South Australian Country Fire Service Promotions Unit

Raising awareness of the roles, training and activities of CFS Volunteers state-wide


Public Affairs

Information, Management Internal and External

The CFS Public Affairs section, is responsible for the effective, timely and accurate release of information to all stakeholders. In addition to this, the section is responsible for providing media liaison, public relations and marketing services of the organisation. A key responsibility of the Public Affairs section is to advise the Chief Officer and senior management on all media issues of interest and concern to the CFS as well as effectively manage internal and external communication activities.

The Public Affairs section undertakes a number of core business roles including:

  • Strategic issues and crisis management
  • Operations and corporate media
  • Media liaison
  • Internal communications programs
  • Support to senior management and Ministers in communication of promotional activities, and
  • Special programs and events identified by CFS corporate and government.

The section also provides support in other projects including:

  • Production and distribution of publications for general public consumption
  • Production and distribution of CFS annual publications
  • External communications and development of sponsorship programs, and
  • Management of photographic and video libraries.

The Public Affairs section works in accordance and adherence to the Fire & Emergency Services Act 2005, and works to the organisation's mission, visions and values. Recently, the communication arrangement was reviewed, and as a result, the role of the team has grown.

Communication changes have enhanced public information services through methods that include:

  • Media liaison 24 hours a day
  • On-call roster system
  • Management of the CFS website and e-mail list
  • Delivery of strategic advice on media issues
  • Development of media strategies and media crisis response plans
  • Fireground safety training for media representatives
  • Media training to CFS staff and volunteers
  • Production of the quarterly Volunteer magazine
  • Liaison and advice to the SA Fire & Emergency Service Commission (SAFECOM), the Office of the Minister for Emergency Services and other agencies, and
  • Coordination of promotional activities.

The Public Affairs section works to achieve goals defined within key result area, which are identified in the CFS Strategic Plan. An imperative key result area, which Corporate Affairs works towards achieving is: To minimise the impact of fire and other emergencies by appropriate preparedness and response to incidents.

The goal is underpinned by key directions, which include:

  • Informing the community and government about important information.
  • Maintaining an effective and efficient communications and information system.

These goals are achieved through the unit's key functions.

Functions - media and community relations

One of the key functions of the CFS during times of fire and other emergencies is to ensure the community is kept well informed. The delivery of up-to-date and accurate information is paramount in order to efficiently serve the community and protect life, property and the environment against such disasters as bushfire.

The media plays a pivotal role in disseminating key messages to the public and keeping the community well informed of the progress of a bushfire, enhancing individual and community safety. To ensure key information is relayed through the media to the community, effective media management is imperative, and is the link between the media, the community and the CFS.

Internal and external communications

Internal and external communication is both necessary and imperative with the key purpose to energise employees to carry out its strategic intent and enhance workplace performance. This in turn encourages high quality service delivery to the South Australian community. A revised internal communications program aims to increase the opportunity for two-way communication, in particular feedback from staff and volunteers utilising e-mail and other initiatives.

All CFS media releases and items of strategic interest are emailed to staff and volunteers where possible, before release to media. There has been some progress in the development of a media-related training package to volunteers and staff statewide, however, work in this area is continuing.

Extract from the CFS Annual Report 2003-2004