CFA has agreed to rework and rewrite the course, with the intent to break the course into four distinct modules, with duplication to be removed. This will assist members who may already hold existing units that can be mapped to parts of the new course and allow members to undertake just those parts they do not currently hold. A reworked assessment will ensure all members exit the course with standardized learning outcomes. It is anticipated that this may reduce the Sector Commander course to one night and 2 days. Piloting of the new course is anticipated early in 2016.

FATIGUE MANAGEMENT

The Committee has for some time been reporting the District and Regional variances in how fatigue management is implemented, especially for larger incidents. Examples of two neighbouring districts implementing completely different fatigue guidelines for strike teams dispatched to the same job provided a case study of the issue. The Committee has requested state-wide guidelines be developed and communicated to the field which amongst other things outline crew changeovers, appropriate rest periods between deployments and long haul strike team travel arrangements, including the use of coaches and/or fresh drivers to return appliances to their home locations.

VOLUNTEER UTILISATION IN IMTs

The committee has reinforced the need for proactive and deliberate action to be taken to encourage, and strengthen the use of volunteers in IMTs. The critical importance of planning and the effects of poor or last minute planning on volunteer utilisation are well known and the committee has requested that the Chief Officer lead this work amongst the agencies this fire season. The view amongst some senior leaders over previous seasons has been that there is very little volunteer interest, yet discussions with the field constantly highlight not only high interest, but that many volunteers were either unaware of any requests or only requested on extremely short notice (sometimes with less than four hours’ notice) which makes it difficult for them to arrange availability with their employer. Short notice also ignores that many volunteers qualified in IMT roles will commit to other Brigade or District roles in the absence of any request for their services in IMT roles. The committee has requested a robust system be developed to ensure transparency and accountability is maintained in requests for resources, including sufficient planning and flexibility that supports volunteer participation.

Published in Operations Committee

VFBV has prepared this handy Fact Sheet that lists State grants and services for people impacted by bushfires.

The Fact Sheet is intended as an easy reference for Brigades and members helping to support any CFA members or community members who are in need of assistance.

If you are aware of a service or grant that is not included, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will add it.

Published in VFBV News

2016 VFBV Volunteer Leadership Scholarships  

Courses based in the Gisborne and Pakenham/Dandenong areas, starting April 2016

CLOSING SOON - Apply by Sunday, 21 February 2016

See below to download the information pack and application forms. VFBV accepts applications from volunteers from Ambulance Victoria, Australian Volunteer Coastguard, CFA, Life Saving Victoria, SES and St John.

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The participants work towards a nationally recognised qualification in leadership and management, in a course involving eight days of face-to-face class work and considerable off-campus course, project and assessment tasks, spread over the year.

The VFBV Leadership Scholarship program includes a series of one and two day sessions at venues chosen to be as convenient as possible to the participants.

The course covers skills suited to volunteer, career and community situations and include units on; •Leadership •Decision making •Planning •Safety and risk management •Team effectiveness •Making presentations •Managing projects •Engaging the community

The first two days of the course focus on leadership, team effectiveness and communication, the skills at the heart of the scholarships' aims.

The course adds to the participants' capabilities in useful skills such as public speaking, business writing and influencing.  It comprises a mixture of lecture style teaching and interactive activities designed to suit the needs of adult students, as well as ample support using distance learning methods.

Recognising that many of the participants may be returning to study for the first time in years, we will provided them with return to study and study skills material to help them get started.

About the VFBV Volunteer Leadership Scholarship Program

The Leadership Scholarship aims to:

1. Recognise and develop current and future leaders in VFBV & our Volunteer Emergency Service Agencies

2. Build networks and work on important issues for volunteers and VFBV

3.Lead to a recognised qualification so the skills and capabilities learned can be transferred to all areas of the participant's life.

On completion of the Scholarship, the students will be awarded Certificate IV in Leadership and Management (BSB42015).

Time Commitment: The program runs over 9 months and includes eight face to face sessions throughout the year.

Method: the program includes face to face, guest speakers, and plenty of active learning and discussion.

Assessments: include individual work with small group project work to address key issues.

Costs: the program is fully funded by VFBV.  Students need to provide their own transport and accommodation (if required) to the program venues (possibly with use of a CFA or brigade vehicle).

Overview: Certificate IV in Leadership and Management BSB42015  There are 12 units in the qualification and four of those must be core units. The units selected below match the qualification requirements and the key issues discussed for the program.  We have sourced suitable resources for all of these units which will mean both the requirements of the qualification and the participants’ expectations as parties to the Scholarship are met.

The Units are:

BSBLDR401 Communicate Effectively as a workplace leader

BSBLDR402 Lead Effective workplace relationships

BSBMGT402 Implement Operational plan

BSBLDR403 Lead team effectiveness

BSBRSK401 Identify Risk and apply risk management processes

BSBWHS401 Implement and monitor WHS policies, procedures and programs

BSBWOR404 Develop Work Priorities

BSBCMM401  Make a presentation

BSBCUS401   Co-ordinate implementation of customer service strategies

BSBMGT401  Show leadership in the workplace

BSBPMG522  Undertake project work

BSBADM502  Manage meetings

The outcomes allow students to apply their enhanced skills to their voluntary, VFBV, employment and community roles. This is primarily achieved by application of principles and tools or models into the various different contexts.

A couple of obvious examples are in applying the basics of effective presentation skills and risk management in their voluntary and employed roles.  In the voluntary presentation and risk management context he/she may be coming from a leadership position in the CFA and community, whilst as an employee the presentation may be internal or external sales, and risk may be from a much narrower perspective.

The principles are the same but the application may change in a different context. This flexibility is a skill in itself.

Delivery  

Each day will comprise:

a. Preview and day's objectives •Key learning objectives •Course requirements – competency and element overview •Explanation of assessment requirements •Expectations of participants

The first day will encompass an overview of the entire course and a general introduction to each other and to the course requirements. For some it may be a reintroduction to adult learning models, including;

•Slides, discussions, exercises and workgroups working through key issues for each of the topics

•Plenty of focus on discussion, idea sharing, scenario exploration and application of ideas.  Role plays and small group activities and discussions are utilised where possible and practical.

•Guest speakers to demonstrate or talk about a specific issues or experiences which will enhance learning and lead to focused discussion &/or project work.

•A wrap up at the end of the day to highlight key points and issues and reinforce main learnings.

Follow up homework and assessments will be issued, with further follow up via email, and by phone if required. Participants will work in small groups to facilitate more localised support.  Assessments will be completed progressively throughout the course. At the end of the first session, the group divides into small teams of 5 or 6 to design and work on key projects.

These projects would be relevant to the volunteers and community and to the course requirements. For example:

Consider the critical issues in designing and implementing a performance management and review system for the various levels and functions of a broadly dispersed voluntary organisation. What would it look like? What would it aim to achieve, what are some risks and how might they be managed? What are critical success factors and KPIs and how would they be measured, monitored and reviewed? Which stakeholders might you need to consult with, how and why?

For more information, contact your VFBV Support Officer (contact details in the application pack) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in VFBV News

Updated 18 December 2015 with a special VFBV Message to Volunteers

VFBV Message to Volunteers

Many of you will be aware that the release of the Fire Services Review report and the State Government’s response have been postponed until after the bushfire season.

Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett will now lead a working group of Ministers to study the Review’s findings in depth and report back to the Government.

VFBV acknowledges that many volunteers are frustrated with the delay and we certainly share their feelings of disappointment. However, given that we are already into what is clearly going to be a long and busy summer, I suggest we take the opportunity to get on with the job at hand and concentrate on the important work of protecting the community.

When the Review’s report does become public, volunteers will need to be ready to have their say. By visiting www.vfbv.com.au you can see our submission and VFBV’s September 28 letter to the Minister and all MPs, outlining the key issues of concern. I encourage each of you to read them and discuss your thoughts with your fellow volunteers. 

Also in September, VFBV requested a meeting with the Minister to discuss issues coming out of the Fire Services Review before any decisions affecting volunteers are made. The Minister offered to meet with us after the report has been presented, and with its release newly postponed I will make another request that we meet and discuss the issues at the earliest opportunity.

GENDER EQUITY AND WORKPLACE CULTURE

The Government has also announced that the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner will examine issues around gender equity and workplace culture in Victoria’s emergency services, and I very strongly encourage all VFBV delegates to show leadership in actively welcoming and engaging in this work. Support for greater diversity in CFA is something VFBV has recognised as a real opportunity, and where there are gaps, an area warranting concerted effort to achieve improvement.

Any move towards encouraging greater diversity with regard to gender, cultures and ages in CFA, is something that will strengthen Brigades’ connections with the communities we protect and increase the pool of potential volunteers.

Minister Garrett has expressed concern that only 3% of CFA and MFB operational staff are women. In comparison, approximately 20% of all CFA volunteers are women and nearly 5,000 of those volunteer women are operational members.

I am assuming the activation of this work to examine issues around gender equity and workplace culture has been identified during the Fire Services Review, and we have already seen the Jones Inquiry into the effect of arrangements made by the Country Fire Authority on its Volunteers identifying culture and human resource management issues requiring attention.

Judge David Jones noted in his report that “CFA culture, leadership and human resource management are keys to maintaining and strengthening the community’s understanding of, confidence in, support for and active participation in the volunteer based emergency service model for Victoria, which is consequently fundamental to the future success of the CFA”.

Judge Jones also observed that “Improving leadership in CFA from top to bottom is key to the success of the CFA integrated model – this cannot be over emphasised and is one of CFA’s biggest challenges”.

The annual VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey has also asked volunteers for their opinions on diversity and workplace culture issues, and found they strongly desire an environment in CFA that welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds as well as different religious, political and personal beliefs; actively discourages workplace bullying; and ensures that there are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in Brigades.

The 2015 survey results show that although CFA performance in this area is scored comparatively well against other areas, it still needs attention. The results showed that female volunteers saw a greater gap between the importance of equity and diversity issues and CFA’s actual performance.

CFA VOLUNTEERS; READY FOR SUMMER

With the fire season well and truly here, and considering many parts of the state have already been extremely busy with large and serious incidents, my message to the Minister has been that the CFA and Emergency Management sector need to be supported in focusing on the immediate task of protecting the community.

Many volunteers have expressed frustration that CFA is in an era of review upon review, but we must not let this damage the spirit of CFA or the professional standards of protection we provide to the community every day and night of the year.

We know CFA is an overwhelmingly great organisation, achieving great things in communities across Victoria, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep looking for areas for improvement and ironing out any issues we find on the way.

 


 

 

Media Release - Wednesday 16th December 2015

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) has welcomed the State Government’s decision to engage Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kate Jenkins to examine issues around
gender equity and workplace culture in Victoria’s emergency services.

Representing Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers, VFBV sees the announcement as a move towards encouraging greater diversity, not just of gender, but of cultures and ages in CFA.

VFBV Chief Executive Officer Andrew Ford said greater diversity means practical benefits for Brigades and the communities they protect. 

