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Monday, 16 January 2017 12:25

FireWise - VFBV's January Column

In this Edition

- Editorial - Summer and Business as Usual

- Apply Now for Scholarships

- Coalition Moves to Change CFA Act

- Delegate Development course

- Digital Scanners at Cost Price

- Youth Network in 20 Districts

- Planned Burning as Training

- Chainsaw Training

- 2017 Championships

- Australasian Championships

- Cancer Law Reminder

- Donations Welcome

 

SUMMER AND BUSINESS AS USUAL

By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

I am hoping that everyone has found at least a few quiet moments to enjoy Christmas and managed to reflect, re-energise and prepare for 2017.  It has been a hot few weeks and certainly looks like some parts of the state will have a very busy summer.

As we go into a new year, it would be easy to think that over the past 12 months the CFA and emergency sector has been tied up with just a few major issues.

But while there have been major challenges at the statewide level and attention to CFA issues right up to the Federal level, your volunteer association that is VFBV has been quietly getting on with business as usual in the background.

Volunteer delegates on the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees, and any number of volunteers on working groups and at the District level, have been working on the equipment, training, projects and other issues that make up our everyday representation work for volunteers and Brigades.

As just a few examples of the association’s work over the past 12 months; VFBV has launched its VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network, another class of VFBV Leadership participants has graduated, a VFBV-advocated partnership with CFA has delivered 10,000 subsidised digital scanners to Brigades and Groups, we have provided practical assistance to Brigades applying for VESEP grants, and we have launched two innovative short videos, the first explaining in simple terms how CFA’s great volunteer surge capacity works, and the second transforming CFA turnout data into a graphical depiction of how Brigades from all over the state contribute to CFA’s ability to deal with multiple major incidents at a time while still protecting every Brigade’s local community.

We have also contributed to the State Government’s Fire Services Review; worked with CFA, DELWP and EMV to increase volunteer participation in planned burning; given assistance and support to the VEOHRC Independent Equity and Diversity Review; provided submission and input to the Fiskville Inquiry; and we continue the work on yet to be resolved issues like presumptive legislation, the role of CFA Groups, chainsaw training, 40 kph speed limits near incidents, new BA acquisition and electrical safety mobile props.

It is very satisfying to note that volunteers have given their association’s work a very strong stamp of approval through the year, with record numbers of Brigades affiliating with VFBV, record numbers subscribing to the VFBV Welfare Fund, record numbers of volunteers taking part in the annual VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey, and higher levels of activity across District Councils and on our social media sites.

And I’d like to add a final note appropriate to the season.  Summer is here, volunteers are busy in many parts of the state, and we all need to be mindful of safety and wellbeing; our own and that of our fellow members.  So stay safe, look after yourselves and keep an eye out for one another.

 

VFBV VOLUNTEER LEADERSHIP SCHOLARSHIPS - APPLY NOW FOR 2017

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 from the VFBV website.  We are offering scholarships to volunteers from CFA, Ambulance Victoria, Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, Life Saving Victoria, VICSES and St John.   Nominations close Friday 27 January 2017.

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.

Any questions or queries can be directed to any of VFBV’s Support Officers, and information packs are being posted to all Brigades.

 

COALITION MOVES TO CHANGE CFA ACT

The Coalition parties have introduced a Bill into the upper house of State Parliament, in an attempt to introduce additional protections for volunteers’ rights into the CFA Act.

The Bill is designed to prevent any outside deals that affect volunteers but bypass the existing protections of the CFA Act and the Federal Fair Work Act.

The proposed legislation is listed for debate in State Parliament in the new year, and is worthy of support from all Members of Parliament.  We encourage volunteers to raise the issue with local MPs – talk to your VFBV State Councillor if you need advice.

The explanatory notes included with the Bill say it would make minor adjustments to the CFA Act “to protect volunteers from the implementation of any deed, agreement or arrangement that may have adverse effects on the volunteer firefighters across the state.”

The notes also say: “Deeds, agreements and or arrangements to commit the CFA to implement clauses, which would otherwise be subject to approval by the Fair Work Commission (FWC), is not compliant with the principles of the Volunteer Charter. This amendment will ensure the CFA Act 1958 supports the integrated model of fire fighting in Victoria, a volunteer organisation with support from career staff.”

 

ENGAGING DIVERSITY WITH DELEGATE DEVELOPMENT

VFBV will soon offer more than 100 Brigade Delegates, BMT members and other volunteers a nationally recognised training course in skills for volunteer representatives.

The course will offer modules that go towards Cert II in Public Safety (Firefighting Operations) and Cert III in Public Safety (Community Safety).

Participants will develop practical skills in understanding the structure and communications channels of VFBV and CFA, the Delegate’s role, communication skills and problem solving skills.

The newly developed course will involve two full day sessions several weeks apart, and each participant will work with a more experienced volunteer as a mentor.

The course will be free to all participants, details will be posted on the VFBV website in January, and volunteers interested in taking the course should discuss it with their District Council executive or their VFBV Support Officer.

 

DIGITAL SCANNERS AT COST PRICE

 

We are still receiving enquiries from members about digital scanners, and we have good news for everyone still needing a scanner.

Digital Scanners are still available at cost price - $446.75 plus postage and handling - which is hundreds of dollars below retail, and CFA is still accepting orders from Brigades, Groups and individual members.

The digital scanner subsidisation program was advocated by VFBV and run in partnership with CFA, and has been an overwhelming success since it began in October 2015.   Over 10,000 digital scanners have been delivered to over 1,000 Brigades and Groups, with savings to members adding up to over $3 million dollars.

To order a scanner now, you will need to place a Tier 3 order, using the order form that’s available for download here.

 

 

VFBV MULTI-AGENCY YOUTH NETWORK

The VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network now has active groups in 20 Districts, including 16 where young members, the Champions – experienced local volunteers chosen to assist and mentor them – and VFBV District Council representatives have begun work on recruiting young volunteers and discussing issues and suitable projects.

Districts 4, 5, 6 and 22 are still seeking Champions and all Districts are looking for more young volunteers – if you’d like to get involved, talk to your VFBV Support Officer or call Chris Fryer in the VFBV office on 9886 1141.

In District 12, young volunteers taking part in the VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network, supported by the VFBV District Council Executive, are to begin work on a new smart phone app.

The app will create a register of volunteers matched with their skills, qualifications and attributes, and will be accessible by other members, making it easy for them to get in contact with volunteers with particular skills and capabilities.

Looking for a volunteer who has expertise in a particular Brigade skill?  Or perhaps a volunteer who is a local plumber or garden contactor?  Consult the app.

The VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network in District 12 has also had success with new members from VICSES.  Three young SES volunteers have joined the Network and are now working to recruit more young volunteers from their agency.

In Districts 9, 10 and 27, young volunteers are working together to create an interconnected CFA paging system using mobile phones instead pagers.

The app and pager projects are part of a theme that is building up among the young members of the Youth Network, the need to make better use of modern technology.

Young volunteers interested in getting involved should contact their VFBV District Council, or Chris Fryer at VFBV on (03) 9886 1141 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

PLANNED BURNS AS TRAINING

For many years now VFBV has been advocating for a more holistic approach to planned burning, and for CFA to promote the training advantages of participating in planned burns.

The VFBV/CFA Joint Community Safety Committee has been very pleased to observe that recent planned burns have developed into exercises, not just in fire behaviour and fuel load interactions but also extend to learnings in weather behaviour, impact on flora and fauna, bush heritage and Indigenous fire management practices.

The camps are very practical ‘hands on’ for all involved, each participant is specifically tasked with both coaching and mentoring roles, allowing involvement by volunteers across all aspects of the planned burning.

Recent burn camps also saw attendances from Traditional Owners, Trust for Nature (landowners) bird scientists, along with DELWP, plantation owners and CFA paid staff. The attendees worked well together and contributed experience and expertise, building valuable relationships and creating an atmosphere of co-operation in complex burn scenarios.

These camps offer a great opportunity for volunteers to train in realistic settings and gain extensive firefighting experience. The Joint Committee has requested CFA produce a brochure which clearly explains and illustrates upcoming Burn Camps to Brigades.

 

CHAINSAW TRAINING

The VFBV/CFA Joint Training Committee continues to advocate for much greater access and support for members to attain chainsaw qualification and training.

Despite two Mobile Chainsaw Training trailers developed through the Mobile Prop Project back in 2015 to add additional capability for members to access chainsaw training, a UFU grievance over the training package, equipment and trailer use and design has resulted in a yearlong ban on paid instructors using these trailers to deliver any chainsaw training, resulting in the widespread cancellation of CFA planned courses for volunteers.

CFA advises that the IR issues are now close to being resolved, and has confirmed that there are no IR restrictions that relate to volunteer trainer and assessors accessing, towing and using the trailers.

Whilst disappointed that Brigades are currently unable to access paid support and delivery of chainsaw courses through CFA’s training pool, the Joint Committee has requested that CFA increase the number of endorsed volunteer trainer and assessors to deliver this training, so that Brigades can access this vital training.

CFA has agreed to streamline and prioritise volunteer access to the new trailers, equipment and training package, as well as investigate an Expression of Interest process for subject matter experts to be identified and endorsed for volunteer training and delivery.

