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Australia Day Honours 2021

Included in the 2021 Australia Day Honours list announced on 26 January 2021 was five CFA members who were awarded the Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM) in recognition of their contribution to the community.

VFBV congratulates these members for their outstanding contribution to CFA and the broader community.

Ross Coyle – Wodonga West Fire Brigade

Ross has been a CFA volunteer for 35 years first joining CFA as a junior. Ross has contributed to CFA in many ways, including as a volunteer nominee to the CFA Board from 2010 to 2016 which was a period of significant change for CFA. While a member of the CFA Board, Ross was a strong advocate for rural and growing regional communities and also chaired the Service Delivery Committee and the CFA Honours and Awards Committee. Ross has played a number of key operational leadership roles both at home in North East Victoria and on interstate strike teams, as well as serving as Captain of Wodonga West Fire Brigade for four years. You can read more about Ross’ service here. https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/-/dedicated-service-to-cfa-recognised-with-top-honour 

Ian Hay – Gisborne Fire Brigade

Ian joined CFA in 1975 as a volunteer with the Bullengarook Fire Brigade and later transferred to Gisborne Fire Brigade. During his time with CFA, Ian has held roles such as Group Officer for the Mount Macedon Group, Group Communications Officer and Brigade Secretary as well as being a Level 2 Incident Controller, a Level 3 Operations Officer and a Divisional and Sector Commander. You can read more about Ian’s service here. https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/-/high-honours-for-gisborne-firey 

Mark Roberts – Cobden Fire Brigade

Mark has been a member of the Cobden Fire Brigade for 30 years, first joining as a member of the junior running team. Since then Mark has progressed through the ranks taking on a number of roles including coaching juniors who are now coming through the ranks of his brigade and has also been the Group Officer for the Cobden Group since 2007. Mark has been an outstanding operational leader who has contributed to CFA and his community over many years, including during the aftermath of the St Patrick’s Day Fires in 2018 . You can read more about Mark’s service here. https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/-/community-hero-honoured-with-afsm 

Leighton Wraith – Dunkeld Fire Brigade

Leighton’s volunteering with CFA has taken place over the last forty years in the South West of Victoria, particularly with the Bochara and Dunkeld Fire Brigades. Leighton has been integral in the establishment of the Hamilton CFA-EMV Air Base and its facilities which took over seven years to complete while also recruiting over 40 volunteers to take on roles at the air base. You can read more about Leighton’s service here. https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/-/aviation-hero-receives-prestigious-award

Greg Leece – Ocean Grove Fire Brigade

While Greg's AFSM was awarded through the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Greg has been a dedicated CFA volunteer concurrently with CFA for over 40 years. Greg’s AFSM acknowledges his distinguished service with both the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning as a prescribed firefighter and his service as a CFA volunteer of over 40 years, initially with the Seymour Fire Brigade and currently with the Ocean Grove Fire Brigade. Greg has been a strong leader in fire planning across Victoria and has been actively involved in refining and improving the Incident Shift Plan templates to make them more fit for purpose.

VFBV congratulates these five CFA members for their outstanding contribution to CFA and the broader community along with all other Australians recognised in the Australia Day Honours this year.

Other Victorian firefighters to receive the Australian Fire Service Medal honour on Australia Day were:

-          Brendan Angwin – Fire Rescue Victoria

-          Craig Brownlie – Fire Rescue Victoria

-          Jonathon Gwilt – Parks Victoria

-          Kevin Legge – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

VFBV congratulates these fellow fire service members for their outstanding contribution to the state of Victoria.


Nominations for AFSM's

Nominations for AFSM's are accepted at any time through CFA's Honours and Awards Committee. 

The AFSM honours the distinguished service of members of fire services who make an exceptionable contribution to their communities. The AFSM recognises those whose service is above and beyond the normal zealous and faithful discharge of normal or ordinary service, either in the short or long term.

CFA volunteers are often modest and reluctant to seek out recognition for the service they have provided to their community and may not have a realistic appreciation of the impact they have had on CFA, their community, within VFBV or your Brigade or Group. They’re not in it for the honour or glory, but it’s up to each of us to ensure we take the time to say ‘thank-you’ to those people who have stepped up and help inspire us all to do better.

If you know a quiet achiever who has contributed to CFA, who goes above and beyond what could be reasonably expected of someone in a similar position, please consider nominating them for an AFSM.  

