FIRIES FIGHT FOR BET­TER CON­DI­TIONS

Bundy ru­ral brigades cam­paign state pol­lies to do more for vol­un­teers

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By SHERELE MOODY APN News­desk

BUND­ABERG’S 2449 ru­ral fire bri­gade vol­un­teers are putting the heat on state politi­cians in the lead-up to the Queens­land elec­tion.

Changes to leg­is­la­tion and fairer dis­tri­bu­tion of le­vies top the 2015 poll wish list of the Ru­ral Fire Brigades As­so­ci­a­tion Queens­land.

RFBAQ gen­eral man­ager Justin Choveaux said his or­gan­i­sa­tion con­tacted ev­ery po­lit­i­cal party in the state to help them for­mu­late poli­cies that would ben­e­fit the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s mem­bers.

He said can­cer risks from ex­po­sure to smoke and chem­i­cals and com­pen­sa­tion claims were top pri­or­i­ties.

“Fire­fight­ers are more at risk of get­ting some can­cer than the rest of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion be­cause of the work they do,” he said.

Mr Choveaux said there was leg­is­la­tion at a fed­eral level and in Western Aus­tralia, South Aus­tralia and Tas­ma­nia pro­tect­ing the fi­nan­cial needs of vol­un­teers who de­vel­oped can­cer through fire­fight­ing.

“Pre­sump­tive leg­is­la­tion means that fire­fight­ers can ac­cess work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion eas­ier and quicker when they are di­ag­nosed with­out need­ing to prove that em­ploy­ment caused the can­cer,” he said.

“Fire­fight­ers in Queens­land, where there is no pre­sump­tive leg­is­la­tion, can still claim com­pen­sa­tion if they de­velop can­cer but it is de­cided like any other claim for work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion and the fire­fighter needs to prove the en­ti­tle­ment.”

Mr Choveaux also said a change in levy dis­tri­bu­tion would ben­e­fit lo­cal brigades.

He said that un­der the ex­ist­ing sys­tem, not all brigades had as­sured

Justin Choveaux Fire­fight­ers are more at risk of get­ting some can­cer than the rest of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion be­cause of the work they do.

fi­nan­cial support, with almost 1000 of the 1400 brigades in Queens­land re­ceiv­ing no fi­nan­cial support.

“The RFBAQ sees the Emer­gency Man­age­ment, Fire and Res­cue Levy as an op­por­tu­nity for the State Gov­ern­ment to put in place an as­sured, on­go­ing, rea­son­able and ra­tio­nal way of sup­port­ing all vol­un­teer fire brigades across Queens­land,” he said.

A spokesman for Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices Min­is­ter Jack Dempsey said the gov­ern­ment planned to im­prove ru­ral brigades.

“Fund­ing is at record lev­els and we’re in­vest­ing in new trucks and new fire sta­tions to support the great work of our fire­fight­ers,” he said.

PHOTO: MATTHEW MCIN­ER­NEY

WISH LIST: The RFBAQ says can­cer risks and com­pen­sa­tion claims are top pri­or­i­ties for the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

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