It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at UFBA.
Welcoming new blood to the Provincials
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining our colleagues at the Canterbury Provincial Fire Brigade Associations AGM and Conference held in Methven. Maintaining relationships with the Provincials is a key element of our Association because we can share mutually beneficial perspectives that allow us to maintain situational awareness of the complexities of our sector and work together for the benefit of our total membership.
It was a delight to meet Amelia Wood of Rangiora brigade who is Canterbury Provincial’s newest Executive team member. It’s heartening to see the next generation of leaders step up to gain from the years of experience of more seasoned members, while bringing a fresh new perspective in touch with our future members. We wish her luck as we do for new Provincial President Mike Allen and Tech Panel member Dave Francis. We look forward to working with their team. The new executive team must surely be the most diverse executive in terms of age and gender. There are more women on the executive than men. This is an encouraging sign in our evolution as a truly representative and inclusive Association.
A brief history of our influence
The role of myself, consultant Murray McKee, the UFBA leadership and Kevin Ihaka advocating for our membership during the Fire Service Review in 2014/15 led to voluntarism being anchored in fire and emergency law and the clear directions of Government. This achievement is certainly without precedent within Australasia and possibly the world! Without doubt, the UFBA along with FRFANZ were the most active and influential group in the sector pre FENZ. The evidence is easy to find and speaks for itself.
Now that this agenda is firmly imbedded in the law, the UFBA team’s role along with our entire membership is to hold Fire and Emergency NZ to account for implementing the intent of the reforms, to develop FENZ into a fit for purpose organisation that can serve our communities better than ever before. We are advocating strongly to give effect to this and would have expected to see voluntarism called out more in the proposed senior leadership structure.
We are advocating for change! This is echoing what we have heard through the entire fire service review process, through our roadshow in 2015/16 and the most recent national roadshow this year. Advocating your voice at this strategic and crucial juncture, we want voluntarism to flourish. The 11,000 volunteers of the FENZ 14,000 strong workforce deserve no less!
Submission on proposed changes to SLT
Last week we made a joint submission with FRFANZ addressing the proposed changes to the structure of the FENZ Senior Leadership Team. Our principle submitted concern was that the proposed structure does not go far enough to reflect the new duty of FENZ to recognise, respect and promote the contribution of FENZ volunteers. The requirement to do so is set out clearly in the FENZ Act. This legislation has few prescriptions, but improved volunteer support and development is clearly prescribed within. This requirement is also spelled out in Cabinet Minute 1, Fire Services Review: Agreeing future directions and steps. The minute says “there must be responsibility for volunteers sitting throughout management, with managers having the appropriate skills to manage and support volunteers.”
In practice, this means that the importance of volunteers is being “called out” by the Government and is not optional. This means that volunteerism and volunteers are one of the key priorities at the centre of the current reforms. Despite this, no obvious “signalling” of the importance of our volunteers can be found in the proposed structure. In simple terms, the volunteer voice is not at the “big table”. We reject the idea that volunteerism will be imbedded within the DNA of FENZ and its structure in the short to medium term. Why? Because FENZ is still being developed and as such is not yet mature enough to reflect the embedded doctrine. We also observed that the new roles are very big roles. We would expect that these roles would attract very strong and experienced leaders. To give effect to these reforms the right people must be in right place!
Let’s keep up the momentum
It’s in our hands to make Fire and Emergency New Zealand what we want it to be. We have the influence now! We are working on your behalf but please keep talking to us and making your views on the proposals known. Do it yourself or by brigade through Considerthis.co.nz/fenz. Let’s get the organisation aligned with what you need to do for the benefit of the community, not for any other agendas.
Want to be an influencer for UFBA decision making?
Remember if you’d like greater involvement in the work we do we’d love to hear from you. You can sign up to our leadership workshops or get in touch if you feel you have expertise to add to a working party. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are many ways to represent your sector and together we make a stronger voice.
Think tank, working parties and the voice of your representatives
Through our networks we get to meet many intelligent, passionate and committed members. A number of these super people are active on a range of working parties at any given time. Did you know there are currently 37 working parties that comprise UFBA representatives hailing from the bottom of the South to the far North of the Country. Through their views from the coal face (so to speak) they lend their voice to submissions and decisions that we take direct to Fire and Emergency New Zealand to ensure they hear from volunteers.
With over 250 graduates through our Leadership & Governance Workshops we’ve discovered a gold mine of talented people. Some of these people are now part of our new Think Tank, a group of representatives that discuss any proposed changes to regulations and collate feedback to help inform us of submissions. We met our Think Tank on Friday to analyse and discuss the current consultation process on the proposed FENZ operating model, volunteer strategy and risk reduction strategy. Their input along with feedback received from brigades will inform the contents of a joint UFBA/FRFANZ submission.
You are all encouraged to make individual and brigade contributions direct to FENZ and we remind you to take up the opportunity to air your views with us so that our combined submission is truly representative of the collective view.
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