The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) today launched the Independent Review into equity and diversity within the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and Country Fire Authority (CFA).
The Independent Review will look at barriers and opportunities for building safe and respectful environments in both organisations. It will consider the extent, nature and impact of discrimination, including bullying, and sexual harassment.
The Review was prompted by the release of the Fire Services Report earlier this year which raised concerns relating to the culture of MFB and CFA and has the backing of the Victorian Government and both agencies.
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton noted that discrimination, including bullying, and sexual harassment exist in workplaces across many sectors. Ms Hilton noted there is broad acknowledgement that work needs to be done in MFB and CFA to ensure that Victorian emergency services can continue to strengthen and progress, and in doing so lead the way for other public sector agencies.
“The aim of the VEOHRC Independent Review into Equity and Diversity is to hear from employees and volunteers about what works and what needs to change to create work environments that are safe and inclusive, and where discrimination and bullying have no place.
“We want to hear from all employees and volunteers, including those who left the organisation in or after 2010. We will make tailored recommendations to both CFA and MFB based on the different make-up of each organisation,” Ms Hilton said.
Ms Hilton said that the VEOHRC Independent Review will prioritise the safety and confidentiality of all participants who come forward and there will be a number of ways people can take part.
“It is important we hear from as many people as possible about both positive and negative experiences.”
“Both MFB and CFA provide crucial services to the community. For employees and volunteers who work to ensure our communities are safe, it is essential that every step is taken to make sure that their workplaces are safe, fair and supportive,” Ms Hilton said.
The fire services work follows an independent review undertaken by VEOHRC of Victoria Police last year which has led to a program of significant cultural change within Victoria Police.
A report on the Commission’s findings will be publicly available in mid-2017.
VEOHRC media contact: