The NSW Government’s decision to review the Emergency Services Levy and make the system fairer and more resilient is a good start, but it must embrace far greater reform of emergency services, according to the unions representing emergency services workers.
The unions say the Premier and his Emergency Services Minister, Jihad Dib, need to expand their review from simply the funding of emergency services to their entire operations, and that a more comprehensive review is needed due to the double threat of global warming bringing more bushfires, storms and floods and the dwindling number of volunteers in NSW.
Stewart Little, General Secretary of the Public Service Association, and Leighton Drury, Secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees Union are calling for the Premier and Emergency Services Minister to expand the review.
“Our members working in the Rural Fire Service tell me they need more fire trucks, equipment and staff to fight the increasingly ferocious fires we are seeing due to global warming,” said Mr Little.
“They say the Black Summer bushfire season of 2019-20 was just the beginning.
“We saw what happened in Lismore in the 2022 floods when the State Emergency Service was pushed to the limit, our members in the SES say they need more inflatable boats, trucks and most of all paid staff to ensure people in NSW are safe.
“The PSA welcomes the review of funding for emergency services but it must be expanded to look at the entire operations of the RFS and SES to take into account the double threat of global warming bringing more bushfires, storms and floods and the dwindling number of volunteers.
“NSW is the only jurisdiction not to have conducted a thorough review into its emergency service and combat agencies in the last decade.
“There are structural inefficiencies across the agencies that have been evident during the natural disasters in Lismore in 2022 and the Black Summer Fires of 2019-20.
“The recent People Matter Employee Survey 2023, the NSW public sector’s annual employee survey, showed staff want strong leadership, an employer who listens to their staff, who have the experience and know how.
“They want leadership that takes seriously staff talking about burnout and sees the desperate need for more boots on the ground,” says Stewart Little, General Secretary of the Public Service Association.
Leighton Drury, Secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, also wants to see a more comprehensive review of emergency services in NSW.
“Global warming will bring more frequent and devastating fires so while the Premier’s review is commendable, it must be expanded to include not only the funding of emergency services but to all aspects of their operations,” said Mr Drury.
Stewart Little 0405 285 547
Leighton Drury 0403 877 161