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CFA volunteers recognised at 2017 Inspire Awards
CFA volunteers were recognised for their hard work on Wednesday 26 April at the Inspire Awards.
The awards ceremony showcases the achievements of exceptional individuals over 18 years old living with a disability who are respected for their work in their field or in their community.
Robyn McKean was awarded the winner of a new category, the CFA’s Best Achievement in Country Fire Authority Individual Award. Robyn was born with the heredity condition Spastic Familial Paraparesis which is degenerative and adversely affects her mobility.
She joined the Greendale Brigade in 2001, and is a highly respected member of the brigade and her local community. Robyn’s pet project is the annual ‘Christmas Eve Santa Run’, which she organises for local children. Robyn works tirelessly to keep the station clean and order and prepare food for the firefighters and for meetings. Despite her condition, Robyn undertook training to become a Junior Leader, a role she still performs.
On accepting her award, Robyn was ecstatic.
“I’m a member of the Greendale Fire Brigade and they are just the best. My disability and working in the Brigade has never been an issue”, she said.
“I’m astonished at the other people who have won awards today. I’m leaving today thinking that I could go out and do some abseiling! A disability is nothing to stop you doing whatever you want to do.”
The Team Award went to the partnership between the Wonthaggi Fire Brigade and Connecting Skills Australia. The team provides opportunities for people with disabilities to volunteer and contribute to their local community.
Captain Kim O’Connor, who helps oversee the program, said “these guys are part of our team now. The guys have their gear down at the fire station; they have their own hooks, overalls and baseball caps. They even came and marched with us yesterday for ANZAC Day, which was brilliant.”
Sharon Exton from Connecting Skills Australia is excited that the award could catalyse the expansion of the program. “This program has now expanded out to six CFA sites across Bass Coast and South Gippsland and Kim [O’Connor] and I are keen to take it state-wide.”
The awards were delivered by Assistant Chief Officer Trevor Owen, who is optimistic about the opportunity to continue to increase diversity in the CFA.
“CFA is moving towards more diversity and more inclusion and the message we take from today is that people who do have disabilities can be really included and welcomed in this wonderful organisation. There were so many other great candidates for this award, and we’re really proud of all of them”, he said.