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Wednesday, 03 August 2022 13:08

Tony's Trek

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On 30 September 2022, Inspector-General for Emergency Management (and Chair of the Emergency Services Foundation) Tony Pearce will start Tony’s Trek – a 1440km solo charity walk through Victoria to support new mental health initiatives to benefit our emergency management community.

Covering the area from Melbourne to Mallacoota and across the Alpine Range to Wodonga before heading back to Melbourne, Tony’s Trek aims to raise awareness and support for building collaborative sector-wide mental health initiatives led by the Emergency Services Foundation (ESF).

‘Unfortunately, trauma often results in mental health injury with lasting impacts throughout their career and into retirement’, says Tony.

‘I hope that Tony’s Trek will raise awareness of the importance of supporting the mental health of Victoria’s 139,00 strong emergency management community who support Victorians before, during and after emergencies’, he says.

Recovery from mental health injury is a personal journey that involves taking one step at a time.

Despite considerable investment in treatment programs and services, there is still much work required to help prevent mental injury.

Funds raised from Tony’s Trek will be used to enable ESF to deliver its three prevention-focused mental health initiatives, those currently under consideration include – a Lived Experience Program, a Pilot Residential Wellbeing Program, and an ambitious research program.

VFBV Chief Executive Adam Barnett encouraged brigades and groups to get behind Tony’s Trek, and think about how they might be able to assist with fundraising and promoting the initiative as Tony’s Trek makes its way across the route.

'VFBV shares Tony's passion and commitment to support mental health initiatives that support CFA volunteers and all emergency management personnel across the sector.' Adam said.

'I highly encourage brigades and other emergency service units to support the Trek and make it a success in acting as a beacon of hope for the many of Victoria's emergency service members routinely impacted by our selfless service to our communities.'

Posters and promotional material are available to support brigades get behind this important initiative.

To find out more, donate or get involved go to www.esf.com.au/tonys-trek/ 

Donate

Tony's Trek

Wednesday, 03 August 2022 12:59

Feedback Requested - Surveillance Device Procedure

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Formal consultation has commenced on a proposed procedure to cover the use of Surveillance Devices. This procedure aims to provide appropriate guidance to CFA members in the installation and use of surveillance devices and ensure they are installed and used in compliance with legislation and privacy principles.

The draft procedure is available for download from the bottom of this page for the purposes of consultation.

We have been awaiting this draft procedure for quite some time, as the lack of a procedure has caused delays in the provision of Brigade and Group dashcams and the like, including some equipment and security systems from recent grants programs like the district pick list program that was run by the CFA & Brigades Donations Trust.

As such, we have agreed with CFA to an expedited consultation timeline in order to allow an interim procedure to be implemented that will allow brigades and groups who have been waiting for this equipment to be issued it ASAP and in time for this fire season.

As part of this arrangement, we will consult on the draft procedure over the next 5 weeks. Following approval, the procedure will be issued with a review date set 12 months from the date of issue. (normally three-years) This will ensure any comment or feedback that may arise after the initial consultation period, can be reviewed then.

As such, we request your urgent attention and encourage feedback and/or endorsement of the draft procedure ASAP during the consultation period.

Members are encouraged to review the draft proposed SOP and provide any feedback/suggestions/amendments including indicating support/non-support for the proposed changes.

Feedback can be provided by individuals, brigades and groups.  

All feedback is used to inform and influence formal VFBV positions as well as used to influence CFA positions and thinking during the deliberative process. If we need to use your feedback to demonstrate or illustrate the views of members, your personal details will not be shared with CFA, and feedback will always be de-identified to protect your privacy.

We encourage members not to wait until deadlines to provide feedback, but rather provide it as early as possible which will give us a chance to conduct further research that may assist us being able to advocate more strongly for your desired outcome.

Feedback is due by Wednesday 7th September, 2022.

All members are welcome and encouraged to provide feedback. If you have any questions, if you could please contact your local State Councillor or VFBV Support Officer in the first instance.

 


How to provide feedback:

It would be preferred that members provide feedback ASAP, so that it can be received incrementally, allowing us enough time to consolidate, identify trends and research issues raised by members. 

Feedback can be provided via:

  1. Emailing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  2. Your local VFBV District Council or your local VFBV Support Officer

  3. By Post: 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East VIC 3151

  4. By Fax: (03) 9886 1618

Feedback does not need to be long or detailed, but if you do have the time to make substantive comment that is always welcome.

If you generally support a principle or policy, then a quick note letting us know would also be helpful. Similarly, let us know if you do not support it, or which aspects of it you don't support.

Where indicating non-support, it would be helpful to understand the key reasons why, and even a couple of brief bullet points would be adequate. Likewise, if you would prefer to provide a more detailed response, or mark-up and suggest changes to the documents, that is welcome also.

Your feedback will assist us form a VFBV position and response to the proposed changes and help us advocate on behalf of CFA volunteers. Please consider getting involved, and providing us your feedback ASAP.

Please remember to provide feedback in support as well as against. If we only hear from those who are against, it can be harder to determine the general comfort level of members with the proposals.

Formal consultation has commenced on amendments being sought by CFA to SOP 5.04 – Service Hose Testing and Coupling Inspection.

The draft amended SOP is available for download from the bottom of this page. Changes being sought have been highlighted in yellow.

For the most part, the changes proposed are relatively minor in nature, with the most significant being some additional stipulations with regard to persons authorised to perform hose repair covered in item four of Schedule 1.

Members are encouraged to review the draft proposed SOP and provide any feedback/suggestions/amendments including indicating support/non-support for the proposed changes.

Feedback can be provided by individuals, brigades and groups. District Council submissions have also been invited, so please look for an opportunity to attend your next VFBV District Council meeting to hear feedback from your peers and surrounding brigades. 

All feedback is used to inform and influence formal VFBV positions as well as used to influence CFA positions and thinking during the deliberative process. If we need to use your feedback to demonstrate or illustrate the views of members, your personal details will not be shared with CFA, and feedback will always be de-identified to protect your privacy.

We encourage members not to wait until deadlines to provide feedback, but rather provide it as early as possible which will give us a chance to conduct further research that may assist us being able to advocate more strongly for your desired outcome.

Feedback is due by Monday 3rd October, 2022.

All members are welcome and encouraged to provide feedback. If you have any questions, if you could please contact your local State Councillor or VFBV Support Officer in the first instance.

 


How to provide feedback:

It would be preferred that members provide feedback ASAP, so that it can be received incrementally, allowing us enough time to consolidate, identify trends and research issues raised by members. 

Feedback can be provided via:

  1. Emailing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  2. Your local VFBV District Council or your local VFBV Support Officer

  3. By Post: 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East VIC 3151

  4. By Fax: (03) 9886 1618

Feedback does not need to be long or detailed, but if you do have the time to make substantive comment that is always welcome.

If you generally support a principle or policy, then a quick note letting us know would also be helpful. Similarly, let us know if you do not support it, or which aspects of it you don't support.

Where indicating non-support, it would be helpful to understand the key reasons why, and even a couple of brief bullet points would be adequate. Likewise, if you would prefer to provide a more detailed response, or mark-up and suggest changes to the documents, that is welcome also.

Your feedback will assist us form a VFBV position and response to the proposed changes and help us advocate on behalf of CFA volunteers. Please consider getting involved, and providing us your feedback ASAP.

Please remember to provide feedback in support as well as against. If we only hear from those who are against, it can be harder to determine the general comfort level of members with the proposals.

Monday, 25 July 2022 16:08

Spirit of CFA Awards - 2022 Winners

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CFA recently held the Spirit of CFA Awards ceremony celebrating winners from the 2020 and 2022 awards.

The two award ceremonies were held together following the cancelation of the 2020 ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Spirit of CFA Awards recognise outstanding achievements and significant contributions made by CFA members and/or teams to CFA and their communities.

The stories below on the 2022 Spirit of CFA award winners below are republished from CFA News and Media.

To see the stories on the 2020 Sprit of CFA award winners visit this page.

VFBV congratulates all CFA members who have been honoured with a Spirit of CFA award at the recent awards ceremony.


Living the Values Award

Winner: Paul Spinks – Yellingbo Fire Brigade

Highly Commended:  Robert Waters – Montrose Fire Brigade

Commended: Glenn Webster – Daylesford Fire Brigade

 

Chief Officer Emerging Leader Award

Joint Winners: Katy Millard – Port Campbell Fire Brigade and Kylie Davis – Eaglehawk Fire Brigade

 

CEO Excellence in Leadership Award

Winner: Emma Conway – District 9 Headquarters

 

Excellence in Inclusion and Fairness Award

Winner: Ramon Relph – Boronia Fire Brigade  

 

Excellence in Innovation

Individual Award Winner: Robert Waters – Montrose Fire Brigade

Team Award Winners: Christina Hanger, Lauren Young, Chris Barber, Lisa MacKenzie – Community Engagement Transformation Team

 

Senior Award

Winner: Ralph Ross – Kallista-The Patch Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Alan Price – Pound Creek Fire Brigade

Commended: Geoff Weedon – Mernda Fire Brigade

 

Youth Award

Winner: Liam Gallagher – Epping Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Luke Tyler-Maclean – Kallista-The Patch Fire Brigade

Commended: Emma Avery – Mannerim Fire Brigade

 

Excellence in Partnership Development Award

Team Award Winners: Angela Cook, Kelly Stoner, Ellisa Bourne – Preparing Vulnerable People Project Team  

 

Excellence in Capability Planning

Individual Award Winner: Nigel Swinn – South East Region

Team Award Winners: Lisa Clinch and Kirsten Dudink – District 6 and District 20 Volunteer Sustainability Team

 

Excellence in Interagency or Group Co-operation

Team Award Winners: Justin Dally, Rob Van Dorsser, Jake Kociancic – District 12 Headquarters and Hilldene Fire Brigade

 

Excellence in Community Engagement

Team Award Winners: Amanda Maglaras, Danny Gordon, Peter Stephens – District 5 and 6 Community Education Team


Paul Spinks wins Spirit of CFA Living the Values Gold Award

Paul Spinks from District 13 has won the 2022 Spirit of CFA Living the Values Gold Award in this year’s ceremony.

 Paul is currently Deputy Group Officer of Yarra Valley Group and a volunteer with Yellingbo Fire Brigade. Throughout 2019 and 2020 he has dedicated his time to delivering a safe environment. 

Paul joined CFA when he was 16 years old because one of his friends was a member of the local fire brigade.

“Once one of my friends joined we all decided to join. A bunch of us joined as juniors and this is where I am today, 31 years later,” Paul said.

Paul said it’s a huge honour to win a Spirit of CFA Award, and especially to be nominated by his peers and some other great leaders. 

“Winning this award is an acknowledgement of not just my own work but the great team at Yellingbo, and the work that we’ve been able to do both in the community and emergency response. It’s quite humbling. With all the work that we do as volunteers, this is some great recognition.

“My proudest moment at CFA is to work as a team at Yellingbo to build a station and build a specialist vehicle for Yellingbo rehab. We also have the greatest membership that’s been constant for many years.

“My most memorable time at CFA was receiving my National Medal and being nominated by my brigade to recognise my service and my Life Membership at Yellingbo Fire Brigade. This was a huge honour for myself and my family and it’s something I hold very dear. Another standout moment was the work the team did in the Black Saturday fires.”

Yellingbo Captain Jeremy Hardy nominated Paul for the Award because Paul often took on the role of incident controller where the safety of firefighters and the community were always his priorities.

“Paul is continually looking out for brigade members and the general public’s safety and their wellbeing,” Jeremy said.

One of Paul’s recent roles has been to deliver hot fire training through the CFA live fire training pod program.

“He has been responsible for teaching volunteers how to use and deliver this training to their brigades and he has also committed an incredible amount of time to CFA and his community for over 30 years,” Jeremy said.

Pictured: Paul Spinks

Republished from https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/paul-spinks-wins-spirit-of-cfa-living-the-values-gold-award 

 

Port Campbell Captain Katy Millard awarded Spirit of CFA Award

Port Campbell Fire Brigade’s Katy Millard is a joint winner of the Chief Officer Emerging Leader Award with Eaglehawk Captain Kylie Davis, presented during this year’s 2022 Spirit of CFA Awards ceremony.  