The Australian Honours system has been designed to break down artificial barriers and open the Australian Honours to all parts of our society. Any member of the community can nominate any other Australian citizen for an award.

It is also critically important we encourage nominations for groups who are typically under-represented in Australian Honours like the AFSM. In particular we are encouraging a greater gender mix.

Women in particular are under-represented in AFSM’s awarded when we consider the thousands of women within the fire services across the country. And while things are improving, much more can be done.

There are so many exceptional CFA women and men deserving to be recognised, so please consider nominating someone you feel is deserving.

A common misconception is that only those members who have decades worth of service are recognised by the Honours system. The AFSM is not a long-service award, its sole criterion is distinguished service. And while prolonged service forms part of the key criteria, ‘prolonged’ is considered by the honour and awards committee’s to be taken in context as to what is considered ‘longer than usual’ and in context of what is ‘above and beyond’ the normal or ordinary service expected. Exceptional service that is sustained over a period of time can be considered as satisfying the criteria. For example, has the members contribution been in excess of expectations for a ‘normal’ member and over what duration? The Committee will consider the nature of the service or achievement within the context of a member’s service history when weighing up the various criteria.

This is especially important for women within CFA who may have their service overlooked simply because they haven’t been a Captain or Group Officer for 30+ years. While these are important leadership roles – our service is a team environment, and everyone’s contribution is valued.

Nothing should take away from the incredible achievement decade long service is, but the Honours system is designed to recognise those that make a significant contribution, and to represent the things that our communities believe to be deserving of recognition, including from those who are perhaps trailblazers for others to follow. Think of those people who have pushed the boundaries or have been first to reach and hold leadership positions that has been inspirational to those around them. For example, think of members who have overcome additional barriers, like English not being their first language and who have toiled away to learn the language and become masterful communicators designing new innovative community safety engagements to CALD communities and serving as a role model for other community members. Who are the people you look up to? Who are the people who have really made a difference in your Brigade or Group? 

Distinguished service includes service that is above and beyond and can be short-term or prolonged. It is service that can be exemplified by; responsibility for an outstanding event that has proven to be of significant benefit to the fire service or community; development of a new system, procedure or technique that is unique and made a significant contribution to the fire service; or outstanding leadership in the encouragement and development of others, particularly youth within the fire services.

While it can seem daunting to nominate a potential recipient, some guiding principles that could assist in completing a nomination for an AFSM are:

  • In what role(s) has the nominee excelled?
  • How has the nominee demonstrated service worthy of recognition?
  • How has the nominee’s contribution affected a particular field, locality, brigade, group or community at large?
  • Over what period has the nominee made a major commitment?
  • Has the nominee’s contribution been recognised elsewhere?
  • What makes this person stand out from others?
  • What specific examples can be provided to show how the nominee’s contribution(s) have been outstanding?

Nominations for awards are strictly confidential. The person being nominated should not be approached for information or advised of the confidential nomination at any stage of the process.


Additional Resources to Assisit

Honours and Awards Toolkit

Guide to Preparing Nominations for the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM)

AFSM Nomination Form

Want to discuss a potential nomination or need some more information? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


About the Australian Fire Service Medal 

Introduced in 1988, the Australian Fire Service Medal recognised distinguished service by members of Australian fire services and is awarded to both volunteer and paid members. The award recognised the distinguished service by members of a State or Territory Fire Service, a Fire Service of an agency of the Commonwealth, and the Fire Services of the External Territories of Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling Island) and Norfolk Island.

The medal is awarded twice a year as part of the Australia Day award and Queen’s Birthday award announcements.


Criteria for the Australian Fire Service Medal 

To be considered for this award it would be expected that the nominee has given service beyond the norm exemplified by:

  1. Prolonged service distinguished by exceptional performance in a particular area that has proved significant benefit to the fire service; and one or more of the following.
  2. Responsibility for and management of an outstanding/exceptional event that has proven to be of significant benefit to the fire service, a community or community safety generally.
  3. Development of a new system, or procedure, or technique that is unique and has made a significant contribution to the fire service, a community or community safety generally.
  4. Outstanding leadership in the encouragement and development of others, particularly youth, within the fire service and the fostering and furthering of the aims of the fire service to the long-term benefit of the fire service and the community.
  5. Demonstrated creativity in the development and implementation of innovative changes that have made a significant contribution to the fire service, fire/emergency operations, or the interests of community safety.
Read 5065 times Last modified on Thursday, 11 March 2021 17:32
CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.