To: Victorian Minister for Emergency Services, The Hon Jane Garrett

Volunteer Code of Conduct

Volunteer Code of Conduct

Dear Minister,

We ask that you hold an inquiry into the way the CFA manages the situation when volunteers have to work with brigade leadership that doesn’t follow it’s Volunteer Code of Conduct.

Why is this important?

There are many problems with the way CFA management deals with its volunteers. This is one that causes a lot of hardship. At the moment, volunteers who want to take a stand against authoritarian leadership are on their own. They will be up against the person who is the cause of the problem, who may be overbearing, rude, bullying – all the things that the Volunteer Code of Conduct is meant to guard against . In this difficult situation, volunteers usually just quit. Sometimes they may go to another brigade. This leaves bitterness and division, especially in small rural communities. It is an insult to the volunteer who has put in a lot of effort and taken many risks and who wants to serve their community.
Each time a volunteer quits, it costs the state many thousands of dollars in wasted training.
The CFA has no policy on this and provides no help. They need to provide assistance from trained and independent mediators, who can be contacted without going through brigade leadership or the CFA management system.


Reasons for signing

  • I've been a member of our town VFRS for 13years and a Bushy for 14 years, I am a female firefighter who loves what the brigade stands for but over the last few years the management in both brigades who are friends I must add have made my life in the brigades so hard doing all the things you state rude, bullying, discrimination etc school yard tactics and power games, using the brigades as their play ground I am not the only one other members have left because of it.
  • Ended 3yr legal battle against the cfa. 1 yr of dealing with cfa heirachy to realise nothing would be done. Incident on blacksaturday. No discipline. Lost job have ptsd. Tried to follow cfa proceedure.ended up bullied by the brigade. No appology from the cfa. Could have had the member charged with endangement of life thought cfa would fix. cfa has a history of coverup. Would like to have a say. Hope someone listens and what happened to us never happens to any one else.
  • Fair for everyone


2015-12-16 21:53:24 +1100

There was an article in today's Age - 12 December 2015:
Looks like the minister isn't game to take on the CFA culture herself and is just handballing the problem. A pity, because lives and people's physical and mental health are at risk.

Our submissions to the Fire Services Review have not been posted as promised, so I have posted the recommendations from my submission on the Facebook page. I may post the whole thing - any ideas where or how?

2015-10-07 15:19:20 +1100

I haven't looked at this site since we went to the Fire Services Review on 16 September. It was good to see that more people have signed up since my last message.
I felt that we got a good hearing at the review. It's been extended by two weeks.
From the Herald-Sun - 'On 18 September, Mr O’Byrne advised the minister that a number of difficult and complex issues have been raised during his meetings with stakeholders and in written submissions and sought a two-week extension,” the statement said.'

I'm sure that this includes the problems we have raised.

This is the second fire season I am missing since I resigned under duress, and it makes me very unhappy. It's also one less driver and firefighter for the community.
The CFA should be doing whatever it takes to hang on to volunteers who are quitting because of 'authoritarian leadership' problems.

2015-08-13 15:53:46 +1000

The address for submissions is:

2015-08-07 15:25:57 +1000

Yes, we can put in submissions to the 'Fire Services Review'
- due date for submissions is 31 August
- the inquiry is due to report on 30 September
There is no email address yet to send to - not until later next week.
I'll post it when I find out what it is.
So if you want to make a submission, start now and send it when we get the address.
This is the best chance yet to be heard!

2015-07-31 13:44:13 +1000

Hello all,

Maybe something is happening at last. The minister, Jane Garrett, has announced an inquiry. See:
No mention of volunteers though. Maybe 'workplace culture' will cover it? I've asked her how people can make a submission and what are the terms of reference. Not totally hopeful at this stage. A very short timeline and only submissions from 'a range of key stakeholders' will be taken. To me, that means volunteers and ex-volunteers. I hope that is what the minister also intends.
Will report on her response when it comes.

2015-07-17 05:38:51 +1000

100 signatures reached

2015-07-15 20:58:47 +1000

50 signatures reached

2015-07-01 19:05:16 +1000

I've taken down the posts about the ABC refusing to run my interview, because I've spoken to them again today and I was told that the issue is still alive and is being investigated when they have the time. So here's hoping that something good comes from this.
For those who missed it, the story is that I was interviewed by the ABC last week, but the CFA refused two offers to respond, so the interview will not be aired as planned.
Seems to be following the usual CFA method of dealing with volunteer problems.

2015-06-24 09:28:49 +1000

Hello everyone,
I've tried to setup a facebook page for people to share their stories, and also to link to the petition.


P.S 'Nil Carborundum Bastardum' is supposed to mean 'Don't let the bastards grind you down'!

2015-06-18 16:24:04 +1000

Hello everyone,

Thanks everyone. We are getting there!

Remember, it's OK to have friends sign. I think numbers are going to be the key to success.

Next week I am being interviewed by ABC Bendigo - fortunately on tape. Not sure when it will be broadcast. May end up in all ABC regionals with a bit of luck. I'd like to mention some of the comments people have sent in - no identifying names etc - just the gist so that listeners get to understand what volunteers can be up against.

If you have anything you'd like me to mention, or if you'd like me not to mention something you've sent me, can you please contact me asap. I can't see your email addresses or last names - I just see Josephine B for instance - on this petition.

Also, I'm getting a letter published in the Midland Express next week - they have suggested putting some of your feedback in, so the same goes for this as the ABC.

Remember -'Nil Carborundum Bastardum'!


2015-06-17 19:03:57 +1000

25 signatures reached

2015-06-06 18:17:02 +1000

10 signatures reached