 According to Katy, the award is recognition that what she's working to accomplish in her local area and the wider CFA community and is also in line with what CFA is aiming to achieve for the organisation.

“Winning this award gives me the confidence and encouragement to continue working to improve CFA for all members, both volunteers and staff, not just women,” Katy said.

“It also serves as a measure for the extra time and effort I put in to working with others to accomplish goals and make CFA a better place to volunteer. Unlike responding to fire calls and turning out, these extra things just can’t be measured.”

Katy said this award also builds on the confidence gained during her time with CFA.

“My journey with CFA started when I was in a cycling group with a member of Timboon brigade,” Katy said. “He saw value in me joining given my previous experience with Victoria Police.”

“After joining, I became aware that despite being encouraged to try new things, I was restricted from doing so because I’m female. I became really frustrated as a result, which had a negative impact on my confidence.

“This was very unfamiliar to me because, when I was a police officer, other officers supported and encouraged female officers.”

While at Timboon Fire Brigade, Katy was nominated for the Building Confident Leaders Program, a leadership program specifically aimed at emerging women leaders in District 6, where she learned to deal with her lack of confidence within CFA.

Using her newly acquired skills a few months into the leadership program, Katy received endorsement by her fellow brigade members by being elected as brigade captain.

Katy says the combination of being nominated for and elected as brigade captain along with the experience of the leadership program, gave her the confidence boost she needed to put her leadership skills to use. This confident leadership didn’t go unnoticed, with Katy then nominated for the CFA Women’s Advisory Council. 

Deputy Chief Officer Rohan Luke, who nominated Katy for the Chief Officer Emerging Leader award said Katy played an active leadership role in the Women’s Advisory Committee as well as local diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“Katy has continued to forge new opportunities to enhance CFA culture through her experience, leadership and her balanced approach to discussion,” DCO Luke said.

“I look forward to her pursuing future opportunities such as district planning committee roles and state-based committees.”

Pictured: Katy Millard

Republished from https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/port-campbell-captain-katy-millard-awarded-spirit-of-cfa-award 

 

 

Emerging Leader at Eaglehawk awarded Spirit of CFA honour

A North West CFA Captain has been honoured as one of the first recipients of the Chief Officer Emerging Leader Award at the 2022 Spirit of CFA Awards.

Eaglehawk Captain Kylie Davis was a dual winner of the award alongside Port Campbell Fire Brigade’s Katy Millard.

Captain Davis said it was a great shock when she first heard she was nominated for the award, which acknowledges the importance of fostering future leaders that exemplify innovation and inclusiveness in driving CFA forward into the future.

“It’s an honour to be recognised, but I’m not the only one who does everything,” she said. 

“As a captain, I’m only as good as the brigade management team, our officers and the brigade around me. It makes it a lot easier when you’ve got good members to support you.”

Captain Davis said the Emerging Leader Award is recognition that she is on the right track in her development as a strong leader.

“To me, leadership is not just about standing at the front and directing,” said Captain Davis. 

“It’s also about having a quiet word to someone and seeing if they’re OK, recognising the members who might be quiet achievers as well, and surrounding yourself with a good network of people to run things by when making decisions.”

The Spirit of CFA Awards recognise the outstanding achievements and significant contributions made by CFA staff and volunteers to both the organisation and local communities across the state.

The biennial awards were first held in 2018, with the 2020 event postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and held concurrently with this year’s ceremony.

Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson nominated Kylie for the new award and said she has done a wonderful job rebuilding the brigade’s morale and response capability after a difficult period.

“She has led the brigade back to a stable, strong dynamic brigade that is growing in membership,” A/CO Thompson said.

“Kylie should be proud of what she has achieved, and I look forward to watching her continue to shine as a CFA leader.

“CFA is incredibly proud of its volunteers and staff, and it is great to see Kylie along with all our members recognised for their contributions to both our organisation and local communities.”

Pictured: Kylie Davis with Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson

Republished from https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/emerging-leader-at-eaglehawk-awarded-spirit-of-cfa-honour 

 

Excellence in Leadership Award presented to Emma Conway

Commander Emma Conway has been recognised for her exemplary leadership by winning the inaugural CEO Excellence in Leadership award, as part of the biennial Spirit of CFA Awards. 

Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl, who nominated Emma for the award, said she was an amazing role model and leader who represents CFA’s values in all the work she does and leads with genuine heart and passion.

“Since achieving the rank of Commander (previously Operations Officer), Emma has devoted her time and energy to assisting members and brigades in South East Region,” Acting DCO Pröbstl said. 

“Emma is a highly respected leader by staff and volunteers alike, who has spent a significant amount of time performing higher duties as Assistant Chief Fire Officer in District 10, where she made significant advancements.

“She is passionate about helping members grow, and devotes her time, expertise, and experience to crucial initiatives like the Captains Peer Mentoring Program and the Commander Development Program.”

Winning this award, according to Emma, means a lot and is significant recognition of her efforts from the organisation she values deeply. 

“CFA is where my heart is. I value the culture, history and meaning deeply,” Emma said.

“I joined CFA after a 12-year career with the Australian Navy. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Navy, it was quite isolating at times with no connection to community.

“CFA epitomises community, with volunteers taking so much from their brigades back into their communities. This was something I wanted to be part of, as connection to the community is so important for me.”

When Emma initially learned she was a finalist for the Excellence in Leadership award, which honours CFA members who exhibit inspirational leadership, she was quite humble.

“It means a great deal to be a finalist for this award, as CFA is where my heart lies,” Emma said.

“Even just being nominated is pretty amazing.” 

Pictured: Emma Conway with CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald

Republished from https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/excellence-in-leadership-award-presented-to-emma-conway 

 

CFA champion who makes time for everyone

Calm and collected are two of the many words used to describe Boronia Fire Brigade Captain Ramon Relph.

His welcoming manner and respectful and equal treatment of everyone he meets is the reason why Ramon is the 2022 Spirit of CFA Inclusion and Fairness Champion.

Boronia is a diverse brigade with members from all walks of life, different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, ages, genders, professions and trades. Ramon has led the brigade for eight years, two of those as brigade captain.

Sukhi Singh, who is the brigade’s Junior coordinator, said Ramon is like a father figure, always happy to chat, give a hand or just have a cuppa or a beer.

Being the captain involves more than just running the brigade according to Ramon. He’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – pretty much whenever his team needs him. He prefers to call his brigade a team rather than members as it’s more inclusive.

“Ramon treats everyone the same. Everyone gets equal respect and fair treatment. He lets every member speak and put their opinions forward during training sessions, at meetings and on calls,” Sukhi said.

“If he doesn’t agree with someone’s opinion, Ramon still encourages them to express their views but takes the time to explain why it’s not workable or possible.”

“The team has a say on everything to do with the brigade. My motto is transparency unless it’s something confidential that I can’t discuss,” Ramon said.

While the team can access the Wellbeing Support Line, the mental health and wellbeing of his brigade members is one of Ramon’s priorities. Members socialise outside the brigade and Ramon believes this helps build team morale. “It's not just the individual but also their family members that are part of the brigade. Socialising outside the brigade reinforces how important families are to the wellbeing and success of the brigade.”

According to Sukhi, “I’ve been on a few strike teams and hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t call in the morning and evening to say g’day and check welfare. He’ll ask, ‘any message you want to pass on to home or do the family need anything while you’re away?’ I mean, how bloody good is that?”

Ramon also provided inspiring leadership to break down and challenge barriers when a junior member came out.

“The member approached me, and at the time, I had no idea how to be part of the conversation,” Sukhi said. “I'd heard of people coming out but never knew anyone in person or ever had to deal with it. Initially, I was overwhelmed but I wanted to handle this without handballing it to someone else. I turned to Ramon for help.”

For Ramon, who works in retail, it was all about having the conversation and ensuring the junior member was able to tell them what they needed from the brigade.

“It was a tough series of conversations and involved many parties including parents, the wellbeing team and even HR. I just made sure the support was there and the avenues of communication were open,” Ramon said.

Ramon has a bigger long-term vision for Boronia especially in the area of diversity. He’s proud of the increased number of women operational members they’ve recruited and the fact the brigade has the capacity to turn out with an all-woman crew. His next challenge is getting a woman into a leadership position – something Boronia brigade has never had.

Pictured: Ramon Relph with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/cfa-champion-who-makes-time-for-everyone 

 

Montrose Captain recognised for Excellence in Innovation with Spirit of CFA Award

A leader who prioritises his brigade’s wellbeing has been awarded the Excellence in Innovation Spirit of CFA Award in the 2022 ceremony.

Rob Waters, Captain of Montrose Fire Brigade, has spent the last five years developing a strong health and wellbeing program within his brigade with the aim to build the resilience of his members.

Each month, a brigade training session is dedicated to an aspect of wellbeing to help raise awareness and educate among brigade members. Over time this has helped to reduce stigma around mental health, which is a fundamental barrier to seeking help and recovery.

“In 2015 we started going to the gym together and we did that for a couple of years. Then I thought why aren’t we doing this in our fire station? We put in some submissions to have a gymnasium at our station. It doesn’t sound like much to have a gym, but it’s quite significant in a volunteer station.

“A couple of years later I noticed that some of our younger members needed a bit more support and thought we need to expand this.

“Once a month, our training is designed around wellbeing. We invite people from different organisations to teach us about mental health, resilience, clean eating – all sorts of topics.”

Rob said that the high prevalence of mental health challenges in emergency services was a huge driver in developing the program.

“Being a first responder, you’re exposed to higher levels of challenges with mental health. We’re exposed to things that a normal citizen wouldn’t see,” Rob said.

“No one’s immune to mental health issues. It’s not just about seeing something traumatic at an emergency, it can be a range of things that accumulate over time and put pressure on people. It was really important that our brigade management team go that one step further to look after our members.”

While we often focus on physical health, we sometimes forget to put the same emphasis on mental wellbeing, said Rob.

“We put a lot of emphasis on physical training…but without adequate wellbeing, it doesn’t matter. It was really important that we designed something that invested back into us personally.”

Sharing knowledge is a vital aspect of the program. Exposing members to broader thinking from experts has enabled them to have conversations with people from across the sector on this important topic.

“I think the beauty of our brigade is that we support each other and help each other become better people,” Rob said. “Whoever has knowledge that could help others – no matter what area that knowledge is in, it’s so important to share.”

Rob said he was humbled to be nominated for a Spirit of CFA Award.

“It’s a lovely feeling. Being nominated by peers is extremely heart-warming and probably one of the greatest achievements you can have.

“To me, it’s not about winning, the acknowledgement itself is amazing. To see the benefits to our team, that’s the biggest win for me.”

Rob was also awarded Highly Commended for the 2022 Living the Values award, reflecting his long history of exemplifying CFA’s values.

Pictured: Rob Waters with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/montrose-captain-recognised-for-excellence-in-innovation-with-spirit-of-cfa-award 

 

Spirit of CFA Award for Excellence in Innovation

Our Community Engagement Program Team and Content Team received the Spirit of CFA Excellence in Innovation Award in recognition of the hard work and planning they put into reaching out to our communities during COVID-19.

During restrictions, communities were unable to come together to receive information in the conventional way through community meetings, town halls, or other face-to-face service delivery approaches.

In order to mitigate the risk, the team worked together to rethink CFA's strategy for community participation.

“To do this we had to make significant operational changes to the planning, design, processes and strategies for statewide community involvement,” Senior Engagement Adviser Christina Hanger said.

Christina led several workshops with key stakeholders from across CFA to develop a business case for the implementation of Zoom as a community-facing engagement platform. In close collaboration with the ICT team, the team also developed processes, guidance material, live training and recorded tutorials for CFA’s online Learning Hub.

“This shift to digital engagement ensured the relationship between CFA and community could be maintained – despite lockdowns and disruption to regular face-to-face activities in the community.

“Information relevant to local communities could still be delivered – in an engaging, meaningful and professional way – using attractive resources via a skilled CFA presenter.”

“Had the team not taken the initiative to undertake this program, under significant pressure due to short deadlines, there would have been very limited engagement with communities throughout 2020 to March 2021,” Team Leader of Program Development Paul Harris said.

“This is of significance considering the impact of the 2019-20 Black Summer fires and the growing expectation of communities to be able to access tailored information when they need it – in a format that suits them”.

