Burnett MP: We need to protect young fireys with Blue Cards
BURNETT MP Stephen Bennett said it was important for rural firefighters to have their Blue Cards, specially as there was an increased need to recruit younger volunteers.
But he said the State Government's initial timeline for rural fireys to have their Working With Children applications completed by December was a "botched rollout".
More than 15,000 volunteers were supposed to apply, with reported resistance among firefighters from doing so due to the restrictions being placed on equipment and new uniforms.
Last week the State Government extended the deadline until March 31, a deadline acknowledged by Burnett's LNP MP.
"My call-out is for the Rural Fire Brigades to support the process of the legislation," Mr Bennett said.
"Now, the Blue Card system is not foolproof but I do have sympathy though that as we continue to push for younger and younger members, I would suggest we need the Rural Fire Brigades to start to become involved in obtaining their Blue Cards.
"It may not be perfect but it is the system we have.
"We can't take the risk of young children's safety being compromised."
He said that Wide Bay was not unique in that its rural fire base was made of ageing volunteers, and that it needed to do whatever it could to bolster a younger demographic.
The State Government should consider subsidising costs for its Blue Card applications as well, he said.
Mr Bennett made a direct call-out for more people to consider volunteering.
"Please consider hooking up with your Rural Fire Brigade or your State Emergency Service unit, it's very rewarding," he said.
"I do acknowledge the problems that government create for you around bureaucracy and around some of the other issues around volunteerism."
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said QFES would continue to contact volunteers who had not yet applied for a Blue Card.
"We stand by the introduction of mandatory BLUE Card screening for relevant QFES staff and volunteers," he said.
"We also acknowledge how challenging this bushfire season has been.
"Since November 8, more than 3600 firefighters have been on the front line battling bushfires.
"We thank them for their efforts."