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Proposed Changes to Emergency Services Funding

The RFSA is proud of its relationship and standing with Government and it endeavours to work together however the Association has real concerns about the future funding of emergency services after the announcement of an Emergency Services Property Levy (ESPL).

The most pressing concern involves where the burden of the planned ESPL will fall and we have done some research into who pays now and who will pay in the future. Below are graphs outlining the results.

 

DOWNLOAD: Graphs detailing distribution of current and future contributions

 

The RFSA favours the retention of the current contributory funding model for the NSW RFS and does not support the property-based levy originally proposed by the discussion paper  - ‘Funding Our Emergency Services’.

 

The RFSA does not believe that a compelling case has been made to suggest that the asserted benefits of a property based levy outweigh the risks posed and prepared two submissions outlining our stance:

 

DOWNLOAD: RFSA Response to Funding Our Emergency Service Discussion Paper

 

DOWNLOAD: Supplementary response

 
  • We have concerns about the long term sustainability of the NSW RFS. We don’t want to see the service go backwards.
  • We have had fellow fire fighters in other states share with us that the introduction of an Emergency Services levy hasn’t worked for the service. For example our Country Fire Service colleagues in South Australia had shared that when an ESPL was introduced in their state 10 years ago – the income generated covered funding requirements 100%. Now the income generated from the ESPL ONLY cover 50% of funding required and the State government has to supplement the other 50% sum.
     
  • We have worries that we will lose support from the community that we endeavour to protect if another ‘tax’ is imposed. People may not be so generous in their support of brigades at a local level.

 

Further details about some other components of 'misinformation' about the proposed ESPL are detailed below:

 
 

 The specific outcomes the RFSA is seeking from the review process is a funding model that meets the following set of principles:

  • Community connection
  • Operational efficiency
  • Fair contributions
  • Financial solidity
  • Risk sharing
     

To assist with this submission, the RFSA commissioned Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to research a number of issues including determining the total cost of the NSW RFS. In performing this research Deloitte consulted with a range of stakeholders including NSW RFS volunteers and staff and local government representatives.

 

DOWNLOAD: Deloitte Report - Assessment of Rural Fire Services costs and funding

 

The RFSA has formed the view that the current contributory funding model is capable of:

 
  • ensuring the total support provided to the RFS by local government, communities, volunteers and the RFSA is maintained,

     
  • acknowledging the benefits provided by the RFS to a variety of stakeholder groups, and

     
  • allowing flexibility for the RFS to receive appropriate funding increases to deal with major natural disasters and the increased scope of operations the RFS may need to undertake in the future.
     
  • maintains the organisational autonomy of the RFS and values the importance of the contribution made by its volunteers, and ensures an ongoing close relationship between the RFS and the communities they serve. 
 

The RFSA does recognise that as with any system, there are potential improvements that can be made to the current contributory funding arrangements. Accordingly, the Association submitted a confidential report to the Minister for Emergency Services and the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service.  The report outlined a number of changes that would not only improve the performance of the current system, but largely obviate the need for more radical change.

 

In light of the Government’s announcement, the RFSA has requested an emergency meeting with the Minister for Emergency Services to ensure the Government honours its commitment to provide the appropriate level of funding to ensure the safety of the volunteers and the community now, and into the future.

 

 DOWNLOAD: RFSA seek urgent meeting with Government on future funding for volunteers