“This program also ensured CFA had baseline capability to run sessions with community if there was a significant fire. This positioned CFA as the leader in this space, with training resources and advice provided to support capability building efforts of partner emergency services agencies including Emergency Management Victoria.”

Lauren Young, who accepted the award on behalf of the team stated it was a very special occasion.

“I was honoured to attend as a representative of the project team made up of myself, Christina Hanger, Chris Barber and Lisa Mackenzie. But more than that, it was a chance to think back on and thank everyone else who helped the project to be implemented successfully, including the regional coordination staff, front line facilitators, and other HQ teams,” Lauren said.

“It is fantastic to have this work recognised for improving the way we engage our communities in fire safety and preparedness . The award, in my opinion, highlights what CFA can accomplish under trying conditions when we all work together.”

As a result, CFA was able to keep up its participation levels with communities despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

This program will inform ongoing improvement processes to get CFA ready for a hybrid involvement (a mix of online and face-to-face sessions) now that face-to-face engagement activities have resumed.

Congratulations, team. Digital delivery is now the new norm for community participation.

Pictured: Lauren Young with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/spirit-of-cfa-award-for-excellence-in-innovation 

 

Ralph Ross of Kallista-The Patch Fire Brigade wins Spirit of CFA Seniors Award

There is no one more deserving of receiving the 2022 Spirit of CFA Seniors Award than Ralph Ross. His accomplishments are numerous and varied.

 He has been a member of Kallista-The Patch Fire Brigade since 1978, or almost 43 years, and is an active member of the community. He has held officer positions with CFA and has received numerous awards including the National Emergency Medal for the 2009 fires in Victoria and the 40-year CFA service medal. In addition, Ralph will shortly be awarded the National Service Medal to recognise his participation in the NSW and Victoria fires in 2019–20. He will also receive a pin from the Victorian State Government for the 2019–20 fire season.

In the Kallista region, he has responded to 18 fatal motor vehicle collisions, numerous house fires, and numerous local bushfires throughout the years.  Ralph has won numerous accolades throughout the years and letters of support for him speak highly of his leadership, inspiration, and friendship.

His extraordinary expansive knowledge, and his positive outlook are welcome attributes. He does not point out your mistakes by public grandstanding but rather quietly gathers you aside and asks, 'how could it be done better?' says Martin Noonan of Kallista-The Patch Fire Brigade.

“The inspiration we receive from Ralph comes from his empathic demeanour, sense of humour and his decisiveness under pressure,” Martin said. “If he’s in the front seat in the tanker when turning out, he will calmly chat with the driver and have a bit of a joke, which sets up a calm atmosphere in the cabin. When we alight the tanker at the job, Ralph's method as officer in charge, is directive, sensible and safe. We are safe. There is a job to do.”

For more than 15 years, Ralph has also organised yearly events including the Puffing Billy Fun Run and the Royal Children's Hospital annual appeal. Many people participate in these activities because they are inspired by Ralph to help others.

Ralph said, “carrying out this work is a part of our community, and I am one of many organisers who help ensure that there are enough people there to provide traffic control and other event support.”

Ralph continues to lead, mentor, and advise new members in firefighting operations thanks to his extensive firefighting experience. Ralph shares his ‘tricks of the trade’ with everyone, and these are invaluable because they are not contained in any training handbook. These result in a deeper comprehension of the concept and helps to improve firefighter safety on the ground.

When asked how he feels about receiving this honour, Ralph replied, "Humbled and shocked. I was truly shocked when I received the email informing me that I had been selected as a finalist.

“I was astonished by what I've accomplished and grateful for the recognition, which I didn't anticipate. We all work together to support one another in our tiny brigade and community, and the camaraderie is fantastic.”

His inspiration extends well outside the brigade with his attendance at the inaugural VFBV Youth Forum to help define a process to establish young membership in CFA. Ralph has also assisted the Dandenong Ranges Fire Brigades Group to establish the group's now current field operational vehicle. Many volunteer radio operators from the Ranges Group have received training from this vehicle.

On behalf of CFA and the Members of Kallista-The Patch Fire Brigade, we would like to congratulate Ralph Ross on winning the 2022 Spirit of CFA Award.

Pictured: Ralph Ross with CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/ralph-ross-of-kallista-the-patch-fire-brigade-wins-spirit-of-cfa-seniors-award 

 

Liam Gallagher has won the 2022 Spirit of CFA – Youth Award

Liam recently completed a master’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management and focused his dissertation on CFA’s challenges in overcoming a decline in volunteer firefighters.

The strategies offered by Liam through his research will be transformational for CFA and will assist in maintaining and growing our volunteer numbers in the face of social, organisational and environmental change.

Liam has also contributed to a research project in North West Region called Youth Voices Research project which focused on how CFA can attract, support, retain and train the younger generation of volunteers.

Liam is a role model for other volunteers and his contribution to his local community goes beyond CFA. Liam is also actively involved in the Whittlesea Reconciliation Group – a community-based committee that meets regularly to discuss issues, opportunities, initiatives and programs that impact Aboriginal people living in the City of Whittlesea.

Liam volunteers with Epping brigade and is an active leader within his brigade undertaking a variety of roles including 4th Lieutenant, training coordinator, communications officer and group delegate.

Liam joined Epping in 2016 after he completed high school. “I was looking to fill a void whilst doing an activity that would have a meaningful impact on the community that I lived in,” Liam said. “I had always seen the local CFA active within my area ever since I was a little kid. Despite having no prior firefighting experience, I decided to sign up, and it was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

“My proudest achievement in CFA so far was when I was elected as 4th Lieutenant at my brigade. I had only been in the organisation for five years at that point, but the members had faith in me despite my age to elect me as a leader of their brigade.

“It was a very proud moment that was followed by lots of hard work in helping guide the brigade to meet the challenges of being a volunteer fire brigade in the 21st century. However, despite the many challenges the initiatives and outcomes that were achieved whilst I was in the leadership team have placed the brigade in a good position to meet the challenges in our local community.

“I have had many memorable moments with CFA. It’s one of the reasons I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey with the organisation so far. I can’t pinpoint a specific moment but in general its about meeting some of the most kind, caring and selfless people who you would never meet in any other organisation. In particular, the people of Epping brigade display those qualities every day and without their continued support I would not have achieved the level of success needed to win a Spirit of CFA Award. Those relationships will last a lifetime!”

Liam said winning the 2022 Spirit of CFA – Youth Award was an honour and privilege.

“For me it represents the organisation thanking me for my service and all the hard work I have put in, not only in responding to emergencies but in my commitment to my brigade, CFA and the community.

“It is a representation of the many, many hours of hard work and sacrifices that I have made to make the organisation that has given so much to me a better place for all.

“As I continue my journey with CFA, I would like to continue to focus on how the organisation can better position itself to overcome the issues of volunteer decline. With the increasing demand on CFA due to a changing climate, the need for volunteers to perform time-critical emergency response will only grow. I also see myself continuing to be an active firefighter, on the front line serving my community in their time of need.”

Pictured: (left to right) Epping Fire Brigade’s Robert Saitta, Liam Gallagher, Anthony Grubb and Phillip Aiello

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/liam-gallagher-has-won-the-2022-spirit-of-cfa-youth-award 

 

Excellence in Capability Planning – 2022 Team Award

Succession planning is vital to ensure the ongoing capability of CFA brigades and groups, allowing for the development of members in line with future role demand.  

Lisa Clinch and Kirsten Dudink from North West Region’s Volunteer Sustainability Team led the development of CFA’s Succession Planning Framework. Launched statewide in February 2021, the Framework can be used by all brigades and groups, no matter their size, to support the identification of key areas of succession and assist in the development of prospective leaders. In doing so they can ensure their members are resourced, skilled and have the opportunity to continually learn.     

The Framework includes comprehensive tools and resources to support brigades and individual members to develop a plan for the future. The project originated in North West Region in 2017 where a lack of succession planning to support continuity of leadership was identified as a risk for the region’s brigades. 

Lisa and Kirsten were tasked with identifying the barriers to succession planning. Through their engagement with volunteers, catchment teams and CFA staff across the state they discovered a broader need to develop flexible succession planning resources and tools. Only a small percentage of brigades and groups were succession planning, with most planning being informal due to limited supporting resources. This had the potential to impact operational capability.

What followed was an extensive process of consultation to ensure that the Framework and supporting resources would be flexible, practical, relevant to volunteers and above all easy to use. Designed to empower brigades and groups in their future development, the Framework guides members through six foundational areas for developing leadership and skill capability: Structure Review, Skills Review, Membership and Roles Review, Developing Our Members, Retaining and Recruiting Members and Preparing for Elections.  Brigades can choose one or more of the six areas to work through.  Support to work through the Framework is provided to brigades through volunteer sustainability team members from across the state. 

Lisa and Kirsten’s leadership and commitment to consultation, connection and engagement with members has been vital to the project’s success.  

“We wanted to make sure we really listened to the field and developed resources that were relevant to their specific needs,” Lisa said.

“The framework and associated resources were developed from the ground up alongside the people impacted by succession planning. In this way members could be part of developing the solutions.

“There were a lot of steps along the way. We wanted to take our time and maintain the integrity of the feedback we received so we could ensure any issues raised at the brigade level were addressed in a strategic manner.”

Evaluation of Framework is now underway to ensure the resources are meeting brigade and group needs. The evaluation process is again underpinned by extensive consultation with members across the state and is part of a process of continuous improvement that will ensure the resources are regularly reviewed and updated if required. 

Lisa said both she and Kirsten were excited and proud to receive a Spirit of CFA Award.

“It has and continues to be a privilege to work with volunteers and staff across the state on the development and rollout of the Framework,” Lisa said.

“This award is not just for Kirsten and I. The development of the Framework was a team approach and we would be very proud to accept the award on behalf of the team.

“We have had so much input and feedback from people right across the state. Winning this award is worthy recognition of the contribution of all the volunteers and staff involved in the development of the Framework.”

Pictured: Lisa Clinch with Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/excellence-in-capability-planning-2022-team-award 

 

Successful multi-agency response at a complex incident

The District 12 Leadership Team and a Hilldene Fire Brigade member have won the Excellence in Interagency or Group Cooperation Award in the 2022 Spirit of CFA Awards.

 On 6 December 2020 CFA crews attended a fire at the primary school at the Department of Defence military base in Puckapunyal. The incident was complex because of the location and the number of agencies involved. CFA, Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV), Military Police, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, State Emergency Service (SES), Defence Command and contracted fire services operated by Ventia were all on scene helping to combat the school fire.

District 12 Leadership Team and Hilldene Fire Brigade members in particular were heavily involved in the incident, and thanks to a high level of teamwork and interoperability they were able to save a large portion of the building.

Before the incident occurred, during all stages of the incident and during the recovery stages, the District 12 Leadership Team and Hilldene brigade actively engaged with a range of agencies. CFA members identified that an incident at this site would be complex so a great deal of work went into developing a memorandum of understanding between CFA and the Department of Defence for the Puckapunyal Military Area (PMA). There was a lot of engagement to familiarise the neighbouring brigade, Hilldene, with the site, its processes and personnel.

Throughout the incident, the strong working relationships between the agencies involved, particularly CFA members, Ventia Fire Rescue, Victoria Police, Defence and on-site personnel, significantly contributed to the successful outcome. These relationships were maintained throughout the COVID-19 restrictions and enabled members to work together effectively and efficiently by knowing each other’s roles.

The multi-agency approach worked well within the emergency management team, where there were representatives from Victoria Police, Defence, Department of Education, CFA, FRV, Ventia Fire Rescue, SES and Ambulance Victoria. There is a strong level of trust between CFA and other key stakeholders.

Following the incident, District 12 and Hilldene brigade members actively sought assistance from CFA's Lessons Management Centre (LMC) about how to conduct an after-action review (AAR). This review outlines what went well during the incident and what could have been done better. They worked closely with the LMC and other agencies including Defence and Ventia Fire Rescue to share lessons and contribute to the review. The AAR identified that the strong relationships between all agencies was a significant factor in the successful outcome.

Hilldene brigade 2nd Lieutenant Jake Kociancic is one of the team who won the award. He is also a full-time Defence member and lives on the PMA. He was the incident controller at this fire and played a central role in the firefight.

