Progress of Action 3.7

Action 3.7: Agencies mature existing joint governance arrangements that support the implementation of the program and ongoing development of interoperability procedures and arrangements.

Action objective: Ensure accountability for harmonisation of procedures as reform progresses, and continuous improvements are embedded. Should interoperability-related issues arise, these will be resolved through the Fire Services Operational Committee.

Lead agency: CFA and FRV

Year Two to Five Plan (November 2021) completion dateYear Two to Five Plan (updated May 2023) completion dateAgency reported status as at 30 June 2023
June 2022June 2023Completed

Context

This action requires CFA and FRV to mature joint governance arrangements and develop interoperability procedures (IPs) and arrangements.

CFA and FRV have different deliverables defined in their quarterly reporting to the Minister for this action.

CFA’s deliverables under this action relate to joint corporate governance, including establishing HoA, FSOC and FSOC sub-committees.

FRV’s deliverables under this action include:

  • develop a plan of agreed IPs governance framework
  • develop agreed IPs with progressive updates
  • implement a governance framework.

There is a significant focus on governance in this action, and both agencies have reported a “completed” status against their action deliverables. FRV has a deliverable under this action to “develop agreed IPs with progressive updates”; however, CFA and FRV agree that work to update and develop IPs sits under action 3.9. Given the agency agreement, FSIM has reported the progress of specific IPs under action 3.9, as it has a clear action deliverable to review and update IPs. A summary of IP status is outlined at Table 15 in action 3.9.

Progress summary

As at 30 June 2023, CFA and FRV reported this action as completed. FRV acquitted this action in June 2023, and CFA had not yet submitted the acquittal form during the reporting period. This action has interdependencies with actions 3.9 (Harmonisation), 3.10 (Delegations), and 3.11 (SLDA processes). More broadly, this action impacts all Year Two to Five Plan actions given that HoA serves as the executive forum for CFA and FRV to progress reform-related matters, and FSOC has accountability for interoperability-focused activities and opportunities.

CFA and FRV established HoA in October 2021 as a senior decision-making body for reform-related matters. The HoA Committee Charter outlines the terms of reference detailing how HoA will operate. Processes relating to issues escalation and resolution, annual self-evaluation and meeting frequency and requirements were updated in FY 2021-22.

CFA and FRV established FSOC in 2021. FSOC reports and provides quarterly updates directly to HoA. FSOC aims to identify and promote collaboration and joint interoperability opportunities to provide a complementary fire service delivery to the community and continued strength in working relations between CFA and FRV. In FY 2022-23, CFA and FRV updated the FSOC Terms of Reference (ToR) to outline the expected behaviours of members and provide details on sub-committee reporting and work plan development. FSOC prepared an annual work program in FY 2021-22 which it continued to report against in FY 2022-23, and the Committee meets monthly to discuss interoperability matters.

CFA and FRV established six FSOC sub-committees between FY 2021-22 and FY 2022-23. The sub-committees are co-chaired by CFA and FRV, meet either on a bi-monthly or monthly basis, and report directly to FSOC. These sub-committees are focused on technical details and are establishing respective work plans to guide programs of work. Four sub-committees – Operational Communications, Training, Community Safety and Protective Equipment – were operationalised in FY 2021-22. CFA and FRV finalised the ToR for the remaining two sub-committees – Doctrine and Specialist Response – in FY 2022-23.

In December 2022, CFA and FRV issued a joint directive to FSOC, acknowledging the challenges for FSOC and their related workload. This joint directive set expectations for FSOC regarding:

  • work planning, establishing ToR for sub-committees, and implementing appropriate records management and access protocols.
  • completion of a joint exercise program for co-located stations.

In addition to establishing ToR and workplans, FSIM notes evidence that a SharePoint repository had been established with access available to relevant CFA and FRV FSOC representatives, enabling efficient and transparent sharing of information.

The FSIM’s Annual Report 2021/22 highlighted concerns regarding the cessation of joint exercising and FSIM acknowledges agencies’ efforts to address this matter.[29] FSIM observes that, as at the end of the reporting period, FSOC had not yet addressed the joint direction to establish a formal joint exercising program for co-located stations; however, FSIM did see evidence of ad hoc joint training taking place at some co-located stations, driven by the initiative of station staff and volunteers.

FRV is preparing a presentation on the process to establish joint exercises for an FSOC meeting in FY 2023-24. CFA and FRV intend that the governance arrangements established under this action will operate as BAU, noting that sub-committees may be established or disbanded depending on future joint organisational needs and in line with the overarching FSOC ToR.

Agencies have taken clear actions to progress and embed operational governance structures to ensure accountability for harmonising procedures as the reform progresses. However, HoA and FSOC have acknowledged the challenges FSOC faced in delivering its work plan and providing an effective forum to support interoperability between CFA and FRV. Specifically, FSOC highlighted the availability and consistency of key personnel, external stakeholder engagement requirements, and the development of work plans to ensure clear objectives and activities as key issues impacting its effectiveness. In addressing these matters, FSOC sought to mitigate the workload imposition on FSOC members by establishing the sub-committees and requiring sub-committees to develop their respective workplans.

Findings

FSIM finds action 3.7 is partially implemented. There are aspects of action delivery that remain outstanding, with challenges faced by FSOC in delivering its workplan.

FSIM observes that maintaining FSOC’s accountability for delivery via HoA will be an important factor in agencies achieving this action’s objective.

At the end of the reporting period, FRV’s action deliverables for 3.7 retained a requirement to “develop agreed IPs with progressive updates”. FRV notes in FRV’s quarterly report to the Minister that the development and review of IPs had transitioned to BAU via FSOC, therefore action 3.7 should be considered completed. FSIM notes that several IPs remain outstanding as at 30 June 2023 – the details of which FSIM has included in action 3.9, noting that FRV’s 3.7 action deliverable is not formally transitioned to 3.9.

Given the challenges in FSOC acquitting its workplan and the recent reported completion of this action by agencies, FSIM has not yet undertaken an assessment of effectiveness.



Footnotes

[29] Fire Services Implementation Monitor, 2023, Fire Services Implementation Monitor Annual Report 2021/22, Victorian Government, viewed 8 August 2023, https://www.vic.gov.au/fire-services-implementation-monitor-annual-report-2021-22, pg. 80.

Updated