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HR, Welfare & OH&S Committee

HR, Welfare & OH&S Committee (12)

Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

2 Minute Briefing - HR, Welfare & OH&S

Written by

Issue 15: December 2015

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 29/11/2015)

ROLE OF GROUP The committee was advised that the new Chief Officer has requested that the Role of Group publication that was due to be distributed to brigades be put on hold whilst he conducts a review. The committee has been provided with a much condensed version for feedback. Whilst members will no doubt be disappointed with yet another delay, the committee will work with the new Chief Officer to try and resolve the current impasse affecting this long delayed project.

SECTOR COMMANDER COURSE

The Sector Commander course was developed by the IMTTP team and originally released for delivery in 2014. The course was written with the assumption that a student undertaking the course has no prior knowledge of the subject matter. Feedback from students is that the course is quite lengthy and duplicates material that is covered in earlier courses such as crew leader. Exacerbating the problem, there were restrictive pre-requisites to undertake the course. CFA has decided to conduct a full review of the course, with the State Incident Management Training Delivery Project Steering Committee to oversee the course review.

The committee has highlighted to CFA that the course was originally designed to be delivered in unique modules, yet all CFA delivery to date has been to deliver all modules consecutively which has frustrated students, and led to courses running over consecutive 3 or 4 full weekends, causing understandable member backlash. CFA has agreed to rework and rewrite the course, with the intent to break the course into four distinct modules, with duplication to be removed. This will assist members who may already hold existing units that can be mapped to parts of the new course and allow members to undertake just those parts they do not currently hold. A reworked assessment will ensure all members exit the course with standardized learning outcomes. It is anticipated that this may reduce the Sector Commander course to one night and 2 days. Piloting of the new course is anticipated early in 2016.

FATIGUE MANAGEMENT

The Committee has for some time been reporting the District and Regional variances in how fatigue management is implemented, especially for larger incidents. Examples of two neighbouring districts implementing completely different fatigue guidelines for strike teams dispatched to the same job provided a case study of the issue. The Committee has requested state-wide guidelines be developed and communicated to the field which amongst other things outline crew changeovers, appropriate rest periods between deployments and long haul strike team travel arrangements, including the use of coaches and/or fresh drivers to return appliances to their home locations.

VOLUNTEER UTILISATION IN IMTs

The committee has reinforced the need for proactive and deliberate action to be taken to encourage, and strengthen the use of volunteers in IMTs. The critical importance of planning and the effects of poor or last minute planning on volunteer utilisation are well known and the committee has requested that the Chief Officer lead this work amongst the agencies this fire season. The view amongst some senior leaders over previous seasons has been that there is very little volunteer interest, yet discussions with the field constantly highlight not only high interest, but that many volunteers were either unaware of any requests or only requested on extremely short notice (sometimes with less than four hours’ notice) which makes it difficult for them to arrange availability with their employer. Short notice also ignores that many volunteers qualified in IMT roles will commit to other Brigade or District roles in the absence of any request for their services in IMT roles. The committee has requested a robust system be developed to ensure transparency and accountability is maintained in requests for resources, including sufficient planning and flexibility that supports volunteer participation.

Friday, 23 October 2015 00:00

2 Minute Briefing - HR, Welfare and OH&S

Written by

Issue 14: October 2015

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 18/10/15)

 

VOLUNTEER CODE OF CONDUCT & CFA VALUES

A considerable amount of work & consultation has been undertaken by CFA in developing the new CFA Values (STAIR – Safety, Together, Adaptive, Integrity and Respect).

CFA has been actively promoting these values through presentations to Brigades, Groups and to Regional/District staff to promote a clear understanding and encourage their active implementation at all levels.

VFBV has agreed to a request by the Chief Officer to consider minor adjustments to the Volunteer Code of Conduct to incorporate the new values that complement the Fire Star Virtues which will be maintained. A draft update will shortly be published to seek volunteer feedback before the changes are formalized.

CFA and VFBV have agreed to use this refresh as an opportunity to remind members and staff of the importance of the volunteer code of conduct, and the corresponding code of conduct for Victorian public sector employees which covers paid staff. Anecdotal evidence continues to suggest that some members struggle in how to “call out bad behaviour” and manage it effectively.

