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Commonwealth Royal Commission Interim Observations

The Commonwealth Royal Commission has this week published its interim observations. These observations are intended to share its present perspectives as the Commission approaches the final stages of its inquiry.

You can download a copy of the observations from the bottom of this page, and the online version can be found on the Commissions website at: https://naturaldisaster.royalcommission.gov.au/publications/interim-observations-1 

Members will no doubt be interested in many aspects covered by the initial observations, with particular interest to volunteers the section under “Opportunities for improvements in national mitigation and preparedness arrangements.” A brief excerpt has been reproduced below:

Emergency responders

111.        Australia is well served by the career and volunteer emergency responders who work together in the service of the nation. As natural disasters become more frequent and intense, there may be greater need for emergency responders to work with other agencies and across the nation. Emergency responders, both career and volunteer, are already being frequently deployed interstate, to provide surge capacity, relief to local workers, and critical expertise.


112.        National standards, training and protocols should make the process for interstate deployments and the relocation of responders more efficient and effective. Despite national standards, such as the Public Safety Training Package, standards, training and protocols differ between states and territories. Some differences are understandable, for example differences in training to account for local geography. We are considering whether emergency responders would benefit from greater consistency in standards, training and protocols.


113.        The vast majority of people who fight bushfires and respond to floods and cyclones in Australia are volunteers. They played a vital role during the 2019-2020 bushfires, as they have during many previous bushfires, floods and cyclones across Australia. Volunteers are also crucial in helping communities recover from natural disasters.


114.        Evidence of volunteers and volunteering organisations emphasised the importance of according volunteers respect and recognition, for their skills, knowledge, hard work and sacrifice. The 2019-2020 bushfire season made extraordinary calls on some volunteer firefighters. Without these volunteers, the bushfires may well have lasted longer, taken more lives and destroyed more homes.


115.        During the 2019-2020 bushfires, many volunteers worked for weeks on end, often taking them away from their regular employment. Some support was offered to volunteers, including a government funded volunteer support payment and support from the private sector. We are considering whether all volunteers ought to have the same immunities, and whether volunteers taken away from their regular employment for extended periods would benefit from additional employment protections.

As you would be aware, VFBV made extensive submission to the Commission and also has assisted the Commission including appearing as a witness to provide perspectives of Victorian volunteer firefighters. The commission’s interim observations are certainly consistent and supported by our evidence and testimony.

Live webcasts of witness testimony can be found here: https://webstreaming.lawinorder.com.au/rcnda 



Read 5843 times Last modified on Thursday, 03 September 2020 11:30
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.