 

2017 CHAMPIONSHIPS

Over 900 competitors are expected at this year’s VFBV State Urban Championships, with 59 senior teams and 74 junior teams entered.

With Bendigo hosting its 30th urban senior championships, there will be a limited edition commemorative medal for every competitor, free entertainment in the Bendigo CBD after the torchlight procession, and a spectacular display of Chinese lion dancing.

Dates and locations the state championships are as follows:

  • VFBV State Urban Junior Championships - at Tatura, on 25/26 February 2017
  • VFBV State Urban Senior Championships - at Bendigo, on 11 to 13 March 2017
  • VFBV State Rural Championships - at Wodonga on 1 and 2 April 2017

Visit the Urban Championships area of the website for the latest rule book, entry forms, and judges’/officials’ nomination forms.

More details and entry forms will be posted on the Rural Championships page soon.

 

AUSTRALASIAN FIREFIGHTER CHAMPIONSHIPS

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

Expressions of interest are open until 1 March.  Send your Brigade name and contact details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or call the VFBV office on 9886 1141.

 

CANCER LAW REMINDER

Throughout summer, public attention turns to fire and firefighters.

If you encounter any Members of Parliament this summer, VFBV urges you to remind them that

Victorian volunteers and paid firefighters were promised presumptive legislation two years ago, but this important issue for all firefighters remains unresolved.

Your local MPs need to know volunteers won’t accept second best just because they are not paid.  Click here for more information on the Firefighters' Cancer issue.

 

DONATIONS WELCOME

 

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Download the latest Joint Committee Two Minute Briefings here.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfavol

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

Published in HomePage Featured
Monday, 19 December 2016 12:25

FireWise - VFBV's December Column

In This Edition

- Editorial – Reflecting on a Challenging Year

- Fire Awareness Award for Kids Program

- VFBV Welfare Fund helps 1,000 Volunteers

- 10,000 Scanners save Brigades $3 Million

- Fiskville – Action Still Needed

- Introducing VFBV Support Officer Peter Sharman

- Vale Former State Councillor Barry Pyke

- Fundraising Still Important

- Cancer Law – Remind Your Local MPs

REFLECTING ON A CHALLENGING YEAR

By Andrew Ford, Chief Executive Officer

As we look back on 2016, I am sure most people will agree it has been a very challenging year.  And this year, more than most, I am looking forward to Christmas and focussing on the important things of family, friends, neighbours and enjoying the community I live in.

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of our members, friends and supporters a very happy and safe Christmas.

As always I wish for a quiet Christmas and summer but we only need to reflect on this time last year to know how unpredictable things can be.  And as always I know that this is a good time of the year to remember why volunteers do what they do, how incredibly valuable that is for our communities and how good it feels to focus on why we joined CFA rather than the frustrations.

So I am not going to talk much about the latest developments in the CFA and UFU ongoing industrial dispute, other than to say it seems to be far from resolved.  CFA is seeking to have the proposed EBA considered by the Fair Work Commission under the amended Fair Work Act, and the UFU is pushing to stop this from happening. 

For CFA volunteers one of the great successes of 2016 came in the form of the changes to the Federal Fair Work Act that now provide a truly fair umpire and clear respect and protections for volunteers.

We have said all along that volunteers and VFBV have no interest in paid firefighters’ pay increase negotiations, so it can only be hoped that in addition to the recent pay increases announced by CFA, any further matters that are still outstanding can be agreed quickly.

By now CFA Brigades right across Victoria are well into gearing up and preparing for summer so, from a VFBV perspective, let’s keep this and protecting our communities as the big CFA focus for now.

Once again thanks for the tremendous activity and support over the past year.  From any turmoil there is often good to emerge and it has been extremely pleasing to see the exponential growth in the numbers of volunteers who are now deeply connected and active within VFBV.

Brigades across Victoria are more connected with VFBV than ever; our VFBV State, District and Brigade delegates are more informed and active than ever and doing a great job. We have made great progress in establishing our VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network and we have substantially raised the profile of volunteer issues. Thank you!

Our VFBV affiliation levels for this year are at a new record high, with just under 95% of Brigades affiliated with VFBV and 90% of Brigades subscribing to the VFBV Welfare Fund.

On a sadder note, the year saw the departure of some very respected people and I want to recognise and thank once again those who suffered the consequences of standing firm on their principles; Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett, CFA Board Members, CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan and CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone, others including MFB Chief Officer Peter Rau, and many other senior CFA volunteer and paid personnel.

To all CFA volunteers and the paid staff who work with, and in support of us; to our families, employers and supporters, thank you, well done for what you do and have a safe and happy Christmas.  I am going to head into Christmas looking forward to next year and hopefully a rethink by some who need to stop and think about just how good the CFA can be if everyone is respected and respectful.  

 

AWARD FOR KIDS’ PROGRAM

A VFBV-supported project for secondary students has won the Education Award at this year’s Fire Awareness Awards, thanks to local CFA volunteers and the Maryborough Education Centre.

The Emergency Services Journey takes Year 9 students to their local brigade, Police and ambulance station to see how each service operates and learn practical skills.

What began as a Brigades in Schools program run by Maryborough Fire Brigade volunteers in 2004, has been developed into an innovative course at the Maryborough Education Centre by teacher and CFA volunteer Samantha Rothman.

There’s a camp in the Mallee, sessions at a surf life saving club, activities like open water swimming and fire brigade competition events, and the students achieve certificates in Life Saving skills and First Aid.

The Fire Awareness Award judges said the project goes beyond the basics in building resilience, with a range of partner organisations and reaching great numbers; over 40 students participate each year, and several have become CFA volunteers.

Principal David Sutton says the school is proud of the Emergency Services Journey program and students for doing so well, and particularly Samantha Rothman for her work in developing and championing the program.

Pictured: VFBV’s Andrew Ford, Maryborough CFA Captain Darryl Wagstaff AFSM, teacher and CFA volunteer Samantha Rothman, and Maryborough Education Centre Principal David Sutton at the Fire Awareness Awards.

 

 

VFBV WELFARE FUND HELPS 1,000

Since its creation by the urban Brigades association in 1913, the VFBV Welfare Fund has helped 1,079 volunteers in need, with more than $1.4 million in small assistance grants.

VFBV Welfare Fund grants are financed by Brigade subscriptions and the interest earned on the Fund’s invested capital, which provides the income necessary to pay grants and at the same time maintain the Fund’s asset capital base to ensure it can provide support to CFA volunteers in need for generations to come.

VFBV funds all operating and administrative costs of the Fund – so every dollar earned by the Fund’s investments and subscriptions goes to assisting volunteers in need.  Typical cases involve volunteers who are facing significant financial difficulty because of prolonged illness or a sudden death in the family.  An average individual grant from the Fund is just under $3,500.

The VFBV Welfare Fund is run as a government-approved charity by a VFBV Committee of Management under Australian Taxation Office rules, with its books independently audited every year.

Individual volunteer applications are considered by their Brigade before an application is made to the VFBV Welfare Fund Committee of Management, and over the past five years 92.5% of applications have been approved.  VFBV has also negotiated discounts on some of the volunteers’ bills, worked with their Brigades to monitor the situation in case the family needs additional assistance, and referred volunteers to sources of financial planning.

For more information, visit the VFBV Welfare Fund page.

 

10,000 SCANNERS DELIVERED - $3M SAVING FOR BRIGADES

The Digital Scanner subsidy program advocated by VFBV and run in partnership with CFA is an overwhelming success, with 10,478 digital scanners delivered to Brigades and Groups so far.  The savings to members represent over $3 million.

More than 970 Brigades and 80 Groups have received their Tier 1 & 2 orders, and CFA is still accepting Tier 3 orders, from Brigades, Groups and individual members.

Tier 3 units are available at cost price, which has been significantly reduced due to the bulk orders placed during the subsidy program.  Members can order units for $446.75 plus postage and handling, while stocks last.   Download an order form here.

 

FISKVILLE FINAL REPORT – ACTION STILL NEEDED

The State Government has responded to the Fiskville Inquiry’s final report, endorsing all recommendations either fully or in part – you can download a copy of the response here.

VFBV now hopes it will be the trigger for urgent Government and CFA action on replacing Fiskville’s vital training capacity, ensuring properly monitored water quality standards for all CFA training sites, and maintaining ongoing support to all of those affected by exposure at the Fiskville site.

The announcement follows years of work from VFBV since the issue was first raised in the media in December 2011.   VFBV has consistently called for urgent remedial action at the site, independent, expert monitoring, ongoing support for everyone affected, and the urgent replacement of Fiskville’s lost training capacity. 

The closure of the site came in 2015 after the surprising discovery that water quality problems were persisting in spite of the reassurances of WorkSafe, the EPA, technical experts and CFA.

The State Government’s response to the Inquiry is not the end of the issue, but a cue for action to resolve the problems left in Fiskville’s wake.

 

VFBV SUPPORT TO BRIGADES

Newly arrived at VFBV is Support Officer Peter Sharman. 

