The Board held its second meeting for 2020 in Lakes Entrance, as part of a Board regional visit to Gippsland.
The Board meeting was held in the afternoon, followed by a stakeholder discussion session and dinner with a range of CFA members and external stakeholders.
Chair Greg Smith AM began by noting that Board members were visiting various stations and locations in Gippsland to show their support and to express thanks to staff and volunteers for their efforts in battling the recent fires. The Board noted that CFA has received widespread and overwhelmingly positive feedback from the community and through the media for its work during the East Gippsland and north-east fires.
Australia Day Honours
The Board extended its congratulations to members Peter Shaw on his receipt of an Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM), and Beth Davidson on her receipt of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
This month’s safety share was provided by the CEO/Chief Officer who outlined to the Board the range of measures that had been put in place to protect members over the summer fire season. The Board reiterated its strong commitment to safety as a key focus of the Board and discussed the importance of operational members meeting the Chief Officer’s direction in relation to hazardous trees and entrapment training.
Report from the Chair of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Committee
The safety theme continued in the reports from Committee Chairs, with the Chair of the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Committee noting that the Committee had had lengthy discussions on the new Workplace Manslaughter legislation. The Board agreed to continue to closely monitor CFA’s approach to occupational health and safety, with regular reports from the HSE Committee.
Report from the Chief Executive Officer/Chief Officer
The Chief Executive Officer/Chief Officer spoke to his report to the Board, highlighting a number of achievements against the CFA Strategic Goals, including:
- progress of the construction of new training facilities at the Central Highlands Training Campus;
- delivery of the smoke alarm installation program in Maryborough, with community opt-in being higher than expected;
- the proposed design of an evidence-based fire prevention and preparedness program for children in years 5 and 6 at schools in areas of high risk of bushfire; and
- Testing of the State Logistics Centre capabilities with demonstrated delivery beyond previous expectations.
Update from Executive Director Communications and Stakeholder Relations
The Executive Director Communications and Stakeholder Relations provided the Board with an update on the feedback that has been received to date on Our CFA: 2020 and Beyond. The Board noted that the discussion document has been widely circulated, including through DPC Chairs and Operations Managers forums, regional leadership team meetings, CFA HQ meetings and on the CFA intranet. Consultation is continuing and feedback will be incorporated into the final document.
The Board also considered a draft CFA Strategy, and noted that consultation is continuing which will provide a valuable opportunity for CFA members to engage with the Executive and Board on the future of CFA in a post-reform context.
Update from the Executive Director Finance
The Executive Director Finance updated the Board on the status of recent donations to the CFA Public Fund and the CFA and Brigades Donations Fund (known as the Trust). The Board noted that there has been an unprecedented level of donations to both funds in recent times, reflecting the generosity of Victorian, Australian and international communities as an expression of gratitude for the work of CFA.
The Board noted that the funds that have already been disbursed to brigades, and emphasised there must be a continuing focus on the expeditious disbursement of donated funds. CFA management is working closely with the trustees of the CFA and Brigades Donations Fund to help ensure there is a cohesive and strategic approach to disbursement of funds.
Draft Organisational Wellbeing Recovery Plan
The Board considered a draft Organisational Wellbeing Recovery Plan to guide statewide support and recovery for CFA members during and post the 2019-20 bushfire season. The Board acknowledged that, given the large significant and ongoing operational deployments over the fire season, there was a significant risk of exposure to direct trauma or vicarious trauma for many CFA members. The Board emphasised the importance of finalising the Recovery Plan as soon as possible, as an important part of ensuring the wellbeing of CFA members.
Child Safe Standards Quarterly Report
The A/Executive Director People, Culture and Safety spoke to CFA’s Child Safe Standards Quarterly Report which CFA had recently submitted to the Commissioner for Children and Young People. The Board noted the comprehensive set of actions underway.
Stakeholder discussion session and tour of Gippsland
At the conclusion of the Board meeting, Board members attended a stakeholder discussion session with a range of CFA members and external stakeholders from Lakes Entrance and surrounding areas. During this session, Captains Phillip Loukes and Aaron Lee from Lakes Entrance and Bairnsdale Fire Brigades provided very insightful and moving talks on their experiences with the fires.
Attendees at the stakeholder meeting, which included members from the District and Regional Leadership Teams and the Mayor and CEO of East Gippsland Shire Council, were able to further discuss issues with Board members over dinner.
The following day, the Board and CFA Executive toured a number of areas in Gippsland, getting a first-hand understanding of the impact of the fires, talking to CFA members and staff from Parks Victoria about their experiences, and thanking staff and members for their support.
An outline of the visit can be found on CFA News & Media.