Navigation

Inquiry panel to investigate Fire Brigade workplace culture

Published: 21st February 2010

Minister for Emergency Services, Steve Whan, has requested the Director General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet take an active interest in an inquiry panel reviewing the workplace culture of the NSW Fire Brigades.

Minister Whan said the NSW Government is resolute in continuing to reform the workplace culture of the NSW Fire Brigades and an inquiry is already underway to identify past misconduct within the organisation.

The inquiry panel was set up last year to review workplace conduct and governance matters in the NSW Fire Brigades. It will report back to Government in six weeks.

The inquiry panel is independently chaired by Alex Smith, a former Deputy Director General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and includes:

  • Jan McClelland - former Director General of the Department of Education
  • Dr Elizabeth Coombs - former Director-General of the Departments Juvenile Justice, Women and Fair Trading
  • Mark Brown - Acting Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Fire Brigade
  • Kathryn Heiler - Assistant Director Health and Safety of the NSW Fire Brigade

Mr Whan said the Director General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet will scrutinise this process.

"Given the allegations raised by serving members of the Fire Brigades about an historical workplace culture, the most senior public servant in NSW will take an active interest in the inquiry panel," Mr Whan said.

"I have said before that there is no place in the NSW Fire Brigades for the kind of initiation ceremonies and bullying allegations that have come to light.

"We want to be sure that the NSW Fire Brigades remains a healthy and safe work environment for all our fire fighters, free from any sort of discrimination or harassment.

Mr Whan said the NSW Government has taken a strong stance against allegations of bullying and harassment from within the NSW Fire Brigades.

In February 2009, written allegations were received by the NSW Fire Brigades that allegedly involved indecent assault dating back to 1989.

These allegations were immediately referred to the NSW Police and the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Seven people alleged to have taken part in the assault have subsequently been charged by Police.  All will face court on 16 March 2010.