“Having more diversity of gender, cultures and ages will strengthen CFA Brigades’ connections with the communities we protect and increase the pool of potential volunteers,” Mr Ford said.

Minister Garrett has highlighted the fact that only 3% of CFA and MFB operational staff are women.

“Among CFA volunteers, approximately 20% of all volunteers are women and nearly 5,000 of those women are front line firefighters,” Mr Ford said.

“CFA volunteers serve in front line, command and specialist roles at all levels, and provide CFA’s great surge capacity, the ability to field thousands of trained, experienced firefighters to deal with major and multiple incidents wherever they occur,” he said.

“We see diversity as not only ensuring that essential response capacity into the future, but adding to CFA Brigades’ connection with every part of the community.”

“VFBV looks forward to supporting the efforts of Minister Garrett and CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan to drive gender equity across CFA,” Mr Ford said.

 

Download the VFBV Message to Volunteers here

Published in VFBV News

VFBV Media Release

Fifty five emergency services volunteers from six organisations have just graduated from a leadership scholarship program run by Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), the CFA volunteers’ association.

The volunteers are serving in Brigades, flotillas and units all over Victoria, and have achieved the nationally recognised Certificate IV in Frontline Management, delivered for VFBV by Chisholm TAFE.

The volunteers received their Certificates a few days ago, with presentations by VFBV Chief Executive Officer Andrew Ford, Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley, Mr Henry Plumptre of international racehorse breeding organisation Darley and Mr Ray Jopling of Chisholm TAFE.

VFBV Chief Executive Officer Andrew Ford said this latest group of graduates includes volunteers from CFA, Ambulance Victoria, Lifesaving Victoria, the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, St John Ambulance and VICSES.

“The new scholarship graduates now have a nationally recognised qualification in leadership that will help them in their day to day careers, their work as emergency volunteers and their contributions to the community for years to come,” Mr Ford said.

“Victoria’s tens of thousands of volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our emergency services, and investing in volunteer leadership is a contribution to the vital work of encouraging, maintaining and strengthening Victoria’s emergency sector volunteer capacity,” he said.

“Leadership skills are part of the professionalism that makes volunteers vital contributors from the front line to the highest levels of decision making.”

“VFBV is forever grateful to the people who enabled us to put this and other programs into action with their donations. Particular supporters in the early days were International racehorse breeding and racing organisation Darley and the Victoria Racing Club, who were fundamental to our being able to begin this program in 2010 and remain active and generous supporters of VFBV,” Mr Ford said.

Many graduates of the earlier courses are now serving in leadership roles with their Brigades and units, as well as in representing volunteers at higher levels and contributing as leaders in their local communities.

The VFBV Leadership Scholarship course has been designed for volunteers, with a mix of lectures and interactive activities designed to suit the needs of adult students, as well as ample support using distance learning methods. To reduce travel time for the volunteers, the classroom sessions were made available at three locations: Colac, Inverloch and Mooroopna.

The course includes units on; leadership, decision making, planning, safety and risk management, team effectiveness, making presentations, managing projects, and engaging the community.

The VFBV Leadership Scholarship program is funded by VFBV, in large part through a trust established with public donations received after Black Saturday from generous donors such as international racehorse breeding organisation Darley, the Herald Sun and the Victoria Racing Club.

In recent years, the program has received top up funding and support from the Victorian Government through the Valuing Volunteers Program, which has assisted VFBV in extending the program to a larger number of emergency service agencies, including SES, Lifesaving Victoria, Ambulance Victoria and the St John Ambulance. The qualification is provided under the auspices of Chisholm Institute of TAFE.

VFBV emphatically acknowledges and thanks Darley for their ongoing support and enthusiasm for emergency service volunteers, and in particular their support of VFBV’s leadership program, which would not have been possible without their generous donation to VFBV following Black Saturday.

In particular this year’s Graduation ceremony would not have been possible without the generosity of Darley with their organisational assistance, the Victoria Racing Club and Racing Victoria.

Among this year’s 55 graduates are 27 from CFA, 16 from VICSES, four from the Australian Volunteer Coastguard, three from Life Saving Victoria, three from St John Ambulance and two from Ambulance Victoria.

This year’s course brings the total number of graduates to more than 230, with another 50 set to graduate in 2016. VFBV launched the program for CFA volunteers in 2010 and began expanding it to include other emergency organisations in 2012.

Ends…

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 16 October 2015 00:00

CFA Digital Scanners - ORDERS NOW CLOSED

UPDATE 19 January 2016: ORDERS HAVE NOW CLOSED

ANNOUNCEMENT 16 October: On behalf of CFA and VFBV it is with great pleasure that we announce the availability of CFA’s new Digital Scanners.

*** A copy of this letter and paper order forms have been posted with our October mailout. Digital copies of all forms are attached below. *** 

As you are more than likely already aware, CFA and VFBV through the Joint Communications & Technology Committee and CFA’s Business Services Team have been diligently working on a replacement Listening Set since 2010, with the knowledge that as CFA’s radio network transitioned to digital frequencies on the P25 digital network, almost all current analogue listening sets and scanners being used by members would become redundant. Acknowledging the significant expense that new digital capable devices represents to members, and the important role they play in many Brigades, we have been jointly working on not only a replacement scanner, but a subsidization program that would assist members with their replacement.

After an exhaustive tender, trial and selection process, the Uniden UBCD436-PT digital scanner has been selected. This will be amongst one of the first scanners available in Australian that support P25 Phase 2 digital communications, which future proofs the device as Victorian Emergency Services transition to Phase 2 P25 in the future. The scanner is backward compatible, is capable of receiving analogue and current Phase 1 P25 digital radio traffic and will come preprogramed with the current CFA/DELWP radio channel plan.

As this scanner is not currently available via retail channels, and is being manufactured and sold exclusively to CFA members before a public release next year – retail pricing is not yet available, however it is expected to retail within the $500 – $700 per unit range.

In order to provide Brigades with equitable and fair access to these units, CFA and VFBV have developed a subsidy program that will provide all brigades & groups access to a limited number of heavily subsidized units. Through a combination of project funding and a successful joint CFA/VFBV application to the VESEP program, $3 million dollars has been set aside to subsidize units for members. To ensure equitable access to this funding, brigades will have access to a guaranteed minimum of 8 units per brigade at a one off subsidy price of $150 per unit, plus postage and handling, with the subsidy budget picking up the difference. ($296.75) This effectively represents an approximate 70% discount for members. Groups will be provided with a guaranteed minimum of 2 units per group.

The 8 units per brigade, and 2 units per group will be reserved and put aside for brigades/groups to access. You will have 90 days to claim and order/pay for your reserved units at the heavily discounted price, and they will be dispatched as per the attached schedule as orders and payment are received. At the end of 90 days, any units that have not been taken up will then be re-released into the general pool, and will be equally allocated to brigades and groups based on their 2nd Tier pre-orders. If there are any remaining units, these will then be advertised, and made available to individuals on a first in first served basis until all remaining units have been exhausted.

Once the subsidization budget runs out, (expected early 2016) additional units will be made available to individual members at a cost price of $446.75 plus postage and handling.

As these units are being manufactured by Uniden exclusively for CFA, there are long lead times on orders placed with the manufacturer. Units are being received into Australia as they come off the manufacturing line. The first 3,500 units are due to arrive in the country by the 1st November, with a second and third order of units totallying another 2,500 units arriving late December and February. Again, in order to provide all brigades with equitable access to units as quickly as possible, brigades will be able to access their 8 guaranteed units in two batches. The first 3 will be dispatched immediately upon your order and payment being processed, with the remaining 5 being dispatched as soon as subsequent units arrive in the country, and dispatched in the order that orders/payment are received. Group units will be dispatched upon order and payment being processed.

It will be left to the discretion of your brigade/group to determine how the digital scanners will be distributed amongst members, and the brigade/group may determine to purchase the subsidized units from brigade/group funds or request individual members to reimburse the brigade/group for their scanner. During the subsidization program, orders will only be accepted from brigades and groups. As soon as the subsidization program is finished (expected early 2016) scanners will be available for purchase by individual members at cost price.

Payment for the first 8 scanners must accompany your brigade’s order. Cheques and money orders must be made payable to “CFA”. Payment for the first 2 group scanners must also accompany group orders..

If your brigade/group wishes to pay by direct deposit into CFA’s bank account, please indicate where shown on the order form and once your order form has been received, CFA will issue you with an invoice that will contain the direct deposit bank details for you to pay for the order. (If paying this way – you must wait for the invoice to arrive before making payment.)

CFA brigades who are still operating under their own brigade ABN and are registered for GST will need to be processed separately, and will need to wait for a Tax Invoice to be issued by CFA for the total amount payable. If you are unsure if your brigade is still operating under its own ABN, please contact the VFBV office and we can assist with your enquiries. (There are currently only 33 brigades in the state still operating under a brigade ABN – and your brigade secretary/treasurer should know.)

VFBV is providing the administrative support for the processing of orders, and as such all orders should be returned to VFBV for processing. VFBV will process and lodge all orders with CFA within 48 hours of our receiving them. Brigades will be sent an electronic confirmation of your orders lodgement.

Any questions or queries should be directed to the VFBV Office on (03) 9886 1141 or via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Scanners are not endorsed for operational use, and are no replacement for an official CFA Tait portable/mobile radio. Digital scanners have no send capability, and can only listen in on communications.

This program would not have been possible without CFA’s support and approval, and VFBV wishes to thank CFA for the establishment and support of the subsidization program for the benefit of members.

Download a copy of this letter here

Download a Brigade Order Form here

Download a Group Order Form here

Download the FAQ's here

Download a sample Order Form here

Download Scanner Spec Sheet here

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can we order less than 8 units?
Yes. Brigades are guaranteed to have access to a minimum of 8 subsidized units put aside for them and available up until the 15th January 2016. You can order less than eight, but postage and handling will remain at $35 for any number up to 3 units, and a second postage and handling fee of $45 for any number of units between 4 and 8.


Groups can also order less than their guaranteed 2 units, but again the postage and handling fee will remain at $35 for dispatch of the guaranteed units.


2. How will we know how many subsidized units we can have above our initial allocation of 8? (Tier 2)
We won’t know how many are available until the 25th January 2016. This is to ensure all brigades have equal time to order and pay for their initial allocation. After the closing date of the 15th January – any units not taken up by brigades through the Tier 1 process, will then be made available in the Tier 2 program. We will then divide this total number of units left over by the number of brigades and groups requesting Tier 2 units, and that number will then be allocated proportionally amongst the Tier 2 orders until there are no subsidized units remaining.

On the 25th January, brigades and groups will be advised how many of their Tier 2 orders can be honoured, and payment will then be requested. Brigades and groups will have until the 1st March to pay for these units.


