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Queen's Birthday Honours 2021

The Queen’s Birthday Honours list announced on 14 June 2021 included seven CFA members who were awarded the Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM) in recognition of their contribution to the community of Victoria.

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

Lesley Read AFSM – Hildene Fire Brigade

Lesley has been a CFA volunteer for 19 years and has been recognised for her work as a member of CFA’s Peer Support Team. Lesley has held many roles within her brigade including Firefighter, Secretary, Treasurer and VFBV Delegate along with being the District 12 Volunteer Peer Support Team Coordinator since 2010. It is estimated that Lesley has contributed over 1,600 hours providing support to CFA members and their families. You can read more about Lesley on CFA’s website here.


Peter Solly AFSM – Werrap Fire Brigade

With over 50 years of service to CFA, Peter has been awarded an AFSM for his service to the Wimmera and in particular the Rainbow Group as Group Officer for 28 years. Peter is known as an outstanding leader and team builder and has led the development of strategies to address declining populations and increasing the average age of brigade members in rural Victoria. You can read more about Peter on CFA’s website here.


Brian Petrie AFSM – Gembrook Fire Brigade

Brian is highly regarded within CFA and through his more than 50 years of as a volunteer has distinguished himself as an outstanding leader, trainer and mentor. Brian used his experiences from Ash Wednesday along with his passion for the development of more effecting training have contributed to raising the standard of training with CFA, particularly in relation to crew safety and bushfire behaviour. You can read more about Brian on CFA’s website here.


Alen Slijepcevic AFSM – Deputy Chief Officer, Bushfire Management

Alen joined CFA in 2012 after previous roles with both the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Forestry Tasmania and the New Zealand Forestry Corporation. Alen has been a catalyst for the development of improved bushfire risk assessment with brigades, other agencies and communities that has led to a greater focus on fire prevention and preparedness. In 2018 Alen as the elected as the President of the International Association of Wildland Fire, the first person outside the United States of America to hold this role. You can read more about Alen on CFA’s website here.


Garry Cook AFSM – Deputy Chief Officer, Specialist Services

Garry first joined CFA as a volunteer in 1981 then joined CFA’s staff in 1986. Since 1986 Garry has held many roles within CFA as an Assistant Regional Officer, Zone Reliever, District Officer, Operations Manager before joining Ambulance Victoria for seven years, then coming back to CFA to take on the role of Assistant Chief Officer and later Deputy Chief Officer and Acting Chief Officer. While at Ambulance Victoria, Garry continued to volunteer with the Tarrawingee Fire Brigade. Garry has been honoured for his exceptional strategic leadership within CFA. You can read more about Garry on CFA’s website here.


Peter Baker AFSM – Assistant Chief Fire Officer

Peter joined CFA in 1971 as a volunteer with Belmont Fire Brigade before becoming a staff member in 1983. Since, 1983 Peter has held varius roles within CFA at District level and at CFA Headquarters. Peter was key to the establishment of the Integrated Emergency Coordination Centre and its subsequent evolution into Victoria’s State Control Centre. You can read more about Peter on CFA’s website here.


Stephen Walls AFSM – Assistant Chief Fire Officer

Stephen initially joined CFA as a 17-year-old to compete in the State Championships with Korumburra Fire Brigade, five years later, Stephen began his career with CFA. Throughout his career in CFA Stephen, has become a highly qualified and experienced operational officer, who specialises in command and control structures and incident management. You can read more about Stephen on CFA’s website here.


VFBV congratulates these seven CFA members for their outstanding contribution to CFA and the broader community along with all other Australians recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours this year.

Other Victorian firefighters to receive the Australian Fire Service Medal honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours were:

- Kelly Rush – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

- Simon Scharf – Fire Rescue Victoria

- Steven Watts – Fire Rescue Victoria.

VFBV congratulations these follow 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 Assist

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 4927 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 June 2021 10:09
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.