United Firefighters Union Australia



Our Union belongs to you, our 856 professional Aviation Firefighter members. To remain strong, it needs your support, your input and your actions. 

FLASHPOINT is your Newsletter, so read it, be informed, share it, contribute to it.


A Strong, Engaged, and Unified Membership
puts the balance of Power back to you!

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'Strength In Unity - Proud to be Union'



President’s Report


This month I’m on leave. Hopefully you all saw the mid term report from our Secretary Mark. We are building momentum and are encouraged by the increasing participation of members.

The start of the month we had the pleasure of being visited by Rockhampton’s Kenrick Tucker and his lovely wife Karen. It is great that members are dropping into the office whenever they are near. I thank Kenrick and Karen for checking in on us.

On leave I have a few more administrative things to get done. Ensure that you assist your Station Delegates with correct address, phone and email addresses. If we cannot contact, you directly you will be relying on hearsay. Long gone are the days that we could expect that management would allow us access. As well as getting on top of admin I will be continuing the fit out of our office. Many retired members are donating memorabilia and we have a nice collection of ARFF artefacts. I must find a neat and tidy way of presenting them.

Feel free if you are near to drop in. If it’s a weekend and you want to have a look at the collection, we may be able to get there and open depending on shifts. Once I have finished, I will do a virtual tour on Facebook. Watch this space.


Strength in Unity,

Rob Skelton

Join us on Facebook there are now two official UFUAV pages one open to Public one secret members only. We also have an Instagram Account we are slowly transferring all the UFUA's photo collection over to so have a look, like or follow us it all helps to get our message out to the public.

So another month rolls past, if you had the opportunity to read our mid term review you will already be on top of the issues that matter. Just this month we had the opportunity to drop into the Sunshine Coast Station and put breakfast on for the team on duty. Thanks very much to our Sunny Coast members and our new Workplace Delegate Pat Shanahan for hosting another great visit. I really look forward to hitting the stations and meeting the members we have some really good people in our union and it makes us fight a bit harder when we realise what's at stake.

Monday the 16th I met with the EGM in Brisbane about the ARFFS Modernisation Programme. It would seem that there has been some changes for the better taking place out of the Alan Woods Building so we look to the future with a bit more hope of returning to an open, honest and most of all respectful relationship with ARFFS at least if not Airservices.

The Union was contacted last week by Annika Wells the Federal Member for Lilley which encompasses Brisbane Airport. The UFUA contacted the Local Operations Manager and we were able help facilitate a visit to the station by Annika and Anthony Albanese. Your Union is working hard behind the scenes to ensure that we promote the ARFFS and our members as part of a vital, public safety service that deserves the respect and support of all our politicians.

Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th I will be in Melbourne again. I will take the opportunity to meet the Melbourne on duty crew, the new recruits currently at the college and then a trip out to the coast to see the Avalon team on duty. Thursday, Rory, Mel, Ali and I will be meeting in National Office for some high level strategy preparation with our National Secretary to better influence the political changes to the ARFFS that we all know are required.  

Thanks to everyone that completed the survey into Airservices bullying, harassment and discrimination. Over 320 returns will ensure we get a lot of valuable data. Dr Ballard will put together a report with Melita and perhaps some input from a retired magistrate we will try and meet with in Melbourne as well to peer review the report. Any member past or present that wishes to add more to their story about bullying and harassment over the past 5 years contact us and we will take your full statement.

Where to from there? Well as you know we asked Airservices to share the Terms of Reference and to consult with us and they said no way. So we asked again and raised a dispute. They said bad luck see you in Fair Work. We have not finalised the matter yet, but believe that our argument poses a valid and realistic question, which is, ‘if you have nothing to hide, then show us what your terms of reference are’. We will not be withdrawing the matter. We are prepared to continue to pursue this matter because, it seems common sense to assume that the UFUA is entitled to know the terms of such an important and significant project. It should be noted that this is only one avenue, we have several available to us, and we will use them all if we have to.

So should we drop off our own survey report to all the media outlets when its finished? So Airservices cops another flogging in the media? For a business that terminates our members at the drop of a hat for supposedly making the company look bad they do a pretty good job of advertising their own toxic culture. Our preference would be to quietly work together like we asked politely for in the first place, but as they have shown zero regard and/or respect for you or for your union, it will be their choice.

