The AVBFB has welcomed this media statement published by the Minister for Local Government, the Hon David Templeman yesterday in which he announced a major review of the Local Government Act.
While there is a long way to go in what will inevitably be a long process, the Association was heartened by the sentiments expressed by the Minister – particularly those that indicated his new government was committed to ensuring more democracy and local self-determination for Local Governments.
As the organisation charged with representing WA’s largest and most diverse emergency service, the AVBFB has been relentless in its advocacy for a cultural change to better respect and promote local knowledge and community resilience, not just in emergency services but every aspect of regional life.
From the information we constantly receive from our invaluable volunteers across WA, it is absolutely clear that the creation of DFES during the term of the last government has led to many believing that local knowledge and capacity is undervalued and underutilised.
Furthermore, because of ever-increasing red tape and rigid, para-military style hierarchies, many regional volunteers have come to believe that the culture now embedded within the current bureaucracy simply doesn’t understand the motives and challenges of regional volunteers.
In turn, this has caused irreconcilable relationship difficulties and reduced morale among volunteers, resulting in less people willing to “get involved”.
Sadly, the very predictable outcome of not being able to attract and retain emergency service volunteers is the growing trend to just call 000 and wait for the government to turn up and “fix” whatever the problem may be.
This widespread reduction in local community resilience means less preventative work being done (mitigation) and a far slower and less-well equipped response when a potential catastrophe unfolds.
It is for this reason the AVBFB is both very enthusiastic and supportive of the Hon David Templeman’s commitment to “increasing participation in local government decision-making” as articulated in yesterday’s media statement.
We believe that the McGowan government’s pre-election promise to create a Rural Fire Service and yesterday’s announcement to increase respect for local knowledge and decision-making will reverse the outcomes of the many bad decisions made by the last government in regard to our critically important emergency services.