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Sep 4, 2011

Red tape screwing volunteer service.

Image: NO DEAL: Sirocco Marine North dealer Tom Carlisle with the type of inflatable boat that was knocked back because it would take too much paperwork. Pic Glenn Hampson Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

In floods, bushfires, storms, and whatever is thrown at us, the unpaid volunteers of the State Emergency Service (SES) are there to help. Unfortunately these people are leaving the service in droves owing to bureaucratic bungling, petty and excessive safety rules, and a general sense of frustration. The Sunday Mail reports:

Volunteers blame petty bureaucracy and excessive safety rules for pushing SES groups to the verge of collapse. SES members regardless of their professional backgrounds or experience are required to spend days on courses learning to climb ladders and are barred from flood boat training until finishing ladder school.

"We were taught you need three people to climb a ladder and to count down the number of steps aloud: four, three, two, one, ground," said one former worker, who quit in frustration. "The training is laborious and infantile and they treat everyone like a complete idiot.”

Constant refresher courses, tradesmen forced to attend courses to learn how to operate tools used every day in their jobs and impractical rules are among problems blamed for discouraging existing members and new recruits from donning the orange overalls. One former volunteer was forced to do a one-day ladder course despite being a qualified electrician who regularly worked on 7m-high ladders. …
Training is vital to safety and necessary, and the attainment of new skills is probably one of the attractions the service has to offer. One of the problems though is that OH&S tends to go overboard with this nonsense. This is due on one hand to the abundance of litigation lawyers and the resultant need by anyone who can be sued to take measures to protect themselves on the other. Another dimension is created by the need for those who set the standard to become professional and very good at finding new risks and writing new rules.

The result is, that what was once a system based on employee safety has become based on covering the arses of management.

Meanwhile a donation of flood boats was rejected over the need for paperwork:
A deal hatched during the January floods to donate a fleet of flood boats to the SES collapsed after those behind the plan were told Emergency Management Queensland could not complete the paperwork in time to deploy the vessels during the floods.

The Commonwealth Bank had struck a deal with Gold Coast boat retailer Sirocco Marine North to donate five vessels, worth about $600,000, provided they could be immediately put to use. The offer was made 48 hours after the floods hit.

But Sirocco Marine North dealer Tom Carlisle said the offer was rejected because red tape meant the deal could not be signed off in time. "Because of the bureaucracy in EMQ management ... they couldn't take the boats," Mr Carlisle said.

"It was amazing watching it as an outsider. They couldn't get the paperwork done in time. Everybody was really disappointed because they had the opportunity to get $600,000 of rescue equipment for nothing.”


  1. This kind of shit just makes me want to scream. The government has become utterly incapable of doing things quickly, efficiently, or correctly. Common sense is a foreign concept and the bureaucrats can't or won't use their own judgement in any way. Thou shalt cover thy own ass and to hell with the public.

    I'm former Search & Rescue volunteer. If someone gets lost, say, in the National Forest, it falls to the sheriff and a deputy or two and a handful of volunteers to find them. The county is 1,700 square miles. The ranger of the local Forest Service office decreed that the USFS will NOT participate in any S&R, even though they have the largest manpower pool in the county full of people who work in the forest and all kinds of 4x4 trucks, radio comms, and ATVs.

    Many small towns have also stopped having firework displays on the 4th of July and New Years because Homeland Insecurity has made it mandatory for all kinds background checks, licensing, and training. So, Grampa Jones, who's been doing the local firework shows for the past 40 years, says to hell with all that crap so no more fireworks to celebrate our "freedom" on Independence Day.

    Health and safety regulations have become nothing more than filling out reams of paperwork for bureaucrats to shuffle back and forth to justify their otherwise needless positions.

    If more government is the answer, it was stupid question.

  2. Sounds like you guys and us are getting as bloody silly as each other. It impacts on everything.

    Seriously Bawb, in my training role, I often feel obliged to warn trainees that I have to tell them things that may make them think that I think they are bloody idiots, but there is really no way out of it, without leaving myself open to lawsuits.