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Captain steps up
For Colleen Goodfellow, Truganina Captain and one of the women being profiled this week as part of our 'Celebrating CFA Women' series, joining the fire brigade at the age of 16 was a natural thing to do - it was in her blood.
Just as natural has been the way she’s worked her way up through brigade ranks to be elected as Captain in 2012. It’s a progression she describes as gradual and well-supported.
When asked for her thoughts on leadership, Colleen said the most important aspect for her, was the opportunity to pass on the knowledge she’s gained from both formal training and the experience of older hands.
“It has been fantastic to see people who – like me – joined when they were teenagers and are now 21 or 22 years old and have stuck around. You’ll see some who do of course drift away but it’s great to see the ones who will give up their Saturday nights to turn out with the brigade.”
Truganina, a fringe suburb in Melbourne’s west, is one of the biggest growth areas of the state.
Colleen remembers how things were 10 years ago when Truganina would hold their annual Santa Run – with only 240 houses in their patch, the brigade had the luxury of checking in with every family to find out when they’d be home.
It’s very different now, with a population of more than 10,000 and growing. “Keeping ahead of that is our priority,” says Colleen, who adds that the major issue on her plate at the moment is working with CFA to find another site for the station when their lease runs out at the end of the year.
Another change reflected at the brigade is cultural diversity. “We have a member from an Indian family who was really keen to show his in-laws what he was doing in the brigade. It was so hard for them to understand, when at home you might be working 15 hours in a shop.”
“To commit to a brigade when, culture-wise, you come from a starting point where volunteering is unheard of – that’s a big deal.”.
In the lead-up to International Women’s Day, CFA is profiled women who represent the many and varied roles that CFA members play in their communities.
All the stories featured this week will be published in a special booklet titled Celebrating CFA Women which was launched on Friday 7 March.