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Tuesday, 22 November 2016 10:32

2017 Australasian Firefighter Championships

Expressions of Interest are now open for Victorian Brigades wishing to compete at the 2017 Australasian Firefighter Championships.

The Championships will be held at Carterton, New Zealand, on 17 to 19 November 2017.

The Australasian Championships will comprise 10 events with 30 teams from Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and New Zealand.

The closing date for EOIs is 1 March 2017 – send your Brigade name and contact details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. call the VFBV office on 9886 1141 or write to J. Laing, VFBV, PO Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149.

Published in HomePage Featured
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 10:18

Important Update for all Volunteers

NOTE TO MEMBERS – 25 October 2016 - Download Media Release Here                                       

IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR ALL VOLUNTEERS

In the last few weeks VFBV has achieved major breakthrough in the long running dispute flowing from the CFA/UFU enterprise bargaining deal (EBA) that undermines the volunteer based nature of CFA, impacts on the way volunteers are supported and work, and overrides CFA decision making including on matters impacting on volunteers.   

VFBV has successfully campaigned for and achieved a change to the Federal Fair Work Act that protects volunteers and ensures the volunteer nature of CFA cannot be undermined by an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement between CFA and the UFU.  The Federal Fair Work Act changes were approved by the Senate on 10 October with support from all Coalition and cross bench independent Senators other than Senator Lambie from Tasmania, and have been given Royal Assent which confirms them as law as of now.

The changes to the Fair Work Act apply to the current EBA negotiations and also all future CFA EBAs.  This means that VFBV has also achieved the outcome being pursued in the Victorian Supreme Court.  Our core claim in the Supreme Court was to achieve a declaration that it would be unlawful for CFA to enter into the proposed 2016 CFA/UFU EBA because of clauses that contradict and override the CFA Act - the changes to the Federal Fair Work Act now disallow this in federal law.   

As a result, yesterday we reached an agreement with the CFA to draw a conclusion to the Victorian Supreme Court Action.  VFBV is of the view that CFA should revisit the EBA given the changes to the Fair Work Act but instead of testing this in the State Supreme Court it will now be a matter to be tested in the Fair Work Commission under the new arrangements which make it unlawful for the EBA to include arrangements that restrict or limit CFA's ability to:

  • Engage or deploy volunteers
  • Provide support or equipment to volunteers
  • Manage its relationship with or work with any other emergency management body in relation to its volunteers
  • Manage it operations in relation to volunteers
  • Consult with volunteers
  • Or require or permit CFA to act other than in accordance with the powers, functions and duties conferred or imposed on CFA by the CFA Act in relation to volunteers.

This doesn’t mean our legal action is over completely but it does make the path ahead clearer.  Instead of continuing our costly legal action in the Victorian Supreme Court, the focus of our advocacy and legal action will now shift to the Federal sphere and play out in the Fair Work Commission and from there the Federal court system if required.  We will also be freed up to focus on potential challenge to the Fair Work Amendment in the High Court of Australia as threatened by the UFU.  At the Federal level we will not be alone – the Fair Work Commission now has clear rules to follow which protect emergency service volunteers; the Federal Employment Minister has also committed to challenge the EBA at the full bench of the Fair Work Commission if required, and if the matter goes to the High Court then the Federal Government will have a keen interest in defending the robustness of their legislation.

The change to the Federal laws (Fair Work Act) now achieves what VFBV have been seeking from the Victorian Supreme Court.  Our efforts from here on are better devoted to ensuring the federal arrangements for protecting the future of CFA hold firm, working to ensure CFA and others are focussed on supporting and strengthening volunteerism for the benefit of future generations and getting on with protecting our communities. 

It was never our wish to be held up in a protracted court case.  We think VFBV and volunteers can now set the scene by proactive leadership to ensure CFA remains a strong and successful volunteer based organisation where paid staff and volunteer work side by side for the benefit of the communities we serve. 

The Supreme Court action has been fundamental in our efforts to prevent the CFA and UFU using the loophole that previously existed in the Fair Work Act to enable the CFA Board to enter into an EBA that we say is beyond the lawful intent and powers of the CFA Act.  The CFA will no longer be able to use this loophole.   Our action in the Supreme Court has been costly and resource intensive.  VFBV greatly appreciates the support and monetary donations that have made the Supreme Court action possible.  A big thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign to date.

There is still a possibility that further legal action might be required given that the UFU have claimed they will challenge the Fair Work Act amendment in the High Court and there is also real possibility that VFBV will need to defend the rights of volunteers in the Federal sphere so we will continue fund raising to support our legal action and further campaign efforts.

VFBV will also be arranging detailed briefings for every VFBV District Council to explain the success achieved by the change to the Fair Work Act, the outcomes achieved by our Victorian Supreme Court Action and the work remaining in the Federal sphere.  VFBV will be working hard with CFA and Government to provide the leadership required to ensure CFA remains a great place to volunteer and an organisation ready to serve communities.  There is a lot of work to do, and with summer on our door step we want to get on with it as quickly as possible.

SUMMARY OF CHANGES TO THE FAIR WORK ACT

The changes to the Fair Work Act make it unlawful for organisations such as CFA to have EBA arrangements that restrict or limit CFA’s ability to:

  • Engage or deploy volunteers
  • Provide support or equipment to volunteers
  • Manage its relationship with or work with any other emergency management body in relation to its volunteers
  • Manage it operations in relation to volunteers

The changes to the Fair Work Act prohibit the CFA from having EBA arrangements that require CFA to consult or reach agreement with any other person or body before taking any action regarding the things listed above.  The changes to the Fair Work Act also disallow the CFA from having EBA arrangements that restrict or limit CFA’s ability to recognise, value, respect or promote the contribution of CFA volunteers to the wellbeing and safety of the community.  And the changes prohibit the CFA from having EBA arrangements that require or permit CFA to act other than in accordance with the powers, functions and duties conferred or imposed on CFA (ie by the CFA Act) in relation to volunteers.

The changes also enable VFBV to make a submission to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) when matters before the FWC affect, or could affect, CFA volunteers.  To date VFBV has been locked out of any ability to raise concerns in the FWC even when matters contained in the CFA/UFU EBA directly impacted on volunteers.

Published in VFBV News

UPDATE OCTOBER 2016 – WA Parliament passes firefighters’ cancer law for volunteers

WA Passes Firefighters' Cancer Law

The Western Australian Parliament has just passed its Firefighters’ Cancer Law for volunteers, adding to the momentum of presumptive legislation around the country and the pressure for legislation in Victoria.

Tell your MPs it is time for presumptive legislation in Victoria that lists the same 12 cancers named in other States, treats career and volunteer firefighters equally, and includes retrospective coverage for firefighters who have already been diagnosed.

Presumptive legislation works by reversing the onus of proof.  The cancer is presumed to be work related provided it is one of 12 listed cancers and the firefighter has sufficient years of service.  

The WA legislation was supported by the Liberal National Government, the Labor Opposition, Upper House Greens and independent MPs, however it does not match the standard set by Queensland and South Australia, which treat career and volunteer firefighters equally.

Unlike their career colleagues, WA volunteers are expected to show they have attended at least five hazardous fires – structure and vehicle fires - each year for five years.

Victorian firefighters are still waiting for the legislation they were promised, and there are still unanswered questions. 

