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Sunday, 20 March 2022 12:58

Inspirational CFA Women

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We have been celebrating International Women’s Day by sharing stories highlighting the contribution that women make to CFA, not just on International Women’s Day but every day of the year.  CFA have also been highlighting stories throughout the week.

Head on over to CFA News and Media to read the stories published highlighting the contribution of women in CFA.

March 8 – CFA celebrates International Women’s Day
   
March 8 – Rowville Fire Brigade’s women leading the way
   
March 7 - Female firefighter Sheryl Batrouney talks about breaking the bias on the fireground
   
March 6 – Inspiring leader and Captain – Sheryn Gallagher

 


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

Saturday, 19 March 2022 15:35

A passion to lead CFA’s next generation

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Leading the next generation of CFA volunteers has come naturally to 20-year-old Colac firefighter Caitlin Willsher, who has climbed the ranks through the Junior program to now take the reins as Junior leader.

Caitlin (pictured above as a senior firefighter and a Junior competitor) followed in the footsteps of her father and older brother, who were members of the brigade, when she joined as a Junior member at the age of 12.

“The Junior team was struggling when I first joined, we just didn’t have many numbers there,” Caitlin said.

“I’m glad I got to give it a go as a Junior. I really enjoyed it and was particularly competitive with my brother who was also a member.

“It provided a great environment for me to make friends and socialise with other members too. Since then we’ve been able to get the membership up and have built a really strong Junior group.”

She applied to be a senior member when she turned 16 years old and officially started as a Junior leader in 2018.

“I didn’t want to leave the group and knowing this the coach asked if I wanted to help out as a Junior leader,” she said.

“My role is to discuss with the coach and other leaders how we can improve as a group, as well as organising events, competitions and social nights.

“I took on the role because I like to see the kids happy and enjoying what they’re doing. Every time they win something, when they place or when they give something a go, I just really like seeing that.”

Caitlin has been an active member of the brigade, especially over the last summer season.

“I got the opportunity to be deployed to the New South Wales bushfires last year,” she said.

“It was nerve-racking but I loved it. I was able to meet so many new people and learn a range of new skills from them and was eager to bring them back to the brigade.”

The Colac Fire Brigade Junior Program has grown a lot since Caitlin first joined eight years ago, with 12 committed young members now participating.

“A strong social aspect has helped grow our Junior group. One person would give it a go and then ask their friends to come along and we also have a few family members involved as well,” Caitlin said.

“When they first join they are quite shy, but it’s great to work with them to build their confidence and watch them come into their own and now they all work so well together.

“The program is great not for socialise reasons, but we also help them with their training, building a range of skills and helping them get involved in their community in a bit of a different way through CFA.”

Caitlin hopes to continue to work as a Junior leader at the brigade for the foreseeable future.

“I love helping our Junior members where I can and want to remain a Junior leader going forward,” she said.

“I’m very keen to stick with the brigade and continue to grow in my firefighting role as well.”

This article has been republished from CFA’s Brigade Magazine.


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

 

Friday, 18 March 2022 16:59

A commitment to service

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Jacinta Savory defies the traditional notion that younger Australians don’t volunteer. At 22, she is a committed volunteer firefighter with the Werribee CFA brigade.

With International Women’s Day just round the corner on Sunday 8 March 2020, we sat down with Jacinta to hear her thoughts on what it’s like to be a younger woman volunteering with the CFA.

“It’s actually not uncommon to jump on a truck and find most of the crew are in their mid-twenties,” Jacinta says.  "That said our older firefighters are an inspiration, I get on really well with them as well. There’s no us against them mentality at all - whether men or women, young or old - when we jump on the truck, we’re all in it together.”

Jacinta has been a member of the Werribee CFA for four years, first joining because her older brother did, and she thought it was a good place to hang out with friends and like-minded people.

“It’s interesting - when I first joined Werribee we had six females, today there are around 15. It’s great to see women taking a larger role operationally. The CFA is not gender specific at all,” Jacinta says.

When asked what the biggest challenges she faced were, Jacinta talked about her first house fire.

“That I think was the moment that could’ve been overwhelming. But you feel so supported by your fellow members, you’re trained, you trust everyone who is there around you.”

