NSW RFS appoints firm to probe complaints

·1-min read

A law firm will investigate claims of serious misconduct within the NSW Rural Fire Service after nearly 2500 volunteers complained about how bullying and harassment claims are handled by the organisation.

The RFS is encouraging its members to "speak up" by taking part in the Clayton Utz review.

The law firm will conduct an independent review of complaints that have already been made if members feel the outcome or process wasn't appropriate, RFS commissioner Rob Rogers told volunteers in an email on Thursday.

People will be able to take their complaints directly to Clayton Utz, and they will be handled confidentially.

But the review will only extend to complaints made to the RFS within the past three years.

The RFS launched a grievance and discipline survey last month after allegations of sexual assault, bullying and harassment were aired on social media.

Close to 2500 people responded to the survey, Mr Rogers said in his email on Thursday.

The RFS commissioner pledged to provide a report to members by the end of May presenting the survey results.

He wrote to members in March saying he was "concerned" about workplace misconduct by staff and volunteers, in particular issues of sexual harassment and violence.

"It genuinely disturbs me that in 2021 we still have instances where female members of the NSW RFS, being paid or volunteer, are not treated with respect and dignity and in some cases do not feel safe at the RFS," he wrote.

The Clayton Utz review comes after NSW Police confirmed last month it was investigating two complaints made by RFS volunteers.

The review will start on May 31.