The state government says the decision to split the state’s fire services into career and professional firefighters will help enshrine the rights of volunteers.
The volunteers will remain in the CFA but the MFB will be transformed into Fire Rescue Victoria, representing all professional firefighters, including those in regional areas.
Volunteers have told The Courier they would continue to serve the community and did not yet know how the changes would impact the brigades. Ballaraty City Fire Brigade station officer Brenton Smith said the split appeared to be a “win-win” for all. Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said branding changes would cost $5 million a year.
The total funding allocated to the overhaul will include $2.5 million for "diversity and cultural change" and $5 million for leadership programs. Mr Merlino said the government had allocated $1.1 billion for all emergency services across Victoria.
"The bulk of the investment was our election commitment to recruit 450 career firefighters, and that's already delivered in the budget."
The government also announced it would introduce “presumptive rights” for cancer compensation for all firefighters. The scheme will cost $50 million and year and under legislation it will be assumed that certain cancers in firefighters were caused by their time in the job.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the scheme will also take into account exceptional exposure events, enabling firefighters who have attended such an event to qualify for the presumption even if they do not meet the minimum years of service.
“Our firefighters are community heroes – they shouldn’t have to fight to prove the clear medical link between cancer and firefighting.”