Her early experience in firefighting has also led to a career in emergency services - today Jacinta is a serving member of Victoria Police. So why the emergency services?

“I love working with people, helping people, making a difference. But I get something out of it too. As you can see, it has helped inspire me to move into emergency services work.”

Today Jacinta is completing rescue training with the CFA to broaden her skills, and work more closely with first responders' such as paramedics.

But one of her favourite activities with the CFA, and one she annually requests work off for on Christmas Eve,  remains the annual Werribee fire brigade ‘Santa Run’.

“It’s a bit cheesy I know, but it really is my favourite time of year. It’s a time of celebration for the brigade, to look back at what we have done throughout the year, to see the kids in the community. I love it.”

 

This article has been republished from CFA's Brigade Magazine.  


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

Wednesday, 16 March 2022 18:02

Position Vacant – VFBV Support Officer (West)

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VFBV is seeking to appoint a VFBV Support Officer to work in regional Victoria with VFBV District Councils, Brigades and volunteers to facilitate consultation, issues resolution and volunteer engagement.  

The position is a State role, with emphasis and focus on providing support throughout CFA’s West region (CFA Districts 15, 16, and 17).

This is an existing position, with the incumbent transferring to a different Region.

In addition to relevant skills and experience, candidates will need to understand CFA and volunteerism, be good listeners; be able to facilitate good consultation; ability to establish productive networks; navigate through complex issues resolution; be self-starters and have a passion to improve arrangements that benefit the welfare and efficiency of CFA volunteers.

Extensive regional Victorian work travel is envisaged and flexible work base locations will be considered for the position, with the priority focus to assign a work location within the CFA North West Region.

Flexible working arrangements, to cater for extensive evening and weekend work, will be tailored to match the needs of our volunteer membership base.

This is a full time position.

Prior to applying you should familiarise yourself with the Position Description which is available from the VFBV office or for download at the bottom of this page.

 

How to apply

All applications must include:

  1. a current resume
  2. a cover letter addressing the key selection criteria outlined in the position description (including samples of previous written communications). 

 

Send applications to the attention of the CEO, VFBV, 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East 3151 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Applications close Tuesday 12th April 2022.

Any questions or queries re the application process should be directed to Cathie Smith from the VFBV Office on (03) 9886 1141 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Any interested applicants to the VFBV Support Officer position, are also encouraged to speak to one of our existing VFBV Support Officers and/or State Councillor's who would be more than happy to give members a sense of the role.

Thursday, 17 March 2022 16:28

March 2022 Newsletter

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Taking the lead 
By Adam Barnett, VFBV Chief Executive Officer

On March 8, we celebrated International Women’s Day, with this year’s campaign theme being #BreakTheBias.

You may have seen the campaign imagery showing people forming a cross with their hands to signify solidarity and encourage people to think about deliberate or unconscious bias that makes it difficult for women to move ahead.

International Women’s Day grew out of the labour movement of the early 20th century. In 1908, 15,000 women took to the streets of New York protesting for shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

The creation of an International Women’s Day was first suggested by Clara Zetkin in 1910 at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. Clara was a communist activist and advocate for women’s rights. She had no fixed date in mind.

Her campaign reverberated across the America’s and Europe with similar protests and marches across the world. More than a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland protested for the right to vote and to hold public office.

The first celebration of the day followed this ground swell the following year in 1911.

But it wasn’t until a wartime strike in 1917, when Russian women demanded “bread and peace” that prompted 90,000 Russian workers to strike on March 8th that then led the army stationed in St Petersburg to rebel. So significant, this movement led Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate the Russian throne. The provisional government that replaced him granted women the right to vote, and hence why March 8th (the first day of the strike) was chosen to become the day International Women’s Day is celebrated, adjusting for the Gregorian calendar.

As regular readers would know, I believe strongly that history informs and provides critical context for many of today’s problems. Knowledge and study of the past allows us to ask deeper questions. It provides a unique perspective to examine modern problems.

Just think about the timeline above for a moment, and reflect on how recent it was that women actually had to campaign across the world just for the right to vote and hold public office.

And for those that think Australia was ahead of so many others across the world, Victoria provides us a very interesting case study of why perhaps gender equality has been illusive.

