UFU Official Statement

UFU Statement in response to questions provided by the Project:

The Project’s question 1: Why did the UFU(V) seek to prevent the release of the VEOHRC report?

UFU Response:

The UFU sought to prevent the release of the VEOHRC report because the review was not properly constituted in accordance with the powers of VEOHRC, investigated matters beyond VEOHRC’s powers and the methodology of its survey was fundamentally flawed, statistically unsound and would not have provided any accurate or genuine information about the fire services.

Professor Ian Gordon of the University of Melbourne Statistical Consulting Centre provided evidence to the Supreme Court demonstrating that the methodology of the VEOHRC review survey lacked any credibility and therefore the survey results could not be relied upon.

The Supreme Court found the Review was beyond the powers of VEOHRC and ordered therefore that the Report not be released.

The Project’s question 2: Had the UFU(V) seen part or all of the draft or final versions of this report?

UFU Response:

No, the UFU has not seen part or all of any draft or final versions of the VEOHRC report.

The Project’s question 3: What needs to be done to stamp out bullying, harassment and discrimination in the CFA?

UFU Response:

The UFU takes workplace safety seriously and commissioned Newcastle University to undertake an independent review of the CFA and MFB.

The UFU, by its actions in opposing the release of the VEOHRC report and in releasing the Newcastle report, has demonstrated it genuine concern that reliable information about the workplaces at the MFB and the CFA be obtained and used as a proper basis for reforms to those workplaces to make them safer and more inclusive.

The UFU had Melbourne University peer review the Newcastle review methodology to ensure the resulting report would be credible and statistically sound.

The Newcastle Report, which included a survey of MFB and CFA firefighters, showed that MFB and CFA firefighters overwhelmingly do not tolerate discriminatory orimproper behaviour.Since the UFU received the Newcastle report the following has occurred:The UFU:

  • Presented the findings of the Newcastle report to the CFA and MFB CEOs, Chief Officers and executive management;
  • Organised for the Newcastle report author Dr Quirk to present an in-depth analysis of the findings of the report to CFA and MFB Management.

The UFU/CFA/MFB have established a tripartite partnership agreeing to ongoing independent culture analysis and a joint approach for making improvements to the working lives of the CFA and MFB employees.

Other proactive measures include:

  • Improvements to complaints handling;
  • Establishment of a diversity committee;
  • Changes to recruitment processes to encourage greater diversity by making recruitment processes more accessible;
  • Development of firefighter wellness programmes, including the rollout of the "Road to Mental Readiness (M2MR) resilience training.

Additionally, the UFU has

  • Created the position of welfare officer;
  • Hosted two national conferences on firefighter wellbeing with Fire Chiefs and Fire Services senior management from around Australia participating;
  • Actively driven the development of wellness programmes to reflect best international practice.