Before the 2014 State Election, Labor announced that “Victorian legislation for career and volunteer firefighters will reflect the cancers covered and timeframes for duty of service as in the Tasmanian legislation” and explicitly contained no reference to unequal treatment or extra eligibility requirements for volunteers.  However, the Government’s letters to volunteers since the election have hinted that it is considering imposing a requirement for an arbitrary number of turnouts before a volunteer becomes eligible for compensation.

Your local MPs need to know that volunteers are tired of waiting and will not accept being treated differently just because they are not paid.

Find your Member of Parliament's contact details here.

Find your Upper House Members of Parliament here.

 

Notes for Volunteers – 12 October 2015

Firefighters’ Cancer Law – it’s time for action in Victoria

Victorian Government promises legislation, but with a disturbing lack of detail

It is time for action; Queensland has passed legislation for fairer and simpler cancer compensation that treats volunteers and staff equally, while Victorian volunteers have been given promises, but no details and no action.

CFA volunteers have been told the Victorian Government will bring in legislation in 2016, but there are few details and significant unanswered questions;

  •          Will the legislation be retrospective – if a volunteer is diagnosed with cancer today, will they be protected?
  •          Will the legislation treat career and volunteer firefighters equally?  Queensland and South Australian legislation does, but the older, out of date legislation in Tasmania does not.

Volunteers across Victoria need to show the Government that like Queensland and South Australian volunteers, they won’t accept extra eligibility requirements such as arbitrary turnout thresholds that apply to volunteers but not their career colleagues.

Victoria’s now Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services, James Merlino, said at a volunteer rally on 15 June 2014, ‘there shouldn’t be any reason why we have to wait for presumptive rights legislation here in Victoria’, which leaves volunteers wondering why we are still waiting.

QUEENSLAND AND SOUTH AUSTRALIA HAVE SHOWN HOW IT IS DONE

Queensland passed its presumptive legislation for fairer and simpler cancer compensation for firefighters on 17 September 2015.

The Queensland legislation treats career and volunteer firefighters equally, and names the same 12 cancers and years of service requirements as are listed in the legislation already introduced by the Commonwealth and most States.  It is the law that the incoming Victorian Government promised CFA volunteers before the 2014 State Election.

Queensland has followed the other Parliaments in recognising that firefighters are more prone to certain types of cancer, and removing a long standing barrier that blocks sick firefighters from receiving the cancer compensation to which they are entitled.

Queensland’s legislation reverses the onus of proof.  The cancer is presumed to be work related, provided it is one of 12 listed cancers and the firefighter has sufficient years of service.   

This legislation is not a free ride; the firefighter’s claim can still be rejected if it can be proved that the cancer was not related to firefighting duties.

QLD VOLUNTEERS TREATED FAIRLY DESPITE UFU CAMPAIGN AGAINST THEM

Queensland’s law was passed after a Parliamentary Committee compared the issues, including the Labor Government’s proposal for a discriminatory extra requirement that volunteers show 150 exposure incidents before they qualify for compensation; a relic from the out of date Tasmanian law.

VFBV provided a submission, calling for legislation treating career and volunteer firefighters equally while listing the same 12 cancers and years-of-service requirements used in the Commonwealth and other States’ legislation.

Disappointingly, the United Firefighters’ Union of Australia’s submission to the Queensland Parliamentary Committee called for volunteers to show “a specified minimum of exposure incidents (150)”, but no such requirement for the staff working alongside them.

The UFU submission was surprising given that VFBV and UFU have been pursuing a joint campaign in Victoria since 2012 to ensure all Victorian career and volunteer firefighters are provided with access to their rightful entitlements in the event that they contract cancer.

Queensland’s Parliamentary Committee dropped the discriminatory extra requirement that volunteers show 150 exposure incidents, before the legislation went to a vote.

The Queensland legislation as passed on 17 September 2015.  The Chair of the Parliamentary Committee, Labor MP Di Farmer, told the Queensland Parliament, “We were unable to identify any scientific basis for the inclusion of the 150 exposure incidents as being the appropriate measure for exposure by volunteer rural firefighters.”

THE SITUATION IN VICTORIA

Victoria and NSW are the only States left with no legislation to help firefighters with cancer.

Victorian firefighters still face the near impossible barrier that all of the burden of proof is on them.  The sick firefighter is expected to come up with the evidence, often more than exists in CFA’s own files, when the cause of their cancer could be a fire or chemical spill 10 or 15 years ago.

Before the 2014 State Election, Victorian Labor announced that “Victorian legislation for career and volunteer firefighters will reflect the cancers covered and timeframes for duty of service as in the Tasmanian legislation” and explicitly contained no reference to unequal treatment or extra eligibility requirements for volunteers.

Since the election, the new Government has promised to introduce legislation in 2016, but has not come up with any details, leaving significant unanswered questions.  The Government has told the media it is talking to stakeholders, although VFBV’s most recent letter to the Minister on presumptive legislation remains unanswered.

The State Government is well aware of our concerns over any possible discrimination in the form of extra eligibility requirements that only apply to volunteers, however, the Government’s letters to a number of volunteers since the election have hinted that it is considering imposing a requirement for an arbitrary number of turnouts before a volunteer becomes eligible for compensation.

WHAT VOLUNTEERS CAN DO NOW   

Speak up now.  Don’t wait until you know a volunteer who has cancer, and don’t wait until the State Government introduces discriminatory or inadequate legislation for Victoria.

  •          Ask your local Member of Parliament for their support – go and see them, write them a letter or send an email
  •          Raise the issue with your local media
  •          Post a comment or a meme on Facebook
  •          Talk to other volunteers and encourage them to speak up now

Call (03) 9886 1141 or talk to your VFBV State Councillor if you need advice, assistance or your local MP or newspaper’s contact details.

Questions to ask your State MP:

  •          Do they support presumptive legislation that treats career and volunteer firefighters equally?
  •          Do they support presumptive legislation that is retrospective, so volunteers are covered if they have cancer now, or are diagnosed before the legislation is passed?
  •          Will the MP raise the issue in Parliament now and call for an end to the delay?

For CFA volunteers suffering from work related cancer, the promised Victorian legislation can’t come fast enough, and it important that all CFA volunteers send a simple message to Members on both sides of Parliament; we are sick of waiting.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The cancers and years-of-service eligibility requirements that appear in the Commonwealth and other States’ legislation are;

Primary site brain cancer (5 years)

Primary site testicular cancer (10 years)

Primary site bladder cancer (15 years)

Multiple myeloma (15 years)

Primary site kidney cancer (15 years)

Primary site prostate cancer (15 years)

Primary non-Hodgkins lymphoma (15 years)

Primary site ureter cancer (15 years)

Primary leukaemia (5 years)

Primary site colorectal cancer (15 years)

Primary site breast cancer (10 years)

Primary site oesophageal cancer (25 years)

 Return to VFBV website front page

Published in Uncategorised
Wednesday, 05 October 2016 09:31

WA Passes Firefighters' Cancer Law

The Western Australian Parliament has just passed its Firefighters’ Cancer Law for volunteers, adding to the momentum of presumptive legislation around the country and the pressure for legislation in Victoria.

Tell your MPs it is time for presumptive legislation in Victoria that lists the same 12 cancers named in other States, treats career and volunteer firefighters equally, and includes retrospective coverage for firefighters who have already been diagnosed.

Presumptive legislation works by reversing the onus of proof.  The cancer is presumed to be work related provided it is one of 12 listed cancers and the firefighter has sufficient years of service.  