While South Australia was the first Australian territory to grant universal suffrage in 1894, it was in fact Victoria that accidentally allowed women to vote in a State election 31 years beforehand. In what is described as “faulty legislative drafting”, the Victorian Electoral Act of 1863 granted all ratepayers listed on local municipal rolls the right to vote. The reason this was described as “faulty” was that Parliament hadn’t intended this outcome and had overlooked local government legislation that had permitted women to be added to the municipal rolls of local government elections. In the following general election of 1864, Victorian women then proceeded to use their right as created by the new Act.

So affronted and embarrassed by this oversight, the Victorian Legislative Assembly (lower house) hastily amended the Act in 1865 to fix the ‘error’, and again restrict voting to only male ratepayers.

Despite 19 private members’ bill from 1889 onwards, it wouldn’t be for another 43 years that the Victorian Parliament in 1908 finally granted the right of women to vote, with Victoria being the last Australian State to legislate. Arguments against the new legislation sighted the dangers of “introducing biological weakness and feminine attitudes into public life.”

It would take another 22 years for Lady Millie Peacock to become the first female women elected to the Parliament of Victoria in 1933.

Why is this important?

Think about how long it takes for things to change. Even small things take time, so think about big changes, and changes that may not be so obvious, such as bias or social inequity. Expecting changes like gender equality to be magically fixed within one generation when the mistreatment of women is centuries old would be fool hardy. International Women’s Day is a recognition that we have to work hard to dismantle bias and barriers that have existed across our societies for thousands of years.

The challenge for all of us is how to use the day to move past tokenistic support and use it to prompt and encourage long lasting change.

And this is where you come in.

I’d like to invite members to reflect and ponder on how each of us can work together to forge inclusive brigade cultures where women are not only welcomed but thrive. A culture that supports women and moves from a culture that simply tolerates diversity to one that embraces the opportunities it presents to our sector and celebrates the changes we make, without feeling resentful or jealous of the arrangements that seek to address past injustices.

To those brigades and leaders that have already done it, congratulations and well done. You are the inspiration and guiding light for others to follow.

Interestingly, our annual volunteer survey asks members the question “There are no barriers to the roles women can occupy in my brigade.” Consistently, this is one of the best performing indicators, with performance meeting expectations every year since the survey began ten years ago.

However, when you extract the male responses from the data, women consistently score this question worse than their male peers.

When we drill down to the differences and I discuss these issues with volunteers, it is clear that men often use a different interpretation of what they deem as a “barrier”. Many point to the fact that anyone can join the brigade, anyone can get on the truck and anyone can stand for an officer position, and therefore reach the conclusion that there are no barriers.

It is not until you start unpicking some of that and start to think about how confronting it must be for a woman to join an overwhelming male organisation, how hard it is to fit in sometimes when you can’t relate to the culture or social connections formed over decades of service and how hard it must be to feel like you represent your entire gender every time you attend training or sit an assessment and feel like you have to prove everyone wrong, with any mistake made out to feel like a blemish on your entire gender.

How about the fact that Government’s chronic asset underfunding of CFA leaves volunteers having to tin shake just to try and save up for improvements to their tinshed stations just to provide simple privacy for members to change in when dressing for a fire call.

Consider also that even today in 2022, CFA generally only issue one size gas suit and one size splash suit for chemical and hazardous material incidents. That’s fine if you’re six feet tall and size 10 feet. But what about everyone else?

In encouraging news, and after many years of VFBV advocacy through our committee structures, CFA has recently agreed to start trailing disposable splash suits that will be issued in multiple sizes. A great achievement for sure, but just an example that not all barriers are easily seen or identified.

Back in 2015, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) supported “The Women in Fire and Emergency Leadership Role” research project into identifying the barriers for women to working in fire and emergency roles. To this day it remains instructive reading.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. It is obvious that today’s fire services are more open than they have ever been and are working hard at addressing barriers. CFA enjoys one of the highest rates of operational female fire fighters across the State, but we must also acknowledge the sector starts from a low base. I am constantly inspired by stories of brigades that have been trail blazers in building welcoming and supportive approaches to building a brigade they and their members are exceptionally proud of. We should use International Women’s Day to celebrate these kind of success stories as well.