3. Are Tier 2 orders binding?
Yes. Even though you won’t have to pay for these units until we know how many are available, we will have to treat all Tier 2 orders as binding in order to know how many we can allocate to brigades and groups. You should assume that you will be asked to pay for every unit you indicate on the Tier 2 order form.


4. Who will own the units?
This is a brigade/group decision. If the brigade purchases the units using brigade funds, then they will be owned by the brigade/group and can be allocated at the brigade’s or group’s discretion.
Many brigades/groups are likely to request that individual members purchase the units at their own expense, in which case brigades/groups will determine how to prioritize the limited number of subsidized units available, but once the member reimburses the brigade/group for the unit cost, the device will then become the property of that individual.


5. How should we prioritize members if more than 8 members want to pay for a scanner?
This is a brigade decision. The brigade may elect to implement its own ranking system which might prioritize members based on their role within the brigade or group, and what benefit that member’s possession of a digital scanner would have on the brigade.

6. What if a member does not want to order through the brigade/group and just wants to buy one themselves?

Individual members will not have access to units at the subsidized price unless the full allocations to brigades and groups are not taken up. However, individuals will be able to purchase units at the full cost price when they become available. Individual orders will be treated the same as any Tier 3 orders and will be processed only after the end of the subsidization program, which is expected to finish early 2016. The manufacturer will not have any additional capacity until the end of the subsidization program, as it is expected that demand through the subsidization process will deplete all available stock.

Non CFA members will need to wait until the product is released at the retail level, which will be at the manufacturer’s discretion and is unlikely to be until well after CFA’s internal distribution program is completed.

7. Why can only brigades or groups order them?
This scanner has been developed specifically for CFA members and there is a limited budget for how many units can be subsidized by CFA. We are expecting demand to exceed supply, and are therefore relying on brigades and groups to be best placed to determine priority based on benefit to the overall community/brigade/group.

8. Can Headquarters and Coastguard brigades apply?
Yes. All registered CFA brigades and groups may apply. This includes registered Headquarters brigades and registered CFA Coastguard brigades.

9. Can Forest industry brigades apply?
No.

10. Why have groups been provided with a smaller number of guaranteed units?
For two main reasons. The first was to maintain parity and proportion with the units offered to brigades when considering membership/role numbers. The second reason being that groups received a priority allocation well above brigade allocations in the allocation of CFA Tait radios during CFA’s radio replacement project. On average, each group in the state received an allocation of 10 CFA Tait radios for use by group personnel.

11. Why will only 3 units be dispatched straight away?
These units are being manufactured exclusively for CFA. It currently takes 120 days from when CFA places an order, and when that unit is then available in the country. 3 units per brigade has been determined by how many are in the country and are available now, with additional units being dispatched as they come off the manufacturing line.

12. I own a small business. Can I purchase these units for re-sale?
No. These units are only available exclusively for CFA members until early 2016.
These units are likely to be offered to the public through the manufacturer’s normal wholesale and retail channels at some point in the future, but is unlikely to occur before the end of CFA’s distribution program. Any decision to offer the unit to the public will be solely at the discretion of the manufacturer.

Uniden Scanner

Published in VFBV News

Job Opportunities with VFBV

VFBV is seeking to appoint a VFBV Policy and Advocacy Officer
and two VFBV Support Officers.

These will be key roles in the small VFBV team.

The two VFBV Support Officers will work in Regional Victoria with VFBV Distirct Councils, brigades and volunteers to facilitate consultation, issue resolution and volunteer engagement.

The VFBV Policy & Advocacy Officer will play a vital role helping VFBV to work with volunteers to research issues, develop our position on key issues and advocate this position to decision makers.

In addition to relevant skills, the successful applicants will need to display a strong understanding of CFA and volunteerism.

Click on the links below to see full details and download position descriptions;

VFBV Policy and Advocacy Officer

VFBV Support Officers

 

Published in VFBV News

Since the submission date for the Inquiry closed, and following detailed discussion at VFBV State Council in September, VFBV has written to all Victorian Members of Parliament with a summary of our submission to the State Government’s Fire Services Review – see below for a copy of the letter.

The letter includes an introduction to the broader issues and a list of points that volunteers are particularly concerned about.

VFBV has also offered to have volunteer representatives meet with any MPs who would like to discuss the issues or learn more about volunteers’ concerns at the state level or in their local area. 

MPs are invited to call the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141 if they would like to make contact with their local CFA volunteer delegates.

 

VFBV'S Letter to all State MPs, dated 28 September 2015

Dear Member

VFBV submission to the State Government’s Fire Services Review

As the association representing CFA volunteers, VFBV has recently made an extensive submission to the Fire Services Review. The VFBV submission and relevant material is available via the VFBV website (visit www.vfbv.com.au) and I encourage you to visit our website to read or download this material, as it explains a number of key matters about which volunteers feel very strongly.

Perceptions about the Review’s focus, process and background context have given rise to significant anxiety amongst Victoria’s volunteers, particularly over a number of principles fundamental to CFA’s future success as a volunteer based organisation.

The key and critical principles that volunteers find essential are the following:

♦ The obligations, duties and aspirations both express and implied in the CFA Volunteer Charter as recognised in the current CFA Act and the maintenance of Section 6 of the Act are fundamental to CFA volunteerism and its success in delivering CFA services to the people of Victoria. Critically, flowing from these and in recognition of the core role volunteers play in Victoria’s emergency management, any decision making that may impact on volunteers at any level of government or its agencies must incorporate volunteers in that process and the effects on volunteer capacity must be a clear, transparent and fair feature of such decision making.

♦ Recognition of the importance that the CFA Board has strong volunteer expertise, knowledge and understanding of CFA volunteerism must continue and the engagement of volunteers through current arrangements for volunteer nomination to and level of representation on the CFA Board as currently provided. These arrangements are central to the engagement and utilisation of volunteer knowledge and experience.

♦ The CFA must have genuine ability and empowerment to govern and manage resource decisions, including internal resource allocation and prioritisation of support to volunteers consistent with its current statutory obligations. This includes the powers of the Chief Officer to determine all operational and related matters free of external interference save from the requirements of the CFA Act as currently set out and the statutory role of the Emergency Management Commissioner.

♦ Active removal of external interference and arrangements (including those affecting CFA, EMV and Government) that impede, or block volunteers from being genuinely involved in decision making on all matters which may impact on them including proposed legislation and the adequacy of resources to enable volunteers to deliver the agreed services. 

♦ The CFA Budget and priorities must be established at a level and grow as required with such spending and resource priorities so as to ensure that volunteers maintain and continue to grow their capacity to provide CFA services to the people of urban and rural Victoria and provide Victoria with a high level surge capacity to deal with emergencies across the state. The determination and order of budget priorities consistent with this must be determined without inappropriate external interference or influence, and consistent with its statutory, governance and administrative accountabilities, obligations and requirements.

♦ CFA Budget priorities must ensure that there is sufficient resourcing to provide volunteers with best possible access to necessary training, up to date facilities and equipment including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), communications and vehicles, legal protection, and appropriate financial compensation for injury, illness and personal loss sustained during service to the people of Victoria.

♦ There must be transparency with regard to the determination, collection and expenditure of the Fire Services Levy (FSL).

♦ The total additional cost of any additional initiatives determined by government and not conforming to the order of CFA determined priorities must be resourced separately by government for the duration of the initiative and must not interfere in any way with CFA meeting its resource priorities for encouraging, maintaining and strengthening the capacity of volunteers to deliver CFA services to Victoria.

♦ CFA high level resourcing priorities must include volunteer support and capacity strengthening, including appropriate expansion of the BASO program, training and skills maintenance including first aid training, leadership development, and provision of EMR services to the public by volunteers, fixing communications problems and cyclic vehicle/appliance replacement.

♦ A culture of respect for volunteers, including ensuring there is no discrimination nor any barriers against volunteers simply because they are not paid. This includes barriers to the roles volunteers perform; access to training for volunteers demonstrating a willingness and capacity for higher level training; or utilisation and acceptance of volunteers’ authority and role in command and control within CFA and the broader emergency services.  There should also be a leadership culture of active intolerance to any discrimination against volunteers based on their volunteer status.

♦ Acceptance that appropriately trained and experienced volunteers can carry out duties of any designation within CFA and Victoria’s emergency management sector and proactive effort to engage their active utilisation in such roles. 

♦ Active encouragement and facilitation of individual volunteers demonstrating a willingness and capacity for high level training and utilisation in command and control and other CFA roles for training, building experience and sustaining qualifications, including for IMTs and the highest levels in incident control.

♦ Government and CFA’s active public and institutional promotion and demonstrated respect for CFA (and other emergency service) volunteers and the essential role they play in Victoria’s safety including advocacy against public attacks made on volunteers.

In summary, volunteers are particularly concerned about:

  • Erosion of CFA’s ability to govern, manage resource decisions and allocate appropriate priority to resourcing/supporting the capacity of volunteers to deliver CFA services
  • Erosion of the CFA Chief Officer’s statutory powers and operational decision making ability 
  • The need to improve consultation with volunteers and/or the representation of volunteer knowledge and expertise at key decision forums in any future arrangements
  • Erosion of the obligations, intent and authority of the CFA Volunteer Charter and/or the practical application of the CFA Volunteer Charter
  • Any decision making processes at CFA, EMV or Government that impact on volunteers but block volunteers out of the process
  • Any cuts to CFA budget relating to volunteer support and volunteer capacity building forced because of the need to pay for externally imposed or new commitments 
  • Any failure to fully additionally fund externally imposed or new commitments  for the life of the commitment
  • Ensuring adequate investment in resources for training of volunteers and for volunteer equipment, facilities, personal protection, service related injury/illness compensation etc.
  • Any diversion of funding raised through the Fire Service Levy and the Government’s related share to other cost areas
  • Continuation of industrial agreements that establish power of veto that overrides legitimate CFA decision making or block CFA progressing volunteer support initiatives, resource allocation and CFA organisational structure
  • External direction to CFA Board or management that is not transparent, justifiable and consistent with legislation
  • Resourcing priorities and funding allocation decisions that ignore more cost effective and reliably beneficial opportunities to encourage, maintain and strengthen the capacity of volunteers to deliver CFA services (specifically referencing section 6i of the CFA Act)
  • Any discrimination in the roles volunteers can perform, training opportunities for volunteers or recognition of volunteers’ skills/expertise simply because they are not paid
  • Failure to positively advocate the essential nature, benefits and professional capacity of the CFA volunteer based system.

If decisions are made that are not consistent with these principles and concerns, we fear the consequence will be a legacy of diminished emergency management volunteer capacity for Victoria. Our desire and commitment is to work with you towards a positive atmosphere so that volunteers can focus their energy on continuing to provide dedicated services to the community and prepare for the forthcoming summer.

Volunteers want certainty about the real respect and commitment of all key decision makers across Government and institutions to the service they currently provide day and night, every day of the year.

Volunteers want it known that they are committed to the safety of the communities they serve and will strongly resist changes that they feel are not in the best interests of their community.