The WA legislation was supported by the Liberal National Government, the Labor Opposition, Upper House Greens and independent MPs, however it does not match the standard set by Queensland and South Australia, which treat career and volunteer firefighters equally.

Unlike their career colleagues, WA volunteers are expected to show they have attended at least five hazardous fires – structure and vehicle fires - each year for five years.

Victorian firefighters are still waiting for the legislation they were promised, and there are still unanswered questions. 

Before the 2014 State Election, Labor announced that “Victorian legislation for career and volunteer firefighters will reflect the cancers covered and timeframes for duty of service as in the Tasmanian legislation” and explicitly contained no reference to unequal treatment or extra eligibility requirements for volunteers.  However, the Government’s letters to volunteers since the election have hinted that it is considering imposing a requirement for an arbitrary number of turnouts before a volunteer becomes eligible for compensation.

Your local MPs need to know that volunteers are tired of waiting and will not accept being treated differently just because they are not paid.

Find your Member of Parliament's contact details here.

Find your Upper House Members of Parliament here.

Learn more at the VFBV Firefighters' Cancer Law page.

Published in VFBV News
Tuesday, 26 April 2016 00:00

A time to honour our fallen firefighters

CFA Media release - Thursday, 21 April 2016

Victorians are invited to pay respect to the state’s fallen firefighters by attending the Annual Memorial Service for Firefighters on Sunday, 1 May.

Memorial services are held in a different regional centre each year, with the 2016 service to be held in Wodonga.

CFA Chief Executive Officer Lucinda Nolan said the service was dedicated to remembering firefighters who had given their lives in the line of duty.

“There are 67 members who have lost their lives through service to the community,” Ms Nolan said.

“The number of people directly affected by this loss is even greater, and we pay our respects to their friends, families and loved ones.

“More broadly, it’s a time to honour the personal sacrifices and commitment that our firefighters make each and every day.

“We are forever changed by each of these losses and lessons we’ve learned as a result continue to shape our organisation.”

CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone said the service would also mark the 10-year anniversary of the deaths of Barnawartha Fire Brigade member Rebecca Helwig and former Campbell’s Creek Urban Fire Brigade Captain Trevor Day.

“The passing of both members in separate accidents in 2006 hit the CFA community hard,” Mr Buffone said.   

“It is a constant reminder of the inherent dangers posed by not just firefighting, but within any emergency services organisation.”

Three new CFA memorial banners will be unveiled at this year’s service as a representation of CFA’s memorial wall.

The memorial is held on the Sunday closest to International Firefighters’ Day, known as St Florian’s Day (4 May).

This will be the 18th service held in regional Victoria with the 2015 service held in Ballarat.

The service will be held from 2pm at the Sacred Heart Church, Beechworth Road, Wodonga.

Published in CFA News
HERE’S THE LATEST - 

VFBV rejects the Fair Work Commission’s recommendations and the premise that it is able to be a fair and independent umpire in this case

Fair Work Commission recommendations

The Fair Work Commission has issued recommendations on the CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement that represent the threat of union control over CFA.

Download the Fair Work Commission’s recommendations here

VFBV had applied to consult with and assist the Commission (see VFBV’s letter here) in understanding the impact and overall effect of various union clauses in the proposed agreement, particularly regarding the delivery of CFA protection to the communities it serves.

Our application to be heard on these issues on behalf of CFA volunteers was rejected by the Commission. This was despite the fact CFA volunteers comprise 97% of CFA’s workforce and large parts of the proposed Agreement directly affects them.

The recommendations are unacceptable to CFA volunteers; they are totally inadequate in ensuring that CFA remains an effective volunteer and community based fire and emergency service in the face of a union representing just over 1% of the CFA workforce trying to take control.

If implemented the amended Enterprise Agreement will mean the progressive dismantling of the CFA as a volunteer and community based fully integrated service.

CFA Board

CFA has issued a new Operational EBA Update (2 June 2016), explaining that the CFA Board met to review the recommendations and is seeking further advice.

In its update, the CFA Board pointed out that the recommendations are for consideration and not binding, and it remains seriously concerned about the implications.

The Operational EBA Update says CFA is concerned with parts of the proposed EBA that would affect the Chief Officer’s ability to allocate and deploy resources, include a union veto over CFA decisions, negatively impact on volunteers and BASOs, and be discriminatory.

The CFA Board is seeking further discussions with the State Government on the operational and financial impacts on CFA.

 

What you can do to support CFA and volunteers

See the Herald Sun article online – this includes an online opinion poll.

Download signs for use in your local area

         

 Note: Posters may be printed up to A2 size.

Concerned? Email or call your local MP or your local newspaper.

Talk to your VFBV State Councillors or your Brigade Delegates about taking action in your local area.

New to the EBA issue?

Keep reading for recent VFBV and CFA updates that look into why the volunteers, CFA senior managers, the CFA Board, CEO and Chief Officer, and the Minister for Emergency Services are all so concerned.

 

1 June 2016

HERALD SUN ARTICLE - VFBV'S LETTER TO THE PREMIER - POSTERS FOR VOLUNTEERS

Following the Herald Sun’s front page article today - VFBV has verified the Herald Sun’s main points and is confident that this is an accurate report of the events that took place yesterday in the Commonwealth’s industrial relations commission, called Fair Work Australia, and is cause for great concern and alarm.

As we advised on Monday, on the back of statements by the Premier and senior government Ministers who have stated that the Commission is a “fair and independent umpire”, VFBV sought leave on behalf of CFA volunteers to appear to assist the Commission understand the effects and impacts that some of the proposed industrial agreement clauses would have on CFA volunteers and their capacity to serve the community.  Despite volunteers making up 97% of CFA’s workforce, that the proposed Agreement had widespread negative effects on CFA volunteers and despite the Volunteer Charter being enacted by the Victorian Parliament as law, the Commissioner has advised us that our request to be heard on your behalf was denied.

Volunteers are now pleading with the Premier, the Cabinet and all Victorian MPs to do what the industrial umpire did not: have the decency to hear our concerns, properly consider them, and protect volunteer firefighters and the Victorian public from any negative impacts.

The CFA CEO, Chief Officer, Board, Operational Command, Volunteers and the Minister are all united against the adoption of the proposed Agreement and are all saying the same thing - the proposed agreement, even with the slight changes recommended by the industrial commissioner, will significantly impact on volunteers and their capacity to effectively serve the community as well as impact on CFA’s ability to make decisions. On any other day that would be enough.

We have requested the Premier ensure that CFA’s capacity to make timely decisions on operational and other resource allocation remains unencumbered, and to make it explicit that the UFU industrial agreement is not to override or set aside relevant Victorian legislation or to marginalize CFA volunteers or relegate them to a lesser role than paid staff.

We are fielding many calls from volunteers who are disenfranchised and some who are considering resigning. We urge you to please not make any hasty decisions. Our communities still depend on us, and we have always met that commitment with our utmost dedication. There is still time for our Victorian Cabinet Ministers to listen to us, respect the work you do and heed our message. This does not mean members should not start planning for the worst and escalating any local actions to raise concerns with MPs, local councils and other bodies. We also need you to be ready if further action is required. These are testing times and we remind members that volunteers have no quarrel with our paid firefighter’s pay and conditions, and we want those sorted quickly. Please remain respectful of each other. We are taking a principled, moral and values driven position, and these values should guide our decision making.

