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Volunteer Sustainability Strategy

Click here to download Your Plan - Emergency Services Volunteer Sustainability Strategy
Download 'Together We Can - Emergency Services Volunteer Sustainability Strategy' (PDF - 3MB)

Why do we need a volunteer sustainability strategy?

The Western Australian Emergency Services Volunteer Sustainability Strategy 2016-2024 was developed to create a roadmap for building a vibrant and sustainable emergency services volunteer workforce.

Volunteers are critical to the delivery of emergency services in Western Australia, as they provide skills and capacity in metropolitan, regional and remote areas of the State.

Consultation and research tell us that emergency services volunteers are concerned about 5 key issues affecting their work:

  • The amount of time volunteers must give to being a volunteer;
  • Training opportunities, commitment and the need for flexibility;
  • Ongoing out of pocket expenses/costs;
  • Validation and recognition of their commitment and work; and
  • The types of people that join, lead and manage the services.

The Volunteer Sustainability Strategy is aimed at assisting brigades, units, groups and the Department to address these issues collaboratively and work towards a sustainable future.

How has the Strategy been developed?

Over the last three years there has been extensive consultation and research to understand the problem and identify solutions. This process has included the opinions and ideas from:

  • Emergency services volunteers;
  • Emergency services volunteer Associations;
  • Emergency services volunteer advisory committees;
  • Department of Fire and Emergency Services;
  • Local Government;
  • Young people and employers not yet involved in emergency service volunteering;
  • Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council;
  • Universities;
  • Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre;
  • Volunteering WA; and
  • Red Cross.

What is the strategy trying to do?

To address these issues and improve volunteer recruitment and retention, the Strategy includes an overarching objective and two key strategies from which to work:

Objective: Create a sustainable volunteer emergency services workforce through the following two strategies:
Strategy 1.
Increase the recruitment of volunteers and broaden the membership diversity.
Strategy 2.
Increase the retention rates of emergency services volunteers and improve their experience across a diverse range of roles.

From this, 6 key Focus Areas (below) have been developed which created 137 actions in which to concentrate our efforts for improvement and change. Please click here to view the whole strategy (PDF - 360 KB).

  1. Collaborate with key stakeholders to raise WA’s emergency services volunteer profile
  2. Increase community awareness of and support for emergency services volunteering within a shared responsibility framework
  3. Build emergency services volunteer leadership culture to better support and involve their members
  4. Determine the fiscal and capability costs associated with high volunteer turnover to improve resource planning
  5. Build DFES’ as well as brigades’, groups’ and units’ (BGUs) capacity to attract and recruit volunteers
  6. Build DFES’ capacity to support and retain volunteers

What progress has been made so far?

DFES Volunteer Engagement WorkshopWe are pleased to inform you that work from the Strategy to date (as at September 2015) includes:

  • Approval of a State-wide project that will implement the new Volunteer Leadership Program to volunteers;
  • A WA Emergency Services Volunteer Engagement Workshop involving volunteers, their associations and DFES staff which voted against the 137 actions listed in the Strategy which will be used to form the priorities for work and funding requests
  • Approval to prepare a business model and a new ICT solution to upgrade the existing volunteer portal; and
  • A review and redevelopment of the emergency services cadet program.

What next?

Work is underway to finalise the implementation plan for the Strategy. The implementation plan will drive the projects and initiatives which will deliver the changes required.

We would like to hear from you

If you would like to provide us with feedback or have any questions around the volunteer sustainability model you can contact us at volunteering@dfes.wa.gov.au.