“The MOU states that CFA will assume incident control of any Class 1 emergency when invited onto the PMA to assist with an emergency event that exceeds the capacity of the Defence resources to control,” Jake said. “It was clear from the outset that CFA was going to end up being the control agency for this incident, so my team and I had to engage with many key stakeholders to get the job done.

“I was lucky to be incident controller that day. A lot of work had been done by the District 12 Ops team and group management team prior to the event. Everything worked very well.

“At a group level, we conduct pre-summer training mostly focused on grass and scrub fire response. Local knowledge and rapid provision of detailed information is also important. The PMA is quite remote in some aspects, so early escalation and effective passage of information is key to a successful firefight.

“It’s a very complex world out here and building and maintaining positive relationships can be very challenging. Districts 02, 22 and 12 all have an input into the memorandum of understanding with Defence. Defence firefighting assets are very capable but limited. CFA simply has access to more resources.”

The winners of this award are District 12 Commander Justin Dally, Hilldene brigade 2nd Lieutenant Jake Kociancic and District 12 ACFO Rob Van Dorsser.

Pictured: Jake Kociancic and Commander Justin Dally with Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/successful-multi-agency-response-at-a-complex-incident 

 

CFA Community Safety Team win Spirit of CFA Award

Members of a CFA community safety team in south-west Victoria have been rewarded for their dedication to protecting their local community as part of this year’s Spirit of CFA Awards.

South West Regional Community Engagement Coordinator Mandy Maglaras and her team won the 2022 Excellence in Community Engagement Award for developing and implementing a comprehensive smoke alarm and house fire safety campaign that delivers practical life safety interventions.

This award recognises CFA members who have worked collaboratively to develop and apply innovative approaches to community engagement.

Following a significant spike in house fire fatalities in South West Region over the past couple of years, Mandy dedicated her time to reinvigorating and developing a new approach to house fire fatality mitigation.

Despite the impacts of COVID-19, Mandy and her team worked with CFA Headquarters to build the program and develop the technical infrastructure to implement it.

Mandy said they established strong partnerships with other volunteer organisations such as Rotary and Lions Clubs to install smoke alarms.

“We also established collaborative partnerships with industry groups such as real estate agents and DHHS and service providers to ensure smoke alarms and fire blankets were installed in the most vulnerable community members’ homes,” Mandy said.

“After seven fatalities that were all deemed preventable across 18 months in 2017-18, I knew more had to be done to help protect people most at risk.

“There was already some great work being done but this project allowed me to expand our resources and build a team to undertake this important work.”

Mandy said since starting this project in May 2019 up until 30 June 2022, they have been able to visit more than 720 homes and installed more than 1,400 smoke alarms.

“Some of these houses had old smoke alarms from 1998 which was frightening to see. The community must check the stickers on their smoke alarms and replace the whole unit if it’s more than 10 years old,” Mandy said.

“It was devastating to see 130 homes had no smoke alarms installed at all and more than 290 smoke alarms were not working.

“A lot of people can’t physically or financially do this themselves so we have to help them, and that’s what we’re now doing.”

As a result of Mandy’s successful project this program is going to be rolled out across the state.

“It’s such a rewarding role knowing what we do is making a huge difference,” Mandy said.

Mandy said she had mixed emotions when finding out she and her team won the Spirit of CFA Award.

“It’s my job to help save lives but I also know I can’t do this without the incredible group of people around me,” Mandy said.

“It takes an army of CFA members and volunteers from other organisations who are passionate about this like I am to help deliver this program and I’m very grateful to have them.”

Pictured: Mandy Maglaras with Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/cfa-community-safety-team-win-spirit-of-cfa-award 

 

Monday, 25 July 2022 15:31

Spirit of CFA Awards - 2020 Winners

Written by

CFA recently held the Spirit of CFA Awards ceremony celebrating winners from the 2020 and 2022 awards.

The two award ceremonies were held together following the cancelation of the 2020 ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Spirit of CFA Awards recognise outstanding achievements and significant contributions made by CFA members and/or teams to CFA and their communities.

The stories below on the 2020 Spirit of CFA award winners below are republished from CFA News and Media.

To see the stories on the 2022 Sprit of CFA award winners visit this page.

VFBV congratulates CFA members who have been honoured with a Spirit of CFA award.


Living the Values Award

Winner: Peter Clarkson – (formerly) Diamond Creek Fire Brigade

Highly Commended:  Jamie Mackenzie – Anglesea Fire Brigade

Commended: Wayne Munro – Grassdale Fire Brigade

 

Excellence in Inclusion and Fairness Award

Individual Award:

Joint Winner: Peter Green – Hamilton Fire Brigade and Terry Heafield – District 4 Headquarters

Highly Commended: the late Michael Daws – South Wangaratta Fire Brigade

Team Award Winners: Travis Ledger, Clayton Henderson, Emma Cleal, Simon Williamson, Tim Loffler, Bernie Reynolds, Emma Williamson, Rick Robl – Killawarra Fire Brigade Management Team

 

Excellence in Innovation

Team Award Winners: Wayne Munro, Tim Phillips, Miriam Day, Trudy Deller, Steven Cooper – District 4 Remote After Action Review Project Team

 

Senior Award

Winner: Kevin Atteridge – Springhurst Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Ray Lynch – Warburton Fire Brigade

Commended: Barry Planner – Bannockburn Fire Brigade

 

Youth Award

Joint Winners: Daniel Answer-Waddell – Orbost Fire Brigade and Caitlin Roberts – Wandong Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Liam Wright – Ballarat Fire Brigade

 

Excellence in Partnership Development Award

Winner: Garry Nash – South Wangaratta Fire Brigade

 

Excellence in Capability Planning

Team Award Winners: the late Leighton Wraith, Simon Wilson, Bobbie-Lee Nelson – Hamilton Airbase, District 5 Headquarters Brigade  

 

Excellence in Interagency or Group Co-operation

Individual Award

Winner: Mark Roberts – Cobden Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Peter Dymond – Heyfield Fire Brigade

Commended: Lachlan Gales – Wangaratta North Fire Brigade

 

Team Award Winners: Matthew Allen, Jennifer Blythe, Cindy Harrison-Roberts, Daniel Salt – Dangerous Goods and Key Infrastructure Team

 

Excellence in Community Engagement

Individual Award

Joint Winners: Jo Hardy – Yellingbo Fire Brigade and Philip Rees – Baddaginnie Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Angela Cook – CFA Headquarters

 

Team Award Winners: Lisal O’Brien – Arthurs Creek Fire Brigade and Jane Haywood – Strathewen Primary School


 

Former Diamond Creek Captain Peter Clarkson wins Spirit of CFA Gold Award

Peter Clarkson, former Captain of Diamond Creek Fire Brigade and current volunteer at Cobram Fire Brigade in District 22, has won the 2020 Spirit of CFA Living the Values Gold Award (individual) in this year’s ceremony.

 Peter joined CFA in 2002. He was a member of the Scouts at the time and a fellow member asked him to join the local fire brigade. Peter said it was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. 

“To win a Spirit of CFA Award is an honour and a privilege as you do things for the community not to be recognised,” Peter said. “But when you do get recognised it’s an absolute honour. I’ve spent 20 years on my journey at CFA and when your peers nominate you for an award, it’s a real honour.”

“My proudest achievement at CFA was when I was elected captain of the fire brigade five years ago as I wanted to make the brigade a place where people wanted to come. I also wanted to make the brigade more diverse and inclusive which I felt was lacking previously and it was good to make sure females joined the brigade.”

Peter said he now feels like he’s achieved his goal.

“Out of four of the lieutenants at the brigade, three of them are female.

“I am so grateful to have represented CFA and it’s even more special to be able to have my family join as well. My youngest daughter and son are now both members of Diamond Creek brigade,” Peter said. 

Diamond Creek Brigade 2nd Lieutenant Fiona Macken nominated Peter for the Award because of his empathy and his encouragement for inclusivity and diversity in the brigade.

“Peter wears his heart on his sleeve and said he’s not afraid to share his story and show his emotions,” Fiona said. 

“He creates a safe place for members to share their feelings and talk about the challenges they are experiencing. Peter always reminds members that he is happy to chat with them and to provide a shoulder to cry on if necessary.”.

While on the Black Summer strike team to Gippsland in 2020, Peter provided diesel to a local resident who had no food, power or fuel for his generator. He also encouraged his crew to look after the suffering local wildlife. These actions were also commended by the Chief Officer in an email in January 2020.

Pictured: Peter Clarkson with Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/former-diamond-creek-captain-peter-clarkson-wins-spirit-of-cfa-gold-award 

  

Hamilton brigade member awarded Spirit of CFA Award

Peter spent 15 years as a CFA volunteer at Hamilton, joining as an active member at Wonga Park when he was 16.

“I joined CFA as I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps but also it just felt like the right thing to do to help in the community,” Peter said.

He left CFA after six years, but re-joined after the Black Saturday fires of 2009, firstly, with the District 5 brigade and then Hamilton brigade in 2010.

Over the years, what he witnessed and what he endured would stay with him forever.

“I broke down with PTSI (post traumatic stress injury) and a conversion disorder in February 2016 after attending to a horrific car versus truck accident.”

Nevertheless, when he was comfortable with his situation, he set himself the goal that no one ever should go through a breakdown like he did.

Peter now does presentations to brigades and groups in South West Region about mental health and wellbeing. He is assisted by District 4 and 5 Peer Team Coordinator David Ferguson and former Wellbeing Advisor Trudy Dellar.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 put a big roadblock in the way of doing presentations, but with the worst of the pandemic behind them, Peter said he’s looking forward to getting back out there presenting again.

“The presentations touch on my story and what I have been through, but the most important part is talking about how to help and engage yourself and others who you feel may be struggling with a mental health condition,” he said.

Along with presenting to CFA, Peter has also presented to nurses, ambulance members and nursing/para-medicine students. He also volunteers for the Black Dog Institute, speaking about mental health to numerous community groups and high school students. He has since set up a Facebook page peteandtheblackdog for those who can’t attend a talk.

“Working through the claims process of a PTSI claim has not been without its challenges. It is an area that is still evolving and one that compensable bodies are learning along the way. Part of my mission is to make it easier for people to claim and make the process a lot smoother for them,” Peter said.

Peter was nominated for the award because of his willingness to tell his story. His experience resonates with people and significantly impacts them. His presentations challenge the status quo across Districts 4 and 5 and help to break down barriers and help people understand that’s it’s OK to talk about your issues.

Pictured: Peter Green with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/hamilton-brigade-member-awarded-spirit-of-cfa-award 

 

Terry Heafield awarded Spirit of CFA Award

District 4 Commander Terry Heafield has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Inclusion and Fairness Champion Award in this year’s ceremony.

Terry has been a career firefighter with CFA for almost 20 years. Starting out as a volunteer at Melton Fire Brigade in 2001 and then being stationed at Corio fresh out of recruitment training. In 2017 Terry relocated to Portland where he has since worked tirelessly to ensure a healthy work environment for staff and volunteers.

“I really do care about people and helping people to develop themselves to achieve their best. COVID-19 has really slowed things down, but I’m still happy to travel to brigades to discuss mental health,” Terry said.

Terry actively mentors people both internal and external to CFA, offering guidance and support to people with challenging life situations, and gives his time tirelessly to many individuals and volunteer organisations across the region.

Mental health and wellbeing is Terry's passion and focus which is demonstrated by his consistent participation in mental health and wellbeing awareness raising initiatives and activities, including bike rides, long walks and guest speaking opportunities such as the 2018 Emergency Service Foundation Volunteer Leaders Forum where he received a standing ovation and in the same year was interviewed for Foxtel’s ‘The Sally-Anne Show’.

Terry has also presented at several United Firefighters Union (UFU) Spouses and Partners Forums, and facilitated several R U OK? Days while also undertaking an ambassador role for White Ribbon to mention only a handful of the activities and initiatives he has participated in.

In 2016, following his own personal struggle with mental health and as part of his own journey of recovery, Terry embarked on a ‘Don’t Do It Alone’ bike ride around Victoria to raise awareness about mental health issues in the fire services.

“I knew what I was doing was making a difference when I got a call in the middle of nowhere asking for the Wellbeing Support Line number. That was humbling,” Terry said.

