I rise to make a statement on the Country Fire Authority annual report 2007-08.
I will focus most of my remarks around CFA volunteers and the CFA in our
On page 5 of the report the chairman, Kerry Murphy, points to
research conducted by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre which shows that
CFA volunteers provide an economic benefit of approximately $840 million per
annum. Volunteers provide greater support than just economic support. It is true
to say that the CFA in so many of our smaller communities provides the social
infrastructure for the wider community.
It is common for CFA volunteers to wear many hats in those
communities, whether it be in sports clubs, at the school, in the local
playground or general community amenities. CFA communities understand the very
essence of volunteerism. It is often the case that if something needs to be done
in the community, the first port of call is the CFA volunteers, because they
have the knowledge, they have the know-how and they know how to get things done.
Recruitment continues to be an ongoing priority for the CFA. I
have been pleased to see the increasing success of the equity and diversity
programs. The Women’s Leadership and Development Program, whilst relatively new,
is being embraced. I was particularly impressed with the local response to the
program when it was launched in Warrnambool in late April of this year.
Cr Jill Parker from the Moyne Shire Council and Adrienne Anson,
who are both CFA volunteers, spoke to the audience about their lifelong
involvement in the CFA. As much as their journeys differ, their common cry was
for more recruits — more women and more younger people — to join the CFA.
Those cries were heard by all that day.
The announcement on that day of a $20 000 Victorian volunteer
small grant will assist in the south-west to build women’s awareness of the CFA
and build their confidence to take on a range of tasks. No doubt the project
will invest in the skills of local women and ensure that they are effective
volunteers in CFA brigades.
I also take this opportunity to thank the communities in
western Victoria for all their hard work in raising enormous amounts of money
for CFA equipment in places like the small hamlet of Broadwater, which is
between Hamilton and Port Fairy in the south-west of Victoria. On a recent
chilly Sunday morning — I think it was 19 April — we had the formal handing
over of the keys for a new tanker. While $156 000 was made available through the
Brumby government’s community safety emergency support program, the small
community of Broadwater raised over $20 000 and did all the hard work, as well
as filling in the forms and liaising with the appropriate people. It is a proud
brigade which has provided service to the local community for over 57 years.
In closing, I also wish to acknowledge the chief executive
officer of the CFA, Neil Bibby, and the 12 authority members who are listed in
the annual report for their contribution particularly in the areas of safety,
environmental initiatives, equipment procurement and the children-young persons
protection policy. Many of the examples given in the report truly reflect what
is happening across regional Victoria. I appreciate all the efforts that are put
into the service by a whole range of different community groups.
All in all this is a very comprehensive report that has a
number of statistics that many people would find useful. As I said, I have just
concentrated on the CFA people issues. I am particularly supportive of this
report and I commend it to the house.