Just over 40 people attended our Farmer Engagement Partners WAFarmers Regional Roadshow in Pingelly this afternoon, to listen to and discuss many important issues affecting farmers and firefighters alike in regional Western Australia (WA).
Bushfire Volunteers Executive Officer Darren Brown discussed many important issues relevant to regional WA, and took the time to answer questions from the audience about where the money from the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) that is collected from mum and dad landowners is actually going, and why there is such a lack of transparency surrounding why certain entities are privy to more funding from the ESL than others.
Here, a key point was raised in how last year of the 405 million collected from landowners, 221 million was spent directly on employee benefits whilst only $15m was spent on Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades whose firefighters make up over 75% of the firefighting force in WA.
Although there has been a slow improvement in the way this funding is being managed, shown by the recent investment in new stations for brigades that have long used personal land to store community owned firefighting equipment, there is still much more to be done for this problem to be solved. This is because disparities across the board still exist, including how in today’s contemporary day and age it costs many millions of dollars to build a metro career firefighting station and only $300,000 to build a regional bush fire brigade, however many regional communities still use members sheds and don’t have a sufficient location to manage firefighting activities and come together as a team. Just one of many obscurities in the fire and emergency services field.
After a productive afternoon of discussion and engagement from all involved, many stayed to enjoy a meal from the Pingelly Recreation and Cultural Centre, courtesy of WA Farmers’ sponsors Bailiwick Legal and DryKirkness Chartered Accountants.
A massive thank you is in order for the farmers, firefighters and politicians who took the time out of their day to come to this roadshow, and after much hard work we look forward to being able to host more events like these with our Farmer Engagement Partners WAFarmers in the future.