Terry is an inspiring leader and has not been afraid to share his mental health journey. But more importantly, his door is always open, he is compassionate and is a good listener. He willingly and openly shares the stories about his own struggle with mental health and encourages others to do the same.

“My personal journey with mental health has made me more aware of my own limits, of knowing when I’m having a not-so-great day and still being able to put that aside and be there for others if they need me,” he said.

Terry is not only well known for his skills in creating conversations about mental health and wellbeing, but also about diversity and equality. He is especially passionate about standing up for volunteers and being a voice of reason in a world that can get caught up in the ‘small stuff’. He is not afraid to have challenging discussions.

Terry also provides mentorship and support to young people and individuals in his community, where he is a valued leader who passionately passes on his knowledge and skills to help members of his community of all ages learn how to improve their life.

To support this Terry has undertaken and continues to undertake mental health-related training including Matter of Respect, Mental Health First Aid, Working Mind for First Responders, Suicide Prevention and many others.

“It’s not just about the people at CFA, it’s really about the whole community. I care about my community and want to make sure that people in my community feel they have somewhere to turn when they need someone to talk to.

“It’s really important too that young people feel comfortable expressing their feelings and learn how to do so effectively.”

Terry continually supports opportunities for members from all backgrounds to achieve their best and stands up and speaks out for equality of all members and the wider community.

He is known to call out inappropriate behaviour no matter the setting and tries to set high standards for both himself and the brigades he is involved with.

Pictured: Terry Heafield with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/terry-heafield-awarded-spirit-of-cfa-award 

 

Killawarra takes out inclusion and fairness honour at Spirit of CFA Awards

The hard work of a north-east CFA brigade to ensure it has an inclusive environment has been recognised at the recent Spirit of CFA Awards.

The brigade management team (BMT) from Killawarra Fire Brigade was named the 2020 Inclusion and Fairness Champion (team).

Killawarra brigade volunteer Travis Ledger, who was captain at the time of nomination, said the award recognised something the entire brigade was proud of.

“It really meant a lot to us as it’s something we’ve really worked hard on for a long time,” Travis said.

“For us, inclusion and fairness means having an open door to anyone who wants to be part of the brigade and part of the community.

“It’s also about giving everyone equal opportunity to try to grow themselves within the brigade.”

Killawarra Fire Brigade was the first CFA brigade to have a female captain, when Sue Sheldrick was elected to the role almost 30 years ago.

Travis said the brigade has continued to encourage women not only to join the brigade as firefighters, but also to continue their training and to progress into leadership roles.

“We really focus on treating everyone the same, whether they’re male or female, young or old, and whether it’s with training, personal development or skills maintenance,” he said.

“We are very much a team and we support everyone in their roles and their progression, and I guess that’s the inclusiveness and fairness that the award recognises.”

Pictured: Emma Cleal, Emma Williamson, Simon Williamson, Tim Loffler and Travis Ledger with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/killawarra-takes-out-inclusive-and-fairness-honour-at-spirit-of-cfa-awards 

 

District 4 wins Spirit of CFA Award for Excellence in Innovation

District 4 has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Award for Excellence in Innovation (team) at this year’s ceremony.

At a District Planning Committee (DPC) meeting in early 2019, a report was tabled about turnouts in District 4 over the past 12 months. It showed that it had been a quiet year for fires, but there had been a large increase in attendance at motor vehicle accidents with fatalities and serious injuries. 

Due to the remoteness of some of the brigades attending the scenes, CFA members had sometimes been on scene for up to an hour before Ambulance Victoria or police arrived. Darren Carle ex-Captain of Portland brigade raised the issue with DPC. 

“The biggest issue is members are taking home the burden of what they had dealt with and it quite often spreads to their family members as secondary PTSD,” Darren said.   

This is when Group Officer for Merino Wayne Munro recognised a need to provide better support and debriefings with members before they head home. Wayne put together a team in CFA to create the District 4 Remote Brigade After Action Review.

“I decided to create a document that is easily accessible to help initiate discussion among members and to make sure they go home knowing they did the best they could under the circumstances,” Wayne said. 

“It is paramount that we care for our members’ health and especially our newer and younger members who may experience traumatic events, whether that be an MVA or a fire.” 

Wayne gathered a team around him to develop the document ensuring it met CFA guidelines and approvals. Along with District 4 Northern Catchment Team, Steve Cooper, Tim Phillips, and South West Region’s Wellbeing Team of Trudy Deller and Miriam Day, they created a simple reference tool that is readily available at the station, allowing teams to begin the conversation and connect members with immediate support and comradeship.

The document was presented to the DPC, who agreed that the kits should be displayed in the fire station or placed in vehicles. The document has since been distributed to all District 4 volunteer brigades and have been hung in motor rooms, offices and placed in vehicles for easy access. 

District 4’s Brigade Administrative Support Officer Tim Phillips said a number of members from other brigades have also commented on the value and accessibility of the tool and how it has supported leaders to begin the conversation with crews immediately after an incident. There have been requests from other districts for copies of the kit. 

“In District 4 we have a large number of remote brigades and they are usually the first on scene at any incident and they end up holding the fort for our Road Rescue Team, the police and other emergency services.”

Pictured: Wayne Munro and Tim Phillips with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/district-4-wins-spirit-of-cfa-award-for-excellence-in-innovation 

 

District 23’s Kevin Atteridge wins 2020 Spirit of CFA Seniors Award

Springhurst Fire Brigade’s Kevin Atteridge has won the 2020 Spirit of CFA Seniors Award in this year’s ceremony.

Kevin was a former Captain of Springhurst Brigade (District 23) and Rutherglen Group Officer and joined CFA in 1966 when he was an apprentice motorcycle mechanic. He decided to join his local brigade of Springhurst after they requested his assistance one day.

Kevin said the greatest part about being a part of CFA are the leaders.

“I’ve been joined by so many great people around me at CFA and it’s a massive team effort to achieve what we do.”

Kevin said winning this award was a huge surprise.

“I never expected to win an award like this, it’s an incredible honour,” he said.

Kevin was also grateful to his wife Lynette. He said he wouldn’t have achieved anything without her. 

CFA Community Risk Program Adviser Craig Hearson and former District 23 Brigade Administrative Support Officer nominated Kevin because he has always maintained an active operational and wider CFA involvement on various committees including the District Planning, State Rural Championships and Region OH&S committees.

“Kevin is a leader within CFA and his community. He undertakes everything with a selfless enthusiasm and a focus on the benefit he can deliver to his community,” Craig said.

He has been a member at Springhurst brigade for 50 years, holding a brigade officer role for over 38 years and a group representative for 14 years. Kevin has devoted a large amount of time to CFA during this period.

“During Kevin’s time as group officer, he was active in major fires across the state, including the 2004, 2006 and 2009 fires, along with the implementation of mandatory wildfire Minimum Skills training.”

Kevin remains a leader in the CFA community and is passionate about the development of the people who have followed him.

“He has been a longstanding fire brigade captain and group officer and he continues to devote his time to the local community by maintaining an active involvement with Springhurst brigade, CFA Rural Fire Brigade Championships, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria and the CFA Junior Program,” Craig said.

The brigade will make arrangements for Kevin to accept his award locally, as he was unable to travel to Ballarat for the awards ceremony.

Pictured: Kevin Atteridge receiving his Outstanding Service Award from Deputy Chief Officer Garry Cook in 2016

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/district-23-s-kevin-atteridge-wins-2020-spirit-of-cfa-seniors-award  

 

Spirit of CFA Award for young Orbost volunteer

A young CFA member who trains his peers has been awarded a Spirit of CFA Award.

Orbost Fire Brigade Firefighter Daniel Answer-Waddell has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Youth Award in this year’s ceremony.

First joining CFA through a program coordinated through his high school, Daniel has gone onto become an instructor, helping his peers work their way up to becoming a CFA member.

“I first joined CFA through a program run through my high school called ‘Advance’ in 2017. It’s a program held over two years where you achieve your CFA Minimum Skills and First Aid Level 2 Certificate.” Daniel said.

“After I completed the program, I started to teach aspects of it to other members of the school – it happened quite naturally.”

Daniel has been complimented on his natural leadership ability and resilience in the face of challenges.

In 2019, Daniel was awarded the Orbost Fire Brigade Young Firefighter of the Year Award and Orbost Secondary College Appreciation Award. In 2020, Daniel was awarded the Orbost Young Citizen of the Year Award.

Daniel has initiated multiple ideas for trips away to other brigades, local camps involving other brigades and DELWP, and initiated a series of competitions for the students during their normal weekly sessions in the Advance program.

The first in his family to join CFA, Daniel said it’s important to share what he has learnt.

Daniel has offered his own time to extend the training of the students, inspiring at least two to join their local brigades. Daniel leads by example, inspiring the students to try their hardest and give their best.

“I think it’s important to share my knowledge with my peers because it helps to train the next generation of firefighters. It’s good to see more young people get involved.

“I’m really excited to be nominated for this award, it’s really cool.”

Pictured: Daniel Answer-Waddell with CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/spirit-of-cfa-award-for-young-orbost-volunteer 

 

Young Wandong firefighter wins Spirit of CFA Youth Award

To her peers CFA Junior Member Caitlin Roberts is described as kind and hardworking, a volunteer who displays CFA values by always looking out for others and trying her best during her time as a CFA Junior.

Caitlin, who is the winner of the 2020 Spirit of CFA Youth Award, said it was unexpected.

“I am just doing what I can for CFA and the community. I don’t feel like I am going above and beyond,” she said.

Caitlin joined Wandong Fire Brigade Juniors in 2016 when she was 11 years old and since then has achieved so much as a Junior and now Senior member. In 2018 she was first elected Junior Captain in 2018, and then when re-elected she stepped down to support an older member in the role who hadn’t been captain before.

“After being a captain, I learned to see things from someone else’s perspective,” Caitlin said.

“I had done my time and this was his last shot at being captain before becoming a Senior

member. I wanted him to have the same opportunity that I did in his final year as a Junior.”

Caitlin embraces challenges and leadership with grace, taking on roles as crew leader during

training drills at her brigade and she competed with distinction as part of CFA Team Yankee at the Australian Fire Cadet Championships, while all the time looking out for those around her.

Caitlin’s involvement with CFA has now gone well beyond being a Junior.

“I’ve now completed my General Firefighter training and I’m turning out as a Senior member with CFA,” she said.

“My dad has been in CFA since being a Junior and CFA has always been in my life. I went to the station with him and I was always interested in it.

“My involvement with CFA is partly a family tradition and partly to give back to the community, to do something to help those who need it.

“If the opportunity to be a lieutenant or captain comes up in the future I would take it, but I really want to do first-aid and low structure training first.”

Pictured: Caitlin Roberts with CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/young-wandong-firefighter-wins-spirit-of-cfa-youth-award 

  

South Wangaratta brigade member awarded Spirit of CFA Award

South Wangaratta Fire Brigade’s Garry Nash has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Excellence in Partnership Development Award in this year’s ceremony.

Garry was nominated for the award because of his coordination skills and networking ability. He can effectively understand and advocate the needs and skills of his group of brigades while also being able to pass on important fire safety information and skills to businesses and community members across the Wangaratta area.

Garry has been a CFA volunteer at South Wangaratta for more than 40 years. Previously he was captain for 15 years and is currently a lieutenant. Garry is also the deputy group officer for Wangaratta Group and has been a key representative on the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee (MEMPC) for the Rural City of Wangaratta Council and current District 23 VFBV President.

“There is a real opportunity to do something jointly where businesses, organisations and community work together to raise awareness of fire safety emergency management and increase the understanding of shared responsibility when it comes to fire and emergencies,” Garry said.

In addition to his commitments to CFA Garry also runs a successful real estate business where he has incorporated fire safety and emergency information into the ‘purchaser packs’ provided to buyers and renters when moving into a new rental particularly in rural and township situations to help ensure they are aware of their local fire risk. 

“With so many people moving from urban and city areas to regional Victoria there is a need to alert them to understand the fire risk of their new environment, where their water supply comes from and what they can do, and how to prepare themselves,” he said. 

Garry shares his information and techniques with other members of the local business network to encourage a connection between communities and their local brigades. 

Garry has a true passion for regional Victoria and uses every opportunity to promote contributing to, and the value of being an active part of, your local and wider communities.

