CFA Volunteers deserve more support

EXTRACT FROM PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES HANSARD

MEMBERS STATEMENTS

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Mr WELLS (Rowville) — This statement condemns the Andrews Labor government and the Minister for Emergency Services for failing to acknowledge and properly support Victoria’s nearly 60 000 experienced and dedicated Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers.

Volunteers in my local CFA brigades have expressed continuing grave concerns about the future of volunteerism in their proud organisation. CFA volunteers believe the Andrews government and the minister want to increasingly deploy paid, career United Firefighters Union firefighters across the state and push out volunteers. At a time when the government and the CFA should be in full volunteer recruitment mode to build surge capacity and capability ahead of this year’s fire season, brigades are becoming disheartened at the lack of support and acknowledgement of volunteers.

The CFA is one of the largest volunteer organisations in the world. Volunteers need to know they have a government that genuinely supports them and believes they are the current, and will remain the future, backbone of Victoria’s firefighting capabilities. They do not want more hollow statements. CFA volunteers, like all volunteers across the state’s emergency management sector, deserve acknowledgement and recognition of the great job they do in looking after the community safety needs of Victorians. The Andrews government is all spin when it comes to volunteerism in the CFA. There is no doubt Labor has a plan to progressively unionise and de‑volunteer the CFA by stealth, at the expense of volunteers and their communities. Labor simply cannot be trusted.