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Government delivers on volunteer consultation

Published 19/11/2013

The Victorian Coalition Government has delivered on its commitment to consult emergency management volunteers on reforms to the sector, Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells said today.

The commitment was part of broader reforms foreshadowed in the Coalition Government’s White Paper on Emergency Management Reform released in December 2012.

Mr Wells was joined by Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Services David Southwick and Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley to launch Victoria’s first emergency management Volunteer Consultative Forum.

"The forum will provide Victoria’s emergency management volunteers with a voice so they can provide direct feedback to the Coalition Government on issues affecting their work," Mr Wells said.

"Volunteers play a critical role in Victoria’s emergency response, relief and recovery efforts, and therefore must be consulted and have an active voice in any changes to the sector."

Twenty emergency management volunteers and agency nominees will attend the forum, representing organisations including the CFA, SES, Life Saving Victoria, Australian Red Cross, Ambulance Victoria, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria, St John Ambulance, Volunteer Coast Guard, Salvation Army, Volunteer Emergency Service Association and the Victorian Council of Churches.

The Volunteer Consultative Forum membership is responsible for representing and expressing the views of emergency management volunteers, and providing feedback to agencies, volunteers and government on actions, initiatives and outcomes of the forum.

"These agencies will discuss issues concerning the culture of volunteerism in Victoria, how best to monitor the health and wellbeing of volunteers, and how to improve volunteer recruitment, retention, capacity and training," Mr Wells said.

The forum will convene a minimum of four times in each year.

In addition to the establishment of the Volunteer Consultative Forum, the Coalition Government introduced the Emergency Management Bill 2013 to Parliament earlier this month.

This Bill formalises many of the reforms proposed in the Coalition Government’s White Paper on emergency management reform and specifically acknowledges the fundamental role that volunteers play in the performance of emergency management functions in Victoria.

"These reforms are the first major overhaul of Victoria's emergency management system in 27 years," Mr Wells said.

"Reforms to the emergency management sector are more likely to succeed if they draw on the wisdom and expertise of people with experience.

"The key to the success of these reforms is ongoing consultation with emergency management volunteers and recognition of their local knowledge."

"The Coalition Government is proud of the vital work performed by Victoria’s 100,000 plus emergency management volunteers," Mr Wells said.

"Their participation in Victoria's emergency management arrangements is one of the major strengths of the state's system and must be acknowledged, encouraged, and enhanced."