“These things can’t be achieved on one’s own, you need good people working with you. Working together and providing the same information helps make things happen. Together we can achieve great things. It helps in the end to keep us all safer.”

Garry holds the portfolio of fire preparedness in the Wangaratta Group where he works closely with brigades to understand their fire planning and preparation needs and those of the neighbouring group brigades. 

“You don’t do this work for awards or the recognition. You do it because of a desire to keep people safe and make them aware that things can happen and the desire to make sure people are prepared and alert,” he said.

Pictured: Garry Nash with Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/south-wangaratta-brigade-member-awarded-spirit-of-cfa-award 

 

Spirit of CFA Award for Hamilton Airbase team

Victoria’s fire aviation fleet plays a vital role in detecting, observing and fighting fires during the bushfire season. Behind the scenes its CFA’s volunteers that stand ready at air bases across the state to support our airborne firefighters.

The largest CFA-operated air base and staffed entirely by CFA volunteers, Hamilton Air Base in Victoria’s south-west has grown to become CFA’s premier air base in support of firefighting aircraft.

From humble beginnings just a few years ago to a state-of-the-art facility today, the air base is recognised as the primary aerial fire support facility in western Victoria. It has a reputation of being professionally run and highly-efficient in its operations. Volunteers at the base are fully-qualified to swiftly reload bombers with water, foam or retardant. The team’s communications unit also provides aircraft monitoring.

The air base was established by Bochara and Dunkeld brigade volunteer Leighton Wraith AFSM, a volunteer of more than 40 years and a licensed pilot. Leighton saw the need for better ground support and arrangements for deployment in the region after the 2013 Grampians fires. He was adamant there should be a permanent air base to service and support firebombing aircraft at Hamilton Aerodrome and strongly advocated for it to be established.

Leighton sadly passed away in March 2021 but his legacy continues through the hard work of the 30 volunteers who not only maintain the base, but are active members of reloading crews and on call 24 hours a day. The volunteers come from 16 brigades in the district with members rostered on as teams during high-risk fire days to ensure the base can respond.

During the 2019-20 bushfires, the effective deployment and efficient reloading of firebombers from the airbase prevented the need to obtain resources from elsewhere in Victoria. In the period mid-December to mid-February 2020 crews loaded 310 air attack aircraft – on some days 52 aircraft in one day.

Teamwork is the highest priority in this dangerous and dynamic work area. Members are rostered on as loading crews to manage fatigue during major periods of operation. All members complete loader training and regular drills to ensure their skills are up to date. Members are also trained in first-aid and hold special licences such as forklift so they can manage all aspects of base operations.

In addition to supporting aerial firefighting operations, Hamilton Air Base hosts crews from CFA and other emergency services agencies from across the state for bomber loading training. The base is also used for mentoring air attack supervisors and air base managers.

Air Base Manager and CFA volunteer of more than 50 years Simon Wilson said the team winning the award was wonderful recognition of Leighton’s efforts to establish the air base.

“Leighton was the driving force behind the air base and the one who had the idea of utilising volunteers to support air operations,” Simon said.

“We’re carrying on his legacy. It’s very much a team effort and the spirit is really high among our members.

“Our response times are fantastic and we feel as though we are making a real difference and contribution.

“Receiving a Spirit of CFA Team award is an honour and a fitting way to recognise the contribution Leighton and our volunteers have made to the South West Region and broader state air base operations.”

Pictured: Kevin Safe, Kay Wraith and Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/spirit-of-cfa-award-for-hamilton-airbase-team 

 

Spirit of CFA Award for Mark Roberts of Cobden Fire Brigade

On St Patrick’s Day 2018, Spirit of CFA 2020 category winner Mark Roberts and his CFA brigade at Cobden in the state’s south-west were on high alert.

With a Severe fire danger rating and a Total Fire Ban in place and winds and temperatures rising to dangerous levels around them, they had good reason. Between 9pm and 9.30pm on that Saturday, their worst fears were realised. Four fires sparked off around Terang, Camperdown, Garvoc and Gazette. 

Things happened quickly. By 10pm more than six local grassfires were headed towards the communities of Camperdown, Cobden and Terang. Over the following days and weeks, the fires burnt through 40,000 hectares of land leaving devastation to livestock, farmland, wildlife reserves and property in their wake.

Mark Roberts AFSM is the winner of the 2020 - Excellence in Interagency or Group Cooperation Award (individual) of the Spirit of CFA Awards for his leadership and role in the St Patrick’s Day fires. District 10’s Peter Dymond was Highly Commended, and Lachlan Gales from District 23 was Commended in the category.

Mark’s award is a tribute to his leadership and liaison between the community, his brigade and the emergency services. His efforts encompassed volunteers, CFA staff, other emergency services, interstate staff and volunteers and members of the local community.

At the incident control centre, he was relied on by all agencies, talking to incident controllers and providing invaluable local knowledge of the area and the community, such as an understanding of peat fires and specific local conditions. Mark assisted with all operational decisions and made himself available as a contact person at any time of the day or night. 

As Cobden Group Officer and a CFA volunteer himself, he spent many hours on the fire front, organising crews and providing information to the volunteers on the ground.

As the fires continued, the incident management team remained in place for ten weeks. Mark visited impacted families and stepped up to talk to his community and keep them informed and supported, putting them in touch with resources and assistance. He worked with the local municipality through the incident and then through the following four months while the peat fires continued to burn, contributing to the recovery process which is still ongoing today. 

Reflecting on his win, Mark said the battle against the St Patrick’s Day fires was a joint effort. 

“It’s humbling to win this award and of course I’m proud,” he said, “but I’m proud of the whole community and the combined effort of the emergency services. You had CFA, MFB (now Fire Rescue Victoria), DHS, Forest Fire Management, Victoria Police, DELWP, Parks Victoria, Ambulance Victoria, Corangamite Shire Council, interstate staff and volunteers and members of the local community all pulling together to get this job done. This is their award as much as mine.

‘You see bad press about issues between agencies but out on the fireground or working side-by-side in the incident control centre, the uniform just didn’t matter. It was all about the people working together towards one goal – getting those fires under control with minimal impact to life and property.”

Mark has earned the deep respect of his local community, the staff and volunteers in CFA’s District 6 and of Forest Fire Management and Parks and other agency staff.  His actions and commitment during and after the fires are the true embodiment of the Spirit of CFA.

Pictured: Mark Roberts with Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/spirit-of-cfa-award-for-mark-roberts-of-cobden-fire-brigade   

 

Dangerous Goods and Infrastructure team recognised with Spirit of CFA Award

If you have a question or issue related to non-traditional fire safety matters, it’s the Dangerous Goods and Infrastructure team (now known as the Specialist Risk and Fire Safety team) that you come to for advice and information.

The team of Matthew Allen, Jennifer Blyth, Cindy Harrison-Roberts and Daniel Salt are winners of the 2020 Spirit of CFA Excellence in Interagency or Group Cooperation (team) Award.

“They’re innovative, agile, outcome and solution focussed,” said Head of Community Infrastructure, Andrew Andreou. “They always take on the challenge.”

The tyre dump in Stawell was one of those challenges. The stockpile of one million tyres in Western Victoria was one of the world’s largest tyre dumps and had sat dormant for nearly a decade. The risk to the community was significant and the team knew they had to do something.

So, in collaboration and partnership with key agencies, they developed a set of guidelines for the safe storage and handling of waste materials. They are now leaders in dangerous goods risk management having developed guidelines for tyre storage (indoors and external) and combustible waste resource recovery storage (internal and external).

The team has developed and enhanced strategic relationships with EPA, WorkSafe, Sustainability Victoria, DELWP, Municipal Association of Victoria, Fire Rescue Victoria, Emergency Management Victoria, and demonstrated their expert knowledge to government partners, industry, CFA Regions, districts and brigades by keeping them informed on emerging risks and issues.

The growth of the renewable energy sector has seen the team adapt to new and emerging risks. Since their nomination, the team have developed design guidelines and model requirements for designing, constructing and operating new renewable facilities and upgrading existing ones.

Earlier this year Matt Allen showcased their work at the European Union Energy Systems Safety Conference. The guidelines have also received praise and recognition from international energy storage safety expert Professor Paul Christensen from Newcastle University (UK).

“The hardest thing is to put something on paper and the easiest is to critique it,” said Andrew.

“Encouraging innovation takes courage. So does investing in our people. Under the leadership of Alen Slijepcevic and Lucy Saaroni we’re growing and nurturing CFA people to be their best. And when you invest and grow your people, they become the gift that keeps on giving.”

Matt’s finance background, and his volunteer perspective, along with Jennifer’s administration and experience in the non-profit sector brought in a new perspective and encouraged them to view these issues using a non-traditional, more risk and evidence-based lens.

“This team is doing great things and deserving recipients of this award. I couldn’t be prouder,” said Andrew.

Pictured: (left to right) Daniel Salt and Matt Allen with Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/dangerous-goods-and-infrastructure-team-recognised-with-spirit-of-cfa-award 

 

Baddaginnie volunteer recognised for exceptional community engagement

A north-east Victorian CFA volunteer has been honoured with the Excellence in Community Engagement Award at the recent Spirit of CFA Awards event.

Philip Rees, a deputy group officer at Benalla Group and former captain at Baddaginnie Fire Brigade, was named the 2020 recipient of the prestigious award. The 2020 award event was postponed because of COVID-19 and held in conjunction with the 2022 event this year.

Philip said he was quite emotional when he recently found out he was in the running for the award because the person who nominated him has since passed away.

“Mick Daws worked with CFA in District 23 and when I heard recently that he was the one who nominated me, it seemed almost like Mick was still with us; like he’s still making a difference to this day,” Philip said.

The Excellence in Community Engagement Award recognises CFA members who have worked collaboratively to develop and apply innovative approaches to community engagement.

Philip organised a breakfast club for local children at Baddaginnie Fire Station because of concerns about children being dropped off early at school before teachers arrived.

“Our brigade management team decided to start the breakfast club and got some funding from a few different organisations,” he said. “It ran for about 18 months and was quite successful in dealing with the issues as we were feeding about a dozen kids who would then walk to school from the fire station.

Philip also helped spread a Red Bucket Project throughout District 23 after hearing about Violet Town brigade’s success using it.

“It’s a community engagement project where we knock on doors and drop off a red bucket full of fire safety information to ensure people are thinking about whether a fire truck will fit in the driveway, what they’ll do in case of a fire and other useful information.

“We decided around Baddaginnie that we also wanted to use this to help vulnerable people so when we doorknocked the area we identified properties where people who may need extra help if a fire was heading their way lived.”

While emotional about his nomination, Philip was also humble when speaking about the award.

“In a small town like ours helping out is second nature and you just do it as you’re part of the community and it’s how you’re born and bred.”

Pictured: Phillip Rees with Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/baddaginnie-volunteer-recognised-for-exceptional-community-engagement 

 

Strathewen Primary School win Spirit of CFA Award for Community Engagement

A program that aims to equip children with basic fire-safe knowledge has been awarded a Spirit of CFA Award.

 Lisal O’Brien and the Strathewen Primary School have been presented the 2020 Excellence in Community Engagement – team award at the 2022 Spirit of CFA Awards ceremony.

Following the devastating 2009 bushfires, a sense of anxiety was felt within the Strathewen community. As a result of this, the Strathewen Arthurs Creek Bushfire Awareness Partnership was created, a collaboration between the Arthurs Creek-Strathewen Fire Brigade and Strathewen Primary School.

Lisal O’Brien is 3rd Lieutenant at Arthurs Creek-Strathewen and the program coordinator for the partnership. She said she was inspired by a similar program being run in the Anglesea community and wanted to educate their local children on fire behaviour.

“We developed the program as a result of anxieties that were still felt from Black Saturday,” Lisal said.

“We started in 2016, and while the children in the program at that time weren’t at the school while it was destroyed in 2009, they and their families were all still heavily affected by the fires.

“There were a lot of kids who didn’t understand why fires happen and how they occur, so we wanted to make sure we were really giving them the best chance to understand fire behaviour and in doing so ease their anxieties somewhat.”

The program brought together grade five and six students with local CFA members. During the program, students learn about fire behaviour and considered ways of understanding, managing and reducing the threats involved with living in a high fire risk area.