Amazingly Airservices reached out just last week to our union about trying to work together and having a transparent and cooperative relationship. The union provided our opinions on what have been the issues that destroyed trust from our members point of view. Airservices have indicated potential movement towards resolving some of the Federal Court issues we have ready to file. We received their first offer on Thursday but it is not acceptable. All the wage theft has to be returned to all members affected that's the bottom line.

Standing up in FWA and stating their only reason not to share the terms of reference with us is because 'they don't have to'. Well good luck rebuilding any trust in Airservices management with that attitude.

Stay Safe Look After Each Other

Strength in Unity
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This is where we have to post announcements all ROC/FWA required by law.

Your Legal Team

The Legal Eagle Team has had another busy period of dealing with a variety of issues. We have assisted in a number of members in various applications to Fair Work Commission, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Comcare.  We feel that our efforts are starting to make a difference and are working hard to keep this going.
Our long list of works in progress still remain on the agenda. However, over the past number of weeks we have dealt with some interesting disputes. One which was of particular interest was in relation to recently being informed that Airservices was undertaking a workplace bullying and harassment project.
The UFUA have not been part of the consultation process surrounding this project and has challenged the validity of such a project on the basis of the following:
  • Lack of consultation in relation to this project, in accordance with cl 15 of the EA.
  • The terms of reference
  • The scope of the terms
  • The breadth and depth of the terms and the project
  • The purpose of the project
  • The validity of the terms
  • The genuine effort to dealing with the ‘big white elephant’
  • The purpose of the outcome of the project
We note that the EA required that the UFUA, be consulted about any change, however this is a point of contention. The UFUA is of the view, that this projects should be in the best interest of its members and in doing so believes that the process and procedure should represent all elements of transparency, clarity, honesty and goodwill. Whereas Airservices is of the view that there is no requirement for those terms of reference to be provided to UFUA.
This dispute has not yet been finalized and we remain confused that such a significant project is not subject to change and that there would be no disadvantage in providing us with a copy of the terms of reference. To not provide UFUA, with a copy, simply makes no sense. 
The good fight continues and we will keep you informed of the outcome. 


National WHS Coordinator


I’m currently in Melbourne for the Gen 3 Workshop. It is always a great opportunity to meet colleagues from around the country, a great chance for networking and story sharing. It has been a very enjoyable first 2 days at the workshop, very interesting theory sessions, case studies and practical components. The energy and enthusiasm of the instructors is really great and I’ve felt that a very safe and constructive environment has been established end encouraged.

My first day included the CFBT component. I’ve really missed this type of training, and it was great to see again up close and personal along with the knowledge conveyed by the instructors covering this topic and component. It was also great to experience the level of decontamination procedures being applied and the attention to detail and oversight applied, and despite the somewhat chilly Melbourne weather the post training ice baths were a welcome recovery measure, not only for the physical benefits but also the comradery and team building achieved by those immersed, it’s a great set up and the benefits for post-training recovery at local station levels could only be a very positive health and safety initiative.

I’d really like to thank all the HSR’s who have taken the time to get in touch and reach out with various questions and comments about a wide variety of issues around the country, it is really encouraging to see more and more engaging with other HSR’s and support each other in a vital role, this can only be a positive and ultimately benefit the workgroups we all represent at our local levels. Don’t be shy, get in touch and lets all help each other out to grow and improve.


Tim Limmer


Caloundra, 21st – 23rd August 2019.

Tim Limmer and myself had the privilege of attending the first ‘Fearless’ PTS conference, representing the UFUA. The conference was promoted as a ‘National Conversation’, aimed to bring together stakeholders involved with PTS with the themes of “The shared experience, Families and Living with Hope”.

‘FearLess’ is a charity that works with people living with the consequences of post-traumatic stress (often referred to as PTSD or PTSI). They also help family members in any way affected by it. Their members come from all walks of life including those living with PTSD and their families or people who want to do their bit to make the lives of people living with post-traumatic stress more enjoyable and fulfilling.
The ‘Fearless’ Vision is to create a co-ordinated network of outreach and support services to help those with lived experience of PTSD and their families regain control over their daily lives.
The Fearless conversation brought together people involved in the world of PTSD, to exchange ideas and research and to educate through common experience, and to compile a first draft protocol that will guide the future handling of PTSD in Australia and NZ.
So what did we learn?

