Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Fire Rescue Victoria

Georgie CROZIER, Jaclyn SYMES

Fire Rescue Victoria

Georgie CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) (12:28): (48) My question is to the Minister for Emergency Services. Minister, a report was conducted by PwC into the status of the Fire Rescue Victoria IT systems prior to the December 2022 cyber attack. This report was to include recommendations for required upgrades to protect information and operations. I ask: what is the status of the investigation and that report?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:29): I thank Ms Crozier for her question. As I think we have discussed in this chamber before, Fire Rescue Victoria was subjected to a cyber attack, an IT outage, in December last year. We have been working through those matters systematically since that time. I can confirm that community safety was not compromised. The community was still served by crews continuing to be deployed, and we had a lot of workarounds in relation to the payroll system and the rosters and the like. It has been a big effort in terms of people that have come and supported the organisation to (1) create workarounds within the systems to best be able to function as they were pre cyber attack and (2) identify any of the breaches in relation to the information. They have set up some support agencies with organisations that help people to respond to any compromising of their personal circumstances and personal information, and a lot of firefighters and staff have taken that up.

In relation to where we go from here, we are still considering a range of advices, including the one that you refer to. It is DPC and government services who are working alongside FRV in relation to IT systems and cybersafe security going forward. So it is a whole-of-government impact. But in relation to where to next, what the options would be to ensure that we have the best system that is futureproofed to ensure it is best placed to protect against future cyber attacks and the like is work that is ongoing.

Georgie CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) (12:31): Minister, I thank you for that response, and I note that you said there was an ability for the public to speak to agencies. The important and critical issue is around the public. They have a right to know if their safety is at risk. So the question is: will that report be made public?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:31): Ms Crozier, it is not the public safety element that is at risk here. It is the private information of those that are connected to FRV. So regarding the way you have framed your question, there is no public safety risk that that information would lead to informing any information. The cyber attack is about the personal information of the firefighters, not public safety.

Nicholas McGowan: On a point of order, President, the question was whether the minister would provide the report. The minister is now debating other aspects of the question. I ask that you bring the minister to order.

The PRESIDENT: No, I actually listened to the minister quite closely, and I think she was being relevant to the question.