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MEDIA RELEASE - Friday, 12 August 2016

STATEMENT BY VFBV CEO ANDREW FORD ON THE ACTIONS OF THE CFA BOARD TO ADOPT THE UFU’S EBA ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON, 12 AUGUST 2016

Today is a day of infamy that will burn into the memory of every CFA volunteer.

It is the day that that a CFA Board decision, and those Board members who voted for it, betrayed volunteers and ignored their responsibility and obligations to the public of Victoria under the CFA Act and Victoria’s most successful emergency management arrangements.

This evening the CFA Board, made up of a majority Andrews Government-UFU ‘yes’ people accepted the UFU’s Enterprise Bargaining Agreement which will see the powers of the Chief Officer overridden, union interference with volunteer organisation, operations and support, and see volunteers treated as second class just because they are not paid.

The EBA fundamentally alters the nature of CFA organisation, operations and support for volunteers as required by the CFA Act and hands control of key activities within the organisation to the Fitzroy based UFU as part of the grab for power by union secretary Peter Marshall.

The UFU have made no secret of their objective to replace urban volunteers with paid staff, members of the UFU – just look at their various inquiry submissions including the Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission for confirmation. They would relegate remaining volunteers to second class status.

Every inquiry and commission has dismissed these submissions and recognised the fundamental importance of the current CFA volunteer arrangements and the need to continually grow our volunteer capacity to keep pace with urbanisation and the growth of bushfire risk because of climate change.

But consideration of these issues was ignored by the majority of the current CFA Board and the Premier and Minister who pushed them to accept the infamous Andrews-Marshall industrial deal.

The fact that the majority succumbed to political lies, manoeuvring and pressure reflects badly on them in the manner they have exercised their duty as CFA Board members.

We say the Board members who supported this deal have ignored their statutory and fiduciary obligations under the CFA Act and Commonwealth corporate law. They must be held accountable for this failure.

After the sacking of the previous CFA Board for acting in a lawful and responsible way, a way that did not suit Premier Andrews and his dirty deal with Peter Marshall, together with the forced resignation of Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett who acted with enormous integrity in support of CFA and its vital role, outstanding CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan and our Chief Officer Joe Buffone who concluded that the UFU agreement is destructive of CFA efficiency and effectiveness, who is left to defend the real CFA?

After recent sackings and resignations there is only the state’s 60,000 volunteers through their association – VFBV – to stand up for the real CFA and effective public safety services for Victorians.

We have instructed our legal team to take further action immediately to defend the CFA as an effective volunteer based fully integrated fire and emergency service.

Our legal action is unprecedented for volunteers, or in the emergency services – but the consultation process with the CFA has been a sham and our careful analysis ignored.

We now have no other choice if the real CFA is to be defended.

But our campaign to defend CFA will not end there.

Volunteers across the state are mobilising in their local communities and regions. They will make sure Victoria is ready for the summer fire season and at the same time develop local campaigns to mobilise their communities in support of our campaign to defend the real CFA.

Like in countless battles against fires which threaten life and property, CFA volunteers will not give up – it’s just not in our DNA

Published in VFBV News

VFBV - MEDIA RELEASE

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The CFA volunteers’ association says some MPs are missing the point on the campaign for fairer and simpler cancer compensation for firefighters.

Andrew Ford, CEO of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), said Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips has told newspapers ‘Victorian firefighters are already able to access compensation’ but does not address the unfair obstacle they face when they apply.

“Yes the entitlement is there but because of the nature of firefighters’ work and the overly complex process requiring firefighters to prove which event caused the illness, they can’t actually access the entitlement.  That is our key concern. We are not looking for a new entitlement, just a fairer process,” Mr Ford said.

“Under current Victoria law firefighters are entitled to cancer compensation, but they must show evidence of fires or incidents they attended that might be 10 or 15 years ago and prove on the balance of probabilities which incidents or which toxic exposures caused the cancer,” he said.

The Australian Government and three other states have already accepted the scientific studies that show there is a list of a dozen cancers that are clearly more common in firefighters.

“The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have changed the laws to reverse the onus of proof; if one of their firefighters suffers one of those typical firefighter cancers, it is presumed to be work related. That allows the firefighter to concentrate on treatment and recovery, instead of a lengthy and expensive court case,” Mr Ford said.

