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Governance

The NSW RFS corporate governance arrangements are set out in our Corporate Governance Statement.

Good governance is a tool for better management that informs key decisions by combining reliable information from systems and processes with openness and integrity.

Our Corporate Governance Statement outlines the  principles, elements and mechanisms used to support a focus on effective governance through strong leadership, responsible and ethical decision-making, management and accountability, and performance improvement.

Fire Tower Model The NSW RFS has adapted an integrated approach which interfaces the key elements of governance including risk management, quality management and compliance leading to stakeholder confidence in the NSW RFS.

The key elements of the Statement are:

  • Objectives and functions of the NSW RFS
  • Management and oversight
  • Structure
  • Ethics
  • Corporate reporting
  • Disclosure
  • Key stakeholder rights
  • Remuneration
  • Risk management.

Objectives and functions of the NSW RFS

The Rural Fires Act 1997 establishes the NSW RFS as an independent statutory authority. The objects of the Rural Fires Act 1997 are to provide:

(a)  for the prevention, mitigation and suppression of bush and other fires in local government areas (or parts of areas) and other parts of the State constituted as rural fire districts, and
(b)  for the co-ordination of bush fire fighting and bush fire prevention throughout the State, and
(c)  for the protection of persons from injury or death, and property from damage, arising from fires, and
(c1)  for the protection of infrastructure and environmental, economic, cultural, agricultural and community assets from damage arising from fires, and
(d)  for the protection of the environment by requiring certain activities referred to in paragraphs (a)–(c1) to be carried out having regard to the principles of ecologically sustainable development described in section 6 (2) of the Protection of the Environment  Administration Act 1991.

(1) The NSW Rural Fire Service has the following functions:
(a) to provide rural fire services for New South Wales,
(a1) to issue public warnings about bush fires and bush fire threats in the State for the purpose of protecting life and property,
(b) to assist other emergency services organisations at incidents and at emergencies under the control of those organisations,
(b1) to provide advisory services (whether within or outside the State) relating to fire fighting and other matters with respect to which it has expertise,
(c) to carry out such other functions as may be assigned to it by or under this or any other Act,
(d) to do anything necessary for, or incidental to, the exercise of its functions.

(2) The functions of the Service are to be exercised in accordance with the State Emergency and  Rescue Management Act 1989 and, in particular, with the requirements under the State Emergency Management Plan or any state of emergency under that Act.

(3) The Service is to have regard to the principles of ecologically sustainable development described in section 6 (2) of the Protection  of the Environment Administration Act 1991 in carrying out any function that affects the environment.

(4) In this section: "rural fire services" includes the following:
(a) services for the prevention, mitigation and suppression of fires in rural fire districts,
(b) the protection of persons from dangers to their safety and health, and property from destruction or damage, arising from fires in rural fire districts,
(c) the provision of services referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) throughout the State in accordance with Part 3,
(d) any other service prescribed by the regulations.

Rural Fires Regulation 2013

The Rural Fires Act  1997 is supported by the Rural Fires  Regulation 2013. The Act needs to be read in conjunction with the Regulation.

Management and oversight

The NSW RFS is headed by the Commissioner, who is appointed by the Minister for Emergency Services, and has responsibility for the management of the NSW RFS. The Commissioner has responsibility for determining strategic priorities, the organisation's policies and service standards and exercising its functions, responsibilities and obligations under the Rural Fires Act 1997.

The strategic direction of the NSW RFS is set out in our Corporate Plan. It sets priorities to govern and guide the organisation's strategic position across all areas of the Service. The Corporate Plan also defines the NSW RFS's vision, key focus areas and objectives. The NSW RFS has a comprehensive reporting regime to monitor performance, risk, outcomes, legislative compliance and financial information.

Structure and key committees

The Commissioner is advised on specific matters by a number of committees. These include statutory committees, an Audit and Risk Committee and the Corporate Executive Group (CEG). There are also consultative committees in place with the Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA), Local Government NSW (LGNSW) and the Public Service Association (PSA).

Statutory committees contribute to the strategic decision-making relevant to the NSW RFS and its interaction between the community and other fire fighting agencies. These committees were formed to fulfil the requirements of the Rural Fires Act 1997 and the Fire Services  Joint Standing Committee Act 1998.

