Report 17

Support and Preparedness of Fire and Emergency Services Volunteers

Turnover is increasing across all volunteer services

Average annual volunteer turnover is around 15 per cent across DFES and LG volunteer services, but has fluctuated between 12 and 18 per cent since 2006. Significantly, it is in an upward trend (Figure 3).

DFES knows volunteer turnover is costly and impacts training and equipment provision, but it does not know the actual cost. A DFES 2013 Volunteer Engagement Survey (DFES Survey) identified turnover as an area that required further assessment.

Figure 3 - Average annual volunteer turnover

DFES is currently developing its Emergency Services Volunteer Workforce Sustainability Strategy. The strategy includes activities to determine the cost of turnover. At June 2015, the work was not yet funded, though DFES has applied for federal funding to complete an economic modelling project for the recruitment, development and retention of emergency volunteers.

Not all services experience the same level of turnover. The SES and VFRS have the highest average turnover, at 22 and 20 per cent respectively (Figure 4). DFES does not know why turnover is higher in some services than in others. The DFES Survey suggested that cliques and cronyism are important factors in the turnover of volunteers, and could influence whether volunteers encourage others to join. While on site visits, we were told of other reasons for turnover including:

  • volunteers moving out of the area
  • no longer having the time to commit
  • finding that the role was not what they expected.

Figure 4 - Average volunteer turnover by service



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