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SEEKING PUBLIC DONATIONS - DONATE VIA MYCAUSE cheque or bank deposit

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria has launched a crowdfunding campaign to give the public the chance to support the work we are doing to protect, advocate and represent CFA volunteers, including our Supreme Court action.

The campaign ‘Supporting and Valuing our CFA Volunteers’ is now live on Australian crowdfunding platform, mycause at www.mycause.com.au/cfa

  

To donate by cheque:

Cheques should be made out to:

VFBV – Valuing Volunteers Fund

And posted to:

VFBV

PO Box 453

Mt Waverley Vic. 3151

You can also donate via Direct Deposit to this account:

Account Name: Valuing Volunteers Fund
BSB: 633000 (Bendigo Bank)
Account Number: 157 728 221

As you know, VFBV is fighting to maintain CFA as a volunteer based and fully integrated fire and emergency service with employees fully integrated with volunteers to provide seamless public safety services to Victorians. This is what CFA is under our CFA Act.

The community volunteer nature of CFA is under attack from the industrial deal done by the Andrews Victorian Government and Peter Marshall of the United Firefighters Union. The deal negatively impacts on CFA as a volunteer based and fully integrated organisation, its operations and support for volunteers including consultation.

It is an attempt to change the nature of CFA by using an anomaly in the Commonwealth Workplace Relations Act which enables an EBA to override state legislation once the EBA is registered by the Commonwealth Fair Work Commission.

The Supreme Court trial on the lawfulness of the new CFA Board adopting the proposed CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement will begin on 22 September 2016 and should run for up to five days.

The CFA/United Firefighters Union Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, approved by the new government-appointed CFA Board, would see:

• The powers of the Chief Officer overridden;
• The union given power of veto on issues affecting volunteer based and fully integrated organisation, operations and support;
• Restrictions in the EBA on effective volunteer consultation rights under the CFA Volunteer Charter;
• Other clauses that are contrary to the CFA Act, and
• Volunteers treated as second class just because they are not paid.

Only Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria is left to defend CFA from the deal and its detrimental effect for CFA services to the Victorian public.

The Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett shared our volunteer concerns, refused to support the deal and resigned in June. The CFA Board that was opposing the deal was sacked by the Andrews Government. The CEO, Lucinda Nolan and Chief Officer, Joe Buffone subsequently resigned in protest over the deal. The current CFA Board and administration are failing to stand up for CFA volunteers and kow-towing to unlawful UFU demands.

The campaign, particularly through the courts, costs money. Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria does not intend to use government grant funds or individual brigade affiliation fees to pay for the campaign, so we are asking the community that we serve to support us. This funding will be used to pay for Supreme Court and other action to preserve and protect the powers of the CFA Act.

VFBV and volunteers have made it very clear that we are not against our paid colleagues and have no interest in interfering in their legitimate pay and conditions.

Our vision is for CFA to be a modern and contemporary emergency service where volunteers and paid staff work side by side as equals and respect one another.

Encouraging, maintaining and strengthening the capacity of volunteers is vitally important for Victoria, and we are calling on those who value the capacity, determination and service of the volunteers to please support our campaign in the Supreme Court on September 22 by donating to our campaign on mycause.

Members of the public can learn more and make a donation online here.

See the media release here.

Published in HomePage Featured

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria (PV) are searching for skilled, fit and healthy people to become firefighters this year.

They employ field based seasonal firefighters to assist with planned burning and the prevention and suppression of bushfires in parks and forests.

Training will be provided and positions are open to those who:

  • Have a high level of fitness.
  • Are a team player.
  • Hold a current manual driver's licence.

Positions available (generally between November and April) for a period of 18 to 26 weeks include:

Salaries commence from $842.22 per week plus superannuation.

Applications for the 2015-16 season close Sunday 30 August 2015.

Check out their employment page here

 

 

 

Published in Other News

Updated July 2015 Calendar available for download below

The Statewide 2015 IMT course application form is now available at Brigades Online - members from emergency service agencies, including CFA, DELWP, MFB, SES and EMV, can access a variety of courses.

The courses are designed to provide technical skills necessary to undertake a number of IMT roles. Following training, there are agency specific requirements that must be met in order to become fully accredited in a particular role.

