As a sector we are all very different people individually that have been brought together through a shared interest, drive or commitment. But despite our differences there are certain aspects that must be consistent and unified, and that is our behaviour.
We were very disheartened recently when behaviour was demonstrated by brigade members at one of our events that was not appropriate nor acceptable. While that particular issue was dealt with at a local level it’s timely to remind ourselves that following the Independent Review led by Judge Coral Shaw on workplace bullying and harassment we all have an active role to play in change.
That begins with each one of us. While most of us are respectful, polite and considerate, this is not yet universal. If you witness behaviour that goes against these principles, call it out! Help the person involved to identify how their behaviour is unacceptable and why it will not be tolerated.
Change for the better begins with positive behaviour
Importantly we need to understand how our behaviour is important in changing the sector for the better. Reflecting our society we need to celebrate and encourage diversity and inclusivity. No person should feel intimidated, exposed or excluded due to gender, race, sexual orientation, appearance, age.
The UFBA is working in partnership with FENZ and other associated agencies on the Respect and Inclusion Task Force. This aims to develop leaders and brigade members who respect and promote each other’s differences and focus on fairness and equity. Studies have proven that an organisation whose members promote diversity and inclusiveness are more actively engaged, more innovative and display better mental health. So these changes make sense towards brigade resilience and sustainability!
What behaviours are expected?
Eventually we should have clear guidelines around what is expected of our behaviours as a code of behaviour is developed with Fire and Emergency. In the meantime and as a leader and CFO myself I want to encourage other leaders to display behaviour that is respectful, inclusive and fair.
It’s important not to forget the learnings from our last conference when firefighter Bronnie Mackintosh spoke of how a smaller female member of a brigade was actually an advantage to her team when she was able to get into a smaller space to help with extrication of an MVA victim.
Long gone are the days of burly firefighters displaying strength and masculinity. We’re deep into a much better era where a firefighter is epitomised by problem solving, dexterity and determination.
Now those are the values we should all share, no matter who we are.
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