I am hopeful that you find the VFBV submission to the Fire Services Review and the points outlined above useful to our continuing endeavour to keep all Victorian MPs well informed about matters of fundamental importance to volunteers.

As always I would be more than happy to discuss these matters with you at your convenience.

Yours Sincerely,

Andrew Ford

Chief Executive Officer

 

<Click here to return to the Fire Services Review Submission page>

Published in Uncategorised
Friday, 09 October 2015 00:00

Fire Services Review - 18 December Update

UPDATE: Click here for the 18 December Message to Volunteers

VFBV FINAL SUBMISSION  VFBV's LETTER TO MPs

VFBV INITIAL SUBMISSION   VFBV NOTES FOR VOLUNTEERS

WATCH THIS SPACE - The Review's final report and the Government's response have been postponed until after the bushfire season - both are likely to have important ramifications for volunteers everywhere and Brigades should be ready to study them as soon as they become available.

Click on the list below to see VFBV's submission and supporting documents - if you have made submission to the Review and would like to make it available on this page, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

What is the Fire Services Review?

The Review was set up as a comprehensive review of MFB and CFA – a serious issue for volunteers - and the review was run on a very short time frame.

See the State Government media release here and the Review’s Terms of Reference here. See below for what VFBV had to say on some of the issues.

VFBV's Final Submission to the Fire Services Review

VFBV's Initial Submission - Dated 14 August 2015

Published in Other News
Thursday, 24 September 2015 00:00

Fire Services Review - Latest Update

Click here to hear ABC774’s on air forum on the Fire Services Review, with Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley, VFBV’s Andrew Ford and the United Firefighters’ Union’s Peter Marshall. The forum went to air on Thursday, 7 April, on Jon Faine’s Conversation Hour.

VFBV Chief Executive Officer Andrew Ford’s Note to Members on the Government’s Response to the Fire Services Review’s recommendations

The Government has now released the Fire Services Review report and probably more importantly the State Government’s response to the report’s recommendations.

Both of these documents are available for download below and also from the Fire Services Review website.  The Fire Services Review website includes copies of all public submissions including VFBV, CFA and EMV submissions.

I think most CFA volunteers will be pleased overall with the Government’s response to the review.  A key theme throughout the review is a recognition of the enormous front line and collective capacity of Victoria’s fire services.  There is a very strong theme of needing to ensure there is a culture and collective respect of the skills, knowledge and professionalism of Victorian firefighters, volunteer and paid staff alike, regardless of pay status.  The report calls to improve leadership and to address a concerning culture that has tolerated; treating people differently based on pay status; bullying and harassment; poor front line worker and management relationships; and a ‘them and us’ approach.

There is a strong call for everyone in the sector to focus more energy on working as one.  There is strong recognition of the need for CFA to have more flexibility in the way it deploys resources to support local brigades and community circumstances, and there is an identified need to improve leadership from agency executive level through to Brigade level and across the sector’s collective leadership.

The review recognises the strengths of the existing fire services and says that effort should be focussed on ensuring the separate fire services share common effort, reduce duplication and work as one.  The report explicitly advises against any contemplation of amalgamating the MFB and CFA, reporting that this would have a negative rather than constructive impact. 

The report acknowledges the extensive and essential capacity of CFA’s volunteer Brigades and the fundamental value of sustaining and building strong integration in those communities where paid staff are required to supplement volunteer capacity.  The report identifies the essential nature of CFA’s volunteer Brigade surge capacity for major and concurrent events.

There are 20 recommendations, and the Government has identified an action to address 18 of these.  Several recommendations are earmarked for further discussion/work and the Government has committed to work with VFBV and others on the detail of these.

Based on some commonly discussed issues during the review, many volunteers will be particularly interested in the following recommendations and government response;

  • Recommendation 9, concerning consideration of a Firefighters’ Registration Board – Government response is to initiate national consultation on this over the next five years.  The report detail suggests this would need to be open to volunteers and paid firefighters alike and would provide an opportunity to facilitate lateral entry and recognise skills, irrespective of whether they are paid or volunteer.
  • Recommendation 18, concerning deploying Leading Firefighters or Station Officers to provide administrative, technical, community engagement and operational support to volunteer Brigades.  The Government has supported the intent of finding ways to support volunteer Brigades, but has noted the best means to deliver that support requires further consideration.
  • Recommendation 17, includes recommendation that CFA review the process for selecting Brigade Captains.  Government response suggests a selection process be developed to enhance the current approach to focus on ensuring the necessary leadership and technical skills needed for the role.  This work has a timeframe of the next two years.
  • Recommendation 5, includes developing best practice models for initiation and planning for the establishment of integrated Brigades and the selection of leaders of integrated Brigades, drawing on successful processes adopted to date.  Government response is that CFA is to lead a short review to identify best practices.
  • There are also recommendations concerning training; health & wellbeing; developing leadership; and better engagement with volunteers and representative bodies.

VFBV will seek to be very closely involved with work on these and the actions proposed for all other recommendations.

Of interest is an acknowledgement to include VFBV on EMV’s Fire Services Interoperability Committee.  This is consistent with VFBV’s previous requests to EMC Craig Lapsley and also an issue covered in our submission to the review.  VFBV has previously expressed dissatisfaction to the EMC about not being included in this important forum.

There are several recommendations relating to culture in the fire services and issues specifically relating to bullying and harassment.   VFBV has already welcomed the CFA-commissioned Equity and Diversity Review being conducted by VEOHRC.

At a more strategic level, there are recommendations involving consideration of possible future service delivery models, a review of CFA and MFB legislation, and a review of the legislation giving powers to EMV, but no specific direction set down as yet.  VFBV will certainly be taking a keen interest to ensure these important issues progress in a positive way.

See below to download a copy of VFBV’s media release supporting the Government's response, the Fire Services Review report and the Government’s response.

VFBV has supported the Government’s response to the Fire Services Review and commended Minister Garrett for taking the time to make a sensible and considered response.  We have also welcomed the invitation to work with Government on the issues requiring further consideration.    Over all, our reaction to the Government’s response to the review’s recommendations is positive and I believe this provides a good foundation for us to work constructively with Government and the CFA.  I have said publicly, as you will see in our media release, that in the main the Government’s response to the Fire Services Review is on the mark, and for the issues requiring more work, VFBV looks forward to working with Government, the agencies and other stakeholders.

Andrew Ford

Chief Executive Officer

 

VFBV's submission to the Fire Services Review

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) lodged a detailed 48 page submission with the State Government’s Fire Services Review, with considerable contributions from VFBV Delegates and individual volunteers. It was lodged alongside many more submissions from District Councils, Brigades and volunteers.

Our submission drew upon the work we have done on 11 other inquiries and reviews since 2008, including data from the annual VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey and issues already being raised through VFBV’s extensive consultative networks.

Volunteers noted the Minister’s statements at the time of the announcement of the Review, that an amalgamation of CFA and MFB “is not on the Government’s agenda” and that “Victoria’s fire services and their boundaries will remain intact”.

The covering letter from VFBV and VFBV’s submission to the Review raised a number of issues familiar to volunteers, and there was a detailed summary in the accompanying VFBV Notes for Volunteers – all three documents are available for download below.

 

Published in VFBV News
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 00:00

VFBV Survey Attracts Record Numbers

More than 2,500 volunteers have taken the 2015 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey and the new VICSES version of the survey this year.

Volunteers’ responses are being studied for the survey report, which will go to VFBV and CFA Boards, CFA’s senior management, VICSES, the Emergency Management Commissioner and the Minister for Emergency Services.

You can see the 2014 report at www.vfbv.com.au

Each year’s results are compared with previous years' figures to show trends in how volunteers feel on each issue.

It is a co-operative process; VFBV and the CFA Board studied the first three years' results and continue to use the survey to highlight aspects of volunteer support that need attention.

The annual survey is making your association’s representation more effective and giving every volunteer the chance to be heard.

You can sign up for the 2016 survey by sending your name, Brigade/Unit and District or Region to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or request a posted survey on paper by calling (03) 9886 1141.

Published in VFBV News

Attention: CFA Volunteers

The open letter from Minister Jane Garrett (below) was received by VFBV this afternoon for circulation to our volunteer communications networks.

Please assist by forwarding the Ministers open letter to fellow CFA volunteers.

In addition to the Ministers invitation for submissions by members of the public and CFA Brigades, VFBV will make a detailed submission. VFBV District Councils are already in the process of facilitating as much discussion as possible within the timeframe provided by the review.  

I encourage your active input to VFBV discussion and/or direct input to the Fire Services Review via details provided in the Minister’s Open Letter (attached).   David O’Byrne has advised that submissions can be made on a confidential basis and I encourage volunteers to provide input no matter how brief or detailed. 

Andrew Ford

Chief Executive Officer

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria

 


A message from Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett to Victoria's volunteer firefighters

The work you do as CFA volunteers makes a vital contribution to keeping our state safe.

You have Victoria's enduring thanks for the countless times you have protected lives and property in the face of natural disasters.

As you know, the Andrews Labor Government has commissioned a review into Victoria's firefighting services. This will ensure Victoria maintains its world-class fire services.

Some people think this review is designed to amalgamate the CFA and the MFB.

I'm writing to you to assure you that this is not the case and that this idea is not on the government's agenda.

Victoria’s fire services and their boundaries will remain intact.

The review will focus on major issues facing fire agencies. This includes identifying the support volunteer brigades require to remain viable into the future.

As part of this, the reviewer Mr David O'Byrne is talking to people across our fires services community, including Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.

Members of the public, including volunteer brigades can make submissions via the dedicated Fire Services Review webpage: https://myviews.justice.vic.gov.au/fireservicesreview or in writing to the Fire Services Review, Level 30, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000.

Submissions will be taken until the 31st of August as the review is due to be finalised before the beginning of the fire season.

If you have any queries in relation to the review, please contact the review secretariat at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Click here to return to VFBV's Fire Services Review page

Published in Uncategorised

VFBV MEDIA RELEASE Thursday, 13 August 2015

The CFA volunteers’ association says 202 CFA Brigades are about to get great news about brand new fire trucks and equipment from this year’s Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP).

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Andrew Ford said news of the successful grants was announced this morning by the Minister for Emergency Services, the Hon Jane Garrett MLA.

“VESEP is a great program, this year over 200 CFA Brigades across the state will receive a share of $7.1 million in funding,” Mr Ford said.

“In addition, there was $1.9 million approved for other initiatives including funding for cold climate gear designed for volunteers attending callouts like road accidents and searches in inclement weather, where the CFA volunteers’ familiar yellow overalls don’t provide sufficient protection from the rain or cold,” he said.

“VESEP is really popular with CFA volunteers; we helped to design it, so it is low on paperwork and lets the Brigade pick from a list of trucks, equipment and fire station improvements that they can put to work for their local community”.

“The grants reward the countless hours volunteers spend in their communities raising funds for life saving equipment, and match local fundraising two for one, so a Brigade can apply for anything from a few hundred dollars for a chainsaw to $100,000 for a fire truck or specialist vehicle,” he said.

