02/05/2013 - SESVA meets with Commissioner

The Association Meets with DFES (29 April 2013)
The SESVA President, Vice President and Secretary met with DFES's Commissioner and discussed a number of issues including the following.

Funding to Support Volunteer Associations
This was discussed with DFES's Commissioner and he advised that there is more work to be done to reach equity between support of all of the Volunteer Associations. There is a limit on the total amount of money available for this.

Single Services within DFES
DFES's Commissioner advised that he has a clear direction on where he wants to take the organisation and he does not support single services within his department.  Further to this there may be an opportunity in the future for some SES Units to be sponsored by DFES only and have no attachment to local government.

Communication with Volunteers
This was discussed and it was pointed out to DFES's Commissioner that this is still an issue. Placing information on the portal was not effective as many Volunteers will never see it. In fact Operational Circulars from DFES are often put on the portal, emails sent to SES Units with a link to the Portal. When trying to access the portal it fails. This needs to be changed so they are placed in an open area and the emailed link opens up without any further access.
DFES's Commissioner said he would look into this.

Volunteer Survey
The Association advised DFES's Commissioner that they find a number of the questions on the survey very poorly worded and in fact will be taken out of context as there appears to be a lack of understanding of Emergency Services Volunteerism and how it works.
DFES's Commissioner advised the Association to discuss this matter further with DFES's representative on this matter.

General Issues
DOs not being replaced when on leave (Front Line Managers) are causing communication issues; DFES's Commissioner advises us that it is up to the Super to replace, or otherwise, a DO and when the DO is not available then the Volunteer can go direct to the Superintendant (SESVA advises that Volunteers need the Supers Mobile Number as well as the DOs).

Accounts are not being paid by DFES for medical costs and Volunteers are getting payment demands month after month; DFES's Commissioner advises that this needs to be bought to the immediate attention of the DO who needs to resolve the matter (SESVA advises that if this does not resolve the matter then the Volunteer needs to involve the Super).

Training certificates take many months and sometimes up to a year; Missing documents that have been sent, eg police clearances, letters to him etc,. These matters were discussed with DFES's Commissioner and they are matters that should be quickly resolved by the DO or escalated to the Super. (The SESVA advises this should include Training Certificates that take more than 2 months be escalated to the Super).

The Association has received some disturbing feedback from Volunteers where some DFES staff are making general statements that are not supportive of the Associations.  DFES's Commissioner stated that Associations do great work for the Volunteers and he is encouraging Volunteers to join and be a part of their Associations.

Cancelled SES training courses - for non safety reasons.
This was explained to DFES's Commissioner and he was surprised at this. The SESVA said they would call an urgent meeting with the Academy ASAP and resolve the matter (The SESVA is meeting with Darren Klemm this week).

Road Crash Rescue Competitions
The Association explained that there does not appear to be any SES teams for these national competitions anymore. DFES's Commissioner  advised the Association that there were no applications from the SES teams this year.

Legislation submissions
The Association advised DFES's Commissioner that they have promoted debate and actively encourage Volunteers to submit their submissions by 30 April. The SESVA have submitted 8.

UFU Article
The Association explained to DFES's Commissioner that they are appalled at the disgraceful comments made by the UFU in relation to SES.

" so called "emergency" service people from civilian volunteer backgrounds like the SES do not cut the mustard operationally and are a risk to our personnel who are trained and experienced across a range of specific competencies."

The Association explained that they are not impressed and unfortunately this is similar to the attitude of some DFES staff.   DFES's Commissioner was reluctant to get involved in the UFU article content.

The Association advised that they will be discussing this at their meeting with the Minister this week.

SES Advisory Committee
The SESAC instrument has now been completed and EOIs closed off.
The final lists will be presented to DFES by May 10.

Operational efficiency Payments
This was again discussed with DFES's Commissioner and he stated that he supports this and it is being considered.

Submitted by Gordon Hall and approved by David Price (SESVA President)