Peter is an experienced volunteer who will work with District Councils, Brigades and volunteers in Districts, 4, 5, 6 and 7 to facilitate strong VFBV engagement with volunteers, assist District Councils with issues resolution at the local level, and support ongoing consultation with volunteers on all matters affecting them.

Peter has been a CFA volunteer since 1987.  He is an ex Captain and a currently serving Group Officer, and has served as a VFBV State Councillor, and on the VFBV/CFA Joint Volunteerism Committee and the Joint Communications and Technology Committee.

You can contact Peter Sharman on 0428 751 652 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

VALE BARRY PYKE

We were sad to learn of the recent passing of former VRFBA District 12 State Councillor and VFBV Life Member Barry Pyke.

Barry was a 50 year CFA volunteer and a long time member of the Whanregarwen Fire Brigade.  He served volunteers and the community for many years, and was an active participant in the creation of a single association in District 12 as part of the move towards the creation of VFBV.

Our sympathy goes out to Barry’s family, friends and fellow volunteers.

 

FUNDRAISING IS STILL IMPORTANT

VFBV’s work to defend the volunteer based and fully integrated CFA continues, and VFBV is still actively fundraising.

The new Federal Legislation has changed the legal ground rules to protect fire and emergency service volunteers from industrial interference, but it must be supported in the Fair Work Commission and possibly Federal courts, so we still look to the public for their support.

The public, corporate donors, community organisations and volunteers can donate to the VFBV Valuing Volunteers Fund, BSB 633 000, Account number 157 728 221, send a cheque to the Valuing Volunteers Fund, PO Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149, or make a donation by visiting www.mycause.com.au/cfa

Note that VFBV is a non-party political organisation: it does not accept donations from political parties.

 

CANCER LAW

In the last edition of FireWise, we urged volunteers to remind their local Members of Parliament of the commitment the Government made to Victorian volunteers and paid firefighters two years ago.

Sadly, nothing has happened since then, Parliament has closed until February 2017, and this important issue for all firefighters remains unresolved.

Labor’s commitment just before it took power in 2014, said “Victorian legislation for career and volunteer firefighters will reflect the cancers covered and timeframes for duty of service as in the Tasmanian legislation”. Importantly, this promise explicitly contained no reference to unequal treatment or extra eligibility requirements for volunteers.  The Government has since hinted at imposing a discriminatory extra requirement for volunteers to prove an arbitrary number of turnouts before they become eligible for compensation and VFBV will be extremely disappointed if this eventuates.

Your local MPs need to know volunteers won’t accept second best just because they are not paid. Click here for more information on the firefighters' cancer law.

 

MORE FOR ONLINE SUBSCRIBERS

More than 1,000 subscribers now receive this page as an electronic newsletter.  You can also sign up to receive VFBV’s popular Two Minute Briefing from the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees. 

Register here to receive these and other VFBV updates.

Our Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/cfavol and you can follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or on Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

Published in VFBV News
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 00:00

FireWise - VFBV's November Column

VFBV's November 2016 column in FireWise is now available.

In this edition:

- Editorial: A Win for Volunteers but Still More To Do

- Fundraising is Still Important

- Cancer Law: Time for Government to Deliver Presumptive Legislation

- Strong Support: 2016/17 Brigade Affiliations approach another record

- VFBV Brigade Delegates' Course

- Youth Network Running Hot

- Promote Your Brigade's Good Work: Fire Safety Media Tips

- How to Apply: VFBV Helps with VESEP Grants

- VEOHRC Review Closing on November 18

- Urban and Rural Championship Dates for 2017

Download this month's column as a PDF file

Download earlier editions

Subscribe to receive the complete FireWise newspaper at the FireWise website.

 

A WIN FOR VOLUNTEERS, BUT THERE’S MORE TO DO

By Andrew Ford, Chief Executive Officer

VFBV has achieved a 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.   

The change to the Fair Work Act makes 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.

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.

This doesn’t mean our legal action is over completely but it does make the path ahead clearer. 

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, but also vitally important and fundamental to shaping the ground for a fairer process for volunteers at the new Federal level. 

The change to the Federal laws (Fair Work Act) now achieves what VFBV has 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. 

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.

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 volunteers work side by side for the benefit of the communities we serve. 

VFBV greatly appreciates the support and monetary donations that have made our campaign action to date possible.  A big thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign to date.  There is still an enormous amount of work to do and we are still seeking donations and support, so please keep spreading the word.

 

FUNDRAISING IS STILL IMPORTANT

While VFBV has discontinued its action in the Victorian Supreme Court in the wake of changes to the Federal Fair Work Act that has enabled the legal protections we set out to achieve, our campaign to defend the volunteer based CFA continues, and fundraising is still important.

The new Federal Legislation has changed the legal ground rules to defend fire and emergency service volunteers from industrial interference, but it must be supported in the Fair Work Commission and possibly Federal courts.

We still need volunteers to actively seek donations from the public and other supporters, to fund our campaign to maintain and strengthen volunteer capacity for future generations, and stop industrial interference in CFA volunteers’ service to Victoria.

Members of the public, corporate donors, community organisations and volunteers can make a direct deposit via the Bendigo Bank to the VFBV Valuing Volunteers Fund, BSB 633 000, Account number 157 728 221, send a cheque to the Valuing Volunteers Fund, PO Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149, or make a donation by visiting www.mycause.com.au/cfa

Note that VFBV is a non-party political organisation: it does not accept donations from political parties.

 

TIME FOR GOVERNMENT TO DELIVER PRESUMPTIVE LEGISLATION

Recent media reports have suggested presumptive legislation for Victorian firefighters may be announced soon, so it is time to remind your local Members of Parliament this is important to volunteers, and also remind them of the commitment the Government made to Victorian volunteers and paid firefighters two years ago.

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”.Importantly, this promise explicitly contained no reference to unequal treatment or extra eligibility requirements for volunteers.  The Government has since hinted at imposing a discriminatory extra requirement for volunteers to prove an arbitrary number of turnouts before they become eligible for compensation and VFBV will be extremely disappointed if this eventuates.

There are still unanswered questions about the legislation:

  •          will it treat career and volunteer firefighters equally?
  •          will it cover firefighters who have already been diagnosed?

VFBV has long campaigned for presumptive legislation to provide simpler and fairer cancer compensation for all Victorian firefighters, both volunteer and career.

Victorian presumptive legislation should list the same 12 cancers and the same years of service requirements that appear in the legislation already passed by the Commonwealth and most other States.

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.  

Western Australia has now passed presumptive legislation, and South Australia and Queensland led the way with equal treatment for career and volunteer firefighters.  Presumptive legislation is now in place in all States and Territories except NSW and Victoria.

Your local MPs need to know that volunteers will not accept being given second best just because they are not paid.  For more information, go to the Cancer Law page

 

VEOHRC REVIEW CLOSING SOON

Past and present CFA members have until 18 November to contribute to the Independent Review into Equity and Diversity being conducted by the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC).

VEOHRC is talking to CFA members about workplace culture, discrimination (including bullying) and sexual harassment. You can tell VEOHRC about the amazing work CFA does as well as any difficult experiences you’ve had. The Review will report in mid-2017.

The online survey is independently hosted by VEOHRC. A paper-based version is also available upon request, or you can arrange a confidential interview on the phone or in person.

You can participate confidentially and anonymously.  Call the confidential phone line (03) 9032 3464, send a confidential email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or for more information, visit www.victorianhumanrightscommission.com/EDR/

 

2016/17 AFFILIATIONS

The number of Brigades affiliating with VFBV for 2016/17 is on track to match and probably exceed last year’s record number, a sign of continued strong support for the association’s work on behalf of volunteers.

A record 93% of Brigades affiliated with VFBV in 2015/16, and this year a number of Brigades have affiliated with VFBV for the first time in many years.

If you are not sure whether your Brigade or Group’s VFBV Affiliation and Brigade’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare Fund subscription have been paid, contact your Secretary as soon as possible.

The modest cost of $77.50 for VFBV affiliation is the same for all Brigades and Groups.

We also strongly encourage Brigades to subscribe to the VFBV Welfare Fund in the interests of supporting your members in times of personal hardship.  For more information visit the VFBV Welfare Fund page and see the Welfare Fund Frequently Asked Questions page. 

For any enquiries, contact your VFBV State Councillors or call us on (03) 9886 1141.

 

VFBV BRIGADE DELEGATES’ COURSE

VFBV is launching a newly developed short course for Brigade Delegates to District Councils.

Participants completing the course will be awarded two modules from Cert II in Public Safety (Firefighting Operations): PUACOM001C Communicate in the Workplace, and PUACOM002B Provide Services to Clients.

The course will be taken to all Districts over the coming two years, and will give Delegates the chance to gain new skills, network among their peers, improve teamwork and communication, and assist with succession planning for their District Council.

The course consists of two sessions of one day each, with a small amount of work to be done from home, and covers useful skills including: Facilitation, Leadership, Effective Communication, Reporting, Networking, Working in a group, Note Taking, Decision Making, Managing Issues, and Problem Solving.

The course is a very important investment in volunteer leadership skills; talk to your District Council or keep an eye on www.vfbv.com.au for more details.