“The Brigade can choose a vehicle, operational gear, training equipment or a building project that suits their fundraising capacity and serves the local community’s needs,” Mr Ford said.

VESEP grants fund a wide range of useful projects and gear for CFA Brigades, including;

- Operational gear, such as chainsaws, pumps and generators,

- Vehicles and appliances, such as Field Command Vehicles, fire trucks and rescue trucks, and

- Improvements to fire stations, such as refurbishments like training and meeting rooms.

The $12 million VESEP program is also open to local volunteer groups from organisations including the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard (AVCG), Life Saving Victoria (LSV), Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES).

“VESEP is a good example of how involving front line volunteers from the design stage of a program can make it a success that adds to the ability of local Brigades and other emergency units to protect the community,” Mr Ford said.

VFBV urges local Brigades to think about a VESEP application for next year, and provides useful tips and case studies in the VFBV VESEP Application Support Toolkit available online at www.vfbv.com.au to help with local Brigades’ applications.

CFA Brigades protect 60% of suburban Melbourne, regional cities and all of country Victoria, every day and night of the year.

NOTE TO BRIGADES - Considering applying for a VESEP grant in a future funding round?  Click here for VFBV's useful tips and case studies from past successful applications to show you how it's done.

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 07 August 2015 00:00

VFBV Annual General Meeting

The VFBV Annual General Meeting will take place on Sunday, 13 September 2015, from 2 pm.

The venue is TabcorpPark, Melton (2 Ferris Road, Melton South).

CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson AFSM will officially open the AGM.

To awith catering and other arrangements, please book your place by Friday, 28 August, by calling the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Published in VFBV News
Tuesday, 01 September 2015 00:00

New VFBV District 27 Council meeting soon

The VFBV District 27 Council will meet on 10 September.

Pictured with VFBV State President Hans van Hamond AFSM (left) are; District 27 President Lance King, Secretary/Treasurer Di Billingsley, Vice President Brendan Jenkins, State Councillor David Farmer, Vice President Brendan Jenkins, State Councillor Pat Quinn and (behind) CFA Operations Manager Bill Johnstone.

Brigades and Groups that attended the inaugural meeting of the new District Council in July were; Boolarra, Churchill, Glengarry, Moe South, Morwell, Newborough, Toongabbie, Traralgon, Yallourn North, Yinnar South, Hyland Group, amd Merton Group.

The District Council went straight to work on behalf of volunteers, discussing; CFA F&EM Proposed Structure Consultation, the 2015 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey, the Fire Services Review and two new Operations Bulletins from CFA.

More details on the September meeting will be posted soon.

Published in VFBV News

Click here to take The 2015 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey

Click here to learn more about the annual survey

Talk to other volunteers in your Brigade about taking part - More participants means greater influence for the survey results when we take them to CFA, the Emergency Management Commissioner and the State Government.

The survey is open until 31 August 2015.

You can see the 2014 results by clicking here

This year, VICSES volunteers have their own survey, hosted by VFBV on behalf of VESA – VICSES volunteers can click here to take part or find out more here.

Published in VFBV News
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 00:00

Fiskville Inquiry - Interim Report Released

Just released: The Interim Report from the Parliamentary Inquiry into the CFA Training College at Fiskville is available for download below

NOTES FROM THE STATE COUNCIL DISCUSSION BEFORE VFBV’S PRESENTATION TO THE PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY ON 15 JUNE 2015

The Victorian Parliament’s Inquiry into the CFA Training College at Fiskville has the potential to affect far more than the future of the Fiskville site.

VFBV has provided a written submission and more than an hour of evidence and we have been invited to provide additional information in a second written submission.

The issues to be presented to the Parliamentary Committee were workshopped at the VFBV State Council on 13 June. The State Council determined that the key points to be presented to the Inquiry hearing were;

The safety of our members and support to any members who have been exposed in the past is paramount and should remain the primary concern.

The Committee must ensure the focus remains on safety of our members and support to any members, whether exposed in the past during training or at fire incidents, or members who may be exposed in the future.

Firefighters, paid and volunteer alike, need access to the best possible training and the most real-to-life training. If Fiskville operations are to be closed for rectification works, scaled back or ceased altogether, then the resulting gap in Victoria’s training capacity must be fixed immediately.

If this requires funding for improvements, alternative interim training facilities, or new facilities, then this must not only be a recommendation of the Committee it must also be backed by a firm funding commitment from all sides of politics.

Just as being safe whilst training is paramount, there is a huge risk to firefighters when they are confronted with real life situations if they haven’t had access to appropriate real-to-life training.

The Inquiry process must work to establish a level of confidence amongst firefighters, the community, the Government and the firefighters’ representatives, about the facts. There has been a lot of discussion of what is or isn’t safe, and what can or can’t be fixed. Our members need the Committee to ensure the facts are on the table, that the opinions and assessments of the independent experts are known, and the analysis, decisions and regime going forward are transparent and beyond partiality or self-interest groups.

Having spoken with volunteers across Victoria, we believe it is of utmost importance that the Inquiry must unbundle the issues;

  • Past versus present
  • Which problems have ceased or been fixed
  • Which current problems can be fixed
  • Which current problems require further solutions or warrant cessation of use
  • If there is a need for cessation of use;

o   Is it for all uses

o   Is it forever

o   Is it until the results of the remaining independent expert examination

Decisions about the future must also represent a sensible use of public money; funds already invested in the site, money that must be spent regardless of whether Fiskville continues to operate or not, and the cost of new facilities or new water treatment regimes. Compromising safety is unacceptable; compromising access to training is unacceptable; and any waste of scarce funding is likely to be met with equally severe criticism.

The importance of the real-to-life training undertaken at Fiskville over the years cannot be overstated; not just hot fire training but the full range of state level and specialised skills in incident management, incident leadership, operational decision making and real-to-life operational exercises.

Much of this requires multi-day and live in courses. The live-in experience and relationship building experiences are fundamental to the preparation required for firefighters to battle major emergencies.

Also of vital importance is access; the availability of training at a time and place, and in a format that suits members. We must fill the gap in local and state level training capacity left by any cessation at Fiskville, including in the interim until permanent solutions can be put in place. And while there is discussion of fixing Fiskville, we must also stress the importance of investment in training not just at Fiskville but at all CFA training facilities, and in the context of growing demand in future.

It is important that the Fiskville Inquiry gives careful consideration to the feasibility and cost effectiveness of all options, with no compromise on safety.

From the beginning, volunteers have asked for expert, independent, transparent and accountable analysis of decisions, and the Parliamentary Committee’s Fiskville Inquiry gives us the opportunity to ensure decisions, messages and treatment are based on facts, established independently by experts, in a properly transparent process.

It is also important that the Parliamentary Committee gives our members clarity, based on expert and independent analysis and facts, about the issues surrounding PFCs, PFOS and what is necessary to ensure safe water quality standards.

It is important to set clear standards and gain the support of Government and sufficient funding to establish this level of treatment and controls to ensure the cost of training, just as it shouldn’t jeopardise the safety of trainees, doesn’t jeopardise the accessibility of state of the art training. This may require a link to the full site audit currently underway before any final decisions – particularly any decisions along the lines of a permanent closure of Fiskville.

Fiskville is, of course, just a part of the big picture on training and maintaining the skills of our volunteer-based CFA and of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its members, both paid and volunteer, and VFBV is alarmed at the continued delay in the introduction of presumptive cancer compensation legislation for Victoria’s firefighters.

Moving forward, we need;

  • Independent assurance of safety, based on facts
  • Informed decisions on any options for rehabilitating, fixing and reopening Fiskville
  • Protection of firefighters, not just during training
  • Empowerment and support to CFA to address training based on need, not capped artificially based on budget
  • Removing the rumour, speculation and uncertainty, and making decisions on independent, expert analysis of the facts

Ends….

Published in VFBV News

VFBV MEDIA RELEASE - 9 June 2015

CFA Volunteers are watching with considerable interest as the Queensland Parliament begins the process to enact a law which gives all firefighters in Queensland - paid and volunteer - fairer cancer compensation rights.

Presumptive legislation now being enacted in most States except Victoria, works by reversing the onus of proof; the firefighter’s cancer would be presumed to be work related provided the firefighter has sufficient years of service. The claim could still be rejected if it could be proven the cancer was not related to firefighting duties.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria CEO Andrew Ford said the legislation is not about a new entitlement, it is about removing an unfair barrier that blocks sick firefighters from receiving the cancer compensation to which they are entitled.

“It’s just a reversal of the onus of proof. Until now, Queensland firefighters have faced the same unfair barrier as Victorian firefighters; the near impossible task of providing sufficient evidence to prove the cause of the cancer arose from particular fires, incidents or other work duties - events that might have happened 10, 15 or more years ago,” Mr Ford said.

“The Queensland presumptive legislation is the fairer and simpler cancer compensation law that Victoria’s CFA volunteers have been promised, and are still waiting to see,” he said.

“Queensland is joining South Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania, in moving to take away the unfair barrier that stops firefighters from accessing compensation when they suffer typical firefighter cancers,” he said.

The Bill now before the Queensland Parliament specifically provides that there will be no discrimination between paid and volunteer firefighters, under the new cancer compensation rights. The Queensland Bill lists the same 12 cancers and minimum lengths of service required to qualify as are standard under the laws adopted by the Commonwealth and most Australian States and Territories, but not Victoria as yet.

The Queensland Bill is what the current Victorian Labor Government promised Victorian firefighters in the lead up to the last election – it uses the same list of 12 cancers and the same years of service requirements as the current law in Tasmania, but without any additional eligibility hurdles that discriminate against volunteers.

“Current Tasmanian law includes additional discriminatory requirements that must be met by their volunteer firefighters, but thankfully these were not part of Victorian Labor’s commitment to CFA volunteers,” Mr Ford said.

“South Australia had similar discriminatory requirements in their original legislation but have now deleted them and given volunteers the same eligibility requirements as the paid firefighters who work alongside them,” he said.

“We are hopeful that the Victorian Government will be in a position to announce details to support their promise at last year’s election, in the very near future,” Mr Ford said.

CFA volunteers who have contracted cancer currently face the difficulty that as volunteers they have no firefighter sick leave or superannuation to fall back on. Victorian law leaves all firefighters, career and volunteer alike, battling red tape and sometimes a long legal battle just to get a fair hearing, whilst they are forced to prove which fires or incidents might have caused their cancer.

It is nearly impossible to meet the standard of proof required by current Victorian law, just as it was under the laws that other States have replaced with fairer presumptive legislation for firefighters with cancer.

“After years of procrastination by the previous Victorian Government on presumptive cancer compensation rights for Victorian volunteer and career firefighters, Labor promised presumptive legislation just like the law that Queensland is now enacting,” Mr Ford said.

“For our CFA volunteer members suffering from work related cancer, the implementation of this Labor promise can’t come fast enough,” he said.

