What we do
The following themes are currently the main focus of the Australian Emergency Management Volunteers Forum.
The changing face of training and education within Australia over the last decade has also added an additional burden on volunteers in the emergency sector. As the sector is now committed to nationally accredited training, the lack of understanding and funds to implement industry wide change creates pressure on the sector’s volunteers. The forum’s focus is on the creation of user-friendly systems that are flexible while still providing the most benefit to the community.
Legal / Protection
The forum considers that the level of legal protection for emergency sector volunteers is variable and in some cases inadequate. It acknowledges that a number of excellent models exist and that uniform legislation nationwide should be adopted as a desirable goal by all organisations. Other areas that require a unified front are the compliance with Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) legislation across the states along with risk assessment across the industry. The availability of affordable public liability insurance is also an ongoing issue and an area requiring forum advocacy.
Emergency sector volunteers are firm that they do not want to be paid for their services, they are however, just as firm in their view that being a volunteer should not be a cost to the individual. The forum has an advocacy role in establishing incentive schemes to encourage new recruits and to retain existing members. Advocacy in the area of tax incentives, supply of personal protective clothing and safety equipment, along with other financial incentives are all seen as important to the forum.
The forum acknowledges that volunteers in the emergency sector are largely taken for granted by governments and the community except during major disasters and incidents. The forum’s work concentrates on finding ways to provide greater recognition to volunteers via their own organisations, through established frameworks and via government at all levels.