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QLD Rural volunteers set to lose paid positions under cost-cutting | The Courier-Mail

Bushfire

   Source: Quest Newspapers

THE Newman Government is targeting the handful of paid staff who look after the state’s 35,000 rural fire volunteers for job cuts.

It is also yet to come up with a promised plan to extend funding for about a dozen bushfire mitigation and education officers created by the Bligh government after Victoria’s royal commission into that state’s fires of 2009.

Of the 20 or so civilian staff who deal with the training, marketing, promotional and legal needs of volunteers, none is designated “frontline” staff. That means they have no protection from job cuts under the definitions being used by the new administration.

An insider told The Courier-Mail several meetings had been held in recent weeks where a “human resources woman” had addressed staff to talk about redundancies.

“A woman from Government came in and talked about voluntary redundancy,” the insider said. “We’ve all been told to look for other jobs.

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“She was telling us how much more work we were going to have to do if the person next to us took a redundancy.

“There were a couple of meetings last week.

“Morale in there is terrible. It will filter down, I think.

“The volunteers don’t know what’s happening. Who will then look after the volunteers? They can’t look after themselves.”

The Bligh government recruited about 15 full-time mitigation and education officers in Queensland as part of a response to the findings of the royal commission into the Black Saturday 2009 Victorian fires.

In April, Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey extended their funding for six months and promised to look for a long-term funding solution.

Minister Dempsey said on Friday he wanted to “empower” rural firies but did not provide details.

“In the Budget to be revealed on September 11, the Government will be announcing significant funding on new firefighting infrastructure,” he said.

“As for other measures, such as staffing levels, these are still being finalised and will be revealed in the Budget.”

He said he had asked the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service to find ways to “divert funding from office and management functions and back into frontline services”.

About Darin Sullivan (1968 Articles)
President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a professional firefighter with more than 25 years’ experience. Father of two daughters, he lives and works on the NSW South Coast, Australia. He is a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around him. He is a Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and works with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist he has long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. Now a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and has decades of experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. He is passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. Darin is also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.

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