Ends…

Published in VFBV News

Representatives of all Brigade Auxiliaries and Support Groups to are invited to attend the 9th State Conference at Tabcorp Park, 2 Ferris Road, Melton South on Saturday, 8 August 2015.  

The Conference starts at 10 am (Tea and coffee will be available from 9 am).

Whilst the Conference Agenda has not been finalised, the following presentations are proposed:

  • Ms Claire Higgins, CFA Chair
  • Ms Christine Nixon
  • Ms Kate Harrap, Acting Executive Director, Operational Training & Volunteerism
  • Ms Toni van Hamond, Assistant Director, National Disability Insurance Scheme
  • Open Forum

A flyer and RSVP form have been sent to Auxiliaries and Support Groups – for more information, or to have your Auxiliary or Group added to the mailing list, please contact Jenni Laing at the VFBV office on 03 9886 1141 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in VFBV News

The survey is now open until 31 August - to take part now, click here.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) invites all CFA volunteers to take part in a volunteer-run survey that will better equip your association to advise the CFA Board and State Government on what’s most important to volunteers.

We designed and road tested the VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey with volunteers, so it gets straight to the point on issues that matter to the people on the front line.  The survey includes 33 questions and takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.  Each question asks how important the issue is to you, and how well you feel it is being handled by CFA. 

Why a fourth survey?

This year’s survey results will be compared with the first three years' figures, to show trends in how volunteers feel on each of the issues.  It is a co-operative process; VFBV and the CFA Board both studied the first three years' results and will continue to use the survey to highlight aspects of volunteer support that need attention.  Your individual answers will be confidential, but the overall results will go straight to the decision makers.

The survey is an important step forward in volunteer representation.  VFBV is established under the CFA Act to represent volunteers on all matters that affect their welfare and efficiency, and the VFBV Board commissioned this project to identify the factors that volunteers feel have a key impact on their welfare and efficiency, to establish ways of measuring whether things are getting better or worse, and to develop a process that uses these measures to ensure better support for volunteers and Brigades.  By repeating the survey periodically, VFBV can track trends in volunteers’ opinions.

Open to all CFA volunteers

Most Brigades are affiliated with VFBV, its officials are CFA volunteers and VFBV represents volunteers in dealings with CFA, the State Government and Opposition, and official inquiries, on everything from routine equipment and procedures to the future of the emergency services as a whole.  This survey is making our representation more effective and making sure every volunteer’s voice has the chance to be heard, whether you and your Brigade are directly involved with VFBV or not.

Last year’s survey drew more than 1,600 responses.

The survey will give VFBV facts and figures we can use in working for the benefit of volunteers, Brigades and the communities they protect, so we urge all CFA volunteers to take part. 

To take part in the survey, click here.

Published in Uncategorised

The report on the 2014 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is now available - you can read it online here or download it below.

We encourage volunteers to read the report, and to register for the 2015 survey now (see below, the survey starts in July).

This annual survey looks at trends in volunteer opinion, and would not have been possible without the more than 1,600 CFA volunteers who took part in 2014.

The survey began in 2012 and is put to work as a productive tool by both VFBV and CFA.  This year’s results once again confirm some strong trends that are clear pointers to paths for improvement by CFA. 

VFBV will soon run several Drill Down Workshops with groups of volunteers, looking at the outcomes, the causes and possible courses of action.  To add your comments, talk to your District’s VFBV Delegates or call Cliff Overton at the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141.

Please encourage your Brigade members to sign up for the 2015 survey - send your name, district and email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and you will receive an invitation by email.  Call (03) 9886 1141 if you require a printed copy of the survey by regular mail.

You can read the full report on the 2014 survey here or download a PDF copy below.

 You can sign up for the 2015 survey here.

 

 

Published in VFBV News

The 2014 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is the third annual survey of Victoria’s CFA volunteers conducted by Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.

Whilst there are areas for improvement, it is pleasing to see a trend of gradual improvement against many of the survey aspects. The survey’s intent and main benefit is in guiding effort and focusing energy on just such improvements.

The survey is a practical starting point for conversation and continuous improvement, and with the cooperation of all involved it continues to fulfil the hopes we had for it when we launched it three years ago.

The survey is run by VFBV, informed by growing numbers of volunteers and being put to work as a productive tool by both VFBV and CFA. This year’s survey results once again confirm some strong trends that are clear pointers to paths for improvement by CFA.

A practical and productive document, this survey would not have been possible without the support of CFA volunteers, and our special thanks go out to the more than 1,600 members who participated in 2014.

To all of the volunteers who read this report, I urge you to take part in the 2015 survey and to encourage other members of your Brigade and Group to do the same. By registering now, you can receive the survey by email or by post when it begins in July, and by doing so, you add your own voice to those of the more than 1,600 CFA volunteers who had their say last year.

Andrew Ford
Chief Executive Officer
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria

 

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Published in Uncategorised
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 00:00

VFBV's Handy Pocket Book

The VFBV Handy Pocket Book will arrive at Brigades over the next few days with the regular VFBV mailout.

The Pocket Book includes contact details for your District’s VFBV officials, important dates and information on championships, volunteer welfare, the VESEP grants program and issues resolution. 

This is a first of its kind for VFBV and your feedback is welcome at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in VFBV News

Survey respondents are asked to rate their satisfaction with their role with CFA, the way they are treated by CFA, their intentions to remain a CFA volunteer and their likelihood to recommend being a CFA volunteer to others.

The 2014 survey results across the four satisfaction questions are highly aligned to the 2013 results. 80% of respondents are satisfied with their role in CFA in 2013 and 2014, whilst there is a 2% shift in 2014 from ‘unsure’ to ‘dissatisfied’.

A 2% shift in 2014 from ‘dissatisfied’ to ‘satisfied’ has increased volunteer satisfaction with the way they are treated by CFA from 57% to 59%.

Satisfaction levels with the way volunteers’ rate their treatment by CFA shows the greatest improvement across all satisfaction measures – with a 5% increase in satisfaction from 2012 to 2014.

The ‘intention to continue my role with CFA’ results are identical for 2013 and 2014.

A 1% change in the 2013 and 2014 results for the satisfaction statement ‘I would recommend being a CFA volunteer to people I know’ sees the yes score increase to 81%.

As stated previously, the comparatively low satisfaction score with the way volunteers feel they are treated by CFA suggests that the greatest potential impact on future volunteer welfare and efficiency sits with CFA in the success or otherwise, of their partnerships with volunteer brigades.

In addition to the broader satisfaction questions, survey results against each statement for the past three years can be compiled to observe trends in active satisfaction and active dissatisfaction.

Survey results suggest that whilst volunteers continue to be most satisfied with the support and encouragement they receive at local brigade level, they remain actively dissatisfied with CFA’s performance in relation to consultation at a District, Regional and Corporate level.

 

Eleven survey statements scored satisfaction levels markedly higher than the rest of the survey. The same statements have also scored consistently higher for the past three years and in most cases, have shown an improvement in satisfaction levels over that time. These statements relate to the range of factors that contribute to a welcoming and rewarding local brigade environment, that is supportive of volunteers and operating well at a local brigade level.

One statement “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA Corporate level” scored dissatisfaction (37%) higher than satisfaction (21%) as well as achieving the lowest satisfaction rating. The same statement scores the second largest gap in survey results and demonstrates an ongoing need for improved consultation between volunteers and Corporate CFA.

Two other statements scored dissatisfaction levels just below satisfaction, consistently over the past three years.

 

Both statements also relate to CFA policies, practices and workforce arrangements that integrate volunteers and paid staff and the impact these have on volunteer consultation and cooperation.

These results suggest there is an ongoing need for improved effort by CFA to build an effective volunteer-based organisation, in which volunteers are supported by employees in a fully integrated manner.

Given this is a fundamental obligation of CFA as described in the CFA Act, this is an area warranting close attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sign up for the 2015 survey here

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Published in Uncategorised

Survey respondents provide information that identifies their age, gender, length of time as a volunteer with CFA and brigade type. This information is collated and used to provide material for further analysis.

Gender

In 2014, 86% of survey respondents were male, and 14% female. This is an under representation of the total CFA female volunteer membership, as CFA data indicates that 20% of CFA volunteers are female. The promotion of future surveys to encourage an increased female representation closer to the total membership percentage would benefit the results.

Female survey respondents rated ‘people management – my brigade’ and ‘recruitment and retention’ performance lower than male respondents across the seven themes.

The differences occur when the questions relate to CFA’s performance in conflict resolution, bullying and harassment, in which case, females rate the management of such issues lower than males.

The most telling survey response was in response to the statement “there are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in my brigade”. Females feel that importance and more so performance against this statement are lower than their male counterparts, therefore female respondents see a greater gap.

Nine other survey statements relating to recruitment, retention and brigade behaviour were tested against gender responses; none of the tested statements showed a gender influenced 1.0 gap difference in the above statement. No other statement showed more than 0.5 in gap difference when compared across gender.

More than one third (37%) of survey respondents were in the 40-54 age cohort, which is reflective of the 2010 volunteer participation rate by age as illustrated in the Victorian Auditor General Office 2014 audit Managing Emergency Services Volunteers (p.2).

Survey results broken down by the age range of the volunteer against performance scores show that the overall satisfaction in CFA and brigade is highest in the +65 age group. This may relate to a broader point in life where such views are possibly held on most issues.

The second highest age range to rank CFA highly is the under 25 year old group, this may relate to length of service and a sense of optimism and future reward within CFA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age.

More than one third (37%) of survey respondents were in the 40-54 age cohort, which is reflective of the 2010 volunteer participation rate by age as illustrated in the Victorian Auditor General Office 2014 audit Managing Emergency Services Volunteers

Survey results broken down by the age range of the volunteer against performance scores show that the overall satisfaction in CFA and brigade is highest in the +65 age group. This may relate to a broader point in life where such views are possibly held on most issues.

The second highest age range to rank CFA highly is the under 25 year old group, this may relate to length of service and a sense of optimism and future reward within CFA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Length of service as a volunteer.

One quarter of survey respondents have spent more than 25 years as a CFA volunteer, the largest length of service group in the survey, whilst 2% had spent less than one year in CFA as a volunteer and 16% less than five years.

Survey results for gap scores were tested against respondents’ age range to see if trends could be identified.

Volunteer length of service created a distinct pattern across the question responses. Volunteers who have served with CFA for less than one year are the most positive about the organisation and their brigade on nearly every question.

Two distinct increases in the gap between importance and performance occur; firstly in respondents with more than one years’ service and then again in volunteers with more than five years’ service. The gap sharply increases after their first year of service, i.e. their level of satisfaction drops sharply after one year and then again after more than five years’ service

Length of service related positivity then begins to reduce the gap back up to the 30+ years’ service mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Brigade service/risk environment.

