You can also read all previous news items in our News Archive

02/09/2015 - SESVA App coming soon

The SESVA App will be launched at the coming DFES conference.  The App will enable the SESVA to communicate directly with SES Volunteers across the State.  Also when downloaded to your device you will be able to receive DFES alerts and access a wide range of information.  The App is suitable for android and IPhone devices.

28/08/2015 - Important Parking Info for Conference

Please note that over-height vehicles (such as Cruisers) will not be able to park at PCEC during the FES Conference.   Country delegates bringing over-height vehicles to the conference will have to park at Wilson’s Parking, 391 Hay Street, Perth.   DFES has booked open air parking for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the conference.
Volunteers will have to advise if they require this parking - ASAP - as DFES will need to issue you with pre-paid parking tickets before the conference.

25/08/2015 - Can you help

Opportunity to participate in tsunami study

We’re looking for community volunteers and emergency services workers to participate in an Australian Tsunami Advisory Group and Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC study investigating community perceptions of tsunami risk and warning systems in coastal communities.  Participation involves a one-hour interview discussing how you communicate about coastal issues within your community group or organisation, and your perceptions of tsunami risk and related warning systems.   Please get in touch with Katelyn Rossiter for more information if you would like to take part.

Katelyn Rossiter, PhD Candidate, School of Psychological and Clinical Sciences, Charles Darwin University, Ph: 0417598608

Close date: Friday 30th August, 2015

This study has been approved by the Tasmanian Social Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee: Reference number H13987.

20/08/2015 - Auditors General’s Report on Support to Volunteers

Auditors General’s Report to Parliament
The Auditor General’s Report into the Support and Preparedness of Fire and Emergency Services Volunteers was tabled in the WA Parliament today – 20 August 2015.  SES Volunteers are to be congratulated in providing a lot of input both personally and to the SES Volunteers Association who then provided a consolidated view to the Office of the Auditor General.

Below are the findings and recommendations. Please follow this link for the full statement and report   Support and Preparedness of Fire and Emergency Services Volunteers

There are seven (7) key findings and four (4) recommendations
Key Findings
1.    DFES does not know how many volunteers it needs. It has not assessed the number of volunteers required in specific locations to respond to incidents. Without a clear understanding of this, DFES cannot know if it has gaps in its service capability and the seriousness of those gaps. DFES advised it will be creating risk profiles for all services, that take into account physical and human resources before the end of 2015. 
2.    DFES knows that volunteer membership records are inaccurate and that volunteer numbers are about 20 per cent less than the reported 29 000. This is due in part to both DFES and LGs relying on manual systems to update volunteer records. Further, a significant number of volunteers do not regularly respond to incidents. DFES records do not accurately reflect volunteer availability. Incomplete volunteer training records contribute to this issue, as DFES does not have a clear picture of volunteers trained to respond.  
3.    Data trends show that volunteer turnover has been an ongoing issue since 2006, with an annual turnover of around 15 per cent across all services. Exit surveys and our discussions with volunteers identified issues around management and supervision styles (of other volunteers and DFES staff) and not feeling valued. To address increasing turnover, DFES is developing an Emergency Services Volunteer Workforce Sustainability Strategy. Although aimed to start in 2014, the draft strategy has still not been circulated for consultation. DFES expect to circulate the strategy by September 2015. 
4.    DFES knows what operational skills its volunteers need and has developed training programs based on this. However, geographic isolation, availability of trainers and assessors, and inaccurate training records affect training delivery. This means, volunteers may not be appropriately skilled to respond to incidents, potentially leading to significant safety risks. 
5.    Almost 82 per cent of the respondents to our statewide survey of volunteers said that they had all or most of the equipment they needed to perform their roles. This result was backed by our discussions with volunteers at the sites we visited. However, a few volunteer groups raised concerns around the suitability of some equipment for their local conditions and delays in getting equipment, particularly personal protective clothing. 
6.    Existing DFES policies do not address volunteer fatigue and as a result, volunteers must self-manage their fatigue. This carries considerable risks when volunteers do not manage their fatigue effectively. For example, it is not unusual for volunteers to respond to an incident after already having worked a full day of paid employment. Fatigue can be physically and mentally hazardous for volunteers and may be a significant occupational health and safety risk during an incident. 
7.    While volunteers were generally happy with the recognition, counselling, and insurance provided by DFES, some issues exist. Primarily, volunteers and some DFES staff are confused around what services are available to which volunteers. This means that volunteers may not access services such as counselling when required. Planned changes to legislation should help address these issues, but DFES will need to communicate availability of services more effectively.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services should:
1.    Continue to implement the major change projects it has in place, including Professional Pathways, and review them to assess if they will address all the key findings in this report. In particular, within six months DFES should set priorities and begin implementing the Emergency Services Volunteer Workforce Sustainability Strategy.
2.    Within 12 months, improve its processes for collecting and maintaining volunteer membership, availability and training records. To do this it will need to work with local governments to improve the accuracy of LG volunteer membership information.
3.    Within 12 months, develop volunteer specific policies and procedures, including fatigue management, consistent with the Guidelines for Successful Partnerships between Public Sector Agencies and Volunteers. 
4.    Within six months, consider improved processes for consulting with and engaging volunteers and continue to work with LGs to improve information sharing and communication. Specifically, DFES should improve communication around its decisions on equipment and training as well as provide better information about access to services. 

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