To nominate for one of the courses in the calendar, you need to complete the course nomination form before the course closing date. Both training and role pre-requisites are outlined. You must have all pre-requisites before nominating for a course.

If you have been identified by your District for a course, you need to complete the IMT training nomination form authorised by your District Operational Manager. If you are a staff member, you will have to speak to your functional manager for approval.

Click here for the course nomination form at Brigades Online

See below to download an updated (July 2015) copy of the course calendar.

Published in Other 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
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 00:00

Open Letter to the People of Victoria

A message from the Board of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.

On Tuesday 18th November, the Labor Party announced a policy that we believe will have grave and disastrous consequences for CFA.

As CFA volunteer firefighters with an average of over 40 years’ service each and as the elected board of the body established in Victorian law to be the voice of CFA volunteers, we feel the need to take this unprecedented action of activating all Victorians to help us stop a policy that has the potential to destroy CFA.

Our concern with the recently announced Labor policy is that it establishes external industrial interference with the CFA Chief Officer’s power to decide where and when and how he uses CFA firefighters.

We are also concerned that Labor’s policy will reduce CFA’s volunteer firefighting force by thousands of volunteers, pushing volunteers out of CFA stations and hundreds of CFA trucks off the road when we need them for major fires such as Black Saturday.

Labor has grossly underestimated the cost and impact of its policy.  Labor’s promise of $150M and an additional 350 paid firefighters actually only provides 70 additional paid firefighters on the ground at any one time under current paid firefighter rostering arrangements, and it will come at the expense of thousands of highly trained and professional volunteer firefighters.

We support and welcome additional paid support and resources for CFA, provided these resources are required and provided that the CFA determines the need, not a union.  Don’t be fooled, the plan announced by Labor is not about improving community safety in Victoria, the detail included in their announcement is about giving the control of CFA to a union.

Labor’s policy announcement includes specific provisions to surrender CFA operational decisions to an external industrial relations panel.

Instead of Labor’s policy, we need a plan that will recruit and train more CFA volunteer firefighters, provide trucks and equipment to combat fires and other incidents, investment in a modern firefighting fleet, give CFA the flexibility to deploy resources when and where they are needed and remove industrial control over how CFA uses its workforce.

Victoria is one of the most fire prone areas in the world and there are predictions of longer, hotter and more severe fire seasons ahead.  If Labor’s policy is allowed to push trained and experienced CFA volunteers out of fire stations across greater metropolitan Melbourne, Victoria will not have the fire fighting force it needs for day to day incidents and certainly will not have the force to deal with major incidents when they occur, such as Black Saturday.

When you vote on Saturday 29th understand one thing, as some of Victoria’s most senior volunteer firefighters, we believe Labor’s policy for CFA is not good for CFA volunteers, is not good for Victoria and is not good for the future of CFA.
Signed;

All ten members of the VFBV Board. (The attached PDF copy includes all ten signatures)

 


 

A Message to the Labor Party

Dear (Labor) Member of Parliament,

This week the Board of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria have taken the unprecedented step of publishing an open letter to the people of Victoria, to record their strong objection to Labor’s policy announcement of the 18th November 2014 affecting the CFA.

The Board have not taken this decision lightly, and want you to understand the depth of despair and anger amongst volunteer ranks caused by Labor’s CFA policy - a policy that sweeps aside the role, discounts the work and ignores the rights of unpaid, hard-working and committed volunteers who make up over 97% of CFA’s 62,000 members and staff.

Make no mistake – this policy is a direct attack on CFA as a statutory volunteer based fire and emergency service where volunteers are supported by sufficient paid staff as expertly determined by the Chief Officer and who form a fully integrated workforce to deliver CFA services.

In 2011 Labor, Coalition and Green MPs in the Victorian Parliament unanimously voted to amend the CFA Act to explicitly recognise this long known fact.

Critical aspects of the amendment bill included:

  • Statutory recognition of the Authority as a volunteer based organisation in which volunteers are supported by employees in a fully integrated manner ;

  • Statutory recognition and acceptance of the Volunteer Charter which requires amongst other things that the Government and the Authority commits to meaningful consultation with the VFBV on behalf of CFA volunteers on any matter that might reasonably be expected to affect them;

  • The statutory requirement that he Authority in performing its functions have regard to the commitment and principles set out in the Volunteer Charter; and,

  • The statutory requirement that the Authority is responsible for developing policy and organisational arrangements that encourage, maintain and strengthen the capacity of volunteer officers and members to provide the Authority’s fire and emergency services.