Volunteer membership of four types of brigade service/risk environment could be nominated by the survey respondents, these being;

  • Rural/predominantly bushfire risk profile.
  • Urban/predominantly structural risk profile.
  • Integrated volunteer/career.
  • Coast guard brigade.

Only one survey response was received from a coast guard brigade member, therefore this response has little impact on the brigade service environment analysis.

The integrated volunteer/career survey responses consistently scored lower on importance and more so on performance. Integrated brigades scored poorly on performance in relation to workplace bullying, conflict resolution, volunteer consultation, morale and supporting new volunteers. These particular statistical results point to ongoing issues within integrated brigades that require specific attention.

When the nominated brigade service/risk environment responses are tested against performance scores for the survey themes, the results generally show (for five of the seven themes) that brigades with a predominantly rural/bushfire risk rate CFA performance more highly and integrated volunteer/career brigade rate CFA performance the lowest. The only two variations in this trend are where all three brigade service/risk environments rate training performance very closely (6.0, 5.9 and 6.0) and where urban/predominantly structural risk brigades rate recruitment and retention performance higher.

The most marked variation in performance scores between brigade service/risk environments is in the ‘people management – my brigade’ theme where volunteers in integrated volunteer/career brigades rated performance 1.2 below urban/structural risk and 1.4 below rural/bushfire risk types.

The survey performance scores by brigade service/risk environment are reflected in some of the written survey comments, where volunteers feel that the treatment they receive and the relationship they have with career staff are not as good as they should be.

The survey results suggest that further work in understanding the specific issues facing integrated volunteer/career brigades is required in order to improve working relationships between CFA volunteers and CFA career staff.

Reason for being a volunteer.

Survey respondents are asked to select their main reason for being a CFA volunteer from six listed options.

Slightly more than half the survey respondents (52%) nominated “to help protect the community I live in” as their main reason, whilst a considerable proportion (42%) nominated “a sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way” as their main reason.

These results are highly aligned to the 2013 survey results, where 50% of respondents nominated “to help protect the community I live in” as their main reason and 44% nominated “a sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way”.

The other four options for both the 2013 and 2014 survey results rated very low by comparison, (4% combined in 2013 and 6% combined in 2014).

When compared to satisfaction levels against the statement “I would recommend being a CFA volunteer to people I know” these results suggest that volunteers play an important part in recruitment, as they are highly motivated by their volunteer experience and keen to see others enjoy the same experience.

 

Awareness of VFBV.

The number of respondents with reasonably high awareness of VFBV had grown from 71% to 76% compared to last year. There are still many volunteers with either low or only moderate awareness of VFBV, so this is an area for continued attention.

The comments received suggest that many volunteers feel a low awareness of VFBV or being aware of the VFBV overall but not feeling a good enough understanding of what VFBV does. Also, how processes work or how they easily access information on particular issues.

Consistent with previous years there is a diverse spectrum of comments regarding whether VFBV should be more forthright in representing volunteers through to some thinking VFBV is too assertive. Comments describing a tension between pursuing a fair go for volunteers and maintaining harmony, particularly regarding issues where CFA workforce culture, arrangements and industrial agreements impact on areas that also directly affect volunteers.

There are also a mix of comments regarding how VFBV should work as a close partner with CFA and Government versus VFBV needing to be more independent and more publically critical of policy and direction that is not good for volunteers.

Comments reinforce the desire of volunteers to have a grass roots connected, well organised, well-resourced volunteer voice but at the same time a strong concern that the funding of such a voice must not erode VFBV’s independence and objectivity.

There are many comments recognising improvements in VFBV engagement and visibility amongst volunteers and also many comments asking VFBV to communicate achievements more broadly and increase the profile of VFBV at brigade level.

A number of comments express a frustration that VFBV is not vocal enough in the public and media debate complaining of the absence of a strong CFA leadership voice. VFBV needs to do more to educate the community about the importance of CFA volunteers and to defend the reputation of volunteers, when it is put down by interest groups with particular agendas.

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The 2014 survey scores for importance against specific statements in the ‘people management – my brigade’ theme scored equal highest against statement scores across the survey.

The statement “Workplace bullying is not tolerated in the brigades that I have been a member of” scored 9.2 for importance in the 2014 survey, consistent with the score of 9.3 received in 2013. The statement “the environment at my brigade is volunteer friendly, welcoming to new members and creates good morale” scored 9.1 for importance in the 2014 and 2013 surveys.

These scores are supported by written comments received from respondents that relate to their own brigades, with comments relating to a high level of importance amongst volunteers for a safe and welcoming brigade environment, free of bullying or other forms of harassment.

In the written comments, there is a common and substantial concern raised about bullying and harassment, and the poor level of response and support for resolving conflict when it does occur.

One interpretation of the spread and the tone of the commentary could be that when things are going well there is generally a high degree of satisfaction.

However, when there are problems in particular brigades or locations, these have a specific impact on the people involved and are generally not managed as well as they should be.

The comments are consistent with written survey responses to statement fourteen, suggesting that some brigades need more support in this area.

Comments also suggest that there are ‘cliques’, instances of ‘them and us’, ‘clubs’ and other cultural elements that negatively impact on volunteers generally as well as impacting on teamwork and the effective utilisation of many willing volunteers.

There are several comments suggesting conflict situations, problem individuals (both paid and volunteer) and problem cultural elements are not dealt with as quickly as they should be.

There is also a concerning trend suggesting that people are discouraged from speaking out and a repeating concern that officers responsible for dealing with conflict are not objective. A theme recurring through many responses is the need for better leadership development and a more effective process for dealing with conflict resolution that includes a safeguard against subjectivity (described as favouritism by some).

The commentary suggests that when things are working well (which is the predominant assessment across the survey) service as a CFA volunteer is reasonably comfortable, but when conflict escalates, the current approach does not cope as well as volunteers expect it to, leaving issues to escalate and cause long term impacts.

Some of the comments suggest a desire for CFA leadership and support staff to take a more active role when conflict resolution is required. Several comments seek a mechanism whereby VFBV or some other independent organisation can ensure reasonable protocols are in place and that appropriate support is provided to individuals in conflict or bullying situations.

Survey performance scores have dropped slightly from 2013, resulting in a gap score of 1.7. This theme is one of only two to see an increase in gap from 2013 to 2014 (respect and professionalism being the other theme with an increased gap).

West and South West Regions have lower gap scores than other Regions. Further analysis of the factors influencing these results may reveal more valuable information.

 

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2014 survey result scores for importance in this theme produced the equal highest score for a single statement, that being “there are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in my brigade”, scoring 9.2. This is consistent with the same statement scoring the highest performance score in 2013 (9.3) and demonstrates how highly survey respondents value diversity within their brigades.

Following closely behind this score in the same theme is the statement “people from all cultural backgrounds, different religious, political and personal beliefs are all made welcome at my brigade”, which scored 9.1 on importance and 8.2 on performance.

The recruitment and retention theme received a comparatively small number of written comments as compared to other themes.

Of the negative comments received, there were several around CFA’s need to improve the respect for and treatment of females and that there are still pockets of unacceptable behaviour towards females. These comments support the high importance placed on gender equity in the survey scores.

There were comments acknowledging CFA’s ability to recruit, including younger members and people from more diverse backgrounds and roles however, a frustration exists in that training can be difficult to access or not matched to an individual’s progression in CFA, resulting in keen volunteers not staying or not being utilised.

The most common underlying factor present across most of the negative comments, is a frustration with CFA training, which leads to a negative force jeopardising volunteer retention. Ongoing issues with the difficulties associated with getting onto courses, the flexibility in recognising prior learning beyond the prescriptive CFA training and poor course organisation, were all mentioned.

Some comments expressed an opinion that the culture within CFA paid personnel is not volunteer focussed, and that an ‘us and them’ attitude dominates. One response suggests that CFA needs to incorporate a performance measure relating to volunteer training and retention into CFA staff performance, particularly for staff at integrated brigades.

Other comments suggest that CFA’s senior volunteers should have a stronger focus on mentoring new members. Some comments reflected on the personal experience members had over years of service with CFA and their desire to see future generations benefit from the experience.

2014 survey result scores for importance and performance in the ‘recruitment and retention’ theme produced the smallest gap across all seven survey themes. A gradual increase in performance against a consistent importance score over the past three years has continued to decrease the gap. The gap between importance and performance scores across all five Regions varies only slightly (0.3), and are the closest gap scores Region by Region for the seven survey themes.

 

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Within this theme, survey responses for the statement “CFA provides enough training opportunities in formats, at times and at locations that make it easy for me to participate” have generated the largest gap for the 2014 survey, consistent with having the second largest gap in 2013.

This same statement also received the lowest performance score for any survey statement in 2014 and second lowest score in 2013. The respondents scoring against this statement clearly indicates an ongoing dissatisfaction with the current level of service received from CFA in respect to training.

While written comments for other themes in the survey are brief and sometimes quite individual, the commentary for ‘training by CFA’ is detailed and focussed on common recurring concerns.

These recurring comments refer to a lack of training availability and opportunity, with negative comments on the frequency and timing of courses. Some comments refer to unsuitable training formats and a lack of access to specific training requirements outside of the standard operational training packages, such as leadership training and conflict resolution training.

Written comments also refer to the time taken between attaining qualification and receiving the personal protective equipment required to turn out, once qualified.

Survey responses express this as creating a frustration in volunteers who have made time available to train but are then unable to utilise their training and support their brigade.

These written comments in the training theme are reflective of responses under other themes relating to sense of worth, recognition and treatment of volunteers.

Of the written comments received, few were positive. One of the positive comments reflected an appreciation of the size of the training tasks in CFA and suggested that volunteers and brigades could be more proactive in identifying solutions.

An improvement in performance scores against a stable importance score has seen the gap decrease over the past three years. The biggest influence underpinning this improvement is in the area of leadership training for volunteers, people management and conflict resolution and mentoring.

The difference between gap scores Region by Region for this theme are greater than any other.

South West Region’s positive performance and markedly smaller gap in relation to training may warrant further investigation to determine what is contributing to the success.

 

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This theme, more than any other, has generated survey responses relating to specific brigade or individual member issues. Issues raised, include the lack of CFA support for the resolution of management issues at brigade level, a high level of CFA staff turnover at Region and District level impacting on support to brigades and budget cuts impacting on resources for volunteers.

Survey comments for this theme are consistent with previous themes in relation to perceived differences in the level of support provided by CFA to paid and volunteer members, and the general feeling that CFA volunteers are being treated as ‘second class’.

Other notable survey respondent comments include a desire to see more CFA staff working in support of brigades rather than in CFA headquarters on projects, a concern regarding the lack of training for volunteers in administrative roles, and a number of comments that CFA is too focussed on the metropolitan area and not providing sufficient support to regional Victoria brigades.

Whilst performance has improved over the past three years (6.4 to 7.0) resulting in a smaller gap, importance has remained consistently high, reinforcing the fact that support from CFA remains a high priority for volunteers.