Today and tomorrow may set the scene for the future of CFA. Members are urged to continue emailing and writing their local Members of Parliament, especially Cabinet Ministers who may be deciding the outcome of this matter this week. You should ask how volunteer views and concerns are being considered if they have not been allowed to be properly put in the current process. You should ask if they will personally protect you and your community’s volunteer firefighters from any impacts that may retard or reduce their capacity to protect the community.

Any inclusion of anything (other than pay and conditions) that seeks to control, demoralize or disregard volunteer firefighters is just morally wrong and we need our leaders to stand up on our behalf and respect the commitment provided to us through the Volunteer Charter which states;

That the Victorian Parliament’s & CFA’s policy outcomes are to be judged against the following principles;

Is it fair?

Is it just?

Is it reasonable?

Does it discriminate against volunteers?

Is the outcome practicable and sustainable?

Is it in the best interests of the safety of the Victorian community?

We should expect no less.

 

Handy Downloads for Volunteers

Here is some additional information, and resources to assist volunteers in raising the issue:

VFBV’s Letter to Premier Daniel Andrews

Posters

       

Note: Posters may be printed up to A2 size.

27 May Update

The Fair Work Commissioner is considering final submissions on the CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement dispute and is expected provide potential next steps to resolve the matter soon, possibly on Monday 30 May.

CFA issued a new Operational EBA Update on Friday, 27 May 2016 - you can see that new CFA update here.

You can read CFA's 18 May Operational EBA Update - click here to download - issued 18 May 2016

Statement from CFA Board 12 May 2016:

We are writing to you today as part of our commitment to keeping you updated on the progress of the Operational EBA discussions.

We are deeply saddened by reports of deteriorating relationships between volunteers and staff in some areas.

Many volunteers have told us they do not want to get involved in genuine negotiations about pay and conditions of staff, and nor should they.

They do, however, have a right to raise concerns over potential decisions that directly impact them, and CFA is required to consult on these issues.

We once again ask all members to be tolerant of each other's views and for everybody to treat each other with appropriate respect.

At a recent Board meeting, we discussed our desire to see a resolution to the EBA discussions as soon as possible, but reconfirmed we will not negotiate on the inclusion of certain clauses being sought by the UFU.

These clauses would:
• remove or diminish the ability of the Chief Officer to allocate and deploy resources flexibly and with agility
• require agreement or provide veto to UFU over CFA management decisions
• restrict or negatively impact on volunteers and BASOs.

We do want to emphasise that we remain committed to consulting extensively with our membership on any significant changes that impact them, their safety or their terms and conditions. The position we have taken does not diminish this in any way.

The UFU presented these clauses in a draft EBA to the Victorian Government.

We believe it would be beneficial if all members covered by the proposed agreement had access to the current proposal (version 17.1) so that you are appropriately informed about the discussions, issues and impacts.

As this is a UFU document, and not CFA’s proposal, we have written to the UFU to seek their agreement to make it available to their members.

Tomorrow, we will be attending a Fair Work Commission hearing, which was requested by the UFU. We will be presenting what we can and can’t agree on.

We will continue to update you on developments.

From CFA Board

(John Peberdy, Ross Coyle, Michael Freshwater, Katherine Forrest, James Holyman, John Schurink, Michael Tudball, Samantha Hunter)

Posted on the CFA website, 4pm 12 May 2016

 

STATEMENTS FROM MINISTER GARRETT AND THE CHIEF OFFICER - 11 MAY 2016

Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett has told Nine News, “I do have grave concerns about some of what has been in various logs of claims from the UFU.”

“We want this resolved as quickly as possible but it will be on terms that look after all of our firefighters.” (Nine News, 11 May 2016)

And CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone has issued a statement saying “there has been much debate devoted to negotiations around a new enterprise bargaining agreement” and that “there has also been misinformation that needs to be corrected.”

He says the current EBA log of claims includes clauses “that will adversely impact on volunteers and CFA’s ability to run the organisation in a way that will best serve all Victorians.”

You can read his full statement in the Weekly Times here.

 

CFA VOLUNTEERS' MOTORCADE OF SUPPORT

CFA volunteers held a motorcade of fire vehicles through the streets of Melbourne on Saturday 23rd April, 2016, to demonstrate their support for the CFA and Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett.  Fire vehicles came from all corners of the state to converge on the city.  See TV coverage here:  SBS TV News, WIN TV News Gippsland, ABC TV News

The Minister and CFA have been sidelined by the Premier, Daniel Andrews, who is reported to have done a secret personal deal with Firefighters’ union secretary, Peter Marshall which would see the Union gain significant control over CFA operations as well as achieve massive pay and allowance increases.

“The CFA and the Minister were negotiating with the union in good faith for a reasonable financial settlement for paid firefighters but would not agree to surrender proper management and operational functions or to marginalise volunteers as the Union demanded”, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria CEO Andrew Ford said.

“It has become clear to volunteers that in recent days the Premier went behind the Minister’s back and reached a deal with Peter Marshall which gives the union virtually all it wants,” he said. 

“And that includes marginalising experienced and qualified volunteer firefighters who are committed to volunteer community service and flooding the organisation with unneeded extra paid staff to replace thousands of urban volunteers without increasing public safety.

“The cost implications of the Premier’s sell-out are huge, with the fire service levy on households and business expected to significantly grow year on year for years into the future as more and more volunteers are replaced by paid employees under the union’s system.

“The name “The Marshall Plan” will have a totally new meaning.

“Where’s the money coming from? Out of our pockets of course!

“It’s ironic that after capping municipal rates and charges the government’s fire service levy, which municipal councils’ are required to send out on their rates notices, will grow like topsy.

“The public safety implications are particularly troubling.  If you undermine, deactivate and progressively push out volunteers, who will provide Victoria with a surge capacity to respond to major fires and emergencies?

“And if you are substantially reliant on paid staff be prepared to pay overtime, penalty rates, extra shift allowances, meal allowances, accommodation costs and allowances as well as the wages that will be required to have sufficient paid staff available.

“And remember they are going up by 19% under the Andrews-Marshall industrial deal.

“Daniel Andrews either hasn’t thought this through or just doesn’t care.

“Jane Garrett has demonstrated that she has thought this through, understands the issues and details and repeatedly demonstrated she does care.

“The CFA Board and its leadership, including CEO Lucinda Nolan and Chief Fire Officer Joe Buffone know what’s at stake in respect of cost and operational capacity to keep Victorian’s safe.

“That’s why volunteers are mobilising to support Minister Jane Garrett and the CFA and its leadership.”

For all inquiries ring the VFBV office on 9802 0501.

Published in VFBV News

Updated 11 March 2016 - Here's a list of Victorian MPs who have signed the pledge to support firefighters with cancer and vote for non-discriminatory presumptive legislation for all Victorian firefighters.

Members of Parliament - If you've signed but are not listed here, or if you would like to sign the pledge, contact VFBV on (03) 9886 1141.

Volunteers - If your local MPs have not yet signed the pledge, see our Presumptive Legislation page to download a copy and see more information on the firefighters' cancer issue.