The reason and purpose for these amendments were to set aside industrial arrangements introduced in the final years of the Brumby Government. Those arrangements failed to recognise that CFA and its services to the public are volunteer based and that the role of paid staff is to support such volunteers services as and when determined by the CFA’s Chief Officer and the Board of the Authority according to their statutory obligations.

Since these amendments, the CFA has fought and won cases in the Fair Work Commission and Federal Court that uphold its managerial and statutory responsibility to determine paid staff numbers and allocations within the organisation including its brigades on a needs basis as determined by the Chief Officer.

The CFA model recruits and integrates paid firefighters into volunteer brigades where they are needed to support the delivery of CFA services.

Labor’s policy axes this approach - it takes away the Chief’s role of determining these matters based on expertise and transfers it to an industrial board of reference. Further, it eliminates local volunteers and their state representatives from having any input into these decisions, despite their knowledge and experience.

This new Labor policy will have significant impacts upon CFA’s future and inevitably lead to a dramatic increase in costs to Victorians without any increase in public safety.

VFBV are deeply opposed to your support for the reinstatement of the previously short lived industrial board of reference. It changes the successful nature of the CFA as an organisation (which was consistently lauded by the Bushfire Royal Commission). It is an egregious attack on the independence and statutory powers of CFA’s Chief Officer. Decision making on key staffing issues is perverted from a critical operational matter to a matter of industrial negotiation.

To be clear, volunteers consider the office of the Chief Officer to be sacrosanct, and any attack on the independence and statutory authority of their Chief will be met with fierce and unrelenting resistance.

VFBV met with shadow Minister Wade Noonan last week following the announcement to express its concern and dismay at the policy. Nothing was provided during or since that meeting to allay our fears and we remain deeply concerned.

It was under the Bracks Labor Government that the Volunteer Charter was negotiated and signed by Steve Bracks as Premier, the CFA Chairman and the volunteer representatives. We now find that you have turned your back on the principles and values you told us were an enduring commitment. Volunteers have every right to feel aggrieved. Quite rightly, as the word spreads - volunteers will see your Party’s policy as a betrayal to the trust and respect afforded to you by CFA volunteers.
Sincerely,

Andrew Ford
Chief Executive Officer

Published in VFBV News

APPLY NOW - VFBV’s Volunteer Leadership Program scholarships will be available again in 2017 and we are now calling for Expressions of Interest from potential participants.

The two 2017 courses will be based in the Euroa (District 22) and Ararat (District 16) areas, they will run from late March to the end of the year, and successful participants will achieve the nationally recognised Certificate IV in Leadership & Management. Both locations have been chosen based on an effort to rotate the courses across the State, and their location on major highways to make travel to and from those areas as easy as possible for members from neighbouring Districts.

The VFBV Volunteer Leadership Program has already produced over 250 graduates and many are in leadership positions with their agencies, volunteer representative organisations or local communities.  Graduates will graduate with a nationally recognised Cert IV in Leadership & Management (BSB42015).

You can download the application pack for CFA volunteers here.  We are again offering scholarships to volunteers from Ambulance Victoria, Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, Life Saving Victoria, VICSES and St John.  You can download a multi-agency application pack here.

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.  The course involves 12 units, eight face to face days (six Saturdays and two Sundays) throughout the year, with course work and assignments spread throughout the year.

The course includes units on;

  • leadership
  • decision making
  • planning
  • safety and risk management
  • team effectiveness
  • making presentations
  • managing projects, and
  • engaging the community.

Nominations close Friday 27th January 2017

Any questions or queries can be directed to any of VFBV’s Support Officers.  You can download the flyer here and a copy is being posted to all Brigades as part of VFBV’s regular mail-out.

This is an exciting program and has built an extremely well respected reputation in the sector. Applications always exceed places available, so please encourage your members and keep in mind that your Brigade Captain’s endorsement is very powerful when assessing potential students.

 

Published in Other
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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