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2014 VFBV Volunteer Survey - Introduction

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) is a community and volunteer based emergency service, consisting of 60,000 volunteers and 1,300 paid operational and support staff. CFA Brigades protect 60% of suburban Melbourne, regional cities and all of country Victoria every day and night of the year.

CFA’s volunteer based resource model is the only approach capable of economically and practically dealing with the quantum, scale, spread and simultaneous occurrence of fire and other emergencies experienced in Victoria while still providing day to day emergency response.

CFA’s unique integrated volunteer and career staff operating model is fundamental to the surge capacity required to deal with large scale incidents while still providing professional standards of emergency response in Brigade service areas across the state.

The CFA volunteers’ contribution to the community is incalculable – the value of their labour alone is estimated at one billion dollars a year, without considering the replacement cost of their expertise, local knowledge, fundraising, leadership and the substantial losses that would be suffered through fires and other emergencies if the volunteers were not there.

CFA volunteers work at all levels of emergency response, from the frontline crews, through experienced volunteers in specialist and support roles, to the highest of senior incident management roles.

The need for that resource of trained, experienced volunteers is growing. Already one of the most wildfire prone areas in the world, Victoria faces the twin challenges of a rapidly growing population and increased urbanisation within an expanding metropolitan Melbourne and regional cities.

In 2012, the Victorian Parliament unanimously supported changes to the CFA Act to enshrine the requirements for volunteer support and recognition in legislation. 

These important changes recognise that CFA is first and foremost a volunteer-based organisation, in which volunteer officers and members are supported by career staff in a fully integrated manner.

Sections 6G, 6H and 6I of the CFA Act also reinforce the requirement for Government and CFA to encourage, maintain and strengthen the capacity of volunteers to provide the Authority's services, and to consult with VFBV on all matters which may impact upon volunteers.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) is the voice of CFA Volunteers. It is established under Victorian law, the Country Fire Authority Act, to represent the volunteers on all matters that affect their welfare and efficiency.

As an organisation made up of the CFA volunteers it represents, VFBV works in partnership with the State Government, Emergency Management Victoria, the CFA Board and Management, Members of Parliament, official inquiries, municipal councils and instrumentalities, business and the public to proactively shape the future of emergency management.

VFBV is active in partnering with Government and emergency management agencies to ensure that volunteers remain actively involved in emergency management decision making at every level; through day to day practical work in VFBV/CFA Joint Committees, through the Ministerial level Volunteer Consultative Forum, and in working to ensure positive, practical results from reviews such as the Jones Inquiry and the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) report on Managing Emergency Services Volunteers.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey takes this important work another step forward, by addressing a significant gap in the information available to the state’s decision makers.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey, now in its third year, is designed to better understand the issues as volunteers see them, and is used by VFBV to bring the frontline volunteers’ opinions and advice on matters affecting their welfare and efficiency directly to the state’s decision makers.

The purpose of the VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey is to ensure that volunteers’ needs and expectations are sought, analysed and available to Government and CFA so the very foundation of this volunteer-based emergency service continues to be recognised and supported to meet the future emergency services needs of the Victorian community.

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey presents an opportunity for Government and CFA to embed performance measures linked to volunteer welfare and efficiency into CFA organisational, departmental and individual work plans, to the benefit of the Victorian community.

Because volunteers are fundamental to Victoria’s emergency management capability, fundamental to community resilience and at the core of communities sharing responsibility for their own safety, it is vitally important to measure and deeply understand how satisfied volunteers are with arrangements in place to support, encourage and enable them to do their work.

If the CFA and State Government wish to retain what is a highly valuable volunteer fire service, the expectations of volunteers, identified by them through this survey, need to be understood and acted upon. A commitment must be made by CFA, VFBV and State Government to meet or exceed the expectations of volunteers on all 33 items. This is fundamental to ensuring the welfare and efficiency of volunteers and their continuing availability as an unpaid emergency service.

Sign up for the 2015 survey

Notes on Data Collection

Notes on Data Integrity

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Read 17513 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 May 2015 12:01
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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