Moving Forward With Fire Services Reform

The Andrews Labor Government supports all substantive recommendations of the Select Committee Inquiry into fire services reforms and will act on all concerns raised by the Inquiry.

The  Government response to the Select Committee Inquiry was tabled today and accepts or accepts-in-principle nine of the Inquiry’s twelve recommendations.

The Labor Government remains focused on reforming Victoria’s outdated fire services and implementing the framework for change proposed in the  Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2017.

A number of amendments will be made to address issues surrounding secondment, support for volunteers, funding certainty for the CFA and strengthening the powers of the CFA Chief Fire Officer.

These were raised during the committee process, through consultations following the release of the Fire Services Statement, and in discussions with the cross bench. These include:

  • Establishing an independent Implementation Monitor who will oversee and publicly report on the reforms to ensure that CFA volunteers are supported and protected. The Monitor will be tasked with ensuring  funding for volunteers is secure, training opportunities are provided, and implementation plans are in place
  • Revising the secondment model to give explicit power to the CFA Chief Fire Officer over recruitment and discipline decisions, and introduce a provision allowing external recruitment, to ensure that CFA has the right people to support volunteer firefighters
  • Clarify that the first step before any change in the Fire District Boundary must be to give local CFA volunteer brigades more support to effectively respond to fires
  • Further enshrine the role of CFA volunteers and the obligation on both fire services to work together.

The Committee heard from firefighters, emergency services leaders, experts and the wider community during hearings right across the state. Almost 2000 submissions were received from the community and they have played a significant role in the formulating of these changes.

Nearly three quarters of written submissions to the Inquiry support reform and the need to modernise Victoria’s fire services system – which dates back to the 1950s – was raised repeatedly throughout the hearings.

Just like on other important pieces of legislation, the Labor Government has shown it is willing to work with all parties to see their concerns addressed and ensure the legislation is passed.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino

“The clear message from firefighters and senior leaders of the fire services at the hearings was that change is needed to keep Victorians safe.”

“We want to modernise our fire services while also giving volunteers more support, more funding and more independence.”

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