Labor breaks hearts and backs of CFA volunteers
29 June 2020
The Andrews Government is breaking the hearts and backs of stalwart CFA volunteers as it rams through divisive changes to the state’s firefighting services.
That’s the warning from Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), the peak body that represents volunteer firefighters ahead of changes on Wednesday.
In a strongly worded email to volunteers earlier this month, VFBV chief executive Adam Barnett said the Andrews Government had broken its promises to volunteers.
“We have worked incredibly hard to honour our commitment to good faith discussions, and resisted provocation after provocation,” Mr Barnett said.
“For several months now we have been escalating our growing concerns and disappointment, all of which have been met by a wall of silence or indifference.”
These concerns include the Andrews Government’s blatant disregard for legislation which requires it to consult volunteers over any changes which impact them.
Volunteers have also been shocked to discover the United Firefighters Union (UFU) has the ultimate say over who the 229 assistant chief and commanders seconded to run the CFA will be. Secondees will also wear Fire Rescue Victoria uniforms, damaging the CFA’s culture and identity.
And with just days to go, volunteers still haven’t seen or been consulted on any joint operating procedures or joint agency arrangements.
Member for Euroa and Deputy Nationals leader Steph Ryan spent much of last week meeting with CFA volunteers to hear their concerns about the changes.
“After today [Wednesday], the CFA as we know it will be dead. It will not be the standalone volunteer organisation the Andrews Government promised,” Ms Ryan said.
“Daniel Andrews has arrogantly handed control of the CFA to the UFU, including staffing and the allocation of resources.
“Over the weekend it emerged that the UFU has asked Labor to fund another 600 paid firefighters, which shows what’s really at the heart of this government’s arrogant decision to smash up the CFA.
Ms Ryan said some volunteers told her they no longer had the strength to fight Daniel Andrews’ betrayal.
“These are the same men and women who put their lives on the line through the worst of summer’s bushfires,” Ms Ryan said.
“Daniel Andrews was happy to praise CFA volunteers when they were out there saving life and property but he sold them out as soon as the glare of the cameras disappeared,” Ms Ryan said.
Caption: Member for Euroa and Nationals Deputy leader Steph Ryan with CFA volunteers from across the Benalla group.