A message from the Emergency Management Commissioner about the VEOHRC report

8 October 2018

The Victorian Court of Appeal’s judgement regarding the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s (VEOHRC) Independent Equity and Diversity Review of MFB and CFA was handed down last week and means that the report will not be released at this time.

The Review was undertaken to understand and identify the steps that could be taken to create more equitable and inclusive fire services. Although the Review will not be released, many of you would be aware that there are a number of public and well-documented stories of behaviour within our sector that do not meet community standards and expectations.

It is an important goal for EMV and everyone in our sector to create safe and inclusive working environments where everyone is valued and respected. The fire agencies are taking their own steps to drive reform and acknowledge that there is work to do.

As a Male Champion of Change, my role is to advance gender equity, inclusive cultures and achieve significant and sustainable improvements in the representation of women in their workplaces. In this capacity I would like to acknowledge the harm caused to those who have experienced or witnessed discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation in any circumstances.

In my experience at Victoria Police, I have seen firsthand the efforts of an organisation of almost 20,000 employees in addressing the serious issue of discrimination and harassment within its ranks. While I will never know what it means to walk in the shoes of a woman, the VicPol Review provided me with some insight into understanding the impact of workplace harm. The VicPol Review also made it clear to me that we must listen to the stories and experiences of others, no matter how difficult they are to hear and that we all have a responsibility to speak up or act when we witness harmful behaviours in the workplace. Creating safe and inclusive workplaces are a shared responsibility and is incumbent on us all. There are lessons from the VEOHRC Review of Victoria Police that are significant for all employers and all sectors.

Ensuring that our emergency services are reflective of the community we serve is of fundamental importance to me and this is central to my work as a Male Champion of Change.  I would like to reassure our people that we are continuing to focus on creating safe and inclusive working environments for every employee in our sector.

In order for real change to occur, we must all work together, at every level of every organisation across our great sector.