Our annual State Championships are just one window to the growing diversity, with the junior events in particular showing the huge inroads in gender diversity which will flow into senior ranks over the next little while.

I also want to acknowledge the many of you who feel that these discussions can be a minefield in themselves, and often stir up a broad diversity of views and opinions from all genders. Often, well intended comments and initiatives can easily come across as patronising or disempowering. Keep in mind how incredibly offensive it can be to think that every person of one gender must all think the same and want the same things. That’s why these conversations need to be respectful and reflective. They are deeper than a slogan, or a 280 character social media missive.

And just because these issues are hard and complex doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep having the conversations. It just means we should come to them with an open mind, a generosity of spirit, be prepared to learn from them, be open to changing our minds, and be sensitive to the fact that there are not always one size fits all answers or solutions.

If anyone can do these things, you can. Volunteers have forged and led much of the sectors progress. If history is any guide, our future is in safe hands. Your hands. So keep at it.

 


2022 Championships
The 2022 State Championships will be held this month on consecutive weekends at Mooroopna Recreation Reserve in Mooroopna.

The Urban Junior State Championship will be held first on the weekend of 19-20 March, with 37 teams entered to compete in 18 events over the two days. It is estimated that approximately 300 junior competitors will be attending, along with their brigade supporters, families, friends and members of the community.

On the weekend of 26 and 27 the Urban Senior Championship and the Rural Senior & Junior Championships will be held for the second time at the same venue on the same weekend.

Competing across the two days will be 32 Junior teams and 78 Senior teams, including Harvey who are making the trip across from Western Australia for the Championship.

The evening of Saturday 26 March will also see the return of the Torchlight Procession, with CFA brigades marching around Victoria Park Lake in Shepparton. The Torchlight Procession hasn’t been held since 2019 due to COVID and it will make its return this year in an impressive display of CFA to the community.

Any Brigade not competing at the State Championship events, are invited to also participate in the Torchlight Procession either as participants or spectators. Any brigade wishing to participate should contact Peter Davis This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0458 933 797 asap.

 

Thanks
Thank you to all members who completed this year’s VFBV Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey.

As soon as we have finished compiling and analysing your responses, we will publish the results.

 
Presumptive Legislation – District Mechanical Officers
VFBV welcomes the introduction of eligibility for CFA District Mechanical Officers (DMO’s) to apply for presumptive legislation, hoping of course that no member shall ever need it.

Presumptive legislation was designed to give all firefighters simpler access to compensation should they contract one of 12 specified types of cancer that has been linked to the risks that firefighters are routinely exposed to.

The coverage for CFA District Mechanical Officers recognises the integral role DMO’s make to our fire services, and acknowledges that in their role maintaining critical firefighting vehicles and equipment both on and off the fireground, they are exposed to the same smoke, chemicals and carcinogens that firefighters are routinely exposed to.

CFA volunteers have a deep respect and admiration for our DMO’s, and many would have personal experiences of where DMO’s have been required to attend a fireground during active operations, especially long campaign fires, where the work of the DMO’s has been critical to keeping our trucks and equipment operating during terrible and confronting conditions.

VFBV has supported the Government’s expansion of the scheme to cover Forest Firefighters (employed by Forest Fire Management Victoria) last year, and District Mechanical Officers (employed by CFA and FRV) this year.

The amended legislation received Royal Assent on the 16th March 2022.

 

Presumptive Legislation – Women’s Reference Group
VFBV is seeking expressions of interest from members to join a Presumptive Legislation Women’s Reference Group we are putting together to consider and advocate for the inclusion of female specific cancers into presumptive legislation.  

Any member that would like to contribute to this work, should please contact Mark Dryden via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Position Vacant
VFBV is seeking to appoint a VFBV Support Officer to work in regional Victoria with VFBV District Councils, Brigades and volunteers to facilitate consultation, issues resolution and volunteer engagement.

The position is a state role, with emphasis and focus on providing support throughout CFA’s West region (CFA Districts 15, 16, and 17). This is an existing position, with the incumbent recently transferring to the North West Support Officer role.

In addition to relevant skills and experience, candidates will need to understand CFA and volunteerism, be good listeners; be able to facilitate good consultation; ability to establish productive networks; navigate through complex issues resolution; be self-starters and have a passion to improve arrangements that benefit the welfare and efficiency of CFA volunteers.

