The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades WA Inc has been the very descriptive name of the peak body for Western Australia’s incredible 26,000 bush fire volunteers for almost 30 years and has served its stakeholders relatively well. However, the fact is we’ve almost always been known as “the AVBFB” because the full name is just too long to write and too clumsy to say out loud.
While there has been a huge amount of positive work done under the banner of “the AVBFB” over the past three decades, those five letters don’t mean much to people who don’t already know us.
As regular readers would know, the AVBFB has been working patiently and persistently with government to try to correct a long-standing funding imbalance in the hope that we could secure a significant increase in long-term financial support to better enable us to deliver more services to and on behalf of our extremely worthy members. The core argument in support of increased and longer term funding arrangements is that like our colleagues in other volunteer associations, we deliver direct and measurable benefits to the state government. Furthermore, while WALGA certainly represents the Local Governments that “own” volunteer bush fire brigades, the State Government has no legal relationship with the actual volunteers who make up more than two thirds of WA’s registered emergency services personnel. Unlike volunteers in other services who are by law, governed by DFES, there is no formal relationship between the state government and bush fire volunteers, significantly strengthening the case for government support to the AVBFB.
However, despite these and a number of other cogent arguments, we are told the difficult financial situation this government inherited simply doesn’t allow for any better financial support.
With the huge changes being made to the way Western Australia manages the ever-present risk of bushfire, there is a stronger-than-ever need for bushfire volunteers to be consulted, represented and most importantly, respected – both individually and as a collective. In response, the Association appointed its first ever full-time employee in May this year to not only help deliver the immediate services our members and state government required, and importantly, also secure the charity’s long-term financial future.
We’ve come a very long way in the few months that have passed, but sadly, we’re told the government’s financial situation hasn’t changed to allow any more funding to be made available to help the AVBFB support the work of our amazing 26,000 bushfire volunteers.
In the true spirit of the incredible women and men we proudly represent, the AVBFB has all but accepted that in order to get the resources we need to deliver more and stronger services to members, we need to roll up our sleeves and find a way to grow without more government funding.
So, as part of making the association more visible to and valuable for potential corporate partners and donors, we today unveil our new trading name – “Bushfire Volunteers“.