Across all districts a great deal of time is taken up dealing with issues at all levels of the organisation as a result of non-adherence to the Volunteer Code of Conduct, the Employee Code of Conduct & CFA Values. VFBV encourages all brigades to engage with all members to further inform them about the CFA Values, thereby promoting the importance of them living out the values and demonstrating them when dealing with members and issues that they encounter in their roles.

CFA is undertaking similar discussions with its employees including line managers such as OMs and OOs to highlight the importance of leaders demonstrating and living by our new values. Brigades, Groups & VFBV District Councils wishing to arrange a presentation can contact CFA’s Michelle O’Sullivan at HQ for further information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

VOLUNTEER LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Volunteerism Coordinators Fiona Martin (District 13) and Terri Johnson (District 22) were tasked with similar projects by their respective Operations Managers – Development of Leadership & Management Skill Development for Volunteers.

The Committee invited and received an update from each as to how their programs were progressing, and discuss scope for wider rollout. Both were able to build on work undertaken previously. Fiona spoke about the program that has been developed for Captains and Lieutenants that can be delivered in “a pipeline” that builds on their experience but uses similar concepts and language. The program is delivered using volunteer facilitators who have been very keen to be involved in developing current and future leaders. Funding has been provided to trial & test the model developed enabling any adjustments to be made before it is rolled out to other Districts. Online options are also being explored.

Kris spoke about the Captains’ Peer Mentoring Program. This program was initiated in District 14 four years ago. 2015 sees the expansion of the program to six districts. Many Captains have reported that they have more concerns about HR management rather than operational concerns, and the program has been built to provide them this support. Very careful pairing of a mentor with a mentoree with close monitoring & support from Operations Officers limits this program to 6 partnerships per District.

It is hoped that the professional development of volunteer leaders in CFA continues to expand, and the volunteer delegates to the committee commend the work thus far undertaken and encourage brigades to be on the lookout for future opportunities as these programs are refined and rolled out on a wider basis. Interested brigades should contact their Catchment Officer to discuss what opportunities there are to bring these programs to your District.

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.

Issue 12: April 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 12/04/15)

VFBV VOLUNTEER WELFARE & EFFICIENCY SURVEY REPORT

The results of the 2014 VFBV Welfare and Efficiency Survey have been analysed and the report released. The report contains a great deal of information on issues affecting the Welfare & Efficiency of CFA volunteers across the state. As in previous years the 2014 data has been compared to previous years to determine trends and changes. Some of the areas of particular note from the 2014 survey include: 1/Training – This issue remains the most important one for CFA volunteers and is the issue least meeting volunteer expectations. 2/Variation of volunteer experience between Brigades – CFA Volunteers at Integrated Brigades were more concerned with issues related to people management, cooperation, respect and professionalism, indicating that these issues require further attention in these brigades.   3/ Equity, Diversity & Workplace Behaviour – this area indicated differences in response between Male & Female as to the level of importance of these issues and also how they were handled at Brigade, District & Corporate levels within CFA.

It is pleasing to see that 80% of survey respondents are satisfied with their role as a CFA volunteer and that 87% intend to continue their membership. However only 59% of volunteers are satisfied with the way they are treated by CFA. This comparatively low satisfaction score suggests that the greatest potential impact on future volunteer welfare & efficiency sits with CFA in the success or otherwise of their partnerships with brigades.

The results of this survey are closely examined by Government and CFA (Board, Regional and District level). A detailed hard copy of the report which analyses the survey results is being mailed to each brigade in the quarterly VFBV mail out. Alternatively a copy can be found on the VFBV website: www.vfbv.com.au

The results of the VFBV Welfare & Efficiency survey are used by VFBV to bring the frontline volunteers’ opinions and advice on matters that affect their welfare and efficiency direct to the State’s decision makers. Your opinion matters, so please register to have the 2015 survey sent to you as soon as it is available.

Registrations for the 2015 VFBV Welfare & Efficiency Survey are now open, and you can register for the survey by going to the VFBV website, or emailing your name, district and email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Alternatively, a hard copy can be mailed to volunteers by contacting the VFBV Office Ph 03 9886 1141.