Extensive regional Victorian work travel is envisaged, and flexible work base locations will be considered for the position, with the priority focus to assign a work location within the CFA West Region. Flexible working arrangements, to cater for extensive evening and weekend work, will be tailored to match the needs of our volunteer membership base. This is a full-time position.

Prior to applying you should familiarise yourself with the Position Description – available from VFBV office or website.

Applications close Tuesday 12th April 2022.

 

Quarterly Supplement

Included with the March 2022 edition of Fire Wise is the latest edition of the VFBV Quarterly Supplement.

The Quarterly Supplement contains 16 pages of relevant news, updates, information on current issues being pursued by VFBV on behalf of members. It also includes additional resources or updates that are available via our website.

An electronic copy of the Quarterly Supplement can be downloaded here.

Brigade Captains and Secretaries, Group Officers and Group Secretaries as well as VFBV delegates are requested to please take the time to read this and future editions, and table at your upcoming meetings for the benefit and knowledge of your members.

 

Trainer & Assessors
VFBV has recently proposed at the Joint Training Committee, a systematic and State based appeals process for TA (Trainer & Assessor) endorsements after VFBV reviewed complaints from dedicated, experienced, and committed TAs who claimed that they were denied the opportunity to become endorsed.

Currently, the State policy for TA endorsement is for District ACFOs and MLDs to endorse or deny TAs to deliver training programs at the local level. However, there is no accountability or justification required to be given to a TA as to why a particular decision has been reached.

In many situations where TAs have sought VFBV assistance to help resolve the issue, there has been no reasonable justification found for the denied endorsements. In many cases no genuine or methodical explanation or professional development plan have been given to TAs with many cases found to be the result of personality differences or instability of ACFO positions.

VFBV recognise the contribution that TAs have on CFA and advocate strongly that the TA endorsement process must be fair, equitable and provide natural justice and procedural fairness to all concerned. TA endorsements should be based on merit and ability, and minimise the potential for personality conflicts to overshadow the process.

CFA has agreed to work collaboratively with VFBV to develop a fair and non-biased appeals process to establish accountability and transparency and to support the ongoing effectiveness of TAs.

 

Update your status
Members are reminded of the requirement to update their CFA record with their COVID-19 Vaccination booster (third-dose) details as soon as possible, as per the Victorian Pandemic Order directions. Emergency Service members are required to update their status by 12th March 2022.

ONLINE: https://www.members.cfa.vic.gov.au 

BY PHONE: (03) 9262 8663

 

International Women’s Day
To mark International Women’s Day, VFBV has been sharing a number of stories that highlight the contribution women have made to CFA.

Visit the VFBV website to view the stories showcasing female CFA volunteers:

International Women's Day 2022
Female Captains share stories for International Women's Day
A celebration of CFA's rural women
Volunteers honoured by road naming
Creating connections and investing in our youth
Diversity at the forefront AFSM recipient 
Diamond Creek Fire Brigade boosts confidence in young members
CFA celebrates International Women’s Day
Volunteers who are staff
Following in the family’s footsteps
The joy of being a Junior leader
Faces of CFA - Leonie Turner, Hoddles Creek Fire Brigade

  

Recent articles on the VFBV Website

2022 State Urban Junior Championship

International Women’s Day 2022

Churchill Fellowship opportunities for emergency responders

Updating your vaccination status

 

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Thursday, 17 March 2022 15:26

2022 State Urban Junior Championship

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The 2022 State Urban Junior Championship will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday, 19 and 20 March 2022.

Come and see tomorrow’s CFA volunteers proudly demonstrate their skills.

If you are not involved with the CFA juniors program or haven’t witnessed the value the State Junior Championship provide young volunteers to develop practical skills and to be actively involved in CFA, then get along and be inspired.

Urban junior competitions have a proud 49-year history, with the 2022 Championship attracting 37 teams from CFA Brigades across the state. For more information about the history of the Championships is available here

The 2022 Championship is being held at the Mooroopna Recreation Reserve, Midland Hwy, Mooroopna and events will begin at 8:30am each morning.

