Bulletin No: 141 Volume: 22 Friday 5 August 2016
To: All UFU Members
VALE LFF SCOTT MORRISON
PRESUMPTIVE LEGISATION CAMPAIGNER
It is with great sadness and respect that United Firefighters Union of Australia acknowledges the passing of MFB Leading Firefighter Scott Morrison. LFF Morrison passed away last week having battled occupational cancer since his first diagnosis in 2001.
For those wishing to pay their respects LFF Morrison’s funeral service details are as follows:
11am Tuesday 9 August 2016
The Great Hall, The Centre Ivanhoe, 275 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe
(A private Cremation to follow).
There will be a guard of honour at the conclusion of the service.
The Wake will be held at the Lalor Football Club in Thomastown.
[No flowers by request, donations can be made in lieu to the Fire Legacy c/o Fire Fighters Charity. Envelopes will be available at the Service]
LFF Morrison has tirelessly campaigned for the recognition of occupational cancer through presumptive legislation to ensure firefighters are able to access their entitlements and compensation at their time of need.
In 2011 the United Firefighters Union of Australia’s decade-long campaign for the protection of firefighters with occupational cancer came to fruition with the enactment of the Federal “Fair Protection for Firefighters” Act which presumes that 12 listed cancers are occupational cancers for Aviation and ACT firefighters.
The Federal Parliament unanimously passed the legislation following a robust Senate inquiry into the basis, grounds and application of the presumptive.
LFF Scott Morrison was actively involved in that campaign. He provided a poignant personal account of his experiences in a submission to the Senate, and appeared at a hearing before the Senate Committee in Perth in 2011. He appeared alongside four other firefighters diagnosed with occupational cancer, and the family of a deceased WA Branch firefighters. Their evidence was instrumental in the Senate Committee understanding the implications of occupational cancer and the immense difficulties the firefighters and their families face when they have to fight for medical assistance and compensation through costly, lengthy and stressful litigation in their time of need
LFF Morrison’s written submission to the Senate Inquiry is attached, His evidence is also enshrined in the Australian Parliament Hansard record of his oral evidence at the hearing, and is referenced in the Final Report of the Senate Committee.
His occupational cancer journey began in 2001 when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Ironically as he was having his first day of treatment he and his family watched the devastating events of 9/11 unfold.
He emotionally recalled how family economic survival through his 18 months of treatment was through the generosity of his workmates who donated their leave through a leave bank. As his workcover claim had not been accepted he was about 18 months without income.
Fortunately there was a significant period where he was in remission and able to return to work at Thomastown.
“I had a few hours of sick leave, but I was off for nearly 18 months. When I did run out of sick leave I was lucky enough to have great work mates who put their annual leave up for me so I would not lose money. I cannot thank them enough.
They helped me get through everything. I love those guys. Ever since I went back to work I have said ‘I owe you all that much.’ I learnt to cook and from then on I have cooked lunches every day for the guys. Whatever I could do for them, if they need something, I would go in the car and do it for them. Still to this day I thank them for helping me survive what I went through.”
When I was extremely ill there were times when I thought I was dying. I felt that I was going to die. There were times when it was extremely painful and I hoped I would die. When I looked at my two sons and my wife I thought, ‘I cannot die yet because I want to enjoy my life with them.”
His willingness and the willingness of numerous firefighters throughout Australia to tell their story was a pivotal moment in the Senate Inquiry which was the foundation for presumptive legislation to be enacted throughout Australia, The final Senate Report recorded:
“The community holds a deep respect and gratitude for those who serve to protect and assist. If we are honest, however, along with this respect and gratitude comes a generous dose of expectation. We expect firefighters to come to our assistance when our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses are ablaze. We expect that a firefighter will enter a burning building when every human instinct tells us to leave. We expect they will search for those trapped inside and bring them out alive. We expect them to do what they can to minimise loss of life and damage to property. While everyone else is fleeing danger, it is the firefighter’s duty to tackle it head-on, to enter an extreme and dangerous environment, armed with the best protective gear available
The committee recognises that when a person spends their professional career inhaling and absorbing known—and probably some as yet unknown—carcinogens in the course of public service, it is the moral duty of the community to enable them to seek compensation should they fall ill as a consequence. For this reason the committee believes this Bill needs to be passed after being improved upon through incorporation of the committee’s amendments.
The committee has conducted its analysis in the hope that similar legislation will be introduced across state jurisdictions in future as part of the harmonisation of workers’ compensation laws. If this Bill is passed, the committee encourages state jurisdictions to engage in a dialogue which will eventually see a positive, and fair, outcome for firefighters across Australia.”
Since then presumptive legislation has been enacted in Tasmania, West Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.
LFF Morrison’s dedication to helping those in their utmost time of need continued. In 2008 he joined Olivia Newton-John and other cancer survivors fundraising “23-day-stroll” along the Great Wall of China raising $5 million for what became the cancer centre at Austin Hospital.
He was a great supporter of the Firefighters Charity and his family has requested that in lieu of flowers that donations may be made to Fire Legacy of the Firefighters Charity which helps the families of firefighters in their time of need.
Even while battling various and significant surgeries and treatments in recent years, his thoughts were centred on his family and helping others. In September 2014 while recovering from invasive treatment he invited media to his hospital bed calling for the Victorian Government to enact the presumptive legislation necessary to help Victorian firefighters diagnosed with occupational cancer.
He never stopped raising awareness about firefighters’ occupational cancer.
In February this year, with new cancer diagnosis and an uncertain future Scott continued his education campaign and his thought provoking speech at a charity can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rX-Bmi2r_E.
The United Firefighters Union of Australia is forever indebted to LFF Morrison’s dedication and commitment to raising awareness and campaigning for presumptive legislation.
We extend our deep sympathy and support to his wife Robyn, sons Scott Junior and Daniel and their families and treasured grandchildren. We appreciate that at times when his life hung in the balance, or when in remission, that they generously supported his determination to pursue the campaign and give up precious personal time to promote presumptive legislation to recognise firefighters’ occupational cancer.
Vale LFF Morrison.
Strength in Unity
READ OUT AT MUSTER AND PIN ON NOTICE BOARD
Authorised by Peter Marshall, Branch Secretary