CFA VALUES

The CFA Values Review is a key component of the CFA Broader Culture Program. Its aim is to clearly articulate the “do’s” and “don’ts” within the organisation, and provide a framework for how we treat one another and our community.

Commencing October 2014, CFA embarked on a consultation process across HQ and the Regions to review the organisational values, with the aim being to identify three to five values that could unify us in the way we work and how we serve our communities.

Following feedback, CFA is now considering the following five organisational values; Safety, Together, Adaptive, Integrity and Respect.

The Committee was advised that CFA is now developing a plan to articulate and monitor the multiple efforts to embed these new values. Further information explaining these values and the way in which they will be applied will be communicated by CFA in the coming months. The Committee has requested that more effort be made to communicate directly with members and brigades, as feedback suggests many members are still unaware that this work was going on.

Issue 11: December 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 30/11/14)

HEADS UP – MANAGING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

CFA have launched a new web portal that provides information and education on mental health for all CFA members. It has been designed to be accessed from any internet-enabled smartphone, tablet or computer, and can be accessed from http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/headsup

The portal provides information on Bullying, harassment & discrimination, potentially traumatic events, mental health, and interpersonal conflict. It includes useful tools and contact details for immediate assistance.

A new guidebook has also been launched called “Manage your mental health action plan” which is a small A5 sized easy to read guide aimed at CFA members, designed to gather information about the nature of the main challenges, issues, or problems facing CFA members. It helps members understand what triggers you and causes you stress in particular situations, and how you can communicate what your limitations are around your personal wellbeing.

For more information on what tools and guides are available, members can contact the Wellbeing pilot. Contact details are available rom your District office or via the CFA website Brigades Online.

CFA PEOPLE CAPABILITY FRAMEWORK

Recognizing that over the years, CFA’s role has broadened to encompass emergency management and multi-agency response, and that this has resulted in a significant change to the roles CFA members play and the skills they need to develop to support service delivery, CFA is refreshing its People Capability Framework.

The framework intends on developing an enhanced understanding of the capability profile of the CFA workforce that will allow CFA to identify skill and capability gaps, particularly for critical job roles & recruitment strategies.

Whilst workforce planning sounds like it only deals with paid roles, the reality is CFA is a volunteer and community based organisation, and all members contribute to the organisations culture and workforce arrangement, which should be pay status blind.

The committee has been requested to provide feedback on the framework which covers; thinking capabilities, personal capabilities, people capabilities and practical capabilities. The committee has requested volunteer feedback be sought from the regional and district level.

CFA CULTURE SURVEY RESULTS

CFA has provided a high level overview of results from its culture survey. The results show a decline in organisational culture away from CFA’s preferred culture. The preferred culture as identified by members in 2012 was a vision of strong focus on constructive styles such as encouraging & supporting others, resolving conflict constructively, helping others to grow & develop, treating people as more important than things, using good human relation skills, cooperating with others, and working to archive self-set goals and enjoying work. The results from the 2014 survey shows an increased reporting of Passive/Defensive and Aggressive/Defensive styles such as pushing decisions upwards and taking few chances.

The CFA Executive Leadership Team has taken personal responsibility for the culture results, and have embarked on a state wide roadshow to explore the recent culture survey results. Each ELT member has been allocated to regions and will be visiting each of the five CFA regions. A current schedule of locations and dates is available on Brigade online. The committee has requested assurance that volunteer friendly times will be incorporated into the schedule.

Issue 10: August 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 31/08/14)

WELLBEING PILOT EVALUATION

The Wellbeing Pilot Program has been progressively rolled out to CFA Brigades in recent months. Contact with the Wellbeing Field Officers who are able to provide support for issues such as Mental Health concerns and Relationship Issues (which may be related to Interpersonal conflict within a Brigade) can be initiated at a number of points, including individual referral, through the Brigade and CIS Peers. The initiatives being implemented support CFA members to be better able to operate in a psychologically healthy and safe environment and as a result support the ongoing viability of Brigades. Anecdotal feedback to VFBV at this point in time has been positive.

