News & Media

CFA Queen's Birthday Honours

By: CFA Media

Category: Honours & Awards

  11.00 AM 9 June, 2014

Location: General

Views: 4896

The Queen’s Birthday 2014 Honours were announced by the Governor-General today (Monday, 9 June 2014).

The Honours provide national and formal recognition for hundreds of Australians across the nation who have made a significant difference to their communities.

CFA recipients are as follows:
(see profiles below)

Brian Potter QFSM - Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

Norman Bowen – Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)  

Phil Hawkey – Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM)

Graham Simpson  – Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM)

Norman Bowen – Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) 

Norman Bowen has just been bestowed with one of the nation’s highest honours, but he isn’t about to take any of the credit.

Norm has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for Service to the Community at today’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

“It might have my name on it but this belongs to a lot of other people at CFA too,” he says.
Norm’s distinguished career with CFA began more than five decades ago – and admits his introduction to the Swan Hill Brigade as a 14 year-old was a little unorthodox.

“As young boys we would all try to set off the fire sirens using our shanghais (sling shot) to break the glass - back then we thought it was quite a good target,” he laughs.

“One day my neighbour caught me doing it and said, “Righto young fella you’re coming with me’.”

Norm was marched down to the fire station that day, where his neighbour taught him about the fire brigade and signed him up as a volunteer.

It was the beginning of a very long and decorated career at CFA.

The Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983 proved to be a defining moment for Norm, when he led a strike team up to Mount Macedon.

“We were driving through blackened streets and all we could see was this massive red glow up ahead of us,” he said.

“It was one hell of an experience."

During the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, Norm realised the impact a traumatic incident could have on firefighters, and began pouring his efforts into supporting his fellow peers to cope with stress after attending an incident.

He helped develop a training peer support program for firefighters, which started as a two-day course and is now a full 12-month program.

“If someone’s been through a traumatic situation then we need to be there to support them whether it’s physically or mentally, and we need to be there their family too.”

Throughout his career, Norm has stepped up to take on many leadership roles within his community and CFA, including Group Officer and he is currently the Peer Support Coordinator for the Loddon Mallee Region.

“The people that you meet at CFA are friends for life and if you show an interest in your job they’ll help you any way they can and give you every opportunity to grow.”

“It’s the people I’ve worked with over the years that has made this (OAM) possible.”

The OAM will be added to an already impressive collection of medals for Norm, who was also awarded the AFSM in 2004.

Phil Hawkey – Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM)

“You never stop learning, which is one of the things I enjoy most about CFA.”

And with 36 years of service to CFA and the community its clear Euroa’s Phil Hawkey loves learning – having held many varied positions in his time with CFA which he fondly describes an “extended family.” 

Phil describes being recognised with an Australian Fire Services Medal in today’s Queens Birthday Honours as a humbling experience.

Some of the many roles he has held during his years with CFA have included firefighter, 24 years as Group Officer, Fire Investigator specialising in Structure and Wilfire, Group Officer, Operations Officer, and a trainer and an assessor.

Phil is currently a Vegetation Management Officer in Hume Region, and an accredited Level 3 Incident Controller.

“It’s very humbling to receive recognition, but we don’t do what we do for recognition.”

Phil is passionate about passing on to others what he has had the opportunity to learn through his time with CFA.

“CFA has given me a lot of opportunities in terms of training and experience. With the roles I’ve had, I felt that they gave me the opportunity to give back and pass on to others a bit of what CFA has given me over the years.”

Phil and his family decided to make a “tree change” 5 years ago, which is when he joined CFA as a full time staff member after 31 years of volunteering.

Before joining CFA permanently Phil juggled his volunteering with life on his dairy farm over more than 30 years.

Phil says he was definitely ready for a change, as the drought and other circumstances had hit him and his family pretty hard.

Along working for CFA full time as a Vegetation Management Officer in Hume Region Phil is an active member of the Euroa Brigade.

When asked how he manages to devote so much of his time to CFA Phil says it can be all consuming, but, “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it.”

Asked how his family feels about him devoting so much of his life to CFA Phil laughs and says, “I have a very understanding family and patient, supportive wife.”

Having spent so much time with CFA Phil has been involved in countless incidents and fire seasons.

He says the ones that take the most out of you are not the major fires but smaller incidents like car accidents.

“When you live in a small community, quite often you know the people involved, and that can be very difficult.”

Most recently Phil played a major role as Incident Controller in the major Mickleham – Kilmore fire which ripped through 23,000 hectares, damaging more than 600 properties in its destructive path.

Phil was Incident Controller in the first few days of the fire on February 10, 11 & 12 which have been described some of the most difficult days.

“It was definitely a challenging experience but being surrounded by a great team of people made the job easier.”

“It was a very complex and fast moving fire. Having the opportunity to manage it was a great learning experience.”

Phil not only had a critical role in the management of the fire itself but his work as a Vegetation Management Officer plays an important role in rehabilitating land damaged by fire.

“The rehabilitation of an area after a fire is also very important. We tend to forget we can cause as much damage putting the fire out, as the fire itself does.”

For Phil it’s the people which make CFA what it is.

“So many people I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside have supported me and guided me along the way in my time with CFA.”

Graham Simpson  – Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM)

After dedicating more than 35 years of his life to CFA and the community, Graham Simpson has been recognised with the prestigious Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM) in today’s Queens Birthday Honours. 

“I feel extremely honoured, it’s great to be recognised especially when there are so many deserving people in CFA,” he said.

Graham’s impressive career as a firefighter began when he moved to the small town of Cockatoo in 1978. 

“I wanted to join a community group and one day I happened to run into the local Captain and he suggested I should sign up to the Cockatoo brigade.”

“Since then I haven’t looked back.”

Within five short years Graham worked his way up the ranks to become the Cockatoo Fire Brigade Captain, and it wasn’t long before he faced his biggest challenge.

“I had only been Captain for three months when the Ash Wednesday fires swept through the town in 1983,” he said.

“It hit us hard late in the day when most of the resources, including our own truck, had been gone to fight fires at Upper Beaconsfield.”

“We managed to save half the houses in the town – we rallied the locals and we had groups of people going up and down the street putting out embers with garden hoses.”

In the weeks that followed, Graham was responsible for coordinating services to provide emergency shelters, food, clothing, and physical and mental support for the hundreds of people affected.

“After Ash Wednesday, I was very community minded and it motivated me even more to help others.”
Over the years, Graham has maintained a strong commitment to the training of volunteer firefighters and has been involved in the leadership of the Cardinia (Pakenham) Fire Brigades Group.

He also played an integral role in developing the Light Forward Operations Vehicles, a model which was adopted by the CFA.

“I am very committed to my role – I think the best way you can get involved and meet new people in your community is by joining the fire brigade.”

“Although, sometimes I’m so committed my wife tells me I should just move my bed down to the station,” he quips.

Now 62, Graham is identified as a leader not only within CFA but also in his community – and in 2002 he was recognised as the Cockatoo Citizen of the Year.

“If you can find something you like – you should just go for it, because you can meet so many great people and it’s incredibly rewarding.”

Last Updated: 10 June 2014