21/02/2013 - Letter from the Commissioner to SES Units

Dear SES Unit Member

REVIEW OF THE EMERGENCY SERVICES ACTS

Over the last few weeks it has come to my attention via a number of sources that State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers are concerned about the direction of the ‘Review of Emergency Services Legislation’ project (the Review).  Specifically, one primary issue is not having an SES member included in the Interagency Working Group (IWG) that was established to support the project. 

I can assure all SES members that it is very important to me that expert stakeholders such as the SES are given every opportunity to participate in the Review and add value to this very important project. There is no truth to the rumour that I am trying to marginalise SES volunteers and to have complete control.  The purpose of the review of the legislation is to develop contemporary legislation that reflects the manner in which users of the legislation respond to emergencies and in doing so ensuring effective service delivery to the community of Western Australia whilst keeping all staff, volunteers and the community safe.

The IWG has been formed as a mechanism to assist our review in the development of the new Fire and Emergency Services legislation.  Bushfire Brigade volunteers have also raised similar concerns with me so I have decided to extend its membership to include a representative from every volunteer group.

The Review is examining the following Acts of Parliament and seeks to amalgamate the Acts into a single piece of contemporary legislation:

  • Bush Fires Act 1954
  • Fire Brigades Act 1942
  • Fire and Emergency Services Act 1998 (previously known as the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia Act 1998)

In simple terms the process of the Review is as follows:

  • State-wide consultation with stakeholders to identify issues at all levels;
  • once the initial round of consultation is completed, the information received will be analysed to identify the different ways that the issues can be addressed through the new legislation;
  • an options paper will then be formulated to present viable and logical options;
  • another round of consultation will then take place, this time focussing on the options that have been identified;
  • drafting instructions will be developed and provided to Parliamentary Counsel to form the basis of a draft Bill; and
  • the Bill will then proceed through the Parliamentary process. 

The Review provides all stakeholders who use the Acts an opportunity to help shape the legislation by providing feedback about the issues they are facing. DFES will be following the Regulatory Impact Assessment process to ensure the review is structured, open and transparent. The Regulatory Impact Assessment is a mandatory government process which ensures that there has been thorough analysis of legislative proposals, effective and appropriate consultation, and transparency of process.

Consultation is a necessary part of this process and there have been some comments relating to the timing of the consultation and the time given for volunteers to attend these sessions. Unfortunately there is never a good time to conduct consultation as we move from the tropical cyclone season to winter storm season.

I have given a commitment to ensure that we reach as many volunteers as possible through the support of the volunteer associations who can assist us with increasing our network through Facebook and by conducting their own information sessions. As groups have contacted the review team they have endeavoured to meet requests for meetings.

The process of legislative change is highly accountable.  I want to reiterate the importance of the involvement of volunteers and communication with the project team. I again encourage your feedback and look forward to working together to produce world class legislation. 

For further information or for an electronic copy of the comment form, please contact the Legislation Review Project Manager, Michelle Smith, on 9395 9763, or look for the button on the DFES Volunteer Portal. Completed forms can be emailed to legislation@dfes.wa.gov.au or posted to PO Box P1174, Perth WA 6844.

Yours sincerely

WAYNE GREGSON APM
COMMISSIONER

February 2013

Original letter sent to the SESVA - DFES Letter To SES Units.pdf