Member (in alphabetical order)

Electorate

Neil Angus

Forest Hill

Gary Blackwood

Narracan

Tim Bull

Gippsland East

Brad Battin

Gembrook

Roma Britnell

South West Coast

Neale Burgess

Hastings

Robert Clark

Box Hill

Peter Crisp

Mildura

Martin Dixon

Nepean

Margaret Fitzherbert

Southern Metropolitan

Christine Fyffe

Evelyn

Matthew Guy

Bulleen

Colleen Hartland

Western Metropolitan

Andrew Katos

South Barwon

Emma Kealy

Lowan

Wendy Lovell

Northern Victoria

Tim McCurdy

Ovens Valley

Cindy McLeish

Eildon

David Morris

Mornington

Russell Northe

Morwell

Danny O’Brien

Gippsland South

Craig Ondarchie

Northern Metropolitan

Brian Paynter

Bass

John Pesutto

Hawthorn

Simon Ramsay

Western Victoria

Dee Ryall

Ringwood

Steph Ryan

Euroa

Ryan Smith

Warrandyte

Tim Smith

Kew

David Southwick

Caulfield

Louise Staley

Ripon

Murray Thompson

Sandringham

Bill Tilley

Benambra

Heidi Victoria

Bayswater

Nick Wakeling

Ferntree Gully

Peter Walsh

Murray Plains

Kim Wells

Rowville

Mary Wooldridge

Eastern Metropolitan

 Return to the Presumptive Legislation page

 

Published in Uncategorised
Sunday, 25 October 2015 00:00

Australasian Firefighters Championships

Host Brigade Echuca has won the title of 2015 Champion Team, after a weekend of competition involving 30 teams from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

Echuca was one of nine Victorian teams competing, they included Euroa, Geelong West, Melton, MFB, Ocean Grove, Pyramid Hill, Swan Hill and Werribee.

NZ Brigade New Norfolk were runners up to Echuca, and the next Australasian Firefighters Championship will be held in New Zealand.

For video of events, see the Australasian Firefighting Championships Facebook page.

2015 AUSTRALASIAN FIREFIGHTERS CHAMPIONSHIPS
RESULTS & AGGREGATE POINTS

EVENT NO. 1 Collector Event – 4 Competitors

1st ECHUCA (VICTORIA) – NEW RECORD 8.310 seconds
2nd KELSO (NEW SOUTH WALES) 8.705 seconds
3rd DEVONPORT (TASMANIA) 8.737 seconds
4th WERRIBEE (VICTORIA) 8.867 seconds
5th WYONG (NEW SOUTH WALES) 9.134 seconds

EVENT NO. 2 First Aid Reel & Pumper – 4 Competitors

1st METROPOLITAN FIRE BRIGADE (VICTORIA) – NEW RECORD 29.387 seconds
2nd MELTON (VICTORIA) 29.439 seconds
3rd ECHUCA (VICTORIA) 29.519 seconds
4th NOWRA (NEW SOUTH WALES) 31.253 seconds
5th FIJI 31.654 seconds

EVENT NO. 3 - Pumper rescue, 4 Competitors

1st TENTERFIELD (NEW SOUTH WALES) – NEW RECORD 25.904 seconds
2nd DEVONPORT (TASMANIA) 26.986 seconds
3rd GREYMOUTH (NEW ZEALAND) 27.933 seconds
4th KELSO (NEW SOUTH WALES) 28.253 seconds
5th ECHUCA (VICTORIA) 28.361 seconds

EVENT NO. 4 - Siamese Valve, 4 Competitors

1st DEVONPORT (TASMANIA) 41.399 seconds
2nd KELSO (NEW SOUTH WALES) 43.429 seconds
3rd WERRIBEE (VICTORIA) 43.616 seconds
4th ECHUCA (VICTORIA) 44.314 seconds
5th WYONG (NEW SOUTH WALES) 45.428 seconds

EVENT NO. 5 – Wet Hose Marshall Event, 4 Competitors

1st ECHUCA (VICTORIA) – NEW RECORD 15.348 seconds
2nd WERRIBEE (VICTORIA) 15.432 seconds
3rd MELTON (VICTORIA) 16.123 seconds
4th GEELONG WEST (VICTORIA) 17.981 seconds
5th OCEAN GROVE (VICTORIA) 18.073 seconds

EVENT NO. 6 – Hose & Hydrant 2 Competitors

1st ECHUCA (VICTORIA) – NEW RECORD 11.054 seconds
2nd GREYMOUTH (NEW ZEALAND) 11.132 seconds
3rd SWAN HILL (VICTORIA) 11.161 seconds
4th TAMWORTH (NEW SOUTH WALES) 11.249 seconds
5th KOOTINGAL/MOONBI (NEW SOUTH WALES) 11.353 seconds


EVENT NO. 7 – Hose & Hydrant, 4 Competitors

1st SILVERDALE (NEW ZEALAND) – NEW RECORD 15.384 seconds
2nd TAMWORTH (NEW SOUTH WALES) 15.976 seconds
3rd KOOTINGAL/MOONBI (NEW SOUTH WALES) 16.229 seconds
4th ECHUCA (VICTORIA) 16.739 seconds
5th WERRIBEE (VICTORIA) 16.790 seconds

EVENT NO. 8 – Hose, Hydrant & Extinguisher, 3 Competitors

1st KOOTINGAL/MOONBI (NEW SOUTH WALES) 33.529 seconds
2nd TAMWORTH (NEW SOUTH WALES) 33.832 seconds
3rd SWAN HILL (VICTORIA) 34.532 seconds
4th GEELONG WEST (VICTORIA) 34.748 seconds
5th DORRIGO (NEW SOUTH WALES) 34.795 seconds

EVENT NO. 9 – Hose, Hydrant & Pumper – 4 Competitors

1st ECHUCA (VICTORIA) – NEW RECORD 15.913 seconds
2nd MELTON (VICTORIA) 16.715 seconds
3rd DEVONPORT (TASMANIA) 17.314 seconds
4th OCEAN GROVE (VICTORIA) 17.695 seconds
5th TAMWORTH (NEW SOUTH WALES) 17.930 seconds

EVENT NO. 10 – PUMP SUCTION, 4 Competitors

1st ECHUCA (VICTORIA) 18.228 seconds
2nd DEVONPORT (TASMANIA) 18.806 seconds
3rd TAMWORTH (NEW SOUTH WALES) 19.366 seconds
4th DORRIGO (NEW SOUTH WALES) 19.574 seconds
5th BEGA (NEW SOUTH WALES) 19.723 seconds


AGREGATE POINTS

1st ECHUCA (VICTORIA) 161.5 Points
2nd DEVONPORT (TASMANIA) 115.5 Points
3rd TAMWORTH (NEW SOUTH WALES) 94.5 Points
4th KELSO (NEW SOUTH WALES) 84.0 Points
5th WERRIBEE (VICTORIA) 78.0 Points


2015 CHAMPION TEAM: ECHUCA (VICTORIA)

Click here to download the results as a PDF file

Published in Other News
Thursday, 10 September 2015 00:00

Good News from Qld on Cancer Law

UPDATED 14 SEPTEMBER; There's good news from Queensland on presumptive legislation – the Firefighters' Cancer Law - a Queensland Parliamentary Committee has recommended legislation that treats paid and volunteer firefighters equally, and names the same 12 cancers and years-of-service requirements that appear in other States’ legislation.

The Queensland Parliamentary Committee had been tasked with comparing two different versions of presumptive legislation, one from the Queensland Labor Government, the other supported by the Coalition.

Queensland Labor’s Bill includes a discriminatory extra requirement that volunteers show 150 exposure incidents before they qualify for compensation, while the Coalition-supported Bill treats career and volunteer firefighters equally.  The two Bills are expected to go to a vote in the Queensland Parliament soon, possibly in a matter of days.

