CFA thanks its vital volunteers
THE CFA has celebrated and thanked its volunteers for National Volunteer Week, which concluded Sunday.
The recognition comes after a challenging 2020 which saw Victorian volunteers fighting bushfires before responding to the challenges of the global pandemic.
CFA Chief Executive Natalie MacDonald said National Volunteer Week invites the entire Victorian community to join CFA in thanking volunteers for the fantastic work they do.`
“This week, and every week, we thank our hard-working volunteers for the contributions they make to their local communities,” said Ms MacDonald.
“They sacrifice personal time with families and friends, put themselves in dangerous situations to protect strangers and are leaders and educators in their communities.”
This year’s National Volunteer Week theme was ‘recognise, reconnect and reimagine’.
It calls for Australians to recognise the importance of volunteers, reconnect with our communities by giving our time and reimagine how we can support our volunteers.
Portarlington CFA Member Hollie Woodhart joined 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back.
“When the pager goes off you never know what it’s going to be,” she said.
Ms Woodhart has attended house fires, car accidents, and even kids stuck in drains.
“We had a kid in a bathtub and one who had put his hand down the toilet, it’s really anything you can think of,” she said.
Ms Woodhart joined when she was 17 and says while it wasn’t what she expected it’s been more rewarding than she imagined.
“I didn’t know how it would feel to really help people or be involved in their lives as I have,” she said.
“When you got to a house fire, people have lost everything and you’re trying to help them save what they can.
“I’ve done lots of leadership training that has helped me outside the CFA, and become more outgoing.”
The Indonesian and humanities teacher said it’s been a two-way street and she has just been elected training officer at the Portarlington brigade.
Her message to other people thinking about volunteering is “just do it”.
“You have nothing to lose by giving it a go and you never know what you are going to get out of it.”
CFA has more than 54,000 volunteers across more than 1,200 brigades in Victoria and is one of the world’s largest volunteer emergency services.
Chief officer Jason Heffernan, who was a volunteer firefighter himself, said volunteering is an incredibly rewarding experience to give back to your community.
“The diversity of skills and expertise that our volunteers bring to their CFA roles bolsters their brigades and is a significant strength of the organisation,” he said.
Mr Heffernan said he was immensely proud of CFA volunteers.
“Our volunteers are tradies, lawyers, nurses, and farmers. We’re bakers, small or large business owners, and students,” he said.
“CFA is also about so much more than just firefighting. With volunteer roles such as community educators, health and safety specialists, or financial supporters, we’re asking people if they can see themselves at CFA.”