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Citation for Corio Platoon
Seven Corio firefighters have been presented with a prestigious Unit Citation to recognise their proactive work with refugees, new arrivals and at-risk youth.
This is the first such award that Mr Ferguson has granted in his time as Chief Officer at CFA, and the first ever CFA Unit Citation to specifically recognise community education.
Mr Ferguson, who presented the awards at the Croatia Club on Tuesday 4 February, described the work done by Corio’s “A Shift” team of career firefighters as exemplary.
“While it’s not uncommon for a team to display exceptional skills, Corio has the initiatives and vision to change how individuals, organisations and the community engage,” he said.
“The team has introduced programs to support refugees and youth at risk. They are leading the way through careful nurturing of the people they service, and the trusting relationships they’ve developed.”
Corio Leading Firefighter Gavin Fitzgerald said that what had started with a simple knock on the on the door at a nearby community organisation (Diversitat, which supports new arrivals) had snowballed into something bigger.
“It was a simple matter of asking how we could help,” he said. “We’ve since tapped into their program which helps refugees with integration and becoming self-sufficient. The result we’re working towards is a sustainable program that incorporates fire safety and a bit about CFA.
“It’s also about the community educating us. The kids tell us how easy life is here: it’s been a humbling experience to learn it’s not just about us but about them.
“An important part of it is breaking down barriers, especially fear towards people in uniform. The long term view is towards recruitment – we’d love to see Afghani or Sudanese members in our brigade.”
In recent times the Corio brigade team has extended its community involvement to work with the Barwon Male Health network.
In addition to CFA’s Chief Officer, the presentation ceremony was attended by leaders from the Afghani, Karen and Congolese communities, Diversitat CEO Michael Martinez and CFA Barwon South West Regional Director Bob Barry.