“The South Australian and West Australian Governments are in the process of changing their laws for career and volunteer firefighters, which leaves Victoria lagging behind,” he said.

“CFA volunteers and their career colleagues are not asking for something extra, just the removal of an unfair barrier to compensation to which they are entitled,” Mr Ford said.

“And with other States going through with legislation, volunteers are tired of hearing excuses.  First there was the wait for extra research, when even the researchers said the wait was unnecessary.  Then there was the introduction of an extra assessment process, a process that doesn’t address the problem of that unfair barrier,” he said.

CFA Brigades protect 60% of suburban Melbourne, regional cities and all of country Victoria.

CFA volunteer firefighters are on call every day and night of the year, they train to professional standards and respond to fires, road accidents, industrial incidents, chemical spills and rescues.

Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers are more than 97% of CFA’s workforce, which makes them an essential part of Victoria’s Emergency Management capability.

Published in VFBV News

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday 20 September 2013

FIREFIGHTERS’ CANCER LAW ISSUE NOT FINISHED - VOLUNTEERS

A proposal for fairer compensation for Victorian firefighters with cancer has failed in the Victorian Parliament, but the CFA volunteers’ association says the issue is definitely not finished.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Andrew Ford said CFA volunteers are extremely disappointed and concerned at the way an issue that is so important to them has been treated.

He said the vote in the Upper House of State Parliament this week just raises the question of what the State Government plans to do next.

“Volunteers are seeking a fairer and simpler path to cancer compensation for all Victorian firefighters, and the Government say they are not ruling out this kind of legislation,” Mr Ford said.

“However, Coalition MPs voted against sending the proposed legislation to the Lower House of State Parliament this week, so the legislation has lapsed, which means the ball is now in the Government’s court,” he said.

“The issue won’t go away, volunteer and career firefighters are still more likely to get cancer, current compensation law still forces them to prove a connection between the cancer and a specific date or event, and that is still very close to impossible.”

“How do you prove which fire and which toxins might have caused your cancer when the incident might have been 10 or 15 years ago and just one of the hundreds you have attended?” Mr Ford said.

The legislation had been proposed by the Greens and supported by Labor MPs, it was the vote of Coalition MPs that ended its run in the Upper House on Wednesday.

“Now there is no legislation before Parliament and the State Government has already said it is not ruling out support for this type of legislation, we are in the hands of the Government as to when it will come to Parliament for consideration,” Mr Ford said.

“Volunteers want to know what the Government plans to do now.”

The proposed legislation is presumptive – it would accept that firefighters are more likely to get certain types of cancer and it would presume those cancers to be work-related.

“Presumptive cancer legislation would mean a firefighter with one of those typical firefighter cancers could concentrate on their treatment and recovery instead of a court case.”

In 2011, the Australian Parliament passed presumptive legislation for federally-employed firefighters (including the fire crews at Melbourne Airport) with the support of all of the major parties, after a Senate Inquiry examined the scientific evidence and recommended it go ahead.

Since then, the WA, SA and Tasmanian Governments have accepted the existing scientific evidence and begun work on presumptive legislation for their firefighters.

VFBV and the United Firefighters’ Union are campaigning for presumptive legislation for Victorian firefighters, both volunteer and career.

“We are not asking for any new or extra compensation, just the removal of an unfair barrier to sick firefighters obtaining the compensation to which they are already entitled,” Mr Ford said.

Published in VFBV News

MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday 21 August 2013

CFA VOLUNTEERS NOT IMPRESSED BY CANCER ANNOUNCEMENT

The CFA volunteers’ association is unimpressed by the announcement of a new body to deal with compensation claims from firefighters suffering from cancer.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Andrew Ford said the State Government’s proposed Firefighters’ Assessment Panel does not solve the problem.

"We need new legislation to fix this - firefighters are still more likely to get cancer because of their exposure to smoke and chemicals, and it is still almost impossible for them to prove it was work related because of the nature of the work they do," Mr Ford said.

"Too often they get a legal battle when what they really need is the chance to concentrate on their treatment and recovery," he said.

