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Monday, 14 September 2015 00:00

2 Minute Briefing - Joint HR, Welfare and OH&S Committee

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Issue 13: July 2015

A quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 28/06/15)

VOLUNTEER LOSS OF INCOME COMPENSATION FOR OVER 65s

A recent injury on the fire ground which resulted in a volunteer member over the age of 65 years being hospitalized and unable to work and thereby suffering a loss of income, highlighted a matter of serious concern to VFBV. An interpretation of CFA regulations that is linked to the Workers Compensation Act resulted in the claim initially being rejected by CFA as the member was over the age of 65 and therefore deemed to be of retirement age.

An active campaign was conducted by the District 23 VFBV District Council & VFBV State in support of the members claim. As a result, CFA has subsequently reversed its decision and provided the full income compensation claimed, back to the date of the incident.

CFA has recognised that this matter is of very high importance to the organisation and its volunteers and as requested by VFBV are now commencing the process of implementing the necessary legislative changes to ensure that this situation is not open to interpretation in the future, thereby providing confidence to volunteers who continue to work past the age of 65. VFBV has requested that CFA base their legislative amendments on the Western Australian model which recently made changes to their own legislation to ensure volunteers working past the age of 65 were covered for loss of income.

DISTRICT OH&S COMMITTEE REPORTING

Most Districts / Regions have an OH&S committee which regularly meets to discuss issues of concern within the District or Region. It is apparent to the State Committee that much of this information is not compiled at a central point to help identify state wide issues of concern as well as trends and best practices etc. The Joint Committee has requested CFA look to start collating information fed into the District Committees and bring it together to enable a more holistic view of OH&S issues across the state.

FISKVILLE PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY RECOMMENDATIONS

The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry Interim Report into the CFA Training Ground at Fiskville was handed down on the 24 June, and announced three interim recommendations. The only recommendation to directly impact on volunteers is recommendation (2) which requests the Department of Health assess the feasibility of providing free voluntary testing for PFOS to a number of groups including volunteers.

As the Inquiry as heard, PFOS is also found in everyday products like makeup and non-stick cookware, and thus the opinion of scientists has been that most people will have levels of PFOS in their system. In order to provide a higher degree of confidence to volunteers who may wish to have their PFOS levels checked, and to contextualize the results, VFBV has requested CFA advocate for the inclusion of a non-CFA family member or householder be provided free testing also, in order for volunteers to compare their levels with someone in their own household that will act as a control group. The inquiry also heard evidence that the testing of all CFA Fiskville based staff has been completed, and none have returned high or abnormal results.

VFBV VOLUNTEER WELFARE & EFFICIENCY SURVEY

This year’s volunteer welfare & efficiency survey opened on 13th July. Once again this survey provides CFA Volunteers with a great opportunity to provide honest feedback on how they perceive both the importance and the performance of CFA on six key themes. The results of this survey have a very high level of credibility within CFA, the Emergency Services Sector and with Government. Please do not leave it to others to speak on your behalf. Sign up now by going to www.vfbv.com.au and encourage others in your Brigade/ Group to also sign up to receive the survey electronically. It only takes approximately 15 minutes to complete this very important task. If you prefer a hard copy please contact the VFBV Office: Ph - 03 9886 1141. The survey closes on the 31st August.

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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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