FESA PROVIDES A MODEL TO REPLACE CCs – HAZARD BASED
FESA have provided a draft consultation model developed on the concept of Consultative Committees being based on a hazard, rather than a service.
FESA says that this model has been developed in light of the fact that there are crossovers of functions between the different services (e.g. VFRS, VES, VFS, BFS & SES). FESA has even requested detailed consideration be given to the makeup of the Regional and consultative committees by the Associations.
Three Senior State Emergency Service Volunteers provided an editorial through this medium on 5 November 2011, addressing the necessity of retaining Consultative Committees for all Services within FESA. No consideration when developing this model by FESA appears to have been given to this article. Historically Consultative Committees were first mentioned as the Volunteer’s Advisory Committee (VAC) for the State Emergency Service in a ministerial statement dated the 15 August 1985.
The Consultative Committees were then represented at the FESA Board allowing Service based input as part of the Major Stakeholder representation in Western Australia’s emergency services. The recent model put forward by FESA does not provide a consultative process for the Volunteers of each Service.
The model put forward only allows consultation on the Hazard Management Agency (HMA) roles and does not allow consideration of the many requirements of the service based Volunteers. In fact there used to be Special Matter Advisory Groups (SMAGS) for HMA roles, Combat roles, Support roles and other matters relating directly to Volunteers of the State Emergency Service.
The Special Matter Advisory Groups have disappeared over the years and urgently need to be replaced. To return the full trust of years ago within FESA, the consultative process must allow an effective voice for the volunteers through Service based Consultative Committees and leave the technical matters for the HMA roles with newly formed Special Matter Advisory Groups. This will make senior staff more accountable for following through with their promises of delivery, including timelines and associated feedback.
Further to all of this, hazard based Consultative Committees will allow, as in the past, easy manipulation and control of the major stakeholders by FESA.
This will easily happen where the majority of staff have no empathy with State Emergency Service volunteers. There are many examples of manipulation of the State Emergency Service in the 1990s and in more recent years within FESA.
After the 2006 FESA restructure, which effectively did away with the State Emergency Service as a Division, the effectiveness of the Consultative Committees for the State Emergency Service decreased. The voice of the volunteers was reduced to about 4 hours of business during the Consultative Committees meetings, instead of the 8 – 12 hours that had been the norm prior to the formation of FESA.
CEO Gregson now has the opportunity to ensure fair representation of the major stakeholders by retaining an effective State Emergency Service Consultative Committee to work closely with FESA senior staff, the Volunteers Association and any other specially appointed committees.
Written by three concerned senior SES Volunteers
(Names with held by request)