The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) has long lobbied DFES to recognise that indeed, fire appliances will need the knowledge and experience of not just “people” but local, skilled and committed people that the State simply can’t afford to pay adequately. We are of course, talking about emergency services volunteers and in particular, the incredible 26,000 women and men of WA’s largest emergency service, the Volunteer Bush Fire Service (VBFS).
This news item is about the recent launch of DFES’s “2018 Statement of Strategic Intent”.
The AVBFB is thankful to have been invited to provide some feedback on a very early draft and made many suggestions to use more sensitive, inclusive and representative language in the belief that it is not only the thoughts of the new leadership that has to change, but perhaps equally as importantly, the way DFES presents its public-facing messages. For example, we urged greater recognition of the fact that we have several distinct services which all have their own specialist expertise and together form a great team. We also suggested using the word “Unified” rather than “United” to avoid enhancing the unhelpful perception that the Department is too heavily influenced by the United Firefighter’s Union (UFU).
Anyhow, below is the news item DFES published announcing its “A United Organisation with a Supportive and Balanced Culture” 2018 strategic direction on 15 November 2018.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) today launched its 2018 Statement of Strategic Intent. The document includes the addition of a fifth strategic direction: A United Organisation with a Supportive and Balanced Culture.
This new area of focus complements the existing four strategic directions and recognises the importance of people in building an effective emergency service.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM said creating a supportive and balanced culture will enable DFES to better work with West Australian communities to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.
“To build this culture we need to begin from a position of mutual understanding, respect and trust. We need to foster an environment where we can respectfully challenge each other and collaborate together,” Commissioner Klemm said.
“We all know that an organisation is more successful when it is a supportive, positive workplace where everyone’s contributions are recognised and we appreciate the value that our colleagues bring.
Commissioner Klemm said that some of the key initiatives to be introduced under the new direction include a cultural change roadmap, frameworks to ensure that volunteers are better supported and involved in planning, and training for staff on working better with volunteers including training as part of the induction for new staff.
“Our ultimate aim is a State where everyone – the public, government, volunteers, corporate and operational staff – is united in the resolve to become ‘A Safer State’.”
Other initiatives to be introduced include a volunteer charter, a welcome pack for new volunteers, a volunteer engagement toolkit for staff, and an increased volunteer focus on the DFES website.
Read more about the Statement of Strategic Intent and the fifth strategic direction. This new focus will be incorporated into DFES’ refreshed strategic plan, which is expected to be completed later next year.