Managing Emergency Services Volunteers

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Tabled: 5 February 2014

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the Victoria State Emergency Service (SES), both of which provide emergency response services for natural disasters, rely significantly on volunteers to perform their duties. Volunteers perform essential operational and non-operational duties including firefighting, general rescue, road rescue, incident management, community education, catering, recruitment and fundraising. Volunteers also provide a workforce surge capacity during protracted major incidents such as Black Saturday.

CFA and SES’s volunteers number around 57 500 and 5 000 respectively. However, despite the significant reliance on volunteers, neither CFA nor SES has a sound understanding of the total number of volunteers needed to fulfil their operational requirements. CFA does not know how many volunteers it needs and SES’ data on how many volunteers it has is unreliable. Neither agency can be assured that it has the capacity to respond to incidents when they occur because assessments of current workforce capacity overestimate their emergency response capabilities.

CFA and SES’s decentralised approaches to the recruitment, training and deployment of volunteers means neither agency can assure itself that these activities are effectively addressing workforce needs. CFA is in the process of implementing programs that aim to address these concerns, however, SES’ attempts to resolve these issues are presently inadequate.

Addressing these issues is critical to the long-term sustainability of these emergency services agencies.







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Audit Team

Chris Shead
Sector Director

Kyley Daykin
Team Leader

Vicky Delgos

Shelly Chua

Dallas Mischkulnig

Engagement Quality Control Reviewer



Last updated on 31/08/2016