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CFA apprentice wins youth leadership award
CFA apprentice William Maynard leads by example in his quest to change the lives of young Indigenous men in his home town of Bairnsdale, East Gippsland.
The 23-year-old began his apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic at CFA’s Bairnsdale Workshop in 2014, under the supervision of Officer-In-Charge Steve O’Shea.
“William’s one out of the box that’s for sure,” Steve said.
“He’s keen to break through the stereotypes, and do something really meaningful.”
William was recently awarded the 2016 Djillay Ngalu Outstanding Youth Leadership Award for his work encouraging Indigenous youths to stay in school and pursue their career goals. He was also a finalist in the Australian Employment Network Apprentice of the Year Awards.
“William is a humble kind of guy,” Steve said.
“We didn’t even know he’d won the Youth Leadership Award until we read about it on Facebook – we couldn’t believe it, it was great news.”
But William’s future had not always seemed so certain. As a young kid, William’s family moved around a lot, and he often felt disconnected – which led him to eventually drop out of school. Luckily, William’s energy and passion for football was later recognised by the Clontarf Foundation, who worked with his family to set up the supports and roles models William needed to get his life back on track.
After finishing school under the Clontarf program at Bairnsdale Secondary College, William was sponsored by Programmed Skilled Workforce to complete his apprenticeship with CFA, giving him the opportunity to pursue his long held interest in motor mechanics.
“William had a passion for playing footy and a real interest in motor mechanics, he just needed a bit of a boost,” Steve said.
“That’s exactly what Clontarf, and later the Programmed Skilled Workforce, did for him.”
The CFA workshop in Bairnsdale looks after 140 vehicles located right across Gippsland.
William’s work there involves servicing and repairing CFA trucks, and also modifying them to meet new requirements and improve safety. He said a big part of the appeal in working with his local CFA was the chance to learn new things, but also to work with the people who protect the environment he grew up in.
“For me, the best part about my work is getting to help the different brigades, and see the whole job through,” he said.
“From identifying the faults on the trucks, to doing the repairs, and then delivering the trucks back to the fire station in top condition, it’s really satisfying.”
Now William is faced with a new dilemma. Once he completes his apprenticeship at the end of 2018, William will be a fully qualified diesel mechanic, but his exposure to CFA has led him to also consider becoming a career firefighter.
“William has taken to motor mechanics really well, his skills and confidence have grown so much in the past two years,” said Steve O’Shea.
“But if he does decide to join CFA, I'm confident he will set his mind to it and give it everything.”