Workplace culture of emergency services under scrutiny for bullying and gender inequality

Less than a week into the aftermath of the investigation by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) into bullying and sexual harassment in the Victoria Police Force, VEOHRC is now investigating claims of a culture of bullying and gender inequality in Victoria’s fire services.

This investigation follows an independent report into the fire services in July 2015, following which Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett declared that ‘the review found a widespread culture of bullying in our fire services and also raised concerns around the grave lack of gender diversity in our fire agencies’.

This was coupled with concerning statistics, showing that only 3 per cent of the Victoria’s active operational Country Fire Authority (CFA) staff are women and 3.3 per cent of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s (MFB) staff are women. Of the more than 35,000 volunteer firefighters, only 15 per cent are female.

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