 

YOUTH NETWORK UPDATE

The VFBV Multi-Agency Youth Network is running hot, with Life Saving Victoria now officially involved, along with VFBV, VICSES, the Red Cross and the Victorian Council of Churches.

Youth Engagement Officer Christine Fryer and our VFBV Support Officers are working with District Councils to organise informal get togethers for young Network members, their District Champions and VFBV District Council executive members, as well as encouraging young volunteers’ attendance at District Council meetings.

District 12 will have an informal event on 13 November, and Districts 9, 10 and 27 will have theirs on 20 November.

Districts 22 and 24 are planning their first gatherings of young members, and District 15 has had its first get together, where they discussed rotating the role of Youth Panel Chair so everyone can lead meetings and initiatives, and appointed a member to design a logo for the Youth Network.

Read FireWise or visit www.vfbv.com.au for updates, or to get involved contact Chris on (03) 9886 1141 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

VFBV HELPS WITH VESEP GRANTS

If your Brigade is considering applying for a VESEP grant in the future, for a vehicle, new equipment or facilities improvements, start your planning and preparation now.

Click here or go to the VFBV website and type VESEP Resources into the search box in the top right corner of the page, to find a copy or our most recent Application Help Pack and case studies that demonstrate how successful past applications worked.

For additional practical advice, contact your VFBV Support Officer via the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141.

 

FIRE SAFETY MEDIA TIPS

VFBV encourages Brigades and Groups to make the most of media opportunities to publicise fire safety and the professionalism and contribution of CFA volunteers.

When you have an exercise, training session, summer safety warning or other activity to publicise, make the most of it, with:

  •          a list of what you’d like local media to tell the public
  •          facts and figures about your Brigade or Group
  •          examples of your Brigade’s good work in recent seasons, and
  •          a call to action

The call to action can be about fire safety preparation, volunteering, making a donation or supporting CFA volunteers in another way; prompt the public contribute to their own safety or help your Brigade to provide its essential emergency service to the community.

For VFBV’s sheets helpful publicity tips, facts and figures on CFA volunteers, and this summer’s key messages from CFA and Emergency Management Victoria, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or for advice, call Peter Beaton on (03) 9886 1141.

 

CHAMPIONSHIP DATES FOR 2017

The VFBV State Urban Junior Championships will be held at Tatura, on 25/26 February 2017.

The VFBV State Urban Senior Championships will take place at Bendigo, on 11 to 13 March 2017.

Visit the Urban and Rural Championships sections of the VFBV website www.vfbv.com.au for the latest rule book, entry forms, and judges/officials nomination forms.

The VFBV State Rural Championships will be at Wodonga on 1 and 2 April 2017.

More details and entry forms will be posted on the Rural Championships page at the VFBV website in the near future.

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 08 July 2016 00:00

VFBV FireWise Column - July 2016

In This Edition

 

Farewell to Chief Officer Joe Buffone

By Andrew Ford, Chief Executive Officer

On behalf of the VFBV Board and volunteer leaders across CFA, it was with sadness and regret that we heard that Chief Officer Joe Buffone tendered his resignation.

The CFA Chief Officer holds a special place in volunteer’s hearts. He has been our operational leader and our symbolic head of authority in our shared mission to protect lives and property. Joe has exercised his responsibilities and authority with honesty, integrity and compassion.

Joe has been very clear in his recent messages and letter of resignation, that as Chief Officer he would have been unable to discharge his legislative responsibilities under the proposed industrial agreement, confirming that the latest changes do not address his fundamental concerns. Joe, just as Minister Jane Garrett and CEO Lucinda Nolan before him, had to choose between following his conscience and his job. As CFA’s most senior operational officer, he has acted with respect and integrity and done everything in his power to protect the safety of Victorian’s and remain impartial. He has, like those before him, been clear and unequivocal about the impacts the proposed agreement would have not just on volunteers but on CFA and its ability to discharge its responsibilities, in particular the powers of the Chief Officer.

Joe was appointed by the Andrews Government on 15 October 2015, and came to CFA from Emergency Management Victoria where he was the Deputy Commissioner of Risk & Resilience. the Andrews Government also appointed the now Ex-CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan in November 2015, a distinguished Deputy Commissioner with Victoria Police with over 30 years’ experience, including acting as Police Commissioner.

Attempts by some to discredit a man that has spent over 25 years in the emergency services encompassing senior roles with the Victoria State Emergency Service, Marine Safety Victoria, Port of Melbourne Corporation and Department of Infrastructure and served with the Australian Defence Force in Special Forces are quite disturbing. Both Joe and Lucinda have spent their entire lives serving the public in senior emergency response roles. Both have withstood the test of time and responsibility over their careers, that such important roles demand.

Just like the Government’s spin about our court injunction “being lifted” and forgetting to tell the Victorian public that it was replaced with an even more onerous Court Order, they have again only told half the story.

Joe resigned on the Tuesday.

Joe has stated publically that Minister Merlino’s statements to the media about the factors underpinning his resignation are “absolutely incorrect”.

VFBV understands that it was after his resignation that Government and/or EMV officials resisted his resignation, prompting discussions about what terms might be required to convince Joe to stay. It is entirely understandable that those terms might have included ensuring Joe had the organisational standing and powers to perform his role without the threat of being administratively overridden; it is also understandable that he might have sought confirmation about the security of his job tenure in order not to be threatened with being sacked if he didn’t toe the Government line against his assessment of the CFA statutory obligations that create and direct his role.

Despite the half stories being quoted by people in the media, VFBV understands that Joe, after carefully considering his options, and concluding that he was simply unable to reconcile what he was being asked to do with what he knows are his statutory and legal obligations, advised Government he would not reconsider his resignation. As Joe reminded volunteers, when things go wrong, it will be the Chief Officer who will be in the stand, as occurred during the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. It is therefore incumbent on the person who holds that office, to ensure they have the powers necessary to fulfil their role, and his assessment was frank and fearless. The proposed agreement is not good for CFA, it is not good for volunteers and it is not good for Victoria.

Joe has prosecuted his case in a respectful, professional and poignant way. He has gone to extremes to remain balanced and impartial, and operated as a loyal and honest broker. He will be remembered as the Chief who stood up for what he believes is right, and leaves with our utmost respect and thanks. Joe, your stance to attempt to save CFA has been exemplary.

Thank you for your service and dedication, we won’t forget you.

 

FEDERAL ELECTION IMPACTS ON CFA

As this edition of Firewise goes to print, volunteers across Victoria are working within communities to express their concern about the current CFA/UFU industrial agreement negotiations. The issue has been made a federal election issue by the timing of Victorian Premier Andrews push to ram the deal through and because the deal is using federal industrial relations legislation to override CFA State legislation to give control of CFA to the UFU.

Although some people are saying this is a state issue, it is both a federal and state issue because the UFU deal is using federal industrial legislation to take control of and override CFA state legislation. The links will become clearer as the federal debate proceeds in the new parliament. As this edition goes to print, there is a solution on the table from Malcolm Turnbull, we are still hoping for help with a solution from Bill Shorten and we will continue to pursue support for the necessary changes from all members of parliament.

VFBV and volunteers have remained non-party political throughout this dispute and will remain so. There is no doubt that we have enormous community support across Victoria. Many people have said to volunteers across the State that they share our disgust and anger with Premier Andrews about the sell-out of CFA. In recent days newly appointed Minister Merlino has attacked the integrity of our CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone who resigned because he said the UFU EBA proposed deal would make it impossible for him to fulfil his statutory role, and this is just another demonstration of how low people pushing this deal are prepared to go. UFU Secretary Peter Marshall, Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister James Merlino have politicised the Fire Services. Public safety should be above party politics, and VFBV deplores the approach this government has taken on this issue, wedging volunteers, their paid colleagues and the community against each other. They have criticised and acted to gag VFBV, CFA Board, CFA CEO, CFA Chief Officer and their own Minister, Jane Garrett for speaking up, but we will not step back or apologise for defending volunteers and the communities they protect. We will not be gagged.

Whatever happens at this 2016 federal election, volunteers need to continue to hold our heads high as we continue to seek a fair hearing on this issue and to sustain Victoria’s proud history of CFA volunteering.

 

CFA/EBA Volunteer Feedback

You can now download the current version of the proposed CFA-UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2016 (version 17.4), that has been provided to VFBV for consultation purposes arising from our recent court action to enforce the consultation provisions of the Volunteer Charter.
We now urge you to examine the EBA and use the feedback form available on this website  covering such things as:

  • questions

  • concerns

  • practical Implications

  • local volunteer capacity implications

  • impacts on CFA operating as a fully integrated organisation

  • potential to discourage volunteers or impact on their welfare and efficiency

  • potential impacts on CFA’s volunteer based culture

  • anything that might limit or erode support for volunteers

  • anything that impacts on CFA’s ability to genuinely consult with volunteers


The document should serve to dispel any criticisms of VFBV’s broad concerns and comments made to date as “unfounded and misleading” by Premier Andrews’, new Minister Merlino and UFU leadership.


Clearly this latest version speaks for itself as did earlier versions when they were made public. The matters of concern that we have raised are either written in the document itself or would be the necessary outworkings of the implementation and operation of various clauses on volunteers and the organisation and operation of the CFA as a volunteer based and fully integrated fire and emergency service.


