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Case Study

Recruitment Roadmap: Achieving Clarity, Diversity, and Support for Emergency Volunteers

Recruiting and retaining volunteers is becoming an increasingly important issue that is being addressed head-on by emergency services organisations across Australia.

The Future of Work Institute (FOWI) has partnered with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) to deliver organisational resources aimed at improving the recruitment and retention practices of emergency service volunteers. The resources were developed after consultation with volunteers and stakeholders, through a combination of questionnaires and interviews. The consultation process focused on understanding the recruitment, management, and retention activities volunteers undertake.

This partnership has empowered volunteer managers located in Brigades, Groups, and Units (BGUs) to effectively manage the recruitment and retention cycle of volunteers.  The evidence-based resources created through this partnership support the development of role descriptions and localised strategies that drive the effective recruitment, onboarding, and management of volunteers. The suite of resources provides a way to recruit a wider diversity of volunteers who can now find a range of attractive operational and non-operational roles within the volunteer emergency services. Additionally, the resources guide volunteer managers on how they can provide needed support to ensure volunteer longevity within their BGUs.

Resources developed from our research were launched in Waroona with over 50 volunteer leaders in June 2018. A second release of resources took place at the Western Australian Fire and Emergency Services (WAFES) conference in September 2019. A final resource on succession planning is currently in development for release in late 2020.


  • The onboarding and management resources were well-received at the Waroona launch and were praised as being “practical” resources that volunteer managers could use.
  • The methods of creating well-defined role descriptions have been applied in recruitment and role advertisements that are currently being promoted on the revamped DFES Recruitment Website.
  • The resources have been consolidated into a training tool called “The Volunteer Recruitment Roadmap,” which has been positively and actively received by emergency services volunteers throughout Western Australia.
  • Key findings from the recruitment resources contributed to the widely successful state-wide recruitment campaign, ‘Get Behind the Front Line’, that has generated interest into support and non-operational roles advertised within the emergency services.