Victoria’s forest firefighters who are employed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) are fighting for fair pay and recognition as genuine emergency services workers.
The following information comes from the Australian Workers Union.
Approximately 95% of the bushfires that occur across Victoria take place on public land, where forest firefighters are the first to respond. Apart from responding to many of these fires, DELWP firefighters are also expected to perform a range of highly skilled duties in public assistance areas such as missing person searches, pest control, biosecurity incursions, marine pollution management, flood and heatwave, mine rescues and disruption to water or energy supplies.
Forest firefighters are often called away from their families at very short notice for periods of up to ten days at a time. During these “attack shifts”, firefighters may work continuously for between 12 – 24 hours, with only 12 hours’ break to sleep at base camp before their next shift.
However, a forest firefighter employed by DELWP with 25 years’ experience in an emergency situation will be paid $12 an hour less than a first year forest firefighter employed by another state government department doing the same work.
They also receive significantly less in death and disability insurance, and superannuation because they are not recognised by the state government as genuine emergency services workers.
This is despite the deaths of five firefighters over the past 12 years whilst on the job in emergency conditions.
We believe the time has come to give recognition to the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to save Victoria’s national parks and forests.
There is a facebook page for the campaign here.