There are upwards of 1.5 million people in Australia who suffer Post Traumatic Stress, a condition that medical practitioners and clinicians now recognise as the result of injury to the brain caused by exposure to violence, trauma and shock. And there are upwards to three million family members who live with people experiencing Post Traumatic Stress on a daily basis.
A persons emotions are “balanced” by different parts of the brain linked by neural connections. The brain has 1 million billion neural connections. If just a dozen of these connections have problems, issues such as PTSD can occur. Science has shown that emotional trauma (exposure) can lead to physical changes in the brain with some of the neural connections “dying off”. This results in the brain not being able to balance the emotions.

EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCES CAN PHYISCALLY CHANGE THE STRUCTURE OF THE BRAIN, MAKING PTSD AN INJURY.  There is already a national push to change recognition of the condition from disorder to INJURY.

Trauma varies from person to person and impact to an individual cannot be graded. All exposures to trauma are a possible trigger. PTS is complex and can present in over 200 000 combinations of symptoms.

Up to 25% of first responders suffer from varying degrees of PTS.

2/3 of children exposed to domestic violence will suffer from PTS.
Estimated to cost the country $44 billion in 2015.

Education, resilience, tracking and lifestyle.
Particularly in first responders, exposure to trauma cannot be prevented, so focus needs to be on preventing exposure becoming PTS.

Better education and removal of stigmas. Understand PTS signs and symptoms in themselves and others and that quick identification and treatment offers the best hope and outcome.

Often the sufferer has higher levels of self-stigma, where as 78% of first responders would support a fellow staff member with PTS.
Military and first responders often use anger to shield misplaced shame and depression. This often prevents them seeking help and being receptive to treatments, delaying the recovery process.

A One size fits all approach does not work as everyone is different. But having a proactive protocol in place is a start. Use of “exposure” tracking as a starting point.

General fitness and healthy lifestyle have been shown to reduce the instances of PTS.

Peers, managers and families.
Staff and their families must be educated so they can identify PTS in themselves and others.

First Responders are very good at hiding issues at work. Remember 25% show some symptoms of PTS.

Support for families is essential.


Treatment will vary greatly depending on the person, but there are an astonishingly large amount of varied medical professionals to assist in assessment and recovery.
The quicker the treatment can start, the better.
Some of the common therapy treatments include medications, acupuncture, Repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), group therapies, mindfulness, exercise etc.

It was unanimously identified across EVERY industry represented that a major contributing factor to their workforce/colleagues not taking up employee Assistance Programs was:
  • Lack of trust in the system of EAP provided and in the confidentiality of that system.
  • Lack of faith in organisations to provide promised support.
Interestingly, an interstate Police Union Representative shared that once their union took control of the Assistance Program system, and separated it from the oversight and control of the employer that they saw a 4000% increase in uptake from operational Officers! This spoke volumes to all in attendance and provides a very valuable insight into what could, and should be the ‘normal’ within our service.

Once a staff member has asked for help, they need to know they will be supported.

Chris Day UFUA BNE Workplace Delegate
Tim Limmer National WHS Coordinator
AFAC 2019

Your UFUA recently sponsored our Deputy WHS Coordinator Justin Carroll to attend the AFAC Conference in Melbourne to represent our members. Here is a brief report on his experience. Your Union is fully committed to transformation, we will no longer be wasting our time and energy on pointless, deliberate time wasting. We have the tools, we have the experts, and we have the will to make the changes we need now.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend the ‘AFAC2019’ Conference in Melbourne, ideal timing to meet with other fire service HSRs, union delegates and safety specialists.

Importantly, fire and other emergency services deliver presentations on what they are doing to improve the safety of their employees (as well as the communities they serve), and none better than the talk given by Michael Tisbury on the ‘MFB PFAS Initiatives’ which showed the progress the MFB has made in terms of establishing safe threshholds, overcoming barriers of vehicle decontamination (by developing a 32 stage process!) and overall inspiring stuff given the obstacles and challenges they have faced.

It was deeply concerning however to hear about the predominant issues still plaguing emergency services through-out the world – in particular, mental health and cancer. Due to the nature of our job, our exposure to both is higher than usual - but what can we do to understand and mitigate the risks?

