Vol­un­teer morale suf­fer­ing

Benalla Ensign - - News -

The peak body that over­sees Be­nalla’s CFA vol­un­teers is frus­trated that a le­gal tech­ni­cal­ity has again been suc­cess­fully used to stop the re­lease of a govern­ment re­port into al­le­ga­tions of in­tim­i­da­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion within the state’s fire ser­vices.

Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gades Vic­to­ria (VFBV) chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer An­drew Ford said the state’s 60 000 un­paid CFA per­son­nel were tired of there be­ing too much ex­ter­nal in­ter­fer­ence in the man­age­ment of CFA and vol­un­teer morale was suf­fer­ing as a re­sult.

‘‘We are deeply dis­ap­pointed that an ex­ter­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion has been able to stop a govern­ment depart­ment from do­ing its job in re­view­ing an­other depart­ment,’’ Mr Ford said.

‘‘The fact that the UFU has gone to such ex­treme lengths to hide de­tails of rec­om­mended im­prove­ments sim­ply con­firms that there is too much ex­ter­nal in­flu­ence.

‘‘To­day’s out­come is an­other trou­bling ex­am­ple of the tail wag­ging the dog and goes to the very heart of one of the big­gest chal­lenges fac­ing our in­cred­i­ble vol­un­teers.

‘‘VFBV has been the ca­nary in the coalmine on this is­sue for years.

‘‘We, like the former min­is­ter, chair and CEO of the CFA — who were all fe­male — have been at­tacked for stand­ing up for CFA vol­un­teers who want lit­tle more than the re­moval of par­ti­san pol­i­tics and in­dus­trial in­flu­ence from our emer­gency ser­vices.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously we don’t know what is in the re­port, but the ter­ri­ble shame is that if it con­tains even one op­por­tu­nity for im­prove­ment, it seems un­likely the pub­lic will ever know.

‘‘We also share Com­mis­sioner Hilton’s ‘ex­treme dis­ap­point­ment’ that as a re­sult of to­day’s de­ci­sion, the valu­able in­sights of the thou­sands who bravely con­trib­uted to the process may never be used for pos­i­tive change.

‘‘We there­fore urge the UFU to work with VEOHRC and find a way to en­sure the re­view’s most im­por­tant op­por­tu­ni­ties for im­prove­ment are not lost.’’

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