The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) remains deeply disappointed that of the almost $400,000,000 the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) will receive this year from the Emergency Services Levy (ESL), only 6% (~ $22M) is allocated to grants for Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades – WA’s largest emergency service with around 10 times more personnel than any other service.
And while we sometimes hear the bias toward other expenses is because Bush Fire Brigades don’t have a need for more funding, we know from examples such as the over-subscription of the Western Power small grants program we have been very fortunate to be able to offer, that many, many Brigades simply don’t have all the bare necessities such as a toilet, power or (believe it or not) water, let alone some of the more “luxury” items like a meeting room or kettle.
We will keep trying to get a fair, equitable and transparent funding system but in the mean time, the sad reality is many of our incredible women and men who work out of WA’s 560+ Brigades have to not only donate their time and expertise to protect lives and property, but also fundraise for things that go to making the lives of our golden angels a little easier while they are watching our backs. Now, to be clear, we aren’t talking about pool tables, beds and bar snacks – a vast majority of Brigades who are fortunate to have some members willing and able to fundraise do so for things like Defibrillators, safety equipment and a fridge for cold drinking water.
With that in mind, it’s bittersweet for the AVBFB to be posting this article in support of Stoneville Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade member John Robertson who has set up a gofundme page to donate to his Brigade, using his planned 120 km walk from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin in April this year.
Bitter for us because we regret that so many of the incredible women and men who voluntarily give their time and skills 24/7 to stand between danger and our communities shouldn’t also have to spend time fundraising for that purpose. And sweet because John’s endeavour is absolutely typical of the kind of people we are so proud to represent as the peak body for WA’s diverse and invaluable Volunteer Bush Fire Service.
So if you are willing and able, please visit John’s GoFundMe page and chip in a few dollars to support the team at Stoneville and if you want to help but can’t afford to part with cash, call in to your local brigade and offer to stand behind the BBQ next time they have a sausage sizzle.