"It’s even possible the proposed Firefighters’ Assessment Panel will be just another bureaucratic barrier - it is being sold as a way to better support the processing of claims, but we are worried it could just be an even bigger barrier to firefighters getting the compensation to which they are entitled."

VFBV wants presumptive legislation; current Victorian compensation arrangements already provide for cancer compensation, but it is almost impossible to access because the firefighter has to prove the cancer was caused by one particular fire or incident that might have happened 10 or 15 years ago.

The proposed presumptive legislation would work by reversing the onus of proof – the firefighter’s cancer would be presumed to be work related provided the firefighter has sufficient years of service. A firefighter’s claim could still be rejected if it could be proven that the cancer was not related to firefighting duties.

Presumption allows the firefighter to concentrate on treatment and recovery, not a lengthy and expensive battle to prove the cause of their cancer.

"Firefighters are already entitled to compensation for work related cancer, but cancer is not like a broken leg – it’s almost impossible to prove the cancer came from one particular fire that might have been 10 years ago," Mr Ford said.

The Australian Government already has presumptive cancer legislation for federally-employed firefighters, and the West Australian, South Australian and Tasmanian Governments are all introducing similar laws.

"Other Governments in Australia and overseas have already accepted the scientific proof that firefighting leads to a higher risk of certain types of cancer," Mr Ford said.

"Here in Victoria there have been questions from the Government about the cost, and media reports of estimates in the millions – we doubt those estimates are accurate, but if they are, then those millions are just the measure of the cost being paid by firefighters and their families when they become ill, because there’s an unfair barrier to the compensation to which they are entitled," he said.

"CFA volunteers and their career colleagues are not asking for something new or extra, just the removal of that unfair barrier," he said.