Recent independent legal commentary by Mr Jack Rush QC sums it up well, by stating that the UFU EBA proposal is contrary to the CFA Act because it works against the idea that CFA is first and foremost a volunteer based organisation in which volunteers and paid staff are to work in a fully integrated manner; it undermines the role of volunteers; and it provides unprecedented powers to the UFU.

VFBV’S CONCERNS


At a fundamental level our concerns with previous drafts of the UFU EBA proposal are not addressed. There has been some change in the detail but the EBA still includes clauses that interfere with the Chief Officer’s operational resource decision making autonomy; directly impact on the provision of support to volunteer brigades; affect the way the CFA integrated system works; affect the role of volunteers and impact on CFA brigades across Victoria, not just the 34 Integrated brigades as stated by Premier Andrews and recently appointed Minister Merlino.


Recent claims made by Premier Andrews and Minister Merlino that the UFU EBA proposal only impacts on the work of paid staff or on the way CFA’s 34 Integrated brigades operate is not only fundamentally wrong in terms of the way CFA’s volunteer and integrated brigades network together to respond to incidents but it is also categorically wrong given the fact that:

  • provision of Brigade Administrative Support (BASO) to all CFA volunteer brigades will be altered by clause 15;

  • the support provided by CFA Volunteer Support Officers to CFA volunteer brigades across Victoria will be altered by clause 16;

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal perpetuates the UFU’s long running ban on any volunteer brigade being supported by Community Safety Facilitators despite volunteer brigades repeatedly pointing out that this brigade support initiative is still regarded as one of the most successful volunteer support initiatives ever;

  • at any fire ground where volunteers and paid staff come together at an incident the reporting relationships and line of control becomes unclear given clause 35.4 which at a minimum creates confusion and at worst is likely to unpack the current CFA integrated system (not to mention it appears to specifically exclude DELWP staff being recognized as incident controllers);

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal perpetuates deficiencies in the CFA’s paid training staff workforce management arrangements, an issue highlighted repeatedly by volunteers, CFA and recent independent inquiries;

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal specifically dictates the future operational and resource arrangements for a number of fully volunteer brigades, despite Premier Andrew’s and Minister Merlino’s claims that there is no impact beyond the existing 34 integrated brigades

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal introduces changes to Road Accident Rescue, a function currently performed by many CFA and SES volunteer brigades and units

  • the UFU EBA (17.4) proposal introduces a process to change the way CFA responds to incidents affecting many more brigades than the existing 34 integrated brigades and it is unclear how volunteers would be consulted about this process and form to date would suggest that if it ends in Fair Work Australia, volunteers would have no say

  • various clauses requiring agreement between CFA and the UFU mean that obligations to consult with volunteers are likely to be sidelined or potentially ignored

  • various clauses about dispatch of paid firefighters to incidents ignore the role and capacity of trained volunteer firefighters, impact on many more than the 34 integrated brigades and enable an EBA instrument to override the Chief Officer’s powers and decision making

  • and the list goes on…

Sadly, most of the crucial concerns we have had with previous versions have still not been properly addressed. In spite of the Government’s claims, a new clause (7A.1) which states “The role of volunteers in fighting bushfires and maintaining community safety and delivering high quality services to the public in remote and regional areas and in integrated stations is not altered by this agreement” fails to recognise that CFA brigades do more than fight bushfires in remote and regional areas and either cleverly or by accidental omission ignores the fact that CFA volunteer brigades service a huge part of metropolitan Melbourne and provincial centres & townships across Victoria.


We will be asking for clarification during this consultation stage as to what this clause means and how it works when other clauses contained in the EBA specifically contradict this clause. We know that CFA’s own assessment is that the EBA clauses affect many more than the 34 integrated brigades and fundamentally alters the way CFA works today as a volunteer based and integrated system. By what it omits to say, if this clause is aiming to suggest that the role of volunteers in outer metropolitan Melbourne and urban communities will be altered, then this would be a matter of serious concern. The failure of this clause to specifically recognize the role of volunteers in the urban risk environment is consistent with our assessment of the impact of many of the clauses that this EBA would have on the CFA volunteer capability that we have today, and at a fundamental level reinforces our concern.


Premier Andrews and Minister Merlino continue to make public comment that all volunteer issues have been addressed despite the fact that they still have not bothered to seek to understand VFBV’s concerns. Instead the Minister has advised us that Cabinet have made their decision.


Until the consultative process we are working through with CFA is completed, and despite the Government ignoring Ex Minister Garrett’s, the now sacked CFA Board’s, and the Ex CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan’s advice, we remain hopeful that the Government will not continue to ignore volunteer and VFBV concerns.
Because of the Court arrangements, timelines for both member/brigade consultation and direct consultation with CFA are very tight and your expedited assistance is required.


Our next formal discussion with CFA is currently scheduled for Friday, 8 July and it is anticipated that a schedule of formal consultation meetings with then continue until 19 July.


We are looking to volunteers to respond as early as possible. All responses will be kept confidential, and will all be consolidated to anonymize any responses. You can send your feedback back to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

HAVE YOUR SAY

The 2016 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey opens from 15 July to 29 August, and volunteers will no doubt have plenty to say this year.

Register now at www.vfbv.com.au/cfa or call (03) 9886 1141 for a printed copy.

This volunteer run survey is in its 5th year, and a record 2,500 volunteers took part last year. Your answers are confidential and the final results go to the VFBV and CFA Boards, the Emergency Management Commissioner and the Minister for Emergency Services.

 

 

Published in VFBV News
Thursday, 09 June 2016 00:00

VFBV FireWise Column - June 2016

In This Edition

CFA VOLUNTEERS AND COMMUNITY MAKE A STAND

         - 3,500 volunteers rally in Melbourne

WA ACTS ON CANCER LAW

SURVEY OPENS SOON

FISKVILLE INQUIRY

VFBV MULTI-AGENCY YOUTH NETWORK

AFFILIATION DUE NOW

 

CFA VOLUNTEERS AND COMMUNITY MAKE A STAND

By Andrew Ford, Chief Executive Officer

As we go to press, CFA is poised at a potential turning point in its history.

We have staged a successful rally, with all political parties invited to be represented, where 3,500 volunteers heard words of support from the Prime Minister and the Victorian Leader of the Opposition, and there was extended applause from the crowd for Victorian Minister for the Emergency Services, Jane Garrett (see video from the rally here), but the issue remains unresolved.

We face the prospect of an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement between CFA and the United Firefighters’ Union that will mean the progressive dismantling of CFA as a volunteer and community based, fully integrated service.

And while Cabinet has delayed a final decision, the Premier’s comments still suggest he is forging ahead regardless of our concerns, to the exclusion of volunteers’ opinions or the consultation and involvement in decision making guaranteed by the recognition of the provisions of the CFA Volunteer Charter in the CFA Act.

We have written to the Premier, Deputy Premier, Minister and every member of Cabinet, urging them to meet with us and understand our concerns before decisions are made.

To make matters worse, Fair Work Australia has rejected VFBV’s application to be heard on behalf of volunteers; our letter to FWA is available on our website, and makes the point that “the proposed EBA contains a significant number of clauses which affect and impact CFA volunteers and related organisation and operation of CFA”.

Lined up against the objectionable parts of the UFU’s proposed Enterprise Bargaining Agreement is the unified opinion of volunteers, CFA senior managers, CFA’s Chief Officer and CEO, the CFA Board and Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett.

The CFA Board has reaffirmed its stance against the union’s log of claims, publishing a list of 14 threshold issues, and saying they 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 decision
  • Restrict or negatively impact on volunteers and BASOs.
  • Be discriminatory

 

The United Firefighters Union has persistently denied that the proposed EBA will affect volunteers, but that does not match up with our reading of the document, CFA’s detailed responses to the union’s claims – as published for all members on the CFA website – and Minister Garrett’s published comment that the UFU’s demands are “over the top, unaffordable and compromise community safety”.

Both the CFA Board and VFBV are still pressing for meaningful discussion with the State Government, and volunteers have taken to the streets to show their support for the Minister who has clearly supported us and the communities we volunteered to protect.

We cannot afford to back down on this issue.

The marginalisation and progressive destruction of urban volunteerism set off by this EBA would mean Victoria loses its world renowned surge capacity to fight simultaneous large bushfires and long duration fires whilst maintaining fire and emergency services to local communities.

We have no interest in nor argument with the paid firefighters negotiating hard for pay increases and those aspects of the EBA that deal with legitimate employment conditions of individual paid employees such as leave and rosters. Our only wish is that those matters be resolved as quickly as possible and that the government provide additional funding to CFA to cover the full costs of these increases.

Our interest is the future of the volunteer and community based CFA, the future of CFA volunteerism and the protection of our communities.

These will be testing times but we must remember not to make this debate a personal one, and at all times we need to respect one another as volunteers and paid members of CFA who work well together today and must continue to work well together tomorrow for the benefit of the Victorian community.

Volunteers need to remain ready to escalate action publicly if the government’s decision making process looks like delivering an unfair or foolish outcome.