VFBV’s submission to the Parliamentary Committee called for legislation treating career and volunteer firefighters equally while listing the same 12 cancers and years-of-service requirements used in the Commonwealth and other States’ legislation.

The United Firefighters’ Union’s submission called for volunteers to show “a specified minimum of exposure incidents (150)”, but no such requirement for the staff working alongside them.

The UFU submission is surprising and disappointing because VFBV and UFU have been pursuing a joint campaign in Victoria since 2012 to ensure all Victorian career and volunteer firefighters are provided with access to their rightful entitlements in the event that they contract cancer, and VFBV will follow up this issue with UFU Secretary Peter Marshall.

VFBV urged the Queensland Committee to follow South Australia’s lead, where experience shows the actual cost of treating volunteers equally is a tiny fraction of the estimates made before the legislation was enacted, and the discriminatory extra requirement that volunteers show 150 exposures has now been dropped.

Click here to see the Queensland announcement on the Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland (RFBAQ) website.

Click here to see VFBV's recent media release, explaining presumptive legisaltion and the importance of treating paid and volunteer firefighters equally.

 

 

Published in VFBV News

23 to 25 October at Echuca

Meet the teams and our sponsors here

The Australasian Firefighters Championships celebrates more than a decade of competition and celebration of fire ground skills.  The 2015 Australasian Firefighters Championships will be hosted by the Country Fire Authority and held 23 to 25 October at Echuca, with 30 teams from Australian States & Territories, New Zealand & Fiji competing in 10 championship events.

The Australasian Firefighter Championships are a biannual event governed by a Championship Committee, the membership drawn from two representatives of each public fire agency and related associations across Australasia. The next scheduled Australasian Championships would be conducted in the spring of 2017.

In 2003, the inaugural National Firefighters Championship, encompassing teams from each Australian State and Territory as well as New Zealand, was held in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.  The biennial event was subsequently hosted by Queensland on the Gold Coast in 2005 and again in Lakes Entrance, Victoria in 2007.  In 2009, the event was been re-branded as the “Australasian Firefighter Championships” and hosted by New Zealand for the first time in Rotorua.

In 2011 the event returned to New South Wales in Port Macquarie, and in 2013 the Championships was hosted by Tasmania at Launceston.

The embryo for the current Australasian Firefighter Championships had its beginnings with the Centenary of Federation Firefighter Championships held in Corowa, NSW in 2001. Firefighters have competed in interstate and trans-Tasman competitions since 1876. So successful was the Corowa 2001 event that the concept of biannual National Championships gained momentum with the formation of a National Firefighter Championships Committee formed from member fire agencies and related associations. In 2009, the acceptance of teams from the New Zealand Fire Service and their hosting of the event saw the re-branding to the Australasian Firefighter Championships.

 

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
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 00:00

SA Volunteer Fire Fighters Museum Reunion

The SA Volunteer Fire Fighters Museum is arranging a Reunion for all past and present (staff and volunteer) members, including families of the SA Country Fire Service.

It will take place on the long weekend of October 3rd -5th, at Naracoorte Showground.

The event will include; dinner on the Saturday evening, family breakfast on Sunday, trade displays, competition display and mini events, BBQ dinner on the Sunday night, entertainment and plenty of time to relax, reminisce and enjoy a great weekend

You can contact the Museum Chairman Rex Hall AFSM on (08) 8762 1424 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Other News
Friday, 13 February 2015 00:00

Fiskville Research Released

On 21 January, the Victorian Premier announced the release of the Fiskville Firefighters’ Health Study by Monash University. You can download it from the Fiskville Investigation page of the CFA website www.cfa.vic.gov.au

The study was commissioned by CFA in November 2012 and led by Monash Universities Associate Professor Deborah Glass. It adds to the already well established evidence showing connections between firefighting and cancer that led to VFBV’s continuing campaign for presumptive cancer compensation legislation to cover all Victorian firefighters, in line with federal legislation.

It is important to note in relation to the Fiskville training facility in particular, that in announcing the details of the study, the Premier Mr Andrews said that for those who work and train there now, there are very low risks associated with the site today because remediation work has been done.

Whilst acknowledging that issues relating to Fiskville are largely historical, the Premier went on to say that there is ongoing oversight and monitoring of those risks – and that vigilance is critically important.

VFBV has worked with CFA since questions were raised about the safety of training practices at the site, supervising onsite inspections alongside the EPA and successfully pressing for greater monitoring and easier access to information for members, including the posting of regular water testing results on the CFA website for the information of all members. VFBV has also been advocating and supporting changes to new training foams to be used at all training grounds.

VFBV continues to closely monitor the situation and advocate on behalf of our members. If you have concerns or questions, or would like to provide us with feedback, talk to your VFBV State Councillor or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in VFBV News

The Australian Federal Police have raised the National Terrorism Threat Level for police officers to “HIGH”.

However, Victoria Police advise that there is no change to the threat level for firefighters, which remains at “LOW”.

Click here to see the CFA Chief Officer's advice to all members;

 

Published in CFA News

The Australian Federal Police have raised the National Terrorism Threat Level for police officers to “HIGH”.

However, Victoria Police advise that there is no change to the threat level for firefighters, which remains at “LOW”.

Click here to see the CFA Chief Officer's advice to all members;

 

Published in VFBV News
Sunday, 15 June 2014 00:00

CFA Volunteers Launch Cancer Petition

MEDIA RELEASE - Sunday, 15 June 2014

The CFA volunteers’ association is calling on all Victorians to sign a petition to help firefighters to get fairer and simpler cancer compensation.

Speaking at a rally of hundreds of CFA volunteers at Scoresby on Sunday, Andrew Ford of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (pictured) said the volunteers are campaigning to get rid of an unfair barrier that prevents firefighters from getting the compensation they have been promised.

“We have been working with the Government and opposition parties for several years, but firefighters who suffer from cancer that’s related to their firefighting services are still facing an almost impossible barrier, right when they are sick and most in need of help,” Mr Ford said.

“The problem is in proving the cancer was work related, whether it be for a volunteer firefighter or one of their career colleagues,” he said.

“Unlike a broken bone, cancer can take many years to appear, leaving the firefighter with the nearly impossible task of proving that one particular incident caused the cancer.”

“It effectively says you are entitled to the compensation, but when you get sick, you can’t have it,” Mr Ford said.

The CFA volunteers are now collecting signatures for a statewide petition, calling on the Victorian Parliament to change the law so the onus of proof is reversed.

“Certain types of cancer are known to be more common in firefighters, and we need Victoria to follow the lead of the Australian, Tasmanian, West Australian and South Australian

Parliaments in recognising those 12 cancers and presuming them to be work related if the sick firefighter has sufficient years of service,” Mr Ford said.

“The firefighters’ cancer law would relieve the sick CFA volunteer of the almost impossible task of proving the cancer was work related, and would allow them to concentrate on their treatment and recovery, instead of a lengthy court case,” he said.

“As the CFA volunteers’ association, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria is distributing the Firefighters’ Cancer Petition to every district in the state, and we call on every Victorian to sign the petition and show support for the volunteers who do so much to protect the community.”

The Firefighters’ Cancer Petition calls on the Victorian Parliament to introduce legislation based on the Australian Parliament’s legislation, listing 12 known firefighter cancers, with equal coverage for volunteer firefighters and their career colleagues.