Details of the statutory committees, including the Bush Fire Co-ordinating Committee (BFCC), Rural Fire Service Advisory Council (RFSAC), Fire Services Joint Standing Committee (FSJSC) and the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) can be found in our Corporate Governance Statement and Annual Report.

The Internal Audit function, through the Chief Audit Executive, reports functionally to the Audit and Risk Committee on the results of completed audits, and for strategic direction and accountability purposes, and reports administratively to the Commissioner to facilitate day-to-day operations.

Ethics

Ethics is addressed by the NSW RFS in a range of ways.

The NSW RFS has adopted a comprehensive Code of Conduct and Ethics that outlines the fundamental values and principles that define the standards of behaviour expected by all members of the NSW RFS. It is supported by training for all, and all staff are required to acknowledge their understanding of the Code annually. It is made available to all members on recruitment. The Code is also supported by policy documents covering Grievances, Discipline and Privacy matters.

The NSW RFS has a Fraud and Corruption Prevention Framework which comprises key elements including public interest disclosures, conflict of interest and gifts and benefits. Fraud and corruption control is informed by a risk management approach.

The NSW RFS operates, maintains and continually improves a Legislative Compliance Register (LCR). The aim of maintaining this register is to ensure that the NSW RFS identifies and remains compliant with its various obligations.

The NSW RFS addresses diversity with a wide range of strategies which are supported by relevant policies. The strategies include the Flexible Membership Framework and the Aboriginal Services Strategy.

Corporate reporting

The NSW RFS has in place a comprehensive reporting regime to monitor performance, outcomes, risks, legislative compliance and financial information. This regime involves quarterly reporting on the Service’s Plans, at all levels. It includes reporting on risk management activities, on internal audit activities and budgets. These reports are provided to a wide audience including key committees on a regular basis and they are made available to those staff with governance roles and responsibilities. These reports are used to support strategic decision making and continuous improvement.

To support the finance related reporting the NSW RFS has a Finance Committee that performs a range of functions including overseeing the internal budget process, reviewing monthly financial management reports and monitoring performance against budget targets.

Regular reports are provided to the Audit and Risk Management Committee, allowing it to monitor compliance with internal management and financial control systems; internal audit conducts audits to provide assurance; and external audit by the NSW Audit Office under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983.

Disclosure

The NSW RFS aims to meet community expectations of a more open and transparent government and proactively releases government information in compliance with Government Information (Public  Access) Act 2009 (the GIPA Act).

The NSW RFS Annual Report is prepared in accordance with the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 and the Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies)  Act 1984 and associated Regulation.

In addition, NSW RFS publishes key information on this website  Key information published includes: Our agency information guide, our disclosure log of formal information access applications, policies and  service standards, documents tabled in Parliament and tenders and contracts.

For access information that is not available on this website, please contact our Right to Information Officer on 02 8741 5110.

Remuneration

All the NSW RFS Senior Executives are engaged under the NSW Public Sector Senior Executive (PSSE) arrangements. Their performance agreements include criteria drawn from the NSW RFS Corporate Plan.

For all other staff, they are covered by the relevant Crown Awards and the Crown Employees (Rural Fire Service) Award. Their remuneration is indexed to Industrial Relations Commission Award movements.

Risk management

The NSW RFS operates, maintains and continually improves a Risk Management Framework that complies with the relevant provisions of NSW Treasury Policy and Guidelines Paper TPP 15-03 Internal Audit and Risk Management Policy for the NSW Public sector and is aligned with the AS/NZS ISO 31000 standard. Central to this framework is the Organisational Risk Management Policy which reflects a documented approach to ensure risk is managed consistently across the Service.

Risk management is integrated with the corporate planning process, the Internal Audit planning process, as well as the various other elements of the NSW RFS's corporate governance decision-making structures.

Key stakeholder rights

The NSW RFS has a diverse range of stakeholders with whom there is regular communication and engagement. NSW RFS stakeholders include the NSW community, government, employers, peak industry groups, operational partners, the media and our members.

To facilitate engagement with our stakeholders the Service has developed the One  NSW RFS Communication and Engagement Strategy. One of the strategic objectives in this document is Empowering Stakeholders. This objective reflects the fact the NSW RFS considers our stakeholders as integral to our professional operations, service delivery and reputation.