Ministerial Working Group Appointed

A new Ministerial Working Group has been established to consider recommendations made by an independent review into the state’s fire services and develop the Government’s response.

Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett will be joined by Deputy Premier James Merlino, Minister Lisa Neville, Minister Fiona Richardson and Minister Jaala Pulford to work through the Fire Services Review and report back to Government.

This work is underway and will be completed in early 2016, after the current fire season has concluded.

The review was commissioned in July to look at ways to improve the resourcing, operations, management, culture of the MFB and CFA. The Government has made it clear that amalgamation of the fire services will not be considered.

Independent reviewer Mr David O’Byrne received an overwhelming response with 180 written submissions from brigades, associations and individuals. Mr O’Byrne also visited 18 fire stations where he conducted interviews with MFB and CFA members.

In addition, Mr O’Byrne consulted with relevant stakeholders, including the United Firefighters Union (UFU) and the Volunteers Firefighter Brigades Victoria (VFBV), to ensure all aspects of the fire services were included in the report.

The Fire Services Review will receive proper consideration from the Government and a response will be released publically.

As an initial part of the Government’s response, the Department of Justice and Regulation has engaged Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, Kate Jenkins to examine important issues around gender equity and workplace culture in Victoria’s emergency services.

Ms Jenkins will work closely with Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) and will report back to the Ministerial Working Group.

The Government will not be undertaking any significant or major changes in the fire services until the current fire season has ended.

There are more than 62,000 firefighters, operational personal and support staff across the state who are ready and well-prepared to keep communities safe. Our priority is to make sure they are fully supported.

The Government has invested more than $20 million in the state’s biggest ever aviation fleet of 47 aircraft to help our firefighters on the front line protect lives and property. All operations and planning, including Fire Action Week, have been brought forward to ensure Victoria is ready and well-prepared for the fire season.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett

“This was a substantial review. It deserves proper consideration so that we can get this right.”

Victoria’s fire services do an excellent job in protecting lives and properties. Our priority is making sure they have the support they need to continue doing the best job on the front line.”

“This review covers many aspects of the organisations, it will inform a government response that allows us to maintain two world class firefighting services.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Women Fiona Richardson

“Unfortunately women are still facing gender discrimination in too many workplaces across our state.”

“Women have the right to feel safe and respected in their workplaces, whatever industry they choose to work in, and this review is the right step forward.”