Future Workforce
Social and economic conditions are causing major changes in how people volunteer and what they are expecting out of their volunteering experience. This is particularly important knowledge, as understanding the challenges and opportunities that exist for volunteers will be pivotal to maintaining a sustainable volunteer base to provide essential emergency services to the community. This research has provided valuable findings, as well as practical and usable recommendations.
JENNIFER PIDGEON, STRATEGIC VOLUNTEER AND YOUTH PROGRAMS MANAGER, DEPARTMENT OF FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES

Highly commended research at EMPA conference 2020

The Enabling sustainable emergency volunteering project was highly commended at the EMPA 2020 Awards for Research Excellence for their research into the motivations, experiences and emotions of State Emergency Services volunteers.

The emergency services workforce of tomorrow needs to be highly adaptable to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by a future where natural hazards are more extreme, longer lasting, and a greater drain on resources, both human and economic.

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC initiated a collaboration between researchers and emergency services agencies, as well as key partners and focus groups – such as the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council Workforce Management Group – to imagine what a future workforce might look like.

Research projects in this theme all explore the ways that contemporary research across Australia is influencing workforce and volunteer management strategies into the future, including issues of recruitment and retention, leadership and decision-making, mental health, capability and planning, and diversity and inclusion.

Key outcomes now being implemented in partner agencies include a sustainable volunteering toolkit, a set of teamwork and strategic decision-making tools, a diversity and inclusion framework, and many other resources of value to the emergency managers in government, emergency services and community organisations. Research from the Future Workforce theme has been crucial in the development of important initiatives, such as Australia’s first national handbook on planning for spontaneous volunteers.

Online tools

These online tools were developed with CRC research and are designed to be ready for use. The tools here have been curated for this Driving Change theme. See more tools in the other themes.

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION FRAMEWORK FOR EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT POLICY AND PRACTICE

The Diversity and Inclusion Framework was designed in response to needs identified in collaboration with practitioners across the emergency management sector, including the need for greater understanding of the implementation process and role of inclusion, identification of structures and practices to support that implementation, and possible mechanisms that address a lack of diversity and inclusion.

Download Framework

You can also download support documents that will help you apply the contents of the Framework:

  • Learning as we go: developing effective inclusive management presents case studies and examples of best practice and knowledge, to show that organisations are learning and building as they go and that some of the best resources that emergency management services have are their practitioners. It also provides resource materials that have been developed to support diversity and inclusion practitioners. Download it here. 

  • Young people and the emergency services: working towards inclusive partnerships provides an overview of what is important to young people, their areas of interest and their motivations to engage in their community. It provides strategies (including links to existing resources and checklists) of how to find ways to work with young people, and the skills, attributes and capabilities that young people bring to an organisation. Download it here. 

  • Building inclusive partnerships with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities provides basic guidance for emergency services practitioners to support the building of respectful and inclusive partnerships with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. It focuses on general guidance that applies when working with all CALD communities, however each community will have its own context and character, so it's important to be mindful of the need to adapt practices to work with each community's specific needs. Download it here. 

RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION TOOLKIT FOR EMERGENCY VOLUNTEER LEADERS

The Recruitment and Retention Toolkit for Emergency Volunteer Leaders was designed to support emergency services leaders with their volunteer management practices. The Toolkit includes easy-to-use guides about: recruiting volunteers for emergency services, supporting new volunteers, volunteer management, emergency volunteer recruitment messaging, and volunteer succession planning.

This evidence-based Toolkit is the product of a partnership between the CRC, Curtin University, University of Western Australia, and Department of Fire and Emergency Services (WA).

Access Toolkit

TEAMWORK TOOLS

Incident management and emergency management teams respond to emergencies day and night. Decision makers in these teams are often confronted with emergencies that are dynamic, complex and uncertain, with several agencies involved. These complex contexts can lead to an increased number of poor decisions and errors being made. It’s important to acknowledge that errors and poor decisions will occur, and to seek and manage them in an informed and systematic way.

Forming part of the Improving decision making in complex multi-team environments project, these six tools – four team management tools and two strategic decision-making tools – were developed to improve teamwork and enable strategic decision making in emergency management. 