You can download the petition and learn more about presumptive legislation, the firefighters’ cancer law, at the CFA volunteers’ website; www.vfbv.com.au

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

CLICK HERE to download a copy of the petition kit, including instructions for its use and a leaflet explaining the issue to the public.

CLICK HERE to read more about the Firefighters’ Cancer Law and how you can help

 

Published in VFBV News

More than 450 CFA volunteers and their families have attended a rally organised by volunteers in District 13 to draw attention to the need for a firefighters’ cancer law.

The proposed law would provide access to fair compensation for firefighters suffering cancer caused by exposure to smoke and chemicals during their firefighting duties.

Organised by local volunteers from the eastern suburbs and Yarra Valley, the event attracted CFA volunteers, their friends and families and fire trucks from all over suburban Melbourne and country Victoria.

Event organiser, CFA volunteer and VFBV District 13 President Bill Watson AFSM (pictured, addressing the rally) said, “There is plenty of evidence that firefighters are more likely to suffer certain types of cancer. We are entitled to compensation, but that all falls apart when the sick firefighter is required to prove which fire or chemical incident caused the cancer.”

“It’s not like a broken bone where you know exactly when and where it happened. The burning car or house fire you attend today may cause a cancer that doesn’t show up for decades, which makes it nearly impossible to prove it was work-related,” Mr. Watson said.

“The solution is presumptive legislation, a law that lists the 12 typical firefighter cancers and presumes them to be work-related, providing the firefighter has enough years of service behind them and relevant risk exposure.”

The Australian Parliament passed firefighters’ cancer legislation called the Fair Protection for Firefighters Bill, in 2011. Since then Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia have all passed their own presumptive legislation, recognising the connection between firefighting and cancer.

Mr. Watson says, Coalition, Labor and Greens Members of Parliament were invited to address the rally. “CFA volunteers are calling on all of the political parties and every member of the Victorian Parliament to help solve this problem.”

“We are looking for a law that applies equally to frontline CFA volunteers and the staff firefighters who work alongside them. The smoke and chemicals don’t discriminate, nor should compensation for sick firefighters,” he said.

“CFA volunteers in suburban Melbourne and country Victoria protect the community every

day and night of the year,” Mr Watson said.

“We are now asking all members of the Victorian Parliament to pass a firefighters’ cancer law that supports sick firefighters in their time of need.”

VFBV HAS LAUNCHED A STATEWIDE PETITION CALLING FOR A CHANGE IN THE LAW

CLICK HERE to download a copy of the petition kit, including instructions for its use and a leaflet explaining the issue to the public.

CLICK HERE to read more about the Firefighters’ Cancer Law and how you can help

Published in VFBV News
Monday, 22 September 2014 00:00

First Batch of Petitions goes to Parliament

UPDATED 25 OCTOBER 2014

Labor MP Luke Donnellan's statement to the Victorian Parliament, after tabling part of the first batch of 16,000 signatures on the CFA Volunteers' Cancer Petition, which calls on the Government to fix problems with the existing firefighters’ cancer compensation process.

Mr DONNELLAN (Narre Warren North) -- I congratulate Country Fire Authority volunteers on the collection over a short period of time of well over 16 000 signatures to petitions about presumptive legislation in relation to firefighters, both volunteer and full time.

We on this side of the house recognise that there is a direct link between fighting fires and certain types of cancer. We also note that the commonwealth Parliament passed, in a bipartisan way, presumptive legislation which allows recognition of that link and changes the onus of proof from the firefighter. Therefore firefighters are able to make a claim against WorkCover based on the presumption that certain types of firefighting and chemicals can result in cancer.

Over a period of, I think, two months the volunteers collected well over 16 000 signatures to petitions. The government to date has been silent. At the moment there is an inquiry going on at Monash University. I know there are many members of the government who support the idea of presumptive legislation and who are pushing internally in relation to that, but we on this side of the house have fully supported it for the 60 000 volunteers and the full-time firefighters.

See the VFBV media release here

VFBV is hopeful the presentation of these petitions to the Victorian Parliament next week will help convince MPs of all parties to fix a problem that has now been fixed in most other States across Australia.

16,000 signatures are included in this first batch, making this one of the largest petitions to be presented to the current Parliament. In the meantime, the campaign continues and volunteers are urged to keep collecting signatures and posting completed petitions to VFBV, PO Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149.

The first batch of petitions was lodged with the assistance of Labor MP for Narre Warren North, Luke Donnellan (Pictured), and Liberal MP for Hastings, Neale Burgess.

Please post signed petitions to:

VFBV Cancer Petition, PO Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149.

CLICK HERE to download a copy of the petition kit, including instructions for its use and a leaflet explaining the issue to the public.

Published in VFBV News

<Update 16 May 2014> The first donations have been received.

Click here for the full story on Presumptive Legislation - the Firefighters' Cancer Law

Click here for our Notes for Volunteers on how donating the Trust Fund can help

VFBV invites you to help us to step up the campaign for presumptive legislation, the firefighters’ cancer law, by making a donation today.

See below to donate online now, or for details of how to make a bank transfer or donation by cheque.

The Volunteer Fire Fighters Occupational Illnesses (VFFOI) Awareness and Protection Fund is a specific purpose trust account to help meet the costs of the campaign for presumptive legislation for firefighters and building awareness of firefighter-related illnesses, the development of protections where possible and financial compensation protection for firefighters and their families, including;

  • Enabling research and analysis about VFFOI
  • Working with volunteer firefighters and members of the public to understand the effect of VFFOI on their families and communities
  • Working with volunteer firefighters and members of the community to recognise VFFOI and to take necessary preventative measures to protect the health and well-being of volunteer fire fighters
  • Protecting the rights and integrity of volunteer fire fighters who suffer from VFFOI by taking such steps as are necessary to recognise and entrench their legal rights to compensation where they suffer from VFFOI and, where necessary and in the sole and absolute discretion of the Trustees, fund test cases before the appropriate courts and tribunals to determine such rights.

The Volunteer Fire Fighters Occupational Illnesses (VFFOI) Awareness and Protection Fund is clearly aimed at supporting our pursuit of presumptive legislation and fair protection for firefighters.

Funds raised will assist our campaign efforts and possible test case pursuit, but will not extend to covering personal illness related compensation as we clearly see this as an obligation for the CFA volunteer compensation arrangements.

You can click here to make a donation;

Send a cheque to;

The Volunteer Fire Fighters Occupational Illnesses (VFFOI) Awareness and Protection Fund

PO Box 453

Mt Waverley 3149

Or transfer funds to Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria's Bendigo Bank account; BSB 633-000 Account Number 151841970

Brigades, Groups and District Councils, as well as the public, are invited to donate to the fund

Raise the issue of presumptive legislation/the firefighters’ cancer law at any opportunity with Members of Parliament, local media and online

Want to know more about the issue?  You can download VFBV’s Notes for MPs and Notes for Volunteers by clicking here

Any questions?  Call VFBV 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
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 00:00

CFA VOLUNTEERS' CANCER PETITION

UPDATE 7 NOVEMBER 2014 - VFBV Cautiously Welcomes Coalition's Cancer Announcement

Click here for VFBV's response

UPDATE 10 OCTOBER 2014 - First Batch of Petitions goes to Parliament

VFBV has lodged the first batch of petitions being collected across Victoria to urge the Government to fix problems with the existing firefighters’ cancer compensation process.