The gap improvement from 2.5 to 2.0 is driven by improved performance across all statements within the themes. Statement performance scores all improved between 0.2 and 0.7 in 2014 as compared to the 2013 results.

The statement “CFA paid personnel in my local brigade/district area are committed to supporting and empowering volunteers” improved in performance score by 0.7 from 2013 to 2014 – the equal highest statement performance improvement in the 2014 survey.

There are minor variations in the Region scores as compared to other themes. As previously discussed in the Cooperation theme observations for Regions, further analysis of the factors influencing these results may reveal more valuable information.

 

 

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015 00:00

2014 VFBV Volunteer Survey - Cooperation

Within the Cooperation theme, the poorest performing aspect relates to how volunteers feel about the way they are consulted and involved in decision making at the CFA corporate level.

Despite improvements in the performances scores for all four statements in this theme in 2014, scores for this theme are generally low for both 2013 and 2014 results as compared to the rest of the survey.

The statement “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA Corporate level” had the lowest performance score of the survey in 2013 and created the largest gap, however the gap score against this statement has improved. In 2014 this statement ranked second lowest in performance scores and had the second largest gap score, therefore is still an issue of concern for volunteers and should be an equal issue of concern for CFA.

It is important to note however, this aspect also shows the best improvement since the 2012 survey, indicating that whilst volunteers still feel there is a lot more to be done – things are improving.

The survey results confirm volunteers place a high value on being consulted and involved in decision making at all levels of CFA and expect CFA to perform well in this area. Volunteers’ place a very high importance on all CFA people (volunteer and paid staff at all organisational levels) working cooperatively towards shared goals.

The written survey responses in this theme discuss issues relating to perceptions of volunteer poor treatment and lack of respect from paid CFA staff. A common theme is about CFA staff attitude to volunteers on integrated stations, and in some cases the conduct of Operations Officers in the field. Negative comments are also made in regard to CFA management’s lack of connection with volunteers.

Some survey responses also refer to an established ‘them and us’ culture amongst CFA paid staff and volunteers, manifesting in the service and treatment of paid staff at major incidents as compared to volunteers.

A significant improvement in the performance score over the past three years has seen the gap reduce from 3.2 to 2.5. This improvement is mainly influenced by the decrease in the 2014 gap scores for the statements “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA corporate level” and “CFA’s workforce arrangements allow the paid staff and volunteers to work cooperatively as a team”.

Survey result variations between Regions show West and North East Region gap scoring less than the other Regions, it would be insightful to explore the factors or initiatives underpinning this result.

 

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For 2014, the largest individual survey question gaps for this theme appear against the statements “CFA recognises and utilises the skills and experience that I bring to CFA” and “CFA proactively provide opportunities for me to progress and develop my skills to more senior/diverse roles as part of an individual volunteer career pathway”.

This is consistent with the survey results generally poor performance in the survey questions relating to CFA training (see Training by CFA).

The survey comments are along similar themes to respect and professionalism, with a focus on low levels of support to volunteers, the desire for recognition and appreciation, and comments on poor treatment by CFA paid staff.

The increasing non-operational workload for volunteers continues to be an issue, with a number of survey responses citing the increasingly unsustainable workload around meeting attendance and participation in CFA projects.

These comments include statements that volunteer activity outside the traditional response activity, is not adequately recognised and supported by CFA.

Survey comments indicate that undertaking strike team activity as an emergency response and then spending considerable time on scene waiting to be tasked, continues to frustrate volunteers who then feel, that the limited time they have available to volunteer, is not being effectively used by CFA.

In some cases, these comments are followed by a statement that the problems are repeated year after year and if not fixed, the volunteer will not attend strike teams in the future and only support local brigade call outs.

Some of the positive comments relating to this theme were that respondents enjoy being a volunteer member of CFA and state, how joining a volunteer brigade ‘was the best thing they ever did’. These positive comments cover both male and female respondents and include statements from both new and long serving members.

The 2014 survey results indicate that volunteers think CFA could do better with regard to recognition of the skills and experience volunteers bring to CFA. The results also suggest volunteers believe that CFA could improve its efforts in developing volunteer skills and providing individual volunteer pathways across the diverse roles required in CFA.

Overall performance in this theme has improved slightly over the past three years. Respondents indicate that the statements listed in the survey are growing in importance and pleasingly also reported a sense that things have improved since the 2012 survey.

As discussed in Respect and Professionalism, initial Regional variations in the former eight Region model showed variation between outer metropolitan Regions and other Regions.

Regional gap variations across the theme are similar in range to the previous theme, with gaps ranging from 1.9 to 2.1 in the more urbanised Regions as compared to 1.6 to 1.7 in the less urbanised Regions.

 

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The 2014 survey results for this theme are reasonably consistent with previous years, a notable trend however, is that the respondents feel the issues underpinning respect and recognition of their professionalism are even more important than previous surveys.

Survey results within this theme indicate CFA performing strongest in the statement ‘CFA consistently and proactively promotes the public understanding of community confidence in the role and professionalism of CFA volunteers and their brigades’ and conversely, poorest in the statement ‘the respect and value of the contribution of volunteers is evident in CFA’s actions and culture’.

The majority of the comments on respect and professionalism were about how volunteers feel they are being treated within CFA. A number of negative comments referred to being treated as ‘second class’ by CFA organisationally, when compared to the way CFA manage and support their paid operational staff.

This is also expressed in the way volunteers see themselves treated as ‘second class’ by CFA operational staff in the field. The comments express a frustration with an established culture amongst some CFA paid staff, in the way they treat volunteers.

Specific major incidents were mentioned in the negative comments as examples of where volunteers felt they were not treated with respect, provided the same regard as paid staff to contribute to the event response or given the same level of support as that received by paid staff.

Importance has increased steadily over the past three years, with an initial improvement in performance from 2012 to 2013 then remaining the same for 2014. This has resulted in a marginal gap increase in 2014.

The 2014 survey data was collected against the eight former CFA Regions, and when tabulated by those Regions, it showed significant differences in survey results between the former three ‘Outer Metropolitan’ Regions (Eastern, Northern and Western Metro and South East Metro) and the five other Regions.

When reallocated against the new CFA five Region model, the survey result differences become less apparent as they are ‘absorbed’ into the new Regions’ geographic coverage.

Regional variation should be of concern to CFA, given that the more urbanised areas can generate a higher CFA service demand. Volunteers are generally managing higher activity levels and certainly requiring highest possible levels of volunteer motivation, satisfaction and a feeling their volunteer skills and experience are utilised optimally and their capacity and professionalism is respected and welcome.

 

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015 00:00

2014 VFBV Volunteer Survey - Conclusion

The 2014 VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey results have provided valuable information direct from CFA volunteers which is vital to informing the emergency management sector on what volunteers need to remain viable and valuable contributors to community safety.

Key observations from the survey results that may warrant further investigation and possible actions include the following.

Training needs and expectations.

The 2014 survey results identify training by CFA as the biggest issue, with the survey gap at 3.0. This remains the most important issue for CFA volunteers and the issue least meeting volunteer expectations.

Variation between brigades.

Brigades with an integrated volunteer/career mix of personnel are more concerned with performance in relation to people management within their brigade, cooperation, respect and professionalism.

Equity, diversity and workplace behaviour.

Survey results show that equity and diversity across gender, race and religion are important issues to volunteers. When tested against gender – female respondents rated both importance and performance lower than male respondents in relation to the statement “there are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in my brigade”, and the gap between importance and performance for female respondents was higher than male, signalling that male respondents are more optimistic about how gender, equity and diversity issues are being managed and may not realise areas of deficiency. Whilst CFA performance in this area is scored comparatively well against other areas, it remains an area that will require ongoing support.

The importance of consultation with brigades.

The value volunteers place on consultation both within their own brigade and with CFA, is expressed in the survey results where statements referring to consultation within brigades receive good performance scores whilst conversely, statements regarding effective consultation at CFA District, Region or Corporate level, receive the lowest performance scores and high gaps.

Written comments from survey respondents refer to issues where inadequate consultation may be the root cause, further suggesting that more work is required to improve consultation between CFA and volunteers.

The influence of volunteer length of service.

Volunteer length of service has created a distinct pattern across the question responses. Volunteers who have served with CFA for less than one year are the most positive about the organisation and their brigade on nearly every question. The gap sharply increases after their first year of service, i.e. their level of satisfaction drops sharply after one year and then again after more than five years’ service.

This warrants further investigation to determine the causes of the change in expectation.

Satisfaction.

80% of 2014 survey respondents are satisfied with their role as a CFA volunteer and 87% intend to continue their membership. The overwhelming reasons for being a CFA volunteer are “to help protect the community I live in” or “a sense of fulfilment in supporting my community in a meaningful way” (total 94%).

Only 59% of volunteers are satisfied with the way they are treated by CFA, this comparatively low satisfaction score suggests that the greatest potential impact on future volunteer welfare and efficiency sits with CFA in the success or otherwise of their partnerships with volunteer brigades.

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015 00:00

2014 VFBV Volunteer Survey - Observations

Strengths.

 In 2014, the ‘top three’ smallest gaps (i.e. highest satisfaction levels) between importance and performance, were for the survey statements listed above. When compared against importance scores for statements, the equal highest importance score was against the statement “there are no barriers to the roles women can perform in my brigade”.

For the performance scores, the two highest scores were against the statements “there are no barriers to the roles women can perform in my brigade” and “people from all cultural backgrounds, different religious, political and personal beliefs are all made welcome at my brigade”. 

This is consistent with 2013 survey results where the same questions scored highly in importance and performance, as well as having small gaps.

Written comments from respondents support the overall CFA approach to encouraging diversity and addressing poor workplace behaviour, but some of the comments refer to ongoing workplace behaviour issues at specific brigades that are being poorly managed or ignored.

The statement “I feel the time I devote to CFA is productive and worthwhile” scores consistently high on importance and performance and records the third smallest gap across the last two surveys. This is reflective of the survey results for volunteer satisfaction with their role in CFA.

 

 
Weaknesses.

In 2014, the ‘top three’ largest gaps (i.e. lowest satisfaction levels) between importance and performance, were for the survey statements listed above.

The largest gap between importance and performance for a single statement was a score of 3.0 for the statement “CFA provides enough training opportunities in formats, at times and locations that make it easy for me to participate”. This is consistent with 2013 survey results for the same statement having the largest gap and low satisfaction levels.

The two statements considered as the worst performing by 2014 survey respondents were “CFA provides enough training opportunities in formats, at times and locations that make it easy for me to participate” and “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA corporate level”. Both statements scored below 6 for performance, the only two to do so in 2014.

The biggest improvement in gap, between importance and performance for a statement from 2013 to 2014 survey results, was the decrease in gap for the statement “volunteers are effectively consulted and involved in decision making at CFA corporate level”.

Whilst this may be seen as a positive, this is the only statement to score below 5 in importance in 2013 and the improvement to a score of 5.8 in 2014, the improvement is coming from a very low base and remains an issue for volunteers.

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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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