CFA has agreed to the Committees request for it to be actively engaged in the Pilot Program’s evaluation, and delivered upon that commitment with a briefing on how the program is being evaluated. VFBV is keen to ensure that the Pilot Program is developed in a manner that delivers the best results to members and it is important that broad ranging and rigorous evaluation of the program is conducted in an ongoing manner.

Depending on the circumstances of each contact with the Wellbeing Field Officers the evaluation process will have the flexibility to be sensitively undertaken according to the needs and appropriate follow up for each case’s ongoing health and progress. Evaluation will in most instances not be limited to one opportunity to provide feedback as it may be that initially the outcomes of the support from the Wellbeing Field Officers may not be known for some time or that events at a local or personal level may require that implemented strategies are reviewed.

OH&S POLICIES AND PROCEDURES REVIEW

CFA has undertaken a review of many OH&S policies and procedures as a result of recent and ongoing changes in Legislation. The Committee has been provided with draft copies of the changes, and had a productive discussion surrounding the purpose and objectives of the procedures.

Delegates have raised their concerns that many of the organisations OH&S Policies and Procedures are written very much in the context of a CFA Office location, and are extremely difficult to understand within a Brigade context. Given the vast majority of CFA workplaces are in fact Fire Stations, and volunteers operate in a far more complex and dynamic environment than administration offices, the Committee has urged CFA produce far simpler, practical and easier to read guidance for Brigades use.

CFA has agreed to investigate an alternate strategy that would still ensure member and community safety is maintained without Brigades incurring an unnecessarily onerous burden of paperwork and training in procedures that are rarely used and/or are not applicable. An example used by the Committee was the requirement for all locations to conduct a fire drill once a year. There are 1,219 CFA work locations that would find this requirement humorous to say the least.    

VOLUNTEER EQUAL OPPORUNTIY OFFICERS

CFA has advised that they will no longer be supporting the voluntary EEO Officer network that was established in the early 90’s. CFA data indicates that in recent years there have been very few contacts made by members with these Officers, and that training and skill maintenance has been progressively scaled back over the years as the complexity of legislation in this field has increased. CFA feels this role can now be better managed through the Wellbeing Field Officers and specialist support available through the Wellbeing Pilot. The Committee has cautiously accepted the decision, but has raised its concern with the sustainability of a paid only model. Delegates still see value in a voluntary network similar to the CIS Peer Program, which would embed these skills and knowledge within Brigades.

VFBV/CFA Joint HR, Welfare and OH&S Committee

2 Minute Briefing

Issue 9: May 2014

WELLBEING PILOT

The committee received a briefing on the Wellbeing Pilot that is being funded through the Volunteer Support Program. This pilot will see 10 specialist people hired to provide brigades with direct support for mental health & relationship management. This encompasses aspects such as physiological first aid, and includes assisting with behavioural and interpersonal conflict issues which sometimes arise within brigades.

The Wellbeing Pilot Project is not designed to replace the very important role of CIS Peers but will operate at a higher level of support for CFA members. In conjunction with the member concerned, Peers may in fact choose to make a referral to the Intake & Triage Support Officer to provide more specialist support. It is anticipated that this specialist support will enable Operational Leaders to be more focused on their role of protecting lives and property.

The discussion provided the committee the opportunity to discuss VFBV concerns around the centralized model proposed by the pilot, and the philosophical argument that member welfare and wellbeing should be seen by the organisation as core business. VFBV is very supportive of this program and its outcomes but consider the care of members to be at the core of CFA’s business and funding, and not (as is the case currently) to be the subject of opportunistic funding through the Volunteer Support Program. The committee will be closely monitoring the evaluation of this program and have requested to be actively & regularly engaged during the pilot period in order to inform the final evaluation of the pilot early next year.

All cases will be managed confidentially, and CFA will shortly be advertising the service and contact number. VFBV delegates have requested CFA to ensure all brigades are included in the communique, and not to rely solely on the CFA intranet to make members aware of what is available.

VFBV WELFARE & EFFICIENCY SURVEY

The VFBV Welfare and Efficiency Survey will be conducted for the third time in June. The survey should be live by the time this edition goes to press, or shortly thereafter.