In the meantime, members should continue actively publicising our concerns at every opportunity you have and activate all of your community networks and continue writing your concerns to MPs and decision makers.

At a national level, the collective body of volunteer firefighter associations is mobilising and keenly watching a problem developing in Victoria that has serious flow on implications in each state. In addition, our 250,000 brother and sister fire volunteers, along with SES volunteers, have a direct and keen conviction to pursue Federal Legislation that protects and respects volunteers. This has been a priority for some time and the time to pursue this with vigour has never been better than now, particularly given that the message has now resonated right up to Prime Minister level. We will be actively seeking to talk to all sides of Federal politics to encourage and obtain their active support for this fundamental issue and volunteer right.

VFBV is working hard as the voice of volunteers, you can now add volume to that voice, by contacting local MPs and local media with your concerns. Every volunteer’s voice deserves to be heard, and the State’s decision makers must hear it.

 

WA ACTS ON CANCER LAW

Western Australia has just introduced presumptive legislation to give firefighters fairer and simpler cancer compensation.

The Bill before the WA Parliament does not match the current standard met by Queensland and South Australia, where volunteers and staff are treated equally, but it is well ahead of the out-of-date and discriminatory Tasmanian legislation being considered as a model for a possible Victorian Bill.

The WA legislation lists the same cancers and years of service requirements that appear in other States’ legislation, and is backdated to 13 November 2013, the date WA’s legislation for career staff took effect.

However, the WA legislation also includes an additional eligibility requirement that only applies to volunteers, who must have at least five years’ volunteer service where they have attended an average of at least five hazardous fires per year, where hazardous fires include building, vehicle or rubbish fires.

In Victoria, CFA volunteers are still waiting, with unanswered questions about whether the proposed Victorian legislation will treat career and volunteer firefighters equally, and whether it will be retrospective, providing cover for volunteers who have already been diagnosed with cancer.

VFBV continues to press this issue with the Government and MPs. Let your local MPs know this issue is important to all volunteers.

 

SURVEY OPENS SOON

The 2016 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey will open on 15 July.  CFA volunteers can register online now at www.vfbv.com.au/cfa  or visit the vfbv website to find the link.

Last year a record 2,500 volunteers took part.   More participants means greater influence for the survey results when we take them to CFA, the Emergency Management Commissioner and the State Government.

We are also hosting a version of the survey for other Victorian emergency volunteers, who can register at www.vfbv.com.au/vcf  and from this year interstate fire volunteers can register at www.vfbv.com.au/cavfa

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey is an annual snapshot of volunteer opinion, which includes 33 questions on issues chosen by volunteers.

This is the survey’s fifth year, and VFBV and the CFA Board study each year’s results to see trends in volunteer opinion on those important issues.   Your comments are confidential, but the results go straight to the decision makers.

For more information click here or  talk to your VFBV State Councillor.

 

FISKVILLE INQUIRY

The Fiskville Inquiry’s final report includes 31 recommendations and 125 findings, covering the management of hazards at the site, future safety measures, remediation of the site, the health consequences, and the effects on those directly exposed and others including nearby landholders.

VFBV fully cooperated and supported the Inquiry with detailed written submissions and more than an hour of evidence.

The issues we presented to the Parliamentary Committee began with the paramount concern of the safety of our members and ongoing support to any members who have been exposed in the past.

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

VFBV also pressed for immediate government action to fill the gap in training capacity left by Fiskville’s closure. Just as being safe in training is paramount, there is a huge risk to firefighters when they are confronted with real life situations if they haven’t had access to appropriate real-to-life training.

Over the years, Fiskville provided hot fire training and the full range of state level and specialised skills in incident management, incident leadership, operational decision making and real-to-life operational exercises.

The Inquiry has called for ongoing support measures for those affected, and VFBV continues to press for the urgent introduction of sufficient training capacity to replace Fiskville and meet CFA’s needs, and for the sector to set and support clear water standards based on expert opinion, for all agencies – something that has been lacking.

 

VFBV MULTI-AGENCY YOUTH NETWORK

VFBV is making great progress with our Youth Network.

On the back of a very successful CFA Youth Forum on 21 May (pictured), over 60 young people from all across Victoria have signed on to join the VFBV Multi Agency Youth Network. The link below has been forwarded to all District Council executives for circulation. Please pass this link to any young CFA volunteers, or young volunteers from other agencies, who might be interested.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/vfbvyouth

Champions have been identified in 10 Districts so far. If there is someone in your District who would do a great job of being the young volunteers’ connection with District Council and source of experienced CFA and VFBV knowhow, please encourage them to contact their District Council executive or Chris Fryer at 9886 1141 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

AFFILIATION DUE NOW

Renewal notices for your Brigade/Group’s VFBV Affiliation and Brigade’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare Fund subscription are with your Secretary now, with a due date of 30 June, 2016.

The modest cost of $77.50 for VFBV affiliation is the same for all Brigades and Groups, and VFBV’s representation of CFA volunteers continues to win growing approval and support, with a record 94% of Brigades affiliating in 2015/16

We also strongly encourage Brigades to subscribe to the VFBV Welfare Fund in the interests of supporting your members in times of personal hardship. It should be noted that in order to access the VFBV Welfare Fund, your Brigade must be affiliated with VFBV, since the association pays all of the VFBV Welfare Fund’s operating costs. For full details visit the VFBV website www.vfbv.com.au and go to the Member Services area.  

For any enquiries, contact your VFBV State Councillors or call us on (03) 9886 1141.

 

Published in VFBV News
Monday, 09 May 2016 00:00

VFBV's FireWise Column - May 2016

IN THIS EDITION

Pictures - 400 CFA Trucks Encircle Parliament during the Motorcade of Support

Editorial - A Matter of CFA's Future and Victoria's Safety

Latest Video - CFA's Volunteer Surge Capacity - see the new computer generated model from VFBV and the University of Melbourne

Stories - VFBV Affiliations Due - National Volunteer Week - VFBV Youth Network - Annual Memorial Service - VFBV Board Vacancies - Digital Scanners - Payments Due

MOTORCADE OF SUPPORT

Photo courtesy ABC News

Congratulations to everyone involved in the Volunteer Motorcade of Support for the Minister, CFA Board, CEO and Chief Officer.

We must maintain the dignified approach shown at the motorcade, and we should be proud of the non-political, dignified and respectful way volunteers showed their support for CFA and Minister Jane Garrett’s moral stand to ensure CFA is not sold out.

There were 421 vehicles from hundreds of brigades, with CFA appliances, privately owned fire appliances and support vehicles.

Of great importance were the hundreds of Brigades that registered with their Groups to assist with local coverage and to ensure our communities were protected whilst each District convoy left for Melbourne. Every one of CFA’s 21 Districts was represented, with vehicles from all corners of the state. Crews were professional and disciplined throughout the entire day, ensuring as little inconvenience to the public as possible, and we acknowledge the great support of Victoria Police, the City of Melbourne and the PSO’s from Parliament House.

Photo courtesy Nine News

 

EDITORIAL: A MATTER OF CFA’S FUTURE AND VICTORIA’S SAFETY

By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of attention, both publicly and within CFA, regarding concerns for the future of CFA as we know it.

As this copy goes to print, CFA has published an Ops EBA Update that clarifies some of the key facts about the concerns that have underpinned the recent attention.

Certainly there is significant concern amongst volunteers across Victoria, but VFBV and individual volunteers are not the only ones who hold these concerns.

Despite the claims that a very small minority might be peddling, this is not a media beatup, it is a genuine concern held by VFBV, the CFA Board, CEO and Chief Officer, the Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett, and - behind closed doors - many other senior officials in the emergency management hierarchy.

The concerns come from the United Firefighters’ Union’s current Enterprise Bargaining Agreement log of claims that include numerous interrelated clauses that seek to; give the UFU control and power of veto over CFA operational and resource decision making; direct how volunteer support is provided in CFA; sideline and diminish the role of volunteers; and dismantle the CFA’s current volunteer and integrated model.

These are real concerns, they drive a wedge between paid staff and volunteers, and to use CFA’s own words, the log of claims is unworkable.

Let me be quite clear, VFBV has no interest in those aspects of the log of claims that relate to CFA career firefighters’ pay.

From the outset our message has been very clear, both publicly and within CFA; give the CFA paid firefighters their 19% increase and settle the pay dispute as quickly as possible.

But we must support the views of those charged with public safety and the safety of the people of Victoria and must support them in their view to not sit by and let control of CFA be handed over to the UFU, not just from our own perspective, but on behalf of the communities we have sworn to protect.

Our motorcade in Melbourne on 23 April was a fantastic show of a united CFA, getting behind the CFA Board, CEO and Chief Officer, and Minister Jane Garrett, who are doing the moral and proper thing of standing firm against the UFU’s attempt to control CFA.

There is a huge amount of detail sitting behind this issue and I don’t have space to go into it here, so I encourage you to read CFA’s latest EBA Update or visit www.vfbv.com.au for more information.

These are very testing times, we all need to show personal leadership and remember the only thing we are driving for is a strong, sustainable CFA, focused on supporting and protecting our communities.

Many people are pondering what the solution might be.

