WA Health volunteers shouldn’t be left short-changed

Friday 06 Oct 2017

As WA moves into bushfire season again the HSUWA believes it is timely that we consider how the Department of Health can better support volunteers to provide their invaluable services.

HSUWA member, Steve Lake is a Systems Administrator at RPH and has been a volunteer fire fighter for over 15 years now. Although based in Kalamunda in Perth’s eastern suburbs, Steve has also helped fight fires in Esperance and Yarloop. In Esperance local volunteers and professional firefighters were caught off guard by rapidly spreading fires and volunteers, like Steve, received urgent calls to provide some relief to exhausted locals.

“Although I can plan for training, we can’t plan for when a fire will start [or end] so I need leave which can be taken at short notice and doesn’t affect my other types of leave”

Steve believes he has been relatively lucky in recent times as he has a manager who have been supportive of him using his own time to participate in regular training to keep up with the latest techniques in fighting fires. However the union believes that volunteers like Steve shouldn’t have to use flexi-time or any of their current leave entitlements in order to do the training required to volunteer their time to their community.

Training and extinguishing fires are hardly relaxing activities but they are vital for the community and WA Health should recognise this by extending Emergency Services Leave to cover mandatory training. Members who serve in the Defence Reserves are entitled to paid leave for training, we think it is fair to extend that to our volunteer firefighters and other Emergency Services volunteers.

With enterprise bargaining beginning early in 2018 there is a perfect opportunity for WA Health to recognise and support the work of community volunteers.

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