Unit to stop fire brigade bullying

A NEW workplace conduct and investigations unit has been established to investigate and prevent bullying and harassment in NSW Fire Brigades.

It comes after an inquiry panel was set up to investigate claims bastardisation and bizarre initiation rituals had been widespread across the fire brigades during the past 30 years.

Nearly 40 reports of bullying, harassment and assault have emerged, Emergency Minister Steve Whan said in a statement yesterday.

“I have said before that there is absolutely no place in the NSW Fire Brigades for the kind of incidents that have come to light,” he said.

Mr Whan said the inquiry panel, overseen by the Director General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, identified a lack of adequate resources within the fire service to investigate misconduct allegations.

In response, the state government would establish a unit, at a cost of $1.3 million, enabling NSW Fire Brigades to investigate and prevent similar incidents in the future, Mr Whan said.

“We need to be sure that the NSW Fire Brigades remains a safe and healthy work environment for all our firefighters, free from any sort of discrimination or harassment.”

Other initiatives include a 24-hour hotline for employees to discuss workplace issues and the appointment of specific liaison officers to work with the police and the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

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