DELWP Forest Firefighters shortchanged

Thursday 04th May 2017


The State Government decision to overlook DELWP Forest Firefighters in the Budget released this week has been labelled “disgraceful” by the Australian Workers’ Union Victorian Secretary Ben Davis.

Only 40 extra Forest Firefighter roles are among the 260 new positions announced for DELWP, and despite promises from Premier Daniel Andrews and Deputy Premier James Merlino, they have been denied coverage by Emergency Services Superannuation.

“The Forest Firefighter numbers announced won’t even cover existing vacancies,” Mr Davis said.

“To add insult to injury, after promises to the contrary from Daniel Andrews and James Merlino, these Forest Firefighters remain the only emergency service workers in Victoria unable to access the super fund designed to meet their needs. It is disgraceful.

“Emergency Services Super is geared to the needs of the men and women who carry out dangerous work for the public good. It includes a death and disability scheme which specifically addresses the circumstances of emergency service workers.

”The Premier and Deputy Premier are fully aware of the situation and promised to correct it. They have not been true to their word.”

There are about 400 DELWP Forest Firefighters to protect the state’s 3.1 million hectares of forests, as well as the communities that border them. They are regularly called upon, at the worst of times, to work shoulder to shoulder with other emergency services.

“Forest Firefighters work deep in the bush during fire season. They don’t get the recognition they deserve simply because they are often operating in areas too dangerous for others to enter,” he said.

“They are called upon to travel interstate and overseas to help deal with fires and other natural crises, because they are known for their expertise, experience and courage as they contend with the worst of conditions.”

Forest Firefighters are on the front line for all manner of extreme events, from devastating floods to searches for those lost in the bush.

“The only conclusion possible for the appalling treatment of this group is that they are out of sight, out of mind; that they are suffering for being regional workers,” Mr Davis said.

“The least they deserve is adequate numbers in the bush and the same superannuation scheme as their city counterparts.”