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Australia Day Honours 2023

The 2023 Australia Day Honours list recognised five CFA members for their contribution to the Victorian community among more than 1,000 recipients of honours this year.

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

Mark Cartledge AFSM – Mark has served as a CFA volunteer with Ballarat Fire Brigade for the last 30 years and has held numerous brigade management team roles during this time and is currently the Captain of Ballarat Fire Brigade.  Mark has been recognised for his operational leadership, commitment and dedication to the brigade’s Rescue Unit as well as his work increasing awareness of road trauma.  You can read more about Mark here.

Neil Marshall AFSM – For more than 60 years Neil has been a member of CFA and has roles from firefighter with the Panton Hill brigade all the way up to Deputy Chair of the CFA Board.  Neil was instrumental in the introduction of the Australian Inter-service Incident Management System (AIIMS) into CFA including playing a role in helping to develop and write the initial AIIMS manual.  He also chaired the CFA working party that developed and supported the introduction of peer support into CFA.  At a local level Neil was a driving force behind the creation of the Panton Hill Firefighters Welfare Trust which supported families of Panton Hill firefighters who lost their lives on Ash Wednesday. You can read more about Neil here

Michael Rowe AFSM – Michael joined the Clunes brigade as a teenager in 1981 alongside his father before transferring to the Cape Clear brigade in 1989 where he has held the position of Captain since 2010.  Michael has particularly been recognised for the development of strategies and techniques which make roadside burning safer and more productive.  Michael also instigated women-only burn days which encourage women to get involved in and experienced in roadside burning.  You can read more about Michael here.

Robert ‘Toddy’ Small AFSM – Toddy has been a CFA volunteer since 1974 and has been recognised for his distinguished service to CFA for more than 47 years.  Toddy has held many roles within CFA including Captain of the Ferntree Gully brigade.  Toddy has also been heavily involved in the design and development of the Medium Pumper and Heavy Tanker within CFA.  You can read more about Toddy here.

Ken Stuart AFSM – Ken has been a member of the Mount Taylor brigade since 1967 and his service to CFA includes 20 years as Captain of the brigade.  Ken’s influence extends beyond the Mount Taylor brigade and he was influential in supporting surrounding brigades and the wider community during and after major fires in East Gippsland.  Ken has also been recognised for his expertise in fuel reduction, the construction of fire breaks and back burning which have been credited in preventing  a number major fires from reaching heavily populated areas and reducing the impact of fires on the community.  You can read more about Ken here.

VFBV congratulates these five CFA members for their outstanding contribution to the broader community along with the other Australian’s recognised in the Australia Day honours list this year.

Two Fire Rescue Victoria members also received the Australian Fire Service Medal in the honours, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony O’Day and Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Guy McCrorie.  VFBV extend our congratulations to both Tony and Guy also.

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 4196 times Last modified on Monday, 30 January 2023 14:35
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.