Chief Executive Update

  Comment Banner March 2010

A message from the Chief Executive

David Place

Despite being in the caretaker period of government since February 20, it has essentially been 'business as usual' for the sector. Caretaker conventions preclude the government from making major announcements or implementing major policy initiatives, but this has not stopped us from continuing our operational and administrative activities.

As we transitioned from February into March, we had warnings of flash flooding to the north of the State, tackled bushfires at Blewitt Springs, One Tree Hill and Wanilla as well as a fire at a disused service station at Birdwood (that saw residents evacuated), responded to more than 700 severe wind related jobs, and sadly, we again attended too many road fatalities.


On a positive note, the sector has advocated the benefits of a central headquarters for all agencies for many years now, so it is great that the SES has been able to secure accommodation on the 8th floor at 60 Waymouth Street (now sharing the same building as the CFS and SAFECOM). The move happened over the weekend of March 13 and 14, and we welcome our colleagues to the 8th floor and look forward to the potential that this offers.

Closer sector collaboration is already being seen in the area of training and development. We now have a single database for training records which is helping to reduce duplication, improving data sharing across the sector and making online learning tools available to paid and volunteer members for generic workplace skills. The Board's Learning and Development Committee is also progressing an audit of current training, the development of a website for trainers, and is continuing to explore other collaborative opportunities for the sector.

Another project set to benefit the sector includes the development of service level agreements for the services provided by SAFECOM's Volunteer Strategy and Support Branch to the CFS and SES and for the services the Public Affairs Unit delivers to the CFS (the SES agreement was finalised last year, and negotiations are still progressing with the MFS). These documents mark a significant milestone for the sector and thanks must go to those who have worked on them over many months including Stuart Macleod, Matt Maywald, Euan Ferguson, Andrew Lawson, Mick Ayre, SES and CFS Regional Commanders, the CFS' Strategic Leadership Group, Mark Groote and the VSS team and Karina Loxton, Chris Metevelis and Haley Cahalan.

The Board has also recently endorsed the approach for developing Emergency Services Delivery Standards for the sector and has confirmed the project, which aims to align resources to areas of greatest risk, as its number one priority. The Board's endorsement means that each agency will need to commit to the direction of the ESDS and put significant effort into supporting its work.

To ensure matters relating to volunteers and employees of the sector are considered in Board directives and initiatives, a Sector Advisory Committee has been established under the auspices of the amended Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005. The proposed membership of the committee includes each of the Chief Officers, Wendy Shirley and Ken Schutz from the CFSVA, Susan Caracoussis and Haig Henry from the SESVA, Greg Northcott and Joe Szakacs of the UFU and Keith Knipe of the PSA, an officer from SAFECOM and myself as the Chair. The committee has met once informally and will meet again later this month to discuss terms of reference and finalise membership. Updates will be provided in future editions of COMMent and through other forums.

Lastly, as part of the new information management system rollout, you could win a brand new i-pod - just for coming up with a catchy name! More details can be found by reading the information management article - good luck!

David Place
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