Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy


1. Purpose

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) is committed to developing a workplace culture which embraces workforce equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across the organisation. This policy outlines the EDI parameters designed to create a workplace culture and environment which is respectful, free from any form of discrimination or harassment and where diversity is valued.
Inclusion supports all employees feeling valued, respected and comfortable no matter what their difference and provides a sense of belonging. It is a change in how we see, value and work with others at FRNSW.

This policy provides a framework for the FRNSW Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Framework, Pathways – the holistic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  Employment and Engagement Strategy, the Multicultural Programs and Services Plan (MPSP) and the Women’s Employment Strategy. Importantly, whilst we recognise the current socio-political debates and the challenges which face many Australians from diverse backgrounds, this policy is not framed by a discourse of disadvantage but by a commitment to opportunity, capability and human rights.

Whilst recognising our current highly skilled and dedicated workforce, this policy supports an approach to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, and achieve a workforce that better reflects and engages with the communities we serve and protect.

2. Scope and application

This policy applies to all employees of FRNSW. All employees need to be aware of and comply with this policy and its associated procedures, programs and strategies.

3. Legal and policy framework

3.1. Legal framework

The principles and practices set out within this document have been developed to promote and support equity, diversity and inclusion within FRNSW, in particular decisions made under the authority of the Commissioner under the Fire Brigades Act 1989, the Fire Brigades Regulation 2008 and the Government Sector Employment Act 2013.
Section 63 of the Government Sector Employment Act outlines the head of a government sector agency is responsible for workforce diversity within the agency and for ensuring that workforce diversity is integrated into workforce planning in the agency.

  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 – makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age.
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 – provides an avenue of redress for those alleging discrimination and provides for the rights of these people.
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 – makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the grounds of disability.
  • Fair Work Act 2009 – provides a safety net of minimum terms and conditions of Employment and prohibits discrimination.
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 – makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of race, colour, national or ethnic origin.
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 – makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of a person’s sex, marital status, pregnancy, gender identity, sexual orientation or to sexually harass another person.
  • State and Territory Workplace Health and Safety laws – set out the safety requirements for employers in respect of their employees (including in relation to bullying).
  • State and Territory Anti-Discrimination Laws– make it unlawful to discriminate in employment on a range of grounds.

3.2. Policy framework

This policy sits within the context of the above statutory scheme and operates in conjunction with internal and external policies and plans, including:

4. Policy principles

FRNSW is committed to developing a workplace culture which embraces workforce diversity, equity and inclusion across all areas and throughout all levels of the organisation. This policy aligns to this commitment made by FRNSW and to facilitate the use of diversity to foster innovation and improve operational capability and service provision.
FRNSW recognises that every person has the right to an equitable and inclusive workplace which is free of discrimination and is committed to:

  • ensuring the workforce is reflective of the diverse communities which we serve;
  • building a positive workplace free from all forms of discrimination or harassment;
  • developing workplace policies and practices that are fair and equitable for all employees;
  • developing, implementing and promoting strategies and programs which integrate diversity, equity and inclusion across all levels of FRNSW;
  • increasing organisational understanding of the benefits of diversity and inclusion;
  • clearly defining roles and responsibilities for diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of the organisation;
  • emphasising the accountability of our leaders to foster an inclusive culture where individual difference is understood, respected and valued;
  • making diversity and inclusion a central part of how our organisation and employees develop and work;
  • ensuring that all employees have equitable access to workplace opportunities and are equitably rewarded and recognised for their contributions;
  • being an agile employer that embraces the innovation and resilience that diversity creates, paving the way for a more adaptive, responsive and flexible workforce;
  • ensuring the organisation recruits, develops, empowers and retains the best people to serve the state of NSW and meet future challenges;
  • achieving the Government’s broader social responsibility objectives.