TEAM MANAGEMENT TOOLS

Emergency Management Breakdown Aide Memoire

This tool assists emergency management teams in dealing with breakdowns in communication. It is a checklist that helps to recognise team breakdowns through their outputs (for example, incident action plans) and formal/informal organisational networks. It also offers a five-step practical resolution strategy.

Download PDF

Team Process Checklist

This tool assists emergency management teams in dealing with breakdowns in communication. It is designed to provide a health check for teams and, if there is a problem, to help determine what the problem is. This checklist helps people think through three aspects of effective teamwork: communication, coordination and cooperation.

Download PDF

This tool is also to download in Spanish here.

You can also download a how-to guide for the Emergency Management Breakdown Aide Memoire and Team Process Checklist here

Emergency Management Non-Technical Skills

This tool is designed to help emergency management individuals and teams to enhance their cognitive, social and personal skills (known as non-technical skills) to complement technical skills and strengthen individual and team capabilities. It focuses on seven non-technical skills – communication, coordination, cooperation, leadership, situation awareness, decision-making, and coping with stress/fatigue – and provides descriptions and behavioural markers that can be used to determine how effectively these skills are being used and where improvements can be made. 

Use tool

Download the PDF version here

Key Tasks Cognitive Aid

This tool is a checklist for regional and state control centres. It is designed to prompt leaders during a crisis to ensure their teams are undertaking the tasks that are most important to effective performance. It covers five phases of a control centre’s incident management process: readiness, escalation, coordination, de-escalation, and termination. Within each phase is a checklist that can be used to tick off the key activities required. 

Use tool

Download the PDF version here

STRATEGIC DECISION-MAKING TOOLS

Psychological Safety Checklist

This checklist can be used to create a psychologically safe decision-making environment. The checklist acknowledges that there are simple strategies to use so that people can feel safe while enhancing or establishing trusting relationships very quickly.

Use tool

Download the PDF version here.

Cognitive Bias Aide Memoire

This tool can be used by teams to identify cognitive biases in the decision-making process. It is best used for key decisions and involves two steps: 1) assessing available information, intelligence and decisions and 2) determining the meaning of the information, intelligence and decisions. 

Use tool

Download the PDF version here.

YOUNG VOLUNTEER POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING RESOURCES

These resources were developed as part of the CRC's Tactical Research Fund project, Positive mental health in young adult emergency services personnel.

Each resource provides practical evidence-based tools to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in young adult (16-25 year old) emergency service volunteers. Developed directly with young people, these can be used at an individual, local and organisational level to minimise the impact of traumatic experiences of volunteering

Access resources

The young volunteer positive mental health and wellbeing resources are:

  • Care4Guide: a self-completed guide to positive mental health and wellbeing as a young fire and emergency service volunteer. This guide is designed to be used by volunteers to maintain and practice positive mental health. It can also be used by leaders and organisations to promote positive mental health and wellbeing within emergency services and other volunteer-based organisations. 
  • Care4Guide posters. 
  • Care4Guide social media assets
  • Fact sheets of key findings from this project, highlighting the research-based evidence behind the Care4Guide and other resources. 

There is also a Young Volunteer Wellbeing Framework and an Agency Implentation Guide, which are both accessible in the project final report, for emergency service organisations to support the mental health and wellbeing of young adult volunteers.

Case studies

CRC research is driving change across communities, government and emergency service agencies, as highlighted by the case studies relevant to each Driving Change theme.

COMPLEX DECISION MAKING AND TEAMWORK WHEN THE HEAT IS ON
This case study explores ways that incident management teams can take the time to communicate and analyse information before, during and after emergencies.
A NEW MODEL FOR HELPING
This case study addresses the changing requirements of volunteer roles and proposes new, more sustainable ways to keep our communities safe.
Answering the call
Answering the Call was the first national survey of the factors affecting mental health in police and emergency services.

Highlights

This collection is a curation of the best and most recent news articles, Hazard Notes, videos, posters, guides, journal articles and reports relevant to this theme.

Resources

Publications