This very important survey is an opportunity for volunteers to be able to provide feedback on how they perceive many aspects of their involvement as a CFA volunteer. The results of this survey are taken very seriously at all levels within CFA and are used in most Districts to guide change and improve performance and relationships across the organisation. The committee has agreed to work together to monitor the results, and champion initiatives aimed at addressing the concerns raised by Volunteers.

There are 33 questions in the survey which takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Your answers are confidential and are used to advise both the CFA and Government on a range of issues that affect volunteers.

Please encourage as many volunteers as you can to visit the VFBV website at www.vfbv.com.au to complete the survey.

Alternatively members can choose to contact the VFBV Office on (03) 9886 1141 for a hard copy to be posted to you.

HR, Welfare and OH&S

Joint Committee -2 Minute Briefing

Issue 8, March 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 02/03/2014)

PRESUMPTIVE LEGISLATION
VFBV is preparing to step up it’s campaign for presumptive legislation, the firefighters’ cancer law.

The VFBV Board this week resolved to set up a trust account and seek donations to support the campaign.

The VFBV Presumptive Legislation Campaign Trust Account will be a specific purpose trust account to meet the costs of VFBV’s campaign for presumptive legislation for firefighters, including;


• Provision of information to members and the public
• Research and analysis
• Legal support, and
• Legal representation costs relevant to the pursuit of presumptive legislation, including but not limited to test cases as deemed necessary.

VFBV will be advertising broadly to encourage public and internal support for this fund raising effort.

The VFBV Presumptive Legislation Campaign Trust Fund is clearly aimed at supporting our pursuit of presumptive legislation and fair protection for firefighters.
Funds raised will assist our campaign efforts and test case pursuit, but will not extend to covering personal illness related compensation as we clearly see this as an obligation for the CFA volunteer Compensation arrangements.

What volunteers can do;
- Brigades, Groups and District Councils, as well as the public, will soon be invited to donate to the fund – details of how to donate will be posted on our website later this week
- Raise the issue of presumptive legislation/the firefighters’ cancer law at any opportunity with Members of Parliament, local media and online

You can download VFBV’s Notes for MPs and Notes for Volunteers by clicking here

 

MEMBERS IN RECEIPT OF DISABILITY PENSION

As reported in Edition 7 of this 2 minute Briefing, CFA is developing a Position and Policy for CFA members currently in receipt of a Disability Pension. This may include the introduction of a “reasonable adjustment” policy that CFA could impose to introduce controls & restrictions on members who are assessed medically to be at risk due to their illness or condition.
State Councillors were provided a detailed VFBV Information Paper, and a CFA Information Paper that outlines the issue, impacts and perceived risks. State Councillors have been requested to brief their respective District Councils & seek member feedback.

The Committee will use this feedback to progress the issue, and members (especially those that may be in receipt of a Disability Pension) are urged to discuss the paper with their State Councillors so that feedback can be used to help guide the committee in providing advice back to CFA, as the Policy is developed.

HR, Welfare and OH&S

Joint Committee -2 Minute Briefing

Issue 7, November 2013

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 10/11/2013)

PRESUMPTIVE LEGISLATION

VFBV calls on volunteers to write to State MPs calling for support for the firefighters’ cancer law.  VFBV is receiving copies of Brigades’ and volunteers’ letters, and the MPs’ replies.  The issue will be raised in Parliament in December, but lacks Government support and Victoria lags behind; Tasmania now has presumptive legislation and the SA and WA Governments have begun putting through legislation.  See www.vfbv.com.au for how to get involved.

CFA PEOPLE STRATEGY 2013 - 2015

CFA is progressing the development of a People strategy to guide the work under five (5) key areas:  Leadership, Culture, Health Safety & Environment, People Sustainability and People Capability.

As part of the development of this strategy, CFA is intending to conduct a further round of their CFA Culture Survey to examine trends and shifts in responses from the first survey in 2013. The findings from this research will be built into the design and implementation of the CFA People Strategy.

MEMBERS IN RECEIPT OF DISABILITY PENSION

The issue of members on a disability pension who make an injury compensation claim requires some careful consideration by CFA and VFBV. CFA has formed no definitive position or policy to condone a person undertaking firefighting activities; morally and legally there is a need for some processes and rules to be introduced to ensure the welfare of the member and of the crew they may be part of.

