3. Recommendations

FSIM makes recommendations under section 133(f) of the FRV Act. FSIM makes recommendations when multiple findings and observations identify an opportunity to improve practice, address risks or adopt a more strategic approach. FSIM considers that recommendations made in this report should support agencies to realise the objectives of the Year Two to Five Plan and Victoria’s ten-year fire services reform program more broadly.

Year two recommendations progress

FSIM made four recommendations in the FSIM Annual Report 2021/22 that are fundamental to addressing key challenges to effective reform implementation. Observations on progress towards addressing these recommendations are summarised in Table 4.

Table 4: Progress observations on FSIM’s Annual Report 2021/22 recommendations

1. Complementary Fire Services


The Minister, in consultation with CFA, DJCS and FRV, should develop an agreed definition of complementary fire services, and how this translates to individual service delivery, underpinned by agreed principles to guide the finalisation of outstanding agreements.

Observations on progress since FY 2021-22:

CFA, DJCS and FRV have initiated positive and constructive action to address this recommendation. FSIM will continue to report progress on this recommendation, given the foundational impact of this recommendation on the reform.

2. Complementary Fire Services


The Minister should nominate an appropriately authorised, representative and accountable strategic governance body that:

  • has authority to develop, endorse (and reinforce) detailed, definitive strategic foundational principles required to guide fire services sector-wide reform progress in line with broader emergency management principles and outcomes to ensure the community is provided with efficient and effective fire services
  • addresses issues where there are broader, strategic, whole-of-government barriers to implementation (for example, the ability to drive legislative change to complete an outstanding service delivery agreement)
  • oversees shared strategic programs of work or programs with significant implications for multiple agencies (for example, FRV’s Health Model, accreditation, or Firefighters Registration Board (FRB)) or where there are shared strategic accountabilities.

Observations on progress since FY 2021-22:

In 2023, the Minister, through DJCS established the SEC, comprising senior executive representation from CFA, DJCS and FRV. FSIM considers this governance group is well-placed to address broader, strategic and whole of reform issues and opportunities.

FSIM attends the SEC as an observer.

3. All "in progress" actions


CFA and FRV should confirm relevant and appropriate performance measures to demonstrate progress of their Year Two to Five Plan actions towards their objectives.

Observations on progress since FY 2021-22:

CFA, DJCS and FRV have responded to this recommendation, providing performance measures for most Year Two to Five Plan actions. For future assessments, FSIM will seek performance measure data sets that are appropriate and relevant to assess delivery of action objectives and, where required, seek further information from agencies to support effectiveness assessments in future years.

4. Fire services sustainability


The Minister should request CFA, DJCS and FRV to convene a financial sustainability governance body to develop and agree on a project plan that clearly maps interdependent activities and key inputs (for example, initial funding plan actions, strategic workforce plan, CFA operating model, CFA seconded workforce capability and capacity requirements) impacting immediate (years three and four) and long-term funding requirements for CFA and FRV. This mechanism should discuss strategic fire services sustainability issues at a high level (excluding confidential financial data relevant to each individual agency) to understand and resolve strategic interdependent issues and identify opportunity for efficiencies. This plan could include:

  • delivery milestones and timeframes for completion of interdependent actions
  • identifying what agency is responsible for delivery oversight that enables monitoring of deliverables.

Bringing together these aspects (at a minimum) may provide an opportunity to identify opportunities for funding synergies across the fire services.

Observations on progress since FY 2021-22:

DJCS undertook analysis to identify the interdependencies between Year Two to Five Plan actions to further inform the review of fire services operational capability and capacity requirements (action 5.2). DJCS took into account:

  • the review of CFA’s Operating Model (action 1.7)
  • the exploration of operational and service delivery benefits of accreditation for FRV (action 2.2)
  • CFA’s capability and capacity requirements for staff seconded from FRV (action 5.1)
  • FRV’s strategic workforce requirements (action 5.4)
  • long-term funding plans for CFA and FRV (action 5.8).

FSIM understands that appropriate governance will be determined and overseen by SEC at the appropriate time. FSIM considers this established oversight arrangement will enable agencies to identify, understand and resolve strategic financial issues across the reform, given the significant interdependencies between actions.

FSIM's recommendations for FY 2022-23

Much reform activity has been completed in the last three years. Where an agency solely controls the delivery of an implementation plan action in the Year Two to Five Plan, progress is clearly demonstrated. However, the last three years also provided insights into agencies’ ability to progress joint actions. This is particularly evident where there are joint deliverables or substantial interdependencies with other implementation plan actions, such as actions 3.7, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11, 5.1 and 5.4.

To help Victoria's fire services agencies make the most of their progress so far, a comprehensive review of the Year Two to Five Plan and remaining implementation actions would be beneficial. This review should consider which remaining implementation plan activities most significantly contribute to the intended success at year five for each priority area and be updated with pragmatic and achievable timelines to focus on those activities. The review should be guided by the broader outcomes in the Fire Services Statement, leverage a shared definition of complementary fire services and consider the impacts of other enabling instruments (e.g., Secondment Agreement, legislation). Table 5 details FSIM’s Annual Report 2022/23 recommendation to the Minister.

Table 5: FSIM’s Annual Report 2022/23 recommendation

5. Review of Year Two to Five Plan to more accurately reflect achievable timeframes and leverage three years of reform implementation knowledge and experiences


Victorian Government, in close consultation with fire services agencies, should conduct a comprehensive review of the Year Two to Five Plan. This review should be informed by the practical implementation challenges to embedding reforms over the past three years, FSIM’s observations, and be guided by the current Year Two to Five Plan success statements and the outcomes of the Fire Services Statement.

The review should:

  • deliver an updated implementation plan with achievable timeframes
  • focus on priority actions that will give measurable, demonstrable and practical effect to the government’s commitments in the Fire Services Statement and the reform’s vision of a modern fire services model for a safer Victoria
  • be guided by and leverage an agreed and shared definition of complementary fire services
  • determine areas for further improvement or development beyond Year Five to inform the next phase of reform implementation beyond the Year Two to Five Plan.

This review should take advantage of the strengthened governance arrangements established in FY 2022-23.