Ends…

Published in VFBV News
Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00

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An Adobe Acrobat file 20180300 - MR - Warrnambool hosting rural fire championships for the first time Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 424.21 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180300 - MR - Wendouree volunteer encouraging juniors Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 415.19 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180500 - MR - 18-year-old volunteer takes on community safety role Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 415.19 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180500 - MR - Gazette fire shows value of volunteers Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 423.22 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180500 - MR - Hamilton CFA volunteer wins `living the values' award Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 413.76 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180500 - MR - Malmsbury captain wins Spirit of CFA inclusion award Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 409.75 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180500 - MR - Senior Mortlake volunteer commended for 50 years of service Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 418.15 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180500 - MR - Upper ferntree Gully volunteer praised for firefighter protection innovation Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 414.28 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180500 - MR - Volunteer wins medal for peer support Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 422.71 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180521 - MR - Volunteer week highlights importance of CFA volunteers Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 424.26 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180600 - MR - French connection for CFA volunteer Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 414.13 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180700 - MR - Water treatment plant information sessions keeps it safe for East Gippsland firefighters Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 412.51 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180800 - MR - Ballarat volunteers commended for rescuing fellow volunteers Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 418.02 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180800 - MR - First female officer shows changing face of Ballarat Fire Brigade Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 412.48 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180800 - MR - New Colac junior makes it three generations of CFA commitment for O'Brian family Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 414.36 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180900 - MR - Coast Guard CFA brigades celebrate 10 years of keeping Victoria's bays safe Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 111.4 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180900 - MR - Fresh look for Camperdown region fire brigades Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 415.46 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180900 - MR - Kylie becomes Swan Hill's first female firefighter of the year Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 415.03 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180900 - MR - Survey to bring spotlight to CFA volunteer issues Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 111.45 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20180900 - MR - Swan Hill fire brigade shows its diversity Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 111.59 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181000 - MR - CFA Volunteer peak body calls for sensible compromise re VEOHRC report Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 138.67 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181027 - MR - Volunteers call on all Parties to match Liberal Nationals on Presumptive Leg Promise Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 143.86 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181100 - MR - Bright CFA volunteer receives VFBV life membership Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 108.6 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181100 - MR - Kinglake mother and son CFA volunteers there to protect the community Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 117.34 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181100 - MR - Narre Warren CFA volunteers reach out to help others Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 106.94 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181100 - MR - Seymour veteran concerned about CFA future Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 109.78 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181115 - MR - Volunteers call on all candidates to pledge support for CFA model Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 184.67 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181200 - MR - From kidney transplant to saving property as a CFA volunteer Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 102.58 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181200 - MR- Victorian firefighters help to save koala habitat in Queensland Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 108.12 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20181200 - MR - Victorian volunteer experience helps battle Queensland fires Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 115.26 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190100 - MR - CFA volunteers selected to march in Australia Day parade Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 111.28 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190100 - MR - Young Yarrambat CFA captain and youth leader wins Australia Day award Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 114.93 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190300 - MR - After 77 years Rochester CFA volunteer is still dedicated Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 108.68 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190400 - MR - Barongarook CFA volunteers spread their influence far and wide Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 110.48 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190400 - MR - Four medals celebrate 157 years of CFA volunteer service Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 149.07 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190424 - MR - Epping CFA on the hop this Easter weekend Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 127.37 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190424- MR - Truganina CFA on the hop this Easter weekend Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 126.17 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190429 - MR - CFA District 14 on the hop over Easter weekend - raise 158,000 Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 136.73 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190500 - MR - Lindsay CFA volunteers win award Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 124.12 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190500 - MR - Wallington CFA volunteer becomes a life member and leads three generations of volunteers Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 121.92 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190520 - MR - National volunteer week 2019 Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 171.35 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190521 - MR - National Volunteer Week 2019 - Carrum Coast Guard Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 151.12 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190522 - MR - National Volunteer Week 2019 - D14 steep rope exercise Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 148.45 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190523 - MR - National Volunteer Week 2019 - Lessons from history drive new approaches to planned burns Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 212.35 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190524 - MR - National Volunteer Week 2019 - Volunteering ‘just what you do’ in your community says CFA captain Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 128.58 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190600 - MR - Young Healesville CFA volunteer fast-tracks into leadership role Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 117.58 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190700 - MR - Loch CFA volunteer returns the favor after surviving near-fatal car crash Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 121.76 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190800 - MR - Bayles CFA volunteers to celebrate 75 years with community event Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 117.96 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190800 - MR - Mt Eliza CFA volunteers find a new way to protect the local community Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 115.25 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190900 - MR - Coastal CFA volunteers join forces to learn new skills Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 116.05 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20190900 - MR - Northern Victorian volunteer firefighter rewarded for his dedication Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 119.43 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20191000 - MR - Four generations of families to help celebrate Stradbroke CFA 75 years Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 114.57 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20191000 - MR - Mirboo North CFA volunteers to celebrate 75 years with reunion Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 130.32 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20191000 - MR - Poowong CFA volunteers to celebrate 75 years Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 121.89 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20191028 - MR - Eppalock group CFA volunteers join forces to receive awards Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 121.06 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20191100 - MR - Commendation for long-serving Bunyip CFA volunteer Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 119.91 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20191100 - MR - Huntly CFA volunteers light up the town with safety messages Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 112.34 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20191100 - MR - South-east Victorian CFA volunteers help to ease NSW and Qld fire threat Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 120.85 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20191200 - MR - Volunteer faces toughest fires in 45years Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 116.32 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20200100 - MR - Volunteer CFA strike team leader just 'doing what we do best' Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 120.31 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20200200 - MR - Eldorado Fire Brigade enjoys the benefits of junior competition Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 115.08 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20200200 - MR - Volunteers reunite to remember 1965 East Gippsland fire Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 121.9 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20200300 - MR - Hamilton air base volunteers keep south-west Victoria safe Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 148.05 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20200300- MR - CFA volunteers put together task force to help fire-damaged areas Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 112.75 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20200300-MR - Gold stars recognise combined 145 years of CFA volunteer service in northern Victoria Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 114.96 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20200300- MR - Hundreds of volunteer firefighters and juniors to compete in state championships Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 114.89 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20200300-MR - Leongatha Fire Brigade digs deep to help bushfire regions and looks for new volunteers Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 113.04 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20210300-MR-Hamilton_airbase_facility_to_be_named_in_honour_of_volunteer Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 159.19 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20210300-MR-Return_of_championships_to_help_fire_brigade_recruitment Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 134.54 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20210500-MR-Dumbalk_volunteer_still_breaking_down_barriers_after_40_years-FINAL Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 120.69 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20210500-MR-Firefighter_added_to_honour_roll_64_years_after_his_death-FINAL Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 120.93 KB
An Adobe Acrobat file 20210500-MR-Sale_family_continues_a_firefighting_tradition-FINAL Download Preceding File Preview in Google Docs Viewer 119.94 KB

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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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