Victoria’s emergency management arrangements rely heavily on an integrated, highly trained, effectively deployed and optimally utilised volunteer workforce.
Volunteers can and want to undertake the full breadth of roles in emergency management, from frontline to senior leadership. We, as leaders, must remove the barriers that are stopping optimal volunteer utilisation. The recognition of the qualifications, the professionalism and the broad experience that exist amongst our volunteers improves our overall public value to Victorian communities.
In recognition of the fundamental importance of volunteers, the Volunteer Consultative Forum (VCF) was established in 2013 to facilitate the Victorian Government’s commitment to consult and engage with emergency management volunteers and their representative bodies on matters that affect them, and reform as outlined in the Victorian Emergency Management Reform White Paper.
The VCF is chaired by the Emergency Management Commissioner (EMC), with Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) providing support.
The key objective of the VCF is to give emergency management volunteers a voice to the Minister for Emergency Services and government, and to provide advice on volunteer-related issues and the broader emergency management reform agenda. The VCF complements, rather than replaces, existing arrangements within the emergency management sector.
The VCF membership comprises representatives from Ambulance Victoria, Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, Country Fire Authority, Life Saving Victoria, Red Cross, Salvation Army, St John Ambulance, Victoria State Emergency Service, Victorian Council of Churches, the Victoria Emergency Service Association, and Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.
In early 2014, the VCF, with support from EMV, completed two key pieces of foundational work as part of its establishment phase and to inform initial direction.
Two key documents were developed; the first identified the common barriers and enablers to volunteering across the sector from a volunteer’s perspective, and the second detailed a range of successful volunteer initiatives that may be applied or used in other agencies.
The information and insights from this work were then used to create the Strategic Priorities for Volunteering in Emergency Management. The Strategic Priorities identify thirteen common volunteer needs, and their value to volunteers.
For the community to realise the full benefits of our integrated workforce, we have the responsibility to address these priority needs that will improve volunteer satisfaction and in turn, public safety in Victoria.
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