Results from the Championship will be progressively posted over the weekend on VFBV’s dedicated Championships Facebook Page

Teams competing in the 2022 State Urban Junior Championship are:

Ararat Pakenham
Bairnsdale Red Cliffs
Colac Rowville
Creswick Sale
Diamond Creek Seymour
Echuca Stawell
Euroa Swan Hill A
Grovedale Swan Hill B
Hamilton Traralgon
Hoppers Crossing Upwey A
Horsham Upwey B
Kangaroo Flat A Wangaratta
Kangaroo Flat B Warracknabeal A
Kyneton Warracknabeal B
Maffra Warrnambool
Melton A Werribee A
Melton B Werribee B
Melton C Werribee C     
Mildura  

    

What is your CFA role?

Captain, District 13 peer, Junior leader and catering team member.

Why did you join?

In 1991 a large fire came close to where we lived and the primary school my boys attended was evacuated. After that I started to think about the people on the trucks and asked others about CFA. With the support of my family I joined a local brigade.

What incident has had the greatest impact on you?

As a firefighter and peer, the 2009 fires had a significant impact on me. Our strike team turned out in the afternoon and worked through the night. When we were released the following day, we started to hear of the devastating loss of life and property. As a peer, along with many others, I spent time with the brigades, members and their families directly affected by the fires.

Who have been your mentors in CFA?

Like all captains, a lot of people have given me advice and helped me including current and past captains, group officers, commanders, CFA members and my peer coordinator. At Hoddles Creek the brigade is fortunate to have Rob Worlley. He’s a quiet man with a wealth of knowledge, particularly his bush skills, natural navigation, sixth sense when it comes to reading the weather and the valley winds, which is invaluable for us.

What have been the highlights of your time in CFA?

High on my list would be the great friendships I have made as a firefighter and a peer.

I have the honour to teach and watch the Juniors grow, going on to become valued senior members, Junior leaders and officers in their respective brigades. The Juniors have an abundance of enthusiasm, a have-a-go attitude and a willingness to learn.

I’m very proud to be a peer support member and helping other members and their families when required. And being a firefighter helps me to better understand what the brigade or member have been through. The highlights can be as simple as when a person feels comfortable enough with you to tell you honestly how they feel, to helping strike team members when they’re a long way from home.

My number one highlight from 2020 was a phone call from North East Region Assistant Chief Fire Officer David Renkin, who told me the brigade would be receiving a new fire station through the CFA capability funding.

How do you motivate your brigade members?

I hope by just doing my job, having a go, and keeping a positive attitude. Every member has a different skill set, knowledge and ability. When crewing our vehicles, we make sure our newer or younger people are well supported by more experienced members. Mentoring makes new recruits feel welcome, they learn faster and settle into the brigade more quickly.

At times, motivating a person can be challenging but keeping a brigade motivated is a team effort. Over the past 12 months we’ve all had to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Junior brigade face-to-face activities stopped and went online, and our active members only came together when their pagers went off. We all had to learn to embrace Zoom or Teams meetings and training online. I’m lucky to have a great BMT and the officers all stepped up, particularly my 1st Lieutenant Graham Boyd and 3rd Lieutenant Brett Kerford.

What lessons are you most keen to pass onto other members?

Family first, communication, respect and good teamwork. If you don’t have the support of your family, it would be impossible to be a CFA volunteer.

You will never please everyone all the time but if you’re fair, involve your officers in the decisions being made, and keep your members as well informed as you can, everyone is usually happy.

Not all people join the brigade to become a firefighter. We have a catering team that does a fantastic job looking after our crews and other emergency services at incidents. Other members help out around the station with the general maintenance and cleaning. No matter what role a member has, respect and teamwork play a huge part. Coming together is a beginning, keeping it together is progress, and working together is success.

 

This article has been republished from CFA's Brigade Magazine.  


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

Wednesday, 16 March 2022 14:42

The joy of being a Junior leader

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Given that Stuart Mill has about 40 residents. CFA volunteer Sheryn Lloyd wondered whether a Junior brigade would be sustainable.

“When we started the Junior brigade it was just my kids and their cousins,” Sheryn said, “but it just snowballed from there.

