25/03/2013 - CDJSC Inquiry into Fire and Emergency Services Legislation (2006)

Inquiry into Fire and Emergency Services Legislation (2006)

The Community Development and Justice Standing Committee’s (CDJSC) report of the “Inquiry into Fire and Emergency Services Legislation” to the 37th Parliament of Western Australia in 2006 made many recommendations.  The Association has detailed below a number of the recommendations that may affect the SES.
These should be taken into consideration as DFES do their review of the current legislation.  SES Volunteers should consider this information as part of their submissions for the review of the legislation.

Section 2.1
Considers the request for amalgamation of the Fire Brigades Act 1942, the Bush Fires  Act 1954 and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia Act 1998 into one consolidated emergency services Act. The Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western  Australia (FESA) cites that the Acts do not provide for the roles that emergency services units now perform, lack interoperability and that the earlier Acts are dated and too detailed. FESA essentially argue that one Act would provide a strategic legislative frame work for the operation of emergency services. The majority of stakeholders to the Inquiry agreed with this premise, a few on the proviso that the new Act clearly provides for the individual emergency services entities.  The Committee supports the majority view on this issue and similarly on this proviso.

Section 2.9
Outlines concerns expressed by SES Units regarding management by non - SES trained FESA staff. It was intimated that at a corporate level, FESA needs to focus on employment of full time SES trained staff for liaison with SES Units. The Committee views that due attention needs to be given to the provision of adequate training for management personnel, relevant to the emergency services groups  they are managing.

Section 7.1
Discusses FESA’s proposal for re- establishment as the Department of Emergency Services. FESA was established as an Authority in 1998 on the basis that it carries out roles not traditionally aligned with corporate Government, the majority of its “staff” are volunteers, funding is received from a range of sources, local government has a significant role in strategic decision making of emergency services, two of its constituent agencies were statutory authorities and a board would be established with strategic decision - making powers.

FESA proposes re- establishment as a department with an advisory board whose composition would generally reflect that of the existing Board of Management.  FESA views that this would provide emergency services volunteers with direct access to the Director General, greater proximity to the Minister for Emergency Services and allow members to legally represent the views of volunteers at meetings without being compelled to promote the corporate position. FESA has suggested that the new department be named the Department of Emergency Services to more appropriately reflect the amalgam of emergency services.

Following are some of the recommendations which are worth reading and noting

Recommendation 3
The consultation process, drafting process and resulting legislation is to recognise and provide for the unique and individual requirements of each emergency service.

Recommendation 34
FESA is to ensure that local government is kept apprised, via a formal consultative mechanism, of matters associated with local State Emergency Service Units.

Recommendation 35
FESA is to ensure adequate training for management personnel pertinent to the emergency services units they are managing.

Recommendation 60
That the Minister for Police and Emergency Services or the Minister for Public Sector Management  consider whether a review is warranted regarding  FESA  remaining as a statutory authority or re - structuring  as a department.

Recommendation 59
Note by SESVA – although this recommendation states Bushfire Brigade it should also apply to the State Emergency Service.
Bushfire Brigade member or local government aggrieved with a decision of FESA in regard to the management of a Bushfire Brigade  of which they are a member or which falls within their jurisdiction, should be entitled, in the first instance, to:
-  request the Chief Executive Officer of FESA to review that decision ;
-  appeal to the State Administrative Tribunal if dissatisfied with the decision of the
Chief Executive Officer, FESA.
The review by the Chief Executive Officer of FESA is to occur within a timely manner.

Recommendation 61
That an alternative organisational name for FESA be devised that equitably and appropriately reflects the amalgam of emergency services.

Recommendation 62
That despite recommendation 60, FESA should ensure the individuality of emergency services entities (including badging reflective of their unit and locality) in its business practices.

Recommendation 63
That notwithstanding the outcome of a review into FESA’s status, that the current representative FESA Board of Management be abolished and an advisory board established in its place.