Here are the basics of the solution as I see them, for all of our leaders including those from Government, CFA Board and management, Emergency Management Victoria, the UFU and VFBV.

Commit to working together to achieve an EBA that;

• Cannot override CFA operational and resource decision making

• Does not diminish or interfere with the roles performed by volunteers or the support provided to volunteers

• Does not dismantle CFA’s volunteer based and fully integrated model

• Does not block or reduce CFA and Government’s obligation to consult with volunteers on matters that affect them before decisions are made.

There is now formal advice available to all CFA members, through the CFA EBA Ops Update released on 3 May, that outlines clauses in the current UFU log of claims that go beyond dealing with pay and conditions and work directly in contradiction to the four points listed above.

I have written to CFA requesting that these clauses be considered in light of CFA legislation, the CFA Volunteer Charter and the future of CFA itself.

I ask everyone reading this to remember that this debate is not about volunteers versus paid firefighters.

We all know that volunteers and paid staff generally have great working relationships and we must continue to respect one another.

Before anyone starts judging the other’s argument, anyone in a position to do so should ring the UFU office or CFA for a copy of the latest log of claims and take a look at what is written.

I think you will find very quickly that there is cause for concern and that most CFA members, paid and volunteer alike, will agree that some aspects of the UFU’s log of claims simply go too far.

This is not an issue between volunteers and the UFU, nor is it between VFBV and the UFU; this is an issue about the future of CFA and ensuring that CFA and its Chief Officer can manage the organisation without union interference.

Let’s remember this is a unique situation where volunteers, VFBV, CFA management, the CFA Board and the Minister are all of one view; that the log of claims will give the union too much control over CFA, will dismantle CFA’s integrated model and will diminish and erode the work volunteers do.

The attention that volunteers are bringing to this issue is vital to ensuring a sensible outcome for Victoria.

We should keep this up and escalate it if need be, until the matter is resolved fairly and sensibly.

In the meantime, I say this again; we have absolutely no quarrel with paid firefighters receiving their pay increase, and only wish that matter could be resolved quickly, so we can get on with the work of protecting Victorian communities.

 

EVIDENCE OF CFA’s VOLUNTEER SURGE CAPACITY

Computer Modelling from VFBV and the University of Melbourne

Following the success of our earlier animated video on volunteer surge capacity, VFBV has been working with the University of Melbourne on a computer-generated time lapse video that graphically demonstrates CFA’s huge volunteer surge capacity.

You can see the computer modelled video on our YouTube channel here.

The video shows incidents and crews responding, and will help educate the public and Government on how CFA Volunteers are essential for Victoria’s Safety and Emergency Services.

We have been building versions for each District, and will shortly distribute copies to your District Councils, for use with the public, decision makers and your own volunteers.

 

VFBV AFFILIATIONS DUE

Renewal notices for your Brigade/Group’s VFBV Affiliation and Brigade’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare Fund subscription are with your Secretary now, with a due date of 30 June, 2016.

We also strongly encourage Brigades to subscribe to the VFBV Welfare Fund in the interests of supporting your members in times of personal hardship.

For enquiries, contact your State Councillors or call (03) 9886 1141.

 

NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK

National Volunteer Week is May 9 to 15, and an opportunity to set aside the customary volunteers’ modesty for a moment and accept the thanks of the community.

It is also a chance to thank those who volunteer in supporting roles, and members of the community who help to make your Brigade’s vital work possible.

Volunteer Week is an also opportunity for recruiting and fundraising.

For assistance in engaging local media contact VFBV on (03) 9886 1141.

And we’d like to extend our thanks to every volunteer who takes part at any level, and helps to make VFBV, the voice of the volunteers, such an effective representative organisation.

 

VFBV YOUTH NETWORK

There has been an overwhelming response to the CFA Multi- Agency Youth Forum to be held on 21 May – the forum will involve St John, Red Cross, SES and Ambulance Victoria as well as CFA, and VFBV will be showcased.

VFBV is hosting the Emergency Management sector Multi- Agency Youth Network, providing the foundation for young people to help us implement other initiatives to engage young people; to consider new ideas and perspectives across the range of issues we deal with, and to shape VFBV, CFA and the Emergency Management Sector into the future.

Our call for Expressions of Interest has gone to all Districts to identify VFBV Champions, experienced CFA volunteers who will support our young people in their work in the Youth Network.

Stay tuned to www.vfbv.com.au for updates, or call Chris Fryer on 03 9886 1141.

 

ANNUAL MEMORIAL SERVICE

Our Board Members and other senior VFBV officials were among the many volunteers who attended the moving ceremony at this year’s CFA Annual Memorial Service at Wodonga.

The service paid respect to the 67 Victorian firefighters who have died in the line of duty over the years, with this year’s service held in Wodonga to mark the 10th anniversary of the line of duty deaths of Trevor Day, Campbell’s Creek Fire Brigade and Rebecca Helwig from Barnawartha Fire Brigade.

The memorial is held on the Sunday closest to International Firefighters’ Day, known as St Florian’s Day (4 May), and is a formal and reflective day to acknowledge and remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their communities.

 

VFBV BOARD VACANCIES

Four positions on the VFBV Board will become vacant this year, and interested volunteers are invited to apply.

The closing date for written applications is Monday, 1 August 2016.

For more details, see the advertisement below, or on page 10 of the May 2016 of edition of FireWise.

 

DIGITAL SCANNERS PAYMENT DUE

The VESEP-funded subsidy program for digital scanners has now been completed - Brigades are reminded they must pay for their Tier 2 orders by 15 May

For enquiries, call (03) 9886 1141.

 

THE LATEST NEWS

Get the latest in our email newsletter or VFBV’s popular Two Minute Briefing from the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees - register here.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfavolor follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or on Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

 

 

Board Members of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV)

Invitation to apply

Four VFBV Board vacancies – for a 2 year term until 1st October 2018

Closing date for written applications is Monday 1st August 2016

VFBV advances the interests of all Victorian fire brigade volunteers and advocates on their behalf to CFA and other key stakeholders. The VFBV Board drives policy development based on volunteer input and is involved in management of issues of central importance to all CFA volunteers.

Vacancies for Four Board Members will arise when the terms of Nev Jones, Andy Cusack, Bruce Pickett & Bill Maltby expire on 1st October 2016; all members are eligible for re-appointment.

The term of appointment will be for two years and applications are invited from interested volunteers to be considered for these vacancies.

The role of a VFBV Board Member involves contributing to VFBV direction, policy determination and monitoring the performance and governance of the Association. Also actively contributing to policy discussion at Board Meetings, networking with others about policies and issues management, and not only making decisions but being prepared to actively advocate for the benefit of all CFA volunteers and ultimately the Victorian community.

A Board Member Role Statement including the key selection criteria is available from the VFBV office or website www.vfbv.com.au/index.php/about/vfbv/vfbvboard

This is an honorary position; no honorarium is paid.

If you are motivated by the prospect of making a difference for CFA volunteers, then send your written application addressing the key selection criteria in the role statement, plus an outline of your CFA activity including the names of two referees.

Applications must be lodged with VFBV by Monday 1st August 2016.

to:        VFBV, P O Box 453, Mt Waverley 3149

            Tel: 9886 1141;   Fax: 9886 1618

            Email: j.laingThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 15 April 2016 00:00

VFBV's FireWise Page - April 2016

IN THIS EDITION

  • Fire Services Review response hits the mark
  • VESEP Grants - apply now
  • Digital Scanners - Tier 3 orders open now
  • Cancer Law - latest update
  • Young Volunteers Wanted for VFBV's Youth Network
  • Recognition of Qualifications
  • Fatigue Management
  • And more...

FIRE SERVICES REVIEW RESPONSE HITS THE MARK

By Andrew Ford, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

VFBV supports the Government’s response to the Fire Services Review and we have commended Minister Garrett for taking the time to make a sensible and considered response.  We have also welcomed the invitation to work with Government on the issues requiring further consideration.   

Over all, our reaction to the Government’s response to the review’s recommendations is positive and I believe this provides a good foundation for us to work constructively with Government and the CFA.  I have said publicly that in the main the Government’s response to the Fire Services Review is on the mark, and for the issues requiring more work, VFBV looks forward to working with Government, the agencies and other stakeholders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can download a copy of the Fire Services Review report and the Government’s response and hear ABC radio's Conversation Hour discussion of the issues here.

The Fire Services Review website includes copies of all public submissions including VFBV, CFA and EMV submissions.

 

VESEP GRANTS OPEN NOW

Applications are now open for Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP) grants, with $12.8 million available to volunteer emergency services organisations.

Brigades and Groups can apply for VESEP grants of up to $100,000 for operational equipment and small capital works.

This is a welcome announcement from Minister for Emergency Services, Jane Garrett, and a sign of the Government’s recognition of the professionalism and essential services provided by Victoria’s emergency management volunteers.

VFBV worked with the State Government on the design of VESEP, helping to make it as simple and practical as possible, and we continue to work with CFA so Brigades and Groups can achieve the best outcome.

VESEP contributes two dollars in grant money for every one dollar raised locally by the Brigade, and last year 202 Brigades and Groups were successful with their applications.

