2017 RFBAQ Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Gap Survey

Tuesday, 16 Jan 2018

Please read the below before going onto the PowerPoint presentation (explanatory notes for each slide are below the slide)


Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland (RFBAQ) introduced a volunteer welfare and efficiency survey to Rural Fire Service Queensland volunteers in 2016.  The survey has been running since 2012 in Victoria for CFA volunteers and last year was offered to all fire service volunteers around the country.  Due to a timing clash with the QFES volunteer satisfaction survey, the 2016 participation rates were pretty low.  Feedback told us volunteers were confused, assuming they had done the RFBAQ survey when in fact they hadn’t.   An agreement has since been reached with QFES that the two surveys will be conducted on alternate years to avoid confusion again in the future.

Now to 2017.  Participation in the survey increased 271% with 1042 volunteers taking part this year.  Of all the fire services participating in the survey this year, Queensland recorded the third highest rate.  A considerable accolade considering the highest participation rate was in Victoria, who ran the survey for the sixth time.

The survey is important because it is used by RFBAQ to work with RFSQ and QFES, government and key stakeholders to provide evidence based feedback on matters affecting the welfare and efficiency of RFSQ volunteers.  The survey is a valuable tool to provide feedback on what is going well and where things can be improved.

The survey reveals results in two main areas:
•    Welfare and Efficiency Statements:  volunteers provide a rating on the importance and performance on matters affecting volunteer welfare and efficiency. The size of the ‘gap’ between the two ratings is indicative of how closely expectations are being met (ie: the smaller the gap, the more closely volunteer expectations are to being met).  Results in this section are presented in a theme.
•    Satisfaction: 4 specific statements on which volunteers rate their satisfaction with their volunteer role, satisfaction with the way they are treated by RFSQ, their intention to continue and their recommendation of being a RFSQ volunteer to others.

Preliminary Results for 2017

As well as overall numbers increasing, it was pleasing to see a closer alignment to the overall RFSQ volunteer population in the different demographic categories.  This was particularly evident in the responses when categorized by gender where 77% identified as male and 21% as female.  (nb: the remaining 2% indicated one of the additional categories of: prefer not to say; other; or, transgender).
There was an increase in respondents being brigade members rather than being in a leadership role with that category now representing 60% of the total.  There was a 5% shift towards volunteers responding from Primary Producer brigades, rather than urban/izone or rural small townships.
Every region had significant increase in numbers participating in the survey with the smallest increase on last year being 251%, and the largest an impressive 643%.

Summary: Welfare and Efficiency Statements
Results by theme are reasonably consistent with last year, with no change to themes performing the best or worst.
•    ‘People Management – My Brigade’ has the smallest gap of all themes.
•    ‘Cooperation across RFSQ and Training had the largest gaps of all themes.










Importance ratings given to the statements which form each theme remain high, with all themes continuing to receive importance ratings of higher than 8/10.  Given the larger cohort of volunteers participating in 2017, the importance scores of the statements has dropped slightly overall. 

The performance score for My Role as a Volunteer, remains unchanged from last year.  The themes of Recruitment and Retention and People Management – My Brigade, recorded lower performance scores this year, and the other themes all had performance scores go up slightly.  This indicates that whilst there has been some movement since last year, overall, what’s going well – satisfaction at brigade level – and what’s not going so well – Training and Cooperation remain unchanged from the 2016 results.






Summary: Satisfaction
The results for the satisfaction levels of RFSQ volunteers, at face value, appears to have declined significantly since 2016.  The result in 2017, however, is more likely to have been influenced by increased participant numbers.  These findings align more closely with the results of the QFES survey conducted in 2016, and in 2017 provide a more accurate representation of the feelings across the wider RFSQ volunteer population.





















Next Steps
We now await a full report, which will include an insight into how the different cohorts of volunteers such as different age groups, length of service, gender etc have responded to the survey. 
285 volunteers also provided additional commentary as to what is going well, what is not going well and what some specific issues are.  These will also be reviewed and summarized in the final report to provide further insight into the welfare and efficiency matters facing our volunteers.

Click here to download a PDF table highlighting gaps.

Click here to download a PowerPoint presentation showcasing the preliminary results. Please be aware that to open this file requires Microsoft Office PowerPoint. If you do not have this program, you can download the free Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer by clicking here.

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