The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath has called on the Andrews Labor Government to reinstate funding for a long-running and successful volunteer leadership scholarship program.
Speaking in parliament this week, Ms Bath spoke of the course run by Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) that has been axed following the withdrawal of ongoing state government funding.
VFBV’s funding bid to enable the Volunteer Leadership Scholarship Program to continue for 2018 and to be offered to CFA volunteers and other volunteers across the Victorian emergency services sector, has been rejected.
“The Andrews Labor Government has contempt for volunteers,” Ms Bath told parliament.
“If Mr Andrews did not, he would not withdraw this type of funding particularly designed for enabling and capacity-building our volunteers.”
“The scholarship was certainly funded over the last ten years and in that 10-year period, through Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria, over 320 volunteers have gone through that program.”
Ms Bath explained that the VFBV had been so successful that its reach had been extended to include volunteers from other community emergency service organisations.
“They expanded it to include not just the Country Fire Authority; they also included the Victorian State Emergency Service, the coast guard, Ambulance Victoria, Life Saving Victoria and St John Ambulance.”
Speaking outside parliament, Ms Bath emphasised that this is a formal, structured and accredited course that has been lost.
“The course was run in conjunction with Chisholm Institute and resulted in a certificate IV qualification in leadership and management. Participants worked on a current project to develop realistic and practical solutions.”
“Across Eastern Victoria, we’ve seen 62 CFA members graduate from the program.”
“The Andrews Government says it cares about volunteers, but in effect they are ripping away important grants that enable volunteers to be better trained to serve the community and protect our state.”