VFBV is hopeful the presentation of these petitions to the Victorian Parliament next week will help convince MPs of all parties to fix a problem that has now been fixed in most other States across Australia.

Over 17,000 signatures are included in this first batch, making this one of the largest petitions to be presented to the current Parliament. In the meantime, the campaign continues and volunteers are urged to keep collecting signatures and posting completed petitions to VFBV, PO Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149.

The first batch of petitions was lodged with the assistance of Labor MP for Narre Warren North, Luke Donnellan, and Liberal MP for Hastings, Neale Burgess.

UPDATE SEPT 22 - SEND IN SIGNED PETITIONS NOW, TO;

VFBV Cancer Petition

PO Box 453

Mt Waverley 3149

And keep collecting signatures to support CFA volunteers with cancer

CLICK HERE to download the 12 page petition

Start collecting today - from friends, family and the community.

Why?  Firefighters are more likely to suffer certain types of cancer, but if they become sick, the existing compensation system makes it almost impossible for them to be looked after.

Other States have fixed the problem, but Victoria lags behind. 

Help Firefighters to cut through the RED TAPE and make it simpler and fairer to access cancer compensation

CLICK HERE to download the big 50 page petition

HOW TO DO IT;

  • The Victorian Parliament requires each signature to have a name and address, and the petition must only be signed on one side of the paper
  • When you have a reasonable batch of signed petitions, send them in and keep collecting
  • Post them to VFBV, PO Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149 (If you need help with the cost of return postage, call the VFBV office on 03 9886 1141)
  • Take the petition everywhere with you
  • Organise your Brigade to collect signatures in shopping streets, at community, church or sporting events – wherever large numbers of people are gathering
  • We need thousands more signatures by 15 September, so send what you have before then

Want to read more about the issue? Download our;

VFBV’s Notes for Volunteers or

VFBV’s Notes for MPs

 

Published in Uncategorised

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday 20 September 2013

FIREFIGHTERS’ CANCER LAW ISSUE NOT FINISHED - VOLUNTEERS

A proposal for fairer compensation for Victorian firefighters with cancer has failed in the Victorian Parliament, but the CFA volunteers’ association says the issue is definitely not finished.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Andrew Ford said CFA volunteers are extremely disappointed and concerned at the way an issue that is so important to them has been treated.

He said the vote in the Upper House of State Parliament this week just raises the question of what the State Government plans to do next.

“Volunteers are seeking a fairer and simpler path to cancer compensation for all Victorian firefighters, and the Government say they are not ruling out this kind of legislation,” Mr Ford said.

“However, Coalition MPs voted against sending the proposed legislation to the Lower House of State Parliament this week, so the legislation has lapsed, which means the ball is now in the Government’s court,” he said.

“The issue won’t go away, volunteer and career firefighters are still more likely to get cancer, current compensation law still forces them to prove a connection between the cancer and a specific date or event, and that is still very close to impossible.”

“How do you prove which fire and which toxins might have caused your cancer when the incident might have been 10 or 15 years ago and just one of the hundreds you have attended?” Mr Ford said.

The legislation had been proposed by the Greens and supported by Labor MPs, it was the vote of Coalition MPs that ended its run in the Upper House on Wednesday.

“Now there is no legislation before Parliament and the State Government has already said it is not ruling out support for this type of legislation, we are in the hands of the Government as to when it will come to Parliament for consideration,” Mr Ford said.

“Volunteers want to know what the Government plans to do now.”

The proposed legislation is presumptive – it would accept that firefighters are more likely to get certain types of cancer and it would presume those cancers to be work-related.

“Presumptive cancer legislation would mean a firefighter with one of those typical firefighter cancers could concentrate on their treatment and recovery instead of a court case.”

In 2011, the Australian Parliament passed presumptive legislation for federally-employed firefighters (including the fire crews at Melbourne Airport) with the support of all of the major parties, after a Senate Inquiry examined the scientific evidence and recommended it go ahead.

Since then, the WA, SA and Tasmanian Governments have accepted the existing scientific evidence and begun work on presumptive legislation for their firefighters.

VFBV and the United Firefighters’ Union are campaigning for presumptive legislation for Victorian firefighters, both volunteer and career.

“We are not asking for any new or extra compensation, just the removal of an unfair barrier to sick firefighters obtaining the compensation to which they are already entitled,” Mr Ford said.

Published in VFBV News

MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday 21 August 2013

CFA VOLUNTEERS NOT IMPRESSED BY CANCER ANNOUNCEMENT

The CFA volunteers’ association is unimpressed by the announcement of a new body to deal with compensation claims from firefighters suffering from cancer.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Andrew Ford said the State Government’s proposed Firefighters’ Assessment Panel does not solve the problem.

"We need new legislation to fix this - firefighters are still more likely to get cancer because of their exposure to smoke and chemicals, and it is still almost impossible for them to prove it was work related because of the nature of the work they do," Mr Ford said.

"Too often they get a legal battle when what they really need is the chance to concentrate on their treatment and recovery," he said.

"It’s even possible the proposed Firefighters’ Assessment Panel will be just another bureaucratic barrier - it is being sold as a way to better support the processing of claims, but we are worried it could just be an even bigger barrier to firefighters getting the compensation to which they are entitled."

VFBV wants presumptive legislation; current Victorian compensation arrangements already provide for cancer compensation, but it is almost impossible to access because the firefighter has to prove the cancer was caused by one particular fire or incident that might have happened 10 or 15 years ago.

The proposed presumptive legislation would work 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. A firefighter’s claim could still be rejected if it could be proven that the cancer was not related to firefighting duties.

Presumption allows the firefighter to concentrate on treatment and recovery, not a lengthy and expensive battle to prove the cause of their cancer.

"Firefighters are already entitled to compensation for work related cancer, but cancer is not like a broken leg – it’s almost impossible to prove the cancer came from one particular fire that might have been 10 years ago," Mr Ford said.

The Australian Government already has presumptive cancer legislation for federally-employed firefighters, and the West Australian, South Australian and Tasmanian Governments are all introducing similar laws.

"Other Governments in Australia and overseas have already accepted the scientific proof that firefighting leads to a higher risk of certain types of cancer," Mr Ford said.

"Here in Victoria there have been questions from the Government about the cost, and media reports of estimates in the millions – we doubt those estimates are accurate, but if they are, then those millions are just the measure of the cost being paid by firefighters and their families when they become ill, because there’s an unfair barrier to the compensation to which they are entitled," he said.

"CFA volunteers and their career colleagues are not asking for something new or extra, just the removal of that unfair barrier," he said.

Ends…

Published in VFBV News

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria, the association representing Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers, is deeply saddened to learn of the deaths in the line of duty of 19 firefighters, while fighting a major wildfire, the Yarnell Hill fire, in their home state of Arizona.

On behalf of all CFA volunteers, we offer our most heartfelt sympathies to their families, friends and colleagues in the town of Prescott, Arizona.  From our own experience we know this is an unfathomable loss, one that goes beyond words.

As we reflect on the sacrifice made by these, our fellow firefighters, we also give thanks for their devotion to duty in protecting others.  They shall never be forgotten.

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 19 April 2013 12:43

Fire Volunteers form National Body

Volunteer firefighters in every State have united to form a new forum, the Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA), to promote the interests of a quarter of a million members nationwide.

See the attached media release and communique to members for details.

Published in VFBV News
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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