“We had two aims when we first began the program: to better connect the school and the brigade, and to create something that would help the kids to understand the whole concept of fire from a scientific perspective. We have absolutely achieved both of those things during the course of the program.”

The program aims to reduce fear of the unknown and build resilience through understanding and community connections. In 2016 the award-winning claymation was produced. Titled "If you care, stay aware, be prepared", the animation looked at Fire Danger Ratings and what they mean.

The following year, the school produced a picture book as a sequel to the Claymation. Titled `Life in the bush, Gem Gem’s next adventure', the book looked at the precautions that need to be taken to stay safe when living in the Australian bush and helping your neighbours to achieve the same.

Lisal O’Brien is part of an innovative team led by School Principal Jane Haywood who has carefully developed an education program instilling confidence in grade five and six students to not only understand fire and fire behaviour, but also to share this knowledge with their families and the broader community. Several members from the Arthurs Creek-Strathewen brigade are also regularly available to attend sessions and educate the local children.

Community engagement has been achieved by involving the Strathewen community in sharing their stories and lessons from the 2009 bushfires in the development of the claymation movie and the story book. These stories were incorporated into key messages about being prepared, understanding the Fire Danger Ratings and how to use the ratings to make informed decisions.

The community were also a part of the development of the storybook with community members assisting and supporting the school students in the creation of the figures and backgrounds for the storybook.

Lisal said she was surprised that the program was nominated for a Spirit of CFA Award.

“It’s a really nice surprise to be nominated and I feel very fortunate that our program has received recognition. As CFA members, I think the best thing we can do is spend time with our local community, especially our youth, and give them the benefit of all of this information we have – and that’s what our program aims to do.”

Pictured: Strathewen Primary School student Oliver Price with CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/strathewen-primary-school-win-spirit-of-cfa-award-for-community-engagement 

 



Thursday, 07 July 2022 17:08

July 2022 Newsletter

Written by

Cultural Intelligence  
By Adam Barnett, VFBV Chief Executive Officer  

There is bound to be a wide range of reactions and views of the external culture and issues management review that was recently released.

There will be some who read of an experience and history that is just foreign to them and is not recognisable from their experience with CFA or their brigade. There will be others who see themselves or someone they care for within the pages of the report.

Some will feel shame, while others may deny the extent to which some things are reported to have occurred and doubt the veracity or motives of those who have shared such experiences. And there will be some who carry a feeling of deep injustice or anger and will be bitterly disappointed that there is not more blame and judgement towards a person in authority or towards a system that has let them down. Others will welcome the recognition and acknowledgment of the many strengths and positive aspects of CFA and the blueprint for the way forward.

How does one even begin to make sense of such wide ranging and disparate views?

You will find VFBV’s public response to the release of the report here.  

Thank-you to all those volunteers and staff that bravely shared their personal stories and experiences and by doing so have contributed to this review.

Ultimately, I hope enough people read the report and feel empowered to be part of the change. Empowered to take a stand, accept responsibility for our own actions and contribute to the change required, not just at CFA corporate level, but in our local groups and in our brigades. You can’t fix what you can’t see, and you can’t change what you don’t understand is a motto that can help guide our thinking and reflection.

Other organisations have walked these paths too. The words of their leaders continue to resonate.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton APM wrote following the 2015 report into Victoria Police:

“There have been numerous attempts to deal with this issue in the past, but they did not achieve the change that was needed.”

“This must change, this will change.”

Chair of Ambulance Victoria Ken Lay AO wrote following the 2021 report into Ambulance Victoria:

“Far too many of these stories hide in plain sight – accepted, tolerated, or ignored.”

“Each and every one of these stories recount a level of harm that has been inflicted on our people by those they work alongside.”

“The courage of those who have come forward must be rewarded with a renewed commitment and drive to make things better.”

And Dr Helen Szoke AO who was the lead reviewer of the CFA report and former Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner says in the report:

“The review recognises that culture is led from the top, nurtured at the middle and supported by all.”

As is clear in the report, VFBV was an active contributor to the review, and I wish to also thank all delegates and members who contributed to the review and all those that continue to support our work in raising awareness of the issues and advocating for change and improvement.

Picking up on Dr Szoke’s point that we all contribute to an organisations culture, I wanted the focus of this month’s opinion piece to support people thinking about what each of us can do as individuals to contribute and support the culture journey we are on. People will be quick to point out all the things they think others should be doing, but the opportunity for real and lasting change lies within each of us.

Following the release of the report, the most common questions posed towards me by outsiders have been along the lines of; is it a good report, or a bad report?; does CFA have a good culture or a bad culture?; is CFA a good place to be part of or a bad place to be part of?; is CFA diverse or not?; does CFA embrace change or not?; do people within CFA uphold CFA values or not?

I could go on and on.

The one thing all these questions have in common, is each are trying to define CFA with a binary option. Yes or no. True or false. Good or bad.

Binary of course being the primary language used by computers and electronics.

That is all well and fine for machines - but you wouldn’t use binary to evaluate the culture of an organisation like CFA any more than you would ask your toaster what is the meaning of life? (The answer is 42 of course).

In this vein I defer to sociology. Sociologists study the interaction between different cultures and the people who form them. However, even for them - trying to define what culture is as a term eludes absolute definition for it often means different things to different people.

The meaning that resonates most strongly with me in the context of CFA is that culture consists of the experiences, perspectives, values, beliefs, practices and behaviours within a particular group at a specific period in time.

Culture is complex and this is why cultural differences between two or more groups can often lead to conflict. Culture can also be incredibly unifying and instil a common purpose and belonging.

Many of you would be familiar with IQ and EQ.

IQ being a measure of our intelligence, whereas EQ describes our emotional intelligence and ability to identify and regulate our own emotions and to recognise the emotions of others and our capacity to feel empathy toward them.

Less known is CQ - cultural intelligence, which is a relatively newer field of study that expands our awareness of how culture impacts us and increases our self-awareness and perspective of our own values and behaviours. In simple terms, it measures how well we can work with diverse groups of people.

And while the concept is often taught from a business leadership perspective, governments and diplomats across the world have begun to understand the benefits.

It would be fair to say that within CFA we have a very complex interplay of cultures. There is not only an organisational wide culture, but also a regional one, a district one, a group one and a brigade one. Even in a brigade there can be many subsets or groupings of people. Culture is often referred to as the ‘how we do things here’ attitude that can not only compliment our strategic goals but can also fracture or contradict. On top of the organisational cultures, we then have the personal ones that are influenced by our own backgrounds, our language our upbringing and life experiences just to mention a few. People often gravitate towards others they feel share the same interests and values. While this can provide an immense belonging and unity, it can be exclusionary or isolating to those on the outside.

There is a fantastic TEDx talk featuring Julia Middleton who founded the UK charity called Common Purpose that promotes leadership development with a multicultural focus. You can access it here.

It is only 13 minutes long, and I highly encourage those interested in brigade leadership to have a look.

In it she describes the evolution of cultural intelligence (CQ), and jokes about the people who often say they are “very good with people……” but then forget to add those two extra words at the end “…..like me.” She uses this antidote to emphasise the skills leaders need to lead and unite people that are not like ourselves.

She goes on to describe the concept of CQ by explaining the “core” and “flex” of people’s identity. The “core” being made up of your beliefs, behaviours and values that you will not adjust or compromise, and your “flex” representing the beliefs, behaviours and values that you are willing to adjust to better relate to others.

She describes a moving line that moves with great care as your knowledge and perspective changes over time and you get to know and understand yourself better.

However, the really important point she makes at the end of the talk is her revelation that in her experience, a true measure of one’s cultural intelligence isn’t how many different cultures they have studied, but rather how well they understand their own culture and values, and how strongly it influences our way of seeing the world, and how we judge and interact with others.

Regular readers will be very familiar with my deep respect for our history and traditions. We have so much to be proud of. But the overwhelming lesson I believe our forebears have taught us is that CFA only rose to become the preeminent volunteer emergency service that it is today by all those volunteer leaders who were pioneers and drove change and propelled the evolution of our fire services. If our forebears were only interested in protecting the status quo, CFA would not have achieved its present standing and be the force in the defence of our communities that it is today.

In the words of Julia Middleton – cultural intelligence gives us hope that as leaders we can change things.

Unless we use the review as an opportunity to claim and improve our future, it will simply be an anchor to those elements of our past that have been so destructive.

VFBV will keep driving focus and attention on the systemic issues involving systems and processes, but I urge every member to think about what they are personally doing to contribute to our culture. In what state will you leave things in your group, brigade, BMT, or crew? Will it be in a better state than what you inherited? Will those people that you lead feel more safe, respected and included by your actions? Are your teams inclusive and diverse in thought, age, culture, ethnicity and gender? I think we not only owe it to ourselves to improve, but for all those courageous and wise volunteer pioneers that came before us.


New State President
The VFBV Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Samantha Collins as the new State President and Board Chair, and Captain Andy Cusack AFSM as State Vice-President. This follows the retirement of Captain Nev Jones AFSM who has served as State President since 2015.

Ms Samantha Collins (Rothman) was appointed to the VFBV Board on the 1st October 2015, and has served as State Vice President since 2017. With Sam vacating her Vice President role, Captain Andy Cusack AFSM was elected as the new Vice President. Andy has been on the board since 2010 and has been Treasurer since 2012.

On behalf of the VFBV Board, officers, volunteers and staff we congratulate Sam and Andy on their appointments.

We say thank-you to Nev for the outstanding contribution he has made, with the knowledge that the Association’s long record of strong leadership and stewardship of the vital role that CFA volunteers play in Victoria’s emergency management arrangements are in safe and experienced hands.

You can read more about VFBV’s new State President and Vice President on our website.

 

VFBV Board Vacancies: Invitation to apply

More information can be found here.  

 
Volunteers mourn the loss of the Hon. Jane Garrett MP

CFA volunteers are saddened to learn of the loss of the Hon. Jane Garrett MP who passed away on Saturday 2nd July from breast cancer. VFBV CEO Adam Barnett released a VFBV Statement on Sunday morning, and is published on the VFBV website.

On behalf of all CFA volunteers, VFBV offers its deepest condolences to Jane’s family, friends and colleagues, particularly her husband James, and children Molly, Sasha and Max.

Our respect and admiration for Jane was profound, and Jane left her indelible mark on us during her time as Emergency Services Minister between December 2014 – June 2016.

Jane’s courage and integrity knew no bounds, and we are heartbroken that her long battle with breast cancer has taken her from us so early.

In Jane’s maiden speech to Parliament in 2011, Jane invoked the words from the blockbuster movie Avatar “I see you” to describe her drive and passion to respect others, and the values instilled in her from her loving and devoted parents Graeme and Pam. Respect for the dignity and worth of others, respect for rights, our duty to overcome prejudices, and fight against inequity and injustice.

Jane ‘saw’ CFA volunteers, and her staunch compassion, integrity and respect will never be forgotten. Throughout her time as a member of parliament she fought for a more equitable and just and inclusive society, and never stopped believing that compassion and empathy could change the world.

Jane was an inspiring and brave minister and true friend. She will be sorely missed.

Jane’s family will be holding a private funeral service, with the State Memorial Service celebrating Jane’ s life to take place at a later date.

 

Affiliation
A reminder that those who pay their VFBV affiliations before 31 July 2022 will automatically be entered into a draw to win one of four equipment prizes valued at approximately $4,000. The prizes have for the third year running been donated by GAAM Emergency Products and Powdersafe and we sincerely thank them for their continued generous support.

VFBV District Council’s continue to promote opportunities for members to contribute to the vital work that VFBV performs on behalf of all CFA volunteers. Advocacy, support and the provision of trusted and credible advice are all strengthened when members work together and share a unity of purpose.

Become involved today.

 

Chief’s minimum requirements

The CFA Chief Officer has commenced consultation on reviewing the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements for operational response. VFBV welcomes this opportunity, as the minimum requirements have elicited wide ranging volunteer feedback over the years.

In particular, the Chief has invited VFBV to make submission on the ongoing application of the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements to participate in fire ground operations which are currently: General Firefighter (or minimum skills for those who pre-date GFF); the annual entrapment drill (SOP 9.32); and the three yearly tree hazard awareness certification.

Part of this review will also explore whether brigade classification should influence the minimum requirements or their frequency, as well as whether the annual requirements need to be face-to-face or whether remote learning or demonstration be acceptable.

