Review into the culture of the fire service and issues affecting rural and auxiliary firefighters

Friday, 19 Dec 2014

The RFBAQ encourage all Rural Fire volunteers to read the below media statement from Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.

The RFBAQ wrote to Margaret Allison on the 20th October outlining the associations concerns with the bullying and harassment of Rural Fire Brigade volunteers and Rural Fire Service paid staff by the QFES.

Margaret Allison’s report has identified that there are entrenched cultural issues in Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.

  • There has been a systemic failure to investigate and tackle the issues and complaints raised head on.
  • As of today, Commissioner Johnson has taken leave and will retire next year and his role will be filled by Katarina Carroll who will form a plan to address these issues.
  • Ms Allisons report was not limited to urban firefighters and identified how the service was failing rural and auxiliary firefighters.
  • The Newman Government has assured the RFBAQ that it is determined to tackle these issues regardless of the location of a station, rank or service.
  • Ms Allison will be asked to undertake a further review into the culture of the fire service and issues affecting rural and auxiliary firefighters.
  • We will take action to ensure voices are heard and action is taken to change Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and bring it into the 21st century.

RFBAQ contact person – Alan Gillespie AFSM – 0419 288 279

The Honourable Campbell Newman

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fire service culture must change

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services will undergo “systemic change” after an independent review was damning of the organisation’s handling of sexual harassment and workplace bullying incidents.

Premier Campbell Newman said the independent review by former Public Service Commissioner Margaret Allison found the service’s response to the complaints failed on every level and was uncoordinated, needlessly protracted and unnecessarily traumatising.

The report further finds the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ culture is at worst actively and overtly hostile to women, and at best uncomfortable and awkward.

“Let us be clear: this report is damning of the Services’ culture and its failure to establish and nurture a workplace that accepts and respects women,” the Premier said.

“It is unacceptable, and there will be systemic change to fix this.

“This is about making the changes needed to ensure we have a workplace that reflects the values and attitudes of our times.

“I thank Ms Allison for the comprehensive work that’s gone into this important report.

“I also thank all those who have co-operated with her Inquiry.

“I want to acknowledge the three complainants whose concerns led to my appointing Ms Allison to assess the departmental response to their situation.”

Ms Allison’s recommendations will now be carefully considered and the Government’s response made public in the next few months.

Crown Law advice will be sought about relevant aspects of the report.

The Premier announced the Fire Commissioner Lee Johnson, who had planned to retire mid-2015, has agree to retire immediately to allow a new Commissioner to lead the long term renewal of the service.

Queensland Police Service Assistant Commissioner Katarina Carroll has been appointed acting QFES Commissioner.

[ENDS] 19 December 2014

Media Contact: Premier’s office 07 3719 7000

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