ESVA President’s Report
The last six months has been extremely busy for the ESVA committee as we work to towards ensuring all the needs of our volunteers are being addressed across the state in every facet of their roles and responsibilities in emergency services. At times the ESVA has experienced long delays in achieving results in some areas. This has been a source of frustration for myself and the ESVA committee. Accordingly, the ESVA has worked closely with key staff within DFES to ensure our efforts on reform, providing initiatives and many new changes are not being ignored bur addressed in a timely manner where appropriate.
Last week many of our volunteers attended the DFES Conference in Perth. The event was very well managed by the DFES team and congratulations to Vicki Quinlan who has been on the conference organising team for many years supporting the volunteer’s ideas.
The conference was very successful once again.
The 2018 Conference will be shared with the AFAC Conference.
New DFES Commissioner
A new DFES Commissioner in Darren Klemm and the ESVA would like to congratulate Darren on his appointment. I look forward to working with Darren in the near future to ensure the VFES brand is supported across the state.
The ESVA would like to thanks AC Graham Swift for his support in addressing the many issues that we have raised. He has achieved some very good results for our volunteers.
There have been many issues that have been unresolved in the last few years, despite the efforts of the ESVA.
- Capital Works (building replacement programs) – Halls Creek in particular
- Minor works programs (e.g. toilets, showers)
- Training: Pathways and e-Learning
- General policies governing the VFES
- Code of Conduct issues
- Rural Fire Service
- Building Footprints for all volunteer BGUs
In the past 6 months I have had countless meetings with key DFES staff to ensure the issues the ESVA has raised are being addressed in a timely manner. To a fair degree many issues are now being sorted in the appropriate manner with obvious consideration of the financial implications of any new projects.
In addition the recommendations of the Review of the VFES Report are now starting to be implemented.
Nonetheless, the ESVA expects accountability and transparency for any issues that relate the VFES and our volunteers otherwise the VFES model will not be accepted by our stakeholders and potential new applicants.
Achievements in the last 6 Months
- The Commissioner signed off 15 recommendations from the ESVA Review of the Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services Policy and Administrative arrangements. This should set the foundation for the future of the model.
- Review of Pathways: The majority of our volunteers are not using Pathways due to a myriad of reasons. The ESVA will be putting in place a committee to examine and put forward recommendations on Pathways. This will happen in the next few months.
- Three new toilet facilities will be built in Beacon, Jerramungup and Coral Bay before June 30, 2018.
- Building Footprints: The Commissioner has agreed to a review of the Footprints. The idea of building footprints is to ensure we build suitable cost effective buildings for all volunteers and career staff not Taj Mahals.
- Major Support for the VFES brand: Presently there are numerous local governments, bushfire brigades and State Emergency Services are looking at the VFES model, in particular in the South West. ESVA has had a number of meetings with BFBs to discuss the transition process.
- Working with DFES to ensure an effective transition paper/process for Brigades/SES units to transfer to a VFES. This will ensure everybody is working off the same sheet of music.
- The Rural Fire Service has been a discussion point since the Ferguson Report. The ESVA has been involved with an alliance group which includes WA Farmers, Pastoral and Graziers, State Emergency Services and the ESVA. The group is also in liaison with WALGA.
The alliance group has focused on separation of services to include a Chief Officer for the CFRS, CO for the RFS and CO for the SES. (Shared services)This new arrangement will focus on Prevention, preparedness, Response and Recovery, not just response. This is a community Centred EM model that paves the way for meeting the needs of communities across WA.
The Association have met on a number of times with the Minister Fran Logan and DPC.
It is envisaged an announcement will be made in the next four weeks about the introduction of an RFS. The Alliance group will not support a half – baked model that is controlled by the CFRS. In addition all key RFS/SES staff positions must be filled with personnel with the skills, knowledge, and experience from the appropriate service background.
Challenges: Next 12 months
- Pathways: Rebuild
- Rewrite of Doctrine 5.3
- New ESVA Constitution
- Managing the potential of an influx of new VFESs across the state
- The introduction of an RFS and the impact on volunteers: None envisaged at this stage.
- Building replacements for Waroona, Bullsbrook, and Trayning. Upgrades to Baldivis.
- New toilet facilities for Eucla, Hyden and Kondinin.
- Funding for the ESVA. The current funding has been supported on a 12 month basis only and hopefully the new Commissioner will be supportive of a continuation of the funding for a longer period.
Whilst I acknowledge some of our successes in recent times there are many challenges for the committee to address in the next 12 months. The committee looks forward to working with all VFES volunteers to ensure effective systems/policies/new buildings/equipment etc. are in place to support you all as you protect your communities from all types of hazards.
The ESVA has close working relationships around the state with Superintendents and AOs/DOs. Our motto is to work closely with DFES Region to resolve any issues that may occur that impact on our volunteers. If you have any suggestions on any matters at all or areas where we can improve as an Association please contact the ESVA XO Merv Austic on 0437820002 or email@example.com