Expert volunteers providing feedback to FENZ
Recently UFBA/FRFANZ assisted the FENZ Transition Team with forming a group of volunteers to provide input and feedback on various co-design projects—including the volunteer strategy for FENZ, the relationship the volunteer has with FENZ and improvements to in-field support.
To seek expressions of interest for the Working Group, we contacted a pool of experienced and expert volunteers from a range of volunteer brigades and rural fire forces, including many UFBA Leadership & Governance Workshop graduates.
We were delighted 58% of the accepted applicants for the FENZ Volunteer Working Group are graduates of our Leadership & Governance programme. They have the skills and expertise to provide input and feedback on behalf of our members.
Feedback on volunteer support
The Volunteer Working Group met for the first time on 25 and 26 February at Silverstream in Wellington to work on how FENZ can better support volunteers.
UFBA Director Bill Butzbach also participated in the workshop. See more on the outcomes of the workshop below.
Members’ views on workshop
The UFBA asked a number of the expert volunteers for their views on the workshop. Overall, their feedback indicated input from volunteers is appreciated, good things always come from having interested parties together and there was a positive focus on the ‘big picture’.
A sample of the comments we received:
“A positive outcome of the volunteer initiatives is moving forward with rural and urban working together more closely in the future.” Mick Longley, Levin Rural Fire
“Volunteers must have the ability to have a representative voice in decision making.” Simon East, Cust VFB
“The most critical things for FENZ to get right to enable the direct relationship with volunteer to be successful are to enable the volunteer voice to be at the decision making tables, not just consulted and to create two way dialogue so that volunteers can give feedback up the chain and not just be passive recipients of national imperatives.” Sue Slegers, National Park VFB
“The strong directive from the Minister down, saying that volunteers will be treated fairly on all fronts was a good thing. I believe the three specific areas of training, administration, and general support will be very beneficial to all volunteers.” James Mackay, Takaka VFB, Nelson Marlborough Provincial Association President
Volunteer workshop kicks off design of improved support for volunteers
From the FENZ Transition Project
The Volunteer Working Group consists of 46 rural and urban volunteers from across the country who have put their hands up to ensure the volunteer voice is heard loud and clear in shaping the new FENZ organisation.
The group includes representation from the UFBA and will be enduring following the transition to the Fire and Emergency New Zealand organisation on 1 July.
Under the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill, the new organisation is responsible for better supporting volunteers, based on modern volunteer principles and the commitment to consult with volunteers.
The Volunteer Working Group is helping achieve this (alongside other consultation groups) by working with the Transition Team to develop a long-term, organisational-wide Volunteer Strategy and support initiatives, as well as defining the relationship the volunteer has with Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Key pieces of work
There were a series of breakout sessions at the workshop, which focused on some key pieces of work.
Themes at these sessions included:
- The need to maintain the relationships and social fabric of the brigades
- Addressing cultural differences between career, volunteer, urban and rural firefighters
- Ensuring the new organisation values volunteers equally.
The proposal for additional training support was well received by the Volunteer Working Group—particularly the ability to have more locally based training along with access to a wider range of training such as leadership development courses.
The additional in-field support proposal to relieve some of the current administration burden on volunteers was also well received—but this would need to flexible and reflect all the different working arrangements that volunteers have.
Day One support initiatives for volunteers are expected to be confirmed in May, with more support being introduced as the workplan within the volunteer strategy is confirmed. The Strategic Implementation plan for Volunteer Support is expected to be finalised by the end of 2017.
Engagement with the Volunteer Working Group will continue via email to seek input and feedback on upcoming proposed strategies and initiatives.
See Hon Paul Swain and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne speaking at the Volunteer Working Group at https://vimeo.com/210706519
For more information on volunteer support under FENZ, email FENZ
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