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Asylum seekers’ childhood dreams come true
From an early age, Noble Park volunteer firefighters Aida Pahang and husband Abbas Abdallahi wanted to help their community.
By Matthew Pond
They migrated to Australia two years ago as asylum seekers from Iran, and establishing a new life in Australia coincided with a targeted recruitment strategy by Noble Park Fire Brigade.
The brigade wanted to strengthen its connections with the multicultural community, especially refugees, and when the brigade ran an information session, Aida and Abbas were very keen to join.
Noble Park Brigade Captain Terence Sanford recalls the enthusiasm and passion throughout the recruitment process.
“It was clear our strategy was going to be successful and would add much-needed capacity to support our community.”
Aida and Abbas talk very positively about their experience as CFA members.
“In Iran being a woman in the fire service is very difficult. You have to wear a head scarf and the fire service is not as accepting of females as CFA,” Aida said.
“I was very excited about joining CFA, the brigade really encourages us to participate and everyone is so friendly and works as a good team,” Abbas said.
Over the past five years, Noble Park brigade has found it difficult to recruit volunteers and build a strong profile in the community. But the multicultural strategy has really changed the situation.
“The brigade is very focused on continuous improvement and has a strong positive engagement with our community now,” said Terence.
According to First Lieutenant Andrew South, there are “a number of different languages spoken in the brigade now, which makes the brigade a good reflection of our community”.
This is only the start for Aida who sees a long future with CFA.
“One day I want to be a career firefighter and perhaps even the first female captain of Noble Park brigade.”