This year’s VESEP grants will favour applications for:

  • Operational Equipment such as chainsaws, quick fill pumps, generators, inflatable rescue boats, and rescue and safety equipment.
  • Vehicles and appliances such as vehicles, lighting and storm trailers, light/medium tankers, big fill trucks, watercraft and rescue trucks.
  • Minor Facility Improvements, refurbishments and amenities such as: kitchens/change rooms

Talk to your State Councillor for advice and visit the VESEP grants page for an Application Help Pack and case studies from successful applications in past rounds.

 

VFBV Affiliation and Welfare Fund Subscriptions

                       For the benefit of your Brigade and volunteers

Renewal notices for your Brigade/Group’s VFBV Affiliation and Brigade’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare Fund subscription have been mailed and should be with your Secretary now, with a due date of 30 June, 2016.

The modest cost of $77.50 for VFBV affiliation is the same for all Brigades and Groups, and VFBV’s representation of CFA volunteers continues to win growing approval and support, with a record 94% of Brigades affiliating in 2015/16

By renewing your membership or signing up as a new member you not only demonstrate support for the important work VFBV does on behalf of all CFA volunteers, you also help build the strength of VFBV’s influence, your Brigade or Group will be entitled to participate in VFBV forums and decision making, and your Brigade’s members will be eligible to be supported by VFBV’s Welfare Fund.

We also strongly encourage Brigades to subscribe to the VFBV Welfare Fund in the interests of supporting your members in times of personal hardship. The VFBV Welfare Fund operates under Australian Tax Office rules for charities and is independently audited. It can provide small grants to assist volunteer members, their immediate family members and long servicing ex-members, who are suffering significant financial hardship. Over the past five years, the Welfare Fund has distributed over $550,000 to 170 CFA volunteers in need.

It should be noted that in order to access the VFBV Welfare Fund, your Brigade must be affiliated with VFBV, since the association pays all of the VFBV Welfare Fund’s operating costs. For full details visit the VFBV website www.vfbv.com.au and go to the Member Services area.

If you would like to speak to someone from VFBV about your affiliation please contact one of your District’s VFBV State Councillors or call the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141.

 

DIGITAL SCANNERS – TIER 3 ORDERS OPEN

Brigades have now been notified of their successful orders for digital scanners under Tier 2 of the subsidy scheme, and have until 15 May to pay for their scanners.

The subsidy scheme has been a great success, and more than 1,000 Brigades and Groups have received subsidised digital scanners under Tier 1 and 2 orders.

All of the subsidised scanners have now been allocated, but you can order additional units at cost price – still well under retail - under Tier 3 of the program, which is open until 30 June 2016.

Get your Tier 3 orders in now;

Download the Brigade Order Form here

Download the Group Order Form here

You can download the updated FAQ sheet by clicking here, or download a copy of the Tier 2 confirmation letter and instructions by clicking here.

The whole subsidy program has been an outstanding success for members, and is a great example of CFA and VFBV working together for the benefit for our members.

 

2016 VFBV RURAL SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS

Dunrobin/Nangeela B had a clear win at the 2016 VFBV Rural Championships, Katunga won the Discipline and the crowd at Colac had a great weekend.

There was real diversity on the field, with young men and women from communities all over Victoria and plenty of team spirit.

The events are based on practical firefighting activities.  As well as camaraderie among the teams, they build fitness, team skills and capabilities with hoses, pumps and other equipment that make them a useful addition to each Brigade’s regular weekly training regime.

The championships also offer one of same benefits as staging a major fire brigade exercise; giving Brigades and volunteers the chance to build the networks that pay off when they work together on large scale bushfires and other major emergencies.

As always, the success of the championships was the result of an amazing effort by the organising committee, volunteer judges and officials, support teams and CFA’s hard working DMOs. Congratulations to all involved.

For detailed results, see the rural championships page

 

2016 VFBV RURAL JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS

It was a nail biter of a finish in the 2016 VFBV Rural Junior Championships, with Springhurst A, Ascot A and Greta A all on 48 points.

Only a countback could separate them, leaving Springhurst the Champion Team for 2016!

There was a great turnout of girls and boys from communities all over Victoria, with 39 Brigades represented by the CFA volunteer firefighters and community leaders of tomorrow.

Each event is designed to build great team spirit, fitness, team skills and capabilities with hoses, pumps and other equipment that make it a useful addition to each Brigade’s regular weekly training regime.

Of course the teams’ performance on the field is not just about making a big effort on the day, but the hours of practise and dedication of Brigades, coaches, parents and families throughout the year to encourage, train and support our young juniors in developing the professionalism that will benefit their communities for years to come.

As always, the success of the championships was also the result of an amazing effort by the organising committee, volunteer judges and officials, support teams and CFA’s hard working DMOs.  Congratulations to all involved.

For detailed results, click here.

 

VFBV 2016 STATE URBAN SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2016 VFBV State Urban Championships have concluded, with Maryvale taking the title of Champion Brigade with a convincing win over Kangaroo Flat and Melton .

The team from Werribee has been victorious in B Class, with Patterson River second and Sale third.

C Class honours were taken out by Whittlesea, with Stanhope in second place and Knox Group third.

Victoria won the Interstate Challenge, in a very closely fought contest.

Congratulations to the Mildura Committee on their organisation and commitment to the championships, and we hope to see all competitors, families and spectators next year for the VFBV 2017 State Urban Championships at Bendigo.

Detailed results are available for download from our urban championships page.

 

CANCER LAW – DON’T STOP NOW

We expect that proposed presumptive legislation – the Firefighters’ Cancer Law – will be in Parliament soon, but we are concerned the legislation may contain a barrier to volunteers accessing compensation, in the form of an arbitrary ‘incident threshold’ - possibly requiring 150 incidents in any five-year period before they become eligible.

The arbitrary nature of the ‘incident threshold’ is seen by volunteers as simply a way to drastically reduce the number of volunteers who will become eligible.

VFBV has written to your Brigade with details – you are encouraged to raise the concerns with Government MPs serving your area as soon as possible.

Many VFBV District Councils are distributing shop window posters to Brigades that call for the public’s support, and there is more information on our presumptive legislation page.

 

YOUNG VOLUNTEERS WANTED

To improve VFBV’s engagement and representation of younger members, we are establishing a VFBV Youth Network.

This is not a once-off forum, but an ongoing framework and process to engage young people in VFBV, CFA and Emergency Management sector discussions, on an ongoing and structured basis.

As a result, VFBV is hosting an Emergency Management sector multi-agency youth network.

VFBV is committed to the Youth Network, and this is a chance for younger volunteers to get on board at an exciting new stage in our evolution.

See our call for Expressions of Interest and stay tuned to www.vfbv.com.au for updates.

 

VFBV WELFARE & EFFICIENCY SURVEY

The VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey is coming soon. Have your say on issues of importance chosen by volunteers, in a forum that continues to grow in recognition and influence.

The annual survey that has already established itself with the sector’s decision makers is expanding again this year, to include volunteers from right across the Emergency Management sector.

If you took part last year and provided an email address, you are already registered; otherwise provide your name, Brigade and email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (03) 9886 1141 to request a printed copy of the survey.

 

RECOGNITION OF MEDICAL QUALIFICATIONS

The problem of gaining CFA recognition of the first aid skills of volunteers who are medical practitioners, paramedics and nurses is moving towards resolution.

The VFBV/CFA Joint Training Committee has been pressing for a solution for a number of years and has now been advised that CFA proposes the creation of a new enterprise (CFA) competency (not a nationally recognized competency unit) which will be called “Eligible to provide first aid in the workplace”.

The competency will be used to record those members who have evidence of formal and current qualifications and will satisfy the CFA skills profile requirements for first aid for those members. CFA is seeking the support of key stakeholders before applying for official approval. VFBV will keep members updated on progress.

 

FATIGUE MANAGEMENT

The VFBV/CFA Joint Operations Committee has been highlighting District and Regional variances in fatigue management procedures for some time, and has made use of a new case study based on a recent large incident to support its case.

The Committee has asked CFA to develop a standard set of guidelines for the whole state, outlining crew changeovers, appropriate rest periods and long haul strike team travel arrangements, including the use of coaches and/or fresh drivers to return appliances to their home locations.

    

GET THE LATEST NEWS

Get the latest in our email newsletter or VFBV’s popular 2 Minute Briefing from the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees. Register here.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfavol

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or on Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

Published in VFBV News
Monday, 11 March 2013 00:00

FireWise - VFBV's Monthly Column

VFBV publishes a regular full page column on Page 2 of FireWise (formerly The Fireman), the monthly newspaper for all Victorian firefighters.

Our column includes an editorial on the big picture issues facing volunteers and the Emergency Management sector in Victoria, as well as a selection of the latest from CFA and the Joint Committees.

You can download our latest column below, or click here to subscribe to receive the complete FireWise newspaper at the FireWise website.

You can also get the latest in our email newsletter following each FireWise column or VFBV’s popular Two Minute Briefing from the VFBV/CFA Joint Committees.

To register for the VFBV email newsletter or the Two Minute Briefing click here.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfavol

You can also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vfbv or on Instagram @volunteer_fire_brigades_vic

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CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.

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