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Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations

 

The aim of the Assembly is to represent the Volunteer Fire  Associations and foster the interests of Volunteer Firefighters.

The Assembly is comprised of most of the vlunteer and retained firefighter associations across Australia and new Zealand. It has a membership of over 200,000 firefighters.

  • To act as an advocate for its members on issues that are best resolved at a national level
  • To make representations to the Fderal Attorney General and Eergency Mnagement Australia on issues affecting Volunteer Firefighters in Australia
  • To make representations to the Australasian Fire Authorities Council, or its successors, on issues affecting Volunteer Firefighters in Australia and New Zealand
  • To carry out any other function consistent with the aim.

The Assemblyis managed by a Board which meets by telephone and face to face to further the interests of volunteer firefighters and thier Associations. You can read more about the Assembly on its website at www.cavfa.com.au
 

Background

Volunteer fire brigades continue to deliver the vast majority of emergency response across Australasia to local communities. This follows a proud tradition and cultural heritage within Australasia of local people banding together, to assist one another primarily in the face of bushfires, but today for many other forms of support and emergency response. This spirit of altruism lives on today and together with Government support and organisational structure, provides a vast emergency response capability that is flexible, disciplined, well equipped and able to face a broad range of risks.

However, volunteers do not automatically appear. Membership of volunteer fire brigades is declining in many rural areas while generally remaining stable in near metropolitan areas. Even where numbers are essentially constant, there is considerable churn of individual membership leading to ongoing demands on training, equipping and developing capability.

Each jurisdiction has an Association to formally represent volunteer interests to fire brigade agencies and to Governments. The existence of many of these volunteer Associations is enshrined in legislation and is an important element of the volunteer fire brigade structure. Their strength lies in volunteers representing volunteers – not paid staff representing volunteers. As the demands on these Associations has increased, some are employing executive officers not to represent volunteers but to administrate what are large and diverse organisations usually with branches located across each country, state or territory.

The average age of rural volunteers reflects the average age of the rural population. In some jurisdictions the average age is over 50. The demands on these volunteers continue to increase. Apart from the expectations that they will attend an increasingly broad range of emergency responses, demands also include increased administration, training commitments and compliance with OHS legislation. Some brigades feel uncomfortable about being asked to focus on preparing for major regional emergency events, when they volunteered to assist their local community.

It is within this context that the volunteer Associations throughout Australasia are striving to develop a national voice and draw strength through national networks.

The representation of volunteers remains a responsibility within each jurisdiction. However, the volunteer Associations are seeking to provide a structure and platform for them to be heard and to lobby nationally to raise their profile and highlight the concerns of individual volunteer firefighters across Australasia. Through developing an Australasian profile of volunteer firefighters, the Assembly seeks to provide volunteers with greater recognition and support and thereby encourage more to volunteer.

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