The Andrews Labor Government will build stronger fire services for Victoria by implementing key recommendations made in an independent review.
The Fire Service Review, led by Mr David O’Byrne, examined the resourcing, operations, management and culture of the CFA and MFB.
The Government has accepted the majority of the 20 recommendations and has committed to improving the fire services to ensure they can better protect lives and property into the future.
The Government response was developed by a Ministerial Working Group led by Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett.
The review found that the Victorian community remains well served by its dedicated firefighters, both paid and volunteers, across the CFA and MFB. However, the report also identified significant challenges and areas of improvement, including:
- workplace culture and morale
- allocation of resources
- how the fire services work together
The Government acknowledges that change is needed and action is already taking place to improve workplace culture and diversity in the fire services.
In response to the review, the MFB and CFA will establish and strengthen dedicated diversity taskforces. They will also set up external 24 hour hotlines to provide support, advice and referral to members on workplace harm issues. This will be based on a model used by Victoria Police and will track trends occurring in the agencies.
In addition to this work, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) is currently investigating gender equity and workplace culture in the MFB and CFA. It will make recommendations on strategies and plans that will lead to a better working environment.
The Government will also focus on improving the way the fire services work together. Emergency Management Victoria will work with the fire services to improve interoperability including introducing standardised Breathing Apparatus equipment by the end of 2016.
Another significant theme in the review was leadership capability and capacity, particularly at middle management level. The fire services along with Emergency Management Victoria will work closely together to develop the leadership skills of management.
The Government has accepted all of the review’s recommendations with the exception of recommendations 13 and 14. These related to a single board, and merging the role of Chief Officer and the CEO into a single position.
The Government has made it clear we would not amalgamate the CFA and MFB at any level. Additionally, the complexity and size of these community organisations requires both executive business leadership and operational leadership.
Ms Garrett thanked Mr O’Byrne for his work on the report, which included consulting extensively with MFB and CFA members, the United Firefighters Union and the Volunteers Firefighter Brigades Victoria. Mr O’Byrne also received 180 written submissions from brigades, associations and individuals.
The Fire Services Review, Government response and public submissions are available at myviews.justice.vic.gov.au/fireservicesreview
Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett
“This important review will support the Government in identifying areas of change required to ensure Victoria has truly modern fire services that reflect our community.”
“Victorians rightly expect that our fire services are as strong and as effective as they possibly can be.”
“We are also taking action to make sure every firefighter is supported and safe in the workplace.”
“We will work closely with all stakeholders to address the issues identified in the review.”