“They invited their friends and their friends invited others and now nearly five years on, my kids have graduated to seniors and we still have 12 new Junior members this year.

“The Junior leader role is extremely fluid,” Sheryn added. “It’s not a specific role you complete each week.“

Stuart Mill brigade trains with Beazleys Bridge brigade, which means they sometimes have more than 30 Junior members in one place.

“Barry Wiseman and Kevin Haynes, who are also both Junior leaders, train the Stuart Mill and the Beazley's Bridge running teams.

“Barry and Kevin have been with CFA for over 40 years and are amazing at teaching the kids,” Sheryn added.

“Barry said if we got the kids to start up a Stuart Mill team, he would train them. He gives a confidence to the kids that they sometimes don’t have in themselves.

“I’m truly passionate about inclusion. Sometimes with after-school activities, kids with learning difficulties or disabilities are left out. Football and netball, for example, can be selective as it’s all about your level or ability. But with CFA Juniors everyone can participate because it’s not all about how fast you can run or how high you can jump. There are so many activities the kids can be involved in.

“Heading up to the Wodonga State Championships in 2017, l was amazed by the level of abilities included in the competition teams.”

The Stuart Mill Juniors compete in the Junior Championships alongside the Beazley's Bridge brigade each year.

“A huge achievement for the Stuart Mill brigade was winning the 2017 11-13 years aggregate trophy at the State Championships. We also achieved the combined aggregate trophy with the 11-16 age group for that year as well. 

“I get a lot of joy out of seeing the kids progress and achieve. It’s amazing what a little support can do.”

 

This article has been republished from CFA's Brigade Magazine.  


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

Tuesday, 15 March 2022 16:14

Following in the family's footsteps

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Sophie Maher is currently 1st Lieutenant at Red Cliffs Fire Brigade and also a Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) firey. She spoke about how her passion for CFA first started and why she continues to keep volunteering

“I first joined CFA in 2009 as a Junior member,” Sophie said. “My dad was a real CFA supporter and was with the brigade for over 48 years.
 
“I have 10 siblings and we have all been part of the brigade at some point in our lives, and it’s really because of the passion my dad had.”
 
Sophie spent two years in the Junior brigade before stepping up to seniors.
 
“I’ve stayed with CFA for over 10 years now and I guess It’s because I love being a part of the community and helping. A lot of people play sports, but I fight fires.
 
"Volunteering with CFA is different, it’s really about giving back.
 
“My husband and I actually first met at CFA,” she added. “He was a DELWP firey at the time as well and he encouraged me to apply for a job there as I loved firefighting, so I thought why not.
 
“When I first got the job, DELWP and CFA were quite separate. Now there are a fair few volunteers who also work at DELWP so we have a few points of contact. Our brigade and DELWP have a really great relationship and we often work alongside each other.
 
“Having experience in CFA definitely helped me when I first started in my role at DELWP. Although they are quite different, I was able to pick things up quite easily.
 
“My job now actually helps me as a volunteer too,” she added.
 
“As we deal with a lot of wildfires in DELWP, I’m able to bring this knowledge back to the brigade."
 
While on a call-out Sophie saw the perfect composition for a photo – a sunset, a big red truck and her siblings – and couldn’t resist taking a beautiful shot (see photo below).
 
“The photo is actually of my little brother Lockie and also Joel and Rhianna. We were responding to a fire at a local water treatment facility. There were a lot of hazardous trees so we weren’t able to do much. That’s why I took the shot, and I’m glad I did. It’s awesome.
 
"Joel and Rhianna are siblings too who have also followed in their dad’s footsteps by joining the brigade.
 
“The passion for CFA is really past down through generations; it becomes part of your family. I’m really thankful for CFA and what it’s given me and I hope that I’ve been able to give back too.”

Pictured Sophie Mahar with her dad Glenn.

This article has been republished from CFA News and Media. 


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

Monday, 14 March 2022 15:09

Volunteers who are staff

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Eildon Fire Brigade Captain Nicki Lund has been a volunteer with CFA for 14 years. CFA plays an enormous part in her life as she’s also CFA’s Acting Manager Learning and Development in North East Region.

Nicki first joined the brigade when she was a regular visitor to Eildon at weekends before she moved to the area.