5. Policy implementation

FRNSW is committed to achieving the principles and requirements of this policy by:

  • being at the forefront of the emergency services sector by exhibiting best practice operational and staff capabilities and strong partnerships with local, national and international emergency service and support agencies.
  • engaging more effectively with NSW increasingly diverse population to help create a more resilient community that is well prepared for, and better able to recover from, emergencies and disasters;
  • being an employer of choice for people from diverse backgrounds and improving our ability to attract, develop and retain staff from these groups, and therefore the best talent pool on offer;
  • implementing strategies and programs to increase the pathways for people from diverse backgrounds to be employed and developed within FRNSW.

6. Definitions/Key Terms

Within the context of the workplace this means having employees from a wide range of backgrounds, which can include age, gender, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, religious belief, work experience, educational background and life experience. Diversity in this policy refers to all the characteristics that make individuals different from each other.
Diversity means difference. It can be visible (gender, culture, age) or invisible (training, background, life experiences). Diversity adds demonstrable value to our organisation’s problem solving, decision-making and creativity skills repertoire. Diversity can also refer to function, experience, discipline, education, socio-economic background, marital status, personality profile, gender, age, language, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, religion, family responsibility or physical/mental impairment.

Equity is defined in this context as eliminating workplace barriers and practices which create employment disadvantage thereby ensuring career pathways enable everyone to fulfil their professional potential in their working environment.

Equity at FRNSW means ensuring career pathways enable everyone to fulfil their professional potential in their working environment. Equity is not the same as equality.  When a workplace facilitates equity by removing existing employment barriers and other inequitable practices; full participation and development ensues.  People contribute more readily and are more engaged in their workplaces. FRNSW can then leverage from the benefits brought about by people’s individual differences. Without equity, the tangible experience of workplace inclusion is not possible.

Refers to the act of creating workplace environments in which any individual or group feels welcomed, respected and valued to fully participate and contribute.
Inclusive workplace environments incorporate new and different ways of thinking, interacting and working into the way business is done. This ensures all individuals, whether members of majority or minority groups, to contribute to the organisation.  From this perspective, diversity is respected and seen as giving rise to different life experiences, knowledge, and insights. These can be used to generate alternative views about work and how best to accomplish it.
Inclusion means everyone feels valued, respected and comfortable no matter what their difference. Inclusion is a sense of belonging and being able to bring your whole self to work. This is a far more engaged and productive place for every employee.

7. Roles and responsibilities

7.1. Executive Leadership Team

The Executive Leadership Team is responsible for:

  • Providing leadership by making equity, diversity and inclusion a central part of how FRNSW and its employees develop and work;
  • Driving organisational cultural change to make workplace participation equitable and inclusive for everyone;
  • Embedding education programs within the workforce to increase understanding and appreciation for diversity, drive engagement, positive communication and inclusion;
  • Ensuring available career pathways have equitable access, to enable all employees to fulfil their professional potential in their work environment;
  • Supporting and empowering all employees to do their best and bring their whole selves to work;
  • Committing, modelling and sponsoring positive inclusive leadership traits.

7.2. All hiring managers

All hiring managers are responsible for:

  • Ensuring workforce diversity is considered in all recruitment actions and decisions;
  • Committing to the goal of increasing diversity of all targeted diversity groups across FRNSW;
  • Applying flexible and supportive approaches to workplace conditions and career pathways, enabling opportunities for everyone;
  • Implementing targeted recruitment solutions to attract, retain and develop people from a broader range of diverse groups.

7.3. All employees

All employees are responsible for:

  • Creating a culturally safe workplace environment which is free from discrimination and everyone is valued and treated with respect;
  • Working collaboratively to recognise and appreciate equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • Identifying and addressing any form of discrimination in the workplace.

8. Training and support

Information on this policy will be communicated to all employees via email, workplace forums, the Intranet and the CFU portal.

9. Monitoring and review

The Executive Leadership Team through line management will monitor and review the activities and undertakings within their area of responsibility to ensure compliance with this policy.
The Diversity Unit will work in conjunction with Workforce Policy and Planning to monitor the effectiveness of this policy in achieving workforce diversity and equity. Audits will be conducted to determine the extent to which FRNSW is an inclusive organisation.

10. Further information

For further information on this policy please contact the Diversity Coordinator on (02) 9265 3912.