VFBV is seeking brigade, group and individual feedback from all interested volunteers.

The VFBV CEO has also invited District Councils to make submission on behalf of their Districts and have been requested to include discussion on this topic at future District Council meetings. Volunteers are encouraged to attend these discussions in order to hear the perspectives of those in your local district.

Further details on how to make a submission are available on the VFBV website or through your local District Council or VFBV Support Officer.

Responses are due no later than Monday 12th September, in order to allow VFBV State Council an opportunity to form a VFBV position at their September meeting.

http://vfbv.com.au/index.php/component/k2/item/934-feedback-requested-chief-officer-s-minimum-requirements

 

 

Fire Wise – July 2022 online only edition

The July 2022 edition of Fire Wise has been published online only, this edition and past editions are available from the Fire Wise website.

You can support Fire Wise and the role it plays as an independent voice in keeping volunteers informed by becoming a subscriber. To become a Fire Wise subscriber visit the Fire Wise website or contact the Managing Editor of Fire Wise, Gordon Rippon-King either by phone 0402 051 412 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Recent articles on the VFBV website
Feedback Requested – Chief Officer’s Minimum Requirements

Volunteers mourn the loss of the Hon. Jane Garrett MP

VFBV Board announces new State President and Vice President

Volunteers welcome release of Independent Review

VFBV Board Vacancies: Invitation to apply

Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022

Updating your vaccination status (Update)

 
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The CFA Chief Officer has commenced consultation on reviewing the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements for operational response. VFBV welcomes this opportunity, as the minimum requirements have elicited wide ranging volunteer feedback over the years.

In particular, the Chief has invited VFBV to make submission on the ongoing application of the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements to participate in fire ground operations which are currently:

  • General Firefighter (or minimum skills for those who pre-date GFF)
  • the annual entrapment drill (SOP 9.32)
  • the three yearly tree hazard awareness certification.

Part of this review will also explore whether brigade classification should influence the minimum requirements or their frequency, as well as whether the annual requirements need to be face-to-face or whether remote learning or demonstration be acceptable.

VFBV is seeking brigade, group and individual feedback from all interested volunteers.

The VFBV CEO has also invited District Councils to make submission on behalf of their Districts and have been requested to include discussion on this topic at future District Council meetings.

Volunteers are encouraged to attend these discussions in order to hear the perspectives of those in your local district.

If you would like to make your own submission, VFBV is happy to accept any submissions from individual volunteers, or brigades and groups as a whole. Submissions can be made in writing by sending feedback/comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We have also developed an online survey for those who may not want to make a detailed submission. The survey can be accessed from: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/COMinRequire

For brigades, groups or District Councils who might prefer to walk through the questions during a meeting, or use the questions as prompts for their own written submission, the questions used in the online survey are included below.

Responses are due no later than Monday 12th September, in order to allow VFBV State Council an opportunity to form a VFBV position at their September meeting.

 


Survey Questions

  1. At a high level, do you support the ongoing application of the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements for operational response, which are currently General Firefighter (or minimum skills for those who predate GFF); Annual entrapment drill (SOP 9.32) and tree hazard awareness (3 year certification)?
    Yes
    No
    Unsure
    With modification (what modifications would you suggest?)

  2. What are your thoughts on the requirement to conduct an annual entrapment drill?
    I Support the current annual requirement
    I think it should only need to be done every 2 years
    I think it should only need to be done every 3 years
    I think it should only need to be done every 5 years
    I think it should never have to be repeated
    Other – please specify

  3. What are your thoughts on the requirement to undergo the online Tree Hazard Awareness Package?
    I support the current requirement to do it every 3 years
    I think it should be done every year
    I think it should be done every 5 years
    I think it should never need to be repeated
    Other – please specify

  4. Should the requirements and frequency vary depending on the classification of the brigade? (e.g. could smaller quieter Class 1 brigades have the flexibility to conduct them less often for example?)
    Yes – requirements and/or frequency should be varied based on their operational activity
    No – the requirements should be the same for all brigades regardless of their operational activity

  5. Would you support an option for the entrapment drill refresher to be conducted via an online package similar to the tree hazards awareness package?
    Yes
    No
    Other – please specify

  6. Could there be any improvements or added flexibility that would assist you to undertake the minimum requirements and their refreshers?

  7. Are there any other matters associated with the Chief Officer’s minimum requirements that you would like to raise?

  8. Are there any final comments you would like to make?

CFA volunteers are saddened to learn of the loss of the Hon. Jane Garrett MP who passed away last night from breast cancer.

On behalf of all CFA volunteers, VFBV offers its deepest condolences to Jane’s family, friends and colleagues, particularly her husband James, and children Molly, Sasha and Max.

Our respect and admiration for Jane was profound, and Jane left her indelible mark on us during her time as Emergency Services Minister between December 2014 – June 2016.

Jane’s courage and integrity knew no bounds, and we are heartbroken that her long battle with breast cancer has taken her from us so early.

In Jane’s maiden speech to Parliament in 2011, Jane invoked the words from the blockbuster movie Avatar “I see you” to describe her drive and passion to respect others, and the values instilled in her from her loving and devoted parents Graeme and Pam. Respect for the dignity and worth of others, respect for rights, our duty to overcome prejudices, and fight against inequity and injustice.

Jane ‘saw’ CFA volunteers, and her staunch compassion, integrity and respect will never be forgotten. Throughout her time as a member of parliament she fought for a more equitable and just and inclusive society, and never stopped believing that compassion and empathy could change the world.

Jane was an inspiring and brave minister and true friend. She will be sorely missed.


State Memorial Service

A State Memorial Service will be held to honour the life of the Honourable Jane Garrett from 11:00am on Friday 2 September at the Brunswick Town Hall.

The Memorial Service will be an opportunity for Victorians to pay tribute to her legacy and contribution to our state and community. In lieu of flowers the family has asked people consider donating to The Smith Family.

Date
Friday 2 September 2022.

Time
Doors open at 10.00am.

The service will commence at 11.00am.

All guests are requested to be seated by 10.45am.

The service is expected to run for approximately one hour.

Venue
Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick.

Further details: https://www.vic.gov.au/state-memorial-service-honourable-jane-garrett 

 


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.

 

 

Media: Quotes may be attributed to VFBV CEO, Adam Barnett on behalf of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.

The Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Samantha Collins as the new State President and Board Chair, and Captain Andy Cusack AFSM as State Vice-President. This follows the retirement of Captain Nev Jones AFSM who has served as State President since 2015.

Ms Samantha Collins (Rothman) was appointed to the VFBV Board on the 1st October 2015, and has served as State Vice President since 2017.

Sam first joined Bacchus Marsh Fire Brigade as a junior and is now with Maryborough Fire Brigade where she has served as a firefighter and lieutenant. She is a secondary school teacher, mother of three, and is also a volunteer lifesaver with Life Saving Victoria, having also worked as a Project Firefighter with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Sam has a strong interest in the development of youth and volunteerism and developed a special program on the emergency services for year 9 students, which won the 2016 Fire Awareness Awards prestigious Education award.

“It is both an honour and a privilege to be the incoming State President” Sam said.

“Nev has been such a wonderful mentor and role model for me to learn from, and while I have big shoes to fill, I feel prepared, and I am really looking forward to the challenge.”

“VFBV is such an amazing organisation, and I feel so proud of what we as volunteers achieve together.”

In stepping down from the role of State President, the VFBV Board reflected on Captain Nev Jones’ significant contribution to not only VFBV but to CFA also.

Nev first joined CFA at the age of eleven and growing up in a family where CFA involvement was firmly entrenched, he has served with distinction for over 40 years. Nev joined the VFBV Board in December 2009 and has served as State President since 2015.  

Nev advised the board early last year that he was looking to retire from the Chair role and would not be seeking re-nomination at the following board’s AGM.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted these plans and last year Nev, in consultation with the board - agreed to serve a further term as State President to see through the work that the board had commenced with the new CFA leadership, but on the understanding that he would be retiring mid-term.

“I wanted to step down early so that I could provide the new State President the benefit of my support and experience while they were new to the role and while I could still contribute to the board” Nev said.

“Usually, the new Chair takes over when the previous one leaves, and I felt, given the challenging times we have been through, I owed it to the next person to hand the baton while I was still there to cheer them on and support them settle in.”

“Sam has served as my Vice-President since 2017 and I could not be more pleased that the board has thrown its unanimous support behind her, electing her as State President.”

“I am so proud of her journey and contribution to our organisations leadership over the years and am confident she will do a fantastic job advocating for our volunteers.”

Nev will continue to serve his full term as a regular board member until 1st October 2022 with Sam assuming the role of State President effective immediately. Nev has indicated he will not be seeking reappointment to the board when his term expires in October.

With Sam vacating her Vice-President role, Captain Andy Cusack AFSM was elected as the new Vice President. Andy has been on the board since 2010 and has been Treasurer since 2012. He too has been involved with CFA most his life, and has served as Brigade Captain, Lieutenant, Secretary and Group Officer over his career.

On behalf of the VFBV Board, officers, volunteers and staff we congratulate Sam and Andy on their appointments. We say thank-you to Nev for the outstanding contribution he has made, with the knowledge that the Association’s long record of strong leadership and stewardship of the vital role that CFA volunteers play in Victoria’s emergency management arrangements are in safe and experienced hands.   

 

Thursday, 23 June 2022 16:52

VOLUNTEERS WELCOME RELEASE OF INDEPENDENT REVIEW

Written by

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) welcomes today’s release of the independent external review of culture and issues management conducted by Dr Helen Szoke AO and Allen+Clarke Consulting.

VFBV believes the commissioning and release by CFA of this review provides a watershed moment for not only the Country Fire Authority, but for other partner agencies across the emergency services sector.

We welcome the findings and support all ten recommendations.

You can’t fix what you can’t see, and after many years of VFBV being the canary in the coalmine on these issues, our hope is that the stories and experiences of all the courageous volunteers and staff who contributed to this review will be the catalyst for positive change.

CFA’s acknowledgment and apology to those who have experienced negative workplace culture and behaviours that have caused harm is welcomed and represents an important milestone in CFA’s accountability and change journey.

As is clear throughout the report, VFBV has taken an active role in the review, and has supported Dr Szoke and her team throughout.

Our vision is for CFA to be the exemplar of healthy, safe and respectful workplaces across the fire sector. VFBV accepts its leadership role to support and contribute to this work and we thank and acknowledge not only those members who bravely contributed to this and previous reviews, but all those members who model and exemplify our shared values of safety, teamwork, respect and integrity every day of every week, and act as a beacon for all to follow.  

The review recognises that culture is led from the top, nurtured in the middle and supported by all.

Having discussed these issues with CFA Chair Greg Wilson, CEO Natalie MacDonald and Chief Officer Jason Heffernan, we admire their commitment and determination in commissioning the review and committing to releasing it in full and implementing all its recommendations.

The test will now be how effectively they are supported across the organisation and across the sector to ensure real change is not only achieved but is long lasting.

And while we are cautiously optimistic that CFA will use this review as the catalyst to address these long standing and related issues, they will need the support of government, stakeholders and the sector as a whole to ensure this work is joined up, resourced, and transparent.

This review gives CFA a solid baseline and framework to strengthen and support the vital goal of promoting diversity and ensuring all CFA members feel safe and have access to robust systems of accountability. As CFA volunteers, we want to be part of a fire service where all members are encouraged to speak up about the importance of a safe and respectful workplace, and one that walk’s the walk.

VFBV will remain vigilant by contributing to the next phases of the implementation journey and will also monitor progress and efforts to independently verify that members receive the support they require. We will also seek to ensure that CFA does in fact implement improvements to complaint systems and we will continue to advocate for systems that are victim centred, trauma informed and embedded with the principles of equity, natural justice and procedural fairness.

We are seeking a collaborative approach and are requesting CFA pursue improvements in partnership with volunteers.

CFA members, volunteers and staff spend their lives and careers protecting the safety of their communities and putting their fellow Victorians ahead of themselves. They deserve no stone to be left unturned when it comes to- ensuring they themselves are protected and have safe and respectful workplaces.

The release of this report is an important step forward and one that all CFA and VFBV members take together.

 

 


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.

 
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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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