“My husband and I had a holiday place up at Eildon and came up regularly to have a weekend away with friends and to go water skiing,” Nicki said. “We had met a few members of Eildon brigade and wanted to be involved and assist in the community any way we could. We subsequently moved to Eildon a couple of years later.”

Nicki has had numerous roles in the brigade and is also the deputy group officer training for the Alexandra Group.

Nicki’s history in the IT and training space allows her to bring valuable experience to CFA and the training department.

“Prior to working at CFA, I was employed as an ICT manager and trainer. Before becoming captain my role in Eildon brigade was training officer, as well as helping CFA as a volunteer trainer and assessor. All these positions have proven invaluable working in the Learning and Development team. While attending meetings I’m able to assist both staff and volunteers to work through the best solutions for everyone.”

Nicki attends many meetings as both a volunteer and a CFA staff member.

“I attend numerous meetings and am able to keep members well informed. Being both a staff member and a volunteer, I see both sides which gives me a greater perspective and understanding. I’m able to explain processes and offer suggestions,” Nicki said.

“As a volunteer it has given me a better understanding of how processes work at the district office. As a staff member my experience has been vital in allowing me to be more supportive of the volunteers.”

Nicki also turns out to incidents when she can. “My role requires me to travel throughout North East Region, so I’m not always close to home when the pager goes off. But when I’m at home, and able to, I turn out with my brigade.”

Nicki has also been deployed as both a volunteer and in her work capacity as a logistics officer.

“CFA does play a big part in my life. Anything that I do, regardless of what it is, I give 110 per cent,” Nicki said. “However, I always ensure that I make time for myself and have something outside of CFA too.

“I love the outdoors. I have two red heeler dogs and three big, beautiful Friesian horses – and no, they are not cows. So I spend a lot of time riding my horses and walking my dogs.

“I thoroughly enjoy working and volunteering for CFA and am incredibly proud of the work we do.”

 

Belinda Gillespie has worked for CFA for 12 years and has been a volunteer with Bayswater Fire Brigade for more than four.

“It’s a privilege to be part of CFA. I enjoy both working and volunteering,” Belinda Gillespie said. She joined CFA straight from high school as a trainee at CFA Headquarters. This allowed her to complete a Certificate in Business with CFA as her host employer.

Belinda’s current role in CFA is volunteer recognition and retention consultant, but she’s had a range of roles over the years.

“I started volunteering for CFA because I wanted to get involved in my community. I had recently moved into the CFA area and knew I wanted to help. I was also working in the recruitment area and wanted to understand the process better.”

Volunteering at Bayswater brigade has allowed Belinda to use her CFA knowledge to her advantage.

“Having knowledge of CFA processes is extremely helpful in my position as brigade secretary,” Belinda said. “Working for CFA has allowed me to gain experience with CFA people, departments and systems which I can use and share with my brigade.”

Having been secretary, Junior leader and a firefighter, Belinda has a wide range of experience. She has also supported the brigade through fundraising and social and community events.

Last year Belinda  responded to around 50 call-outs and was also deployed to East Gippsland to support the bushfire crisis.

“CFA was really supportive with my recent deployment to East Gippsland. Having flexible work hours allowed me to be deployed,” Belinda said. “It’s important to keep your employer informed. I made sure I clearly communicated any deployment updates with my manager so they were aware of my situation.

“Having experiences like these has also benefited my team at work. I’m currently the only volunteer in our team and it’s been great to share the volunteer knowledge I have with my colleagues.”

CFA plays a huge role in Belinda’s life.

“I spend a lot of time either working or volunteering for CFA. It has given me great opportunities in life. I’m also lucky to have made amazing friends through CFA.”

Pictured (left to right) Eildon Captain Nicki Lund and Bayswater members Belinda Gillespie and Stacey Sorrell. 

This article has been republished from CFA's Brigade Maqazine. 


About VFBV: VFBV is established under the Country Fire Authority Act and is the peak body for CFA Volunteers in Victoria. VFBV works tirelessly to represent, advocate and support CFA volunteers to the CFA Board and management, governments, ministers, members of parliament, councils, instrumentalities, business and the public. Our vision is for Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.

 
This article is part of our series celebrating women in CFA for International Women's Day.

 

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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.

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