Government response to the Independent review of an incident involving Queensland Fire and Emergency Services employees
On 19 December 2014 Margaret Allison delivered her report to the independent review of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) and Public Safety Business Agency’s (PSBA) handling of sexual harassment and workplace bullying.
The report made 30 recommendations to improve the environment in which women firefighters are recruited, trained, assigned, supported and promoted. All recommendations in the report are accepted, subject to consultation on implementation arrangements with relevant stakeholders.
The recommendations will be implemented over the short, medium and long term. The Government response details what has been achieved thus far and identifies further work that will occur to implement the recommendations.
Read the government response to the independent review (PDF, 394KB).
Implementation is being led by the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner, in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer of the PSBA. The Government will ensure this work continues under the auspice of an Implementation Committee, to be chaired by an independent person.
A QFES Harassment Information Line has been established, providing confidential services to all QFES personnel, and can be reached on (07) 3635 3672 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
The Queensland Government recognises the vital work performed by firefighters and emergency services personnel across the state to keep the community safe. However, the Queensland Government takes very seriously the need to respond effectively to complaints of sexual harassment across Government, as part of the Government’s strong commitment to reducing gender inequality.
Message from the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner, Katarina Carroll
Independent review of an incident involving Queensland Fire and Emergency Services employees
As you may be aware, the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and the Minister for Corrective Services, the Honourable Jo-Ann Miller MP, has made an announcement in relation to the response to the ‘Independent review of an incident involving Queensland Fire and Emergency Services employees’.
The review handed down by Ms Margaret Allison made 30 recommendations and found that QFES and PSBA failed to respond effectively to the complaint of sexual harassment in the particular incident. It also identified systemic organisational problems within QFES that limited the organisation’s ability to respond appropriately and effectively to such matters generally.
The government has announced that all recommendations in the report are accepted; subject to consultation on implementation arrangements with relevant stakeholders and that this work will continue under the auspice of an Implementation Committee, to be chaired by an independent person.
A review of the structure and functions of the PSBA is also underway and I encourage you all to have your say in this process. Some of the recommendations from the review directly relate to the functions of the PSBA and will be considered in light of the outcome of that review.
On top of the recent survey, an incredible amount of work has already been undertaken in response to the Allison review with the establishment of the QFES Cultural Improvement Implementation Project (CIIP), to lead the implementation of some recommendations and to support my vision for a progressive, efficient and inclusive organisation. Since March 2015, 16 of the recommendations have been either actioned and are now ready for final review by the independent committee; or have significant progress toward closure underway.
Some of the actions to date include:
- A QFES Harassment Information Line (07 3635 3672) has been established providing confidential services to all QFES personnel. I encourage you to call this number if you have concerns or alternately you can contact your manager. An interim harassment advisory network has also been established.
- A number of new policies and systems have been developed that will be reviewed by the Implementation Committee to confirm their effectiveness in addressing sexual harassment including:
- New complaints management frameworks and supporting policies to help staff and managers ensure QFES workplaces are free of harassment or discrimination.
- Training and education material has been remodelled to focus on appropriate behaviour, targeted toward preventing harassment and supporting staff to make complaints. The first phase of Workplace Behaviour Training has commenced and is being rolled out across the State.
A number of actions will be referred to the Implementation committee for their review including the management of harassment and bullying complaints, operational governance, training and development, ethics and conduct and the QFES working environment.
Some work has already commenced in relation to the areas of Legislation, review of other complaints, organisational governance matters involving PSBA and QFES, management of harassment and bullying allegations, and recruitment and selection. Further consideration and consultation will be undertaken in relation to these areas.
As your Commissioner I am constantly impressed with the people who make-up QFES, the jobs that you all do and the resources that are available.
The future for QFES is bright and I am committed to continuing to keep you informed about the progress in this area.
The independent review report
Read the original report and statement from author Margaret Allison:
- Read the report, redacted of personal confidential information (PDF, 1.3 MB).
- Read the statement from report author Margaret Allison (PDF, 207KB).