It’s almost 5 years since the Monash university final report into “
Australian Firefighters Health Study”, almost 8 years since presumptive legislation was introduced, countless technological and engineering advances and knowledge-sharing of some of the best research into firefighter safety - yet we’re still faced with the same dire outcomes?

Take a walk around the AFAC Exhibition and you’ll see hundreds of exhibitors’ with innovative solutions to our problems, including:
Thankfully there was also a raft of inspiring talks and presentations at AFAC2019, which touched on many of the themes we need to address in order to bring about change. Put simply, we need to evolve from our ‘business as usual’ compliant safety culture, to a transformative safety culture, from the ground up. Yes comrades, it’s about the only way we’ll get the outcomes we want!

I’ve heard some pretty daft commentary on our current predicament; can’t we just outsource our safety concerns to a separate business group within ARFFS? To the union? To the regulators? Unfortunately not. The photo above was taken from a great presentation challenging how we look at diversity, and for our situation sums it up perfectly: if we stay in our current state we’ll never be in control of our destiny. Instead, we need to define our vision, our goals and our destiny.

And our vision has to be around real cancer reduction strategies, improving our mental health outcomes and making safety, health and wellbeing part of our clear goals in the workplace.
Here are just a few examples of what you can easily do:
  • Talk to your station HSRs and see if you can help provide practical solutions to safety concerns
  • Support your mates on station and see how they’re going in terms of Mental Health
  • Report that safety hazard that’s always bugged you, but you’ve never followed up. Through CIRRIS too, yes.
  • Remind your colleagues of our need to wash and keep PPE clean – (“if we can wash trucks every day, we can also wash our PPE”)

Love to hear your thoughts:

We hope all our members in the path of the bushfires raging through several states are safe and well. Be careful if you are out on a task force trying to tackle these blazes as well.

Any members that have fire fighting photo's of ARFFS incidents or mutual aid responses or even good quality training events, please pass them on with a story we would love to let everyone see what incidents we have been attending.

If you are tired of being Cinderella then let us help promote the great work you are all doing out there everyday. We will keep names out of it so you won't get any push back.

UFUA Photo Library
If you have any ARFFS photos share them with us. We need to start a collection now before they are all lost.

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United Firefighters Union (Aviation Branch)
Unit 3/88 Flinders Pde
North Lakes 4509 QLD
07 3481 0463 or 07 3491 7161
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Your UFUA Aviation Branch

Branch Committee of Management

Hayden West BCOM ACT
Zac van Loenhout BCOM NT
Wes Garrett BCOM SA
Justin Hunter BCOM SQ
John Ring BCOM NQ
Rory Thomas McCabe BCOM Vic
Simon Owen BCOM Tas
Chris Jones BCOM WA
James Young BCOM NSW

WHS Coordinators

Tim Limmer National Coordinator
Carl Costin Deputy Coordinator
Justin Carroll Deputy Coordinator

Workplace Delegates

Sam Vincent (Sydney)
Ash Peeler (Avalon)
David Tromba (Mackay)
Warren Chappell (Broome)
Chris Day (Brisbane)
Nick Feeney (Gladstone)
Steve Crockford (Coffs Harbour)

Trevor Rogers (Coolangatta)
Chris Stephens (Ballina)
Dan Thompson (Adelaide) 
Michael McDonald (Canberra)
Pas Kabi (Hamilton Island)
Nigel Cristaldi (Cairns)
Matt Starkey (Newman)
Paul OConnor (Perth)
Rick Nolan (Darwin)
Glen Laurie (Melbourne)
Mick Greenway (Townsville)
Kris Tilley (Karratha)
Simon Dowling (Alice Springs)
Matt West (Launceston)
Matt Crighton (Rockhampton)
Pat Shanahan (Maroochydore)


Ayers Rock
Port Hedland

Branch Executive

Branch Secretary: Mark von Nida
Branch President: Rob Skelton
Senior Vice President: Simon Owen
Junior Vice President: Rory Thomas McCabe

Legal Counsel:

Melita Bozin
Dr Alison Ballard

Administration Officer:

Julie Wiggins

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 We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, both past and present, and celebrate their cultural contribution to society.
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