The development of a CFA Position /Policy is in its early days, however VFBV is engaged in the progression of draft documents that explore the options for the management of members who have illnesses or conditions (recognised by the receipt of disability pension support) and how CFA may require medical and fitness for duty assessments of any member current or future that is in receipt of a disability pension. This may include the introduction of a reasonable adjustment policy that CFA could impose to introduce controls and restrictions on members who are assessed medically to be at risk due to their illness or condition.

VFBV would indicate that CFA membership is typical of the general population, thus with the many thousands of CFA volunteers engaged in firefighting activities, a similar percentage of volunteers may be impacted by the introduction of a CFA policy/position on this matter.

VFBV delegates will discuss the matter in more detail at the December 2013 meeting

OH&S CLAIM STATISTICS

Regular quarterly snapshot reports are considered each meeting on injury / OH&S statistics with interesting trends in the number, severity and cause of injuries across CFA.

Not surprisingly the vast majority of injuries are soft tissue, sprains, strains and minor abrasions with around half of all claims occurring in non-response or non-emergency situations. The recent NSW support deployment triggered 12 injury reports, all relatively minor.

The Committee members have recommended that CFA communicate to members some typical examples of injury causes with many being the result of careless / unwise behaviours and actions that could be avoided or minimised with greater awareness.

CFA reported that the Member Healthwatch Program is gaining high recognition as an industry innovation leader and is shortlisted for Fire Awareness Award consideration. CFA has embraced this program building it into the ongoing business and service to member’s arrangements.

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

Issue 6, 11 August 2013

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 11/08/2013)

CREATING OUR FUTURE TOGETHER

The committee discussed the Creating our Future Together project. Feedback regarding the recent round of presentations included:

  • Timeframe is not sufficient for consideration of proposal.  It is difficult to align feedback timelines with Group meeting schedules, some groups only meet once every 2 months.. 
  • There have been concerns raised that Ops people might be put under additional pressure with the structure.
  • Implementation of the helpdesk concept will be critical to its success. A helpdesk might delay or duplicate issues if not implemented well.  There need to be clarity about what the issues that go to the helpdesk.  Need to make sure Districts are not left out of the loop with queries going to a help desk. 
    • Proposed model will need to incorporate support required during fire season.
    • Need to move decision making authority to the districts consistent with mission command principles.

 

CFA’s LEADERSHIP FRAMEWORK

Draft Leadership Framework was tabled for feedback. To date feedback has been positive with discussions including the role of situational leadership and the need to be adaptable as leaders. Committee members saw the value in integrating the framework into processes including succession and development. Discussion included the concept of Leaders at All Levels and the group identified key areas to integrate the framework into including Forums, skills maintenance and mentoring and coaching programs. There was acknowledgement that “Leadership” has been raised in many areas ie Jones Report/Royal Commission etc.  Feedback included:

  • Strong agreement that it needs to reflect CFA member’s views and not be just a theoretical model. 
  • Need to embed this in how we work - a person appointed to the role may not be the role they always perform, eg: a Brigade Captain or Group Officer could be a crew member on a strike team during a major incident.  Leadership roles vary and are contextual. Good leaders need to be able to be led by others in certain situations
  • Delegations need to align to situational leadership.
  • People need to be able to step in & out of leadership.
  • Developing leaders for the future as a focus.  

 

OHS&E RESOURCES CONFIRMED AND ONGOING

CFA have advised that additional ongoing OHS&E positions have been approved for the deployment of dedicated OHS&E specialists across the CFA network. These much anticipated roles have been supported in some of the most difficult financial management times, yet these appointments are testament to the importance that Occupational Health, Safety and Environment must play in any organisation, including CFA.

VFBV was notifed of CFA’s decision recently and welcome the investment in dedicated resources to work with all members, much of the role requiring field presence and interaction. VFBV’s District Council networks will have specific interest in developing stong working relationships with these OHS&E personnel and look to integrate their own District and Council safety and environment work into the strong state network this initiative will offer.

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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