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Digital storytelling – an unexpected journey
Sometimes life’s journey can change in unexpected ways. For Tracey Mastropavlos, it was her 16-year-old daughter’s decision to join the Heathcote Fire Brigade in 2006 that led to her becoming a CFA member.
“One night, while I was sitting down there waiting for her, I thought there must be something I can do around the brigade to help out, so I had a chat with the training officer about becoming a non-operational member,” Tracey said.
Her story of progression from firefighter - he suggested I do minimum skills, next thing I’m being fitted out for wildfire gear and dragging hoses around - to community safety officer and peer support is detailed in one of eight stories told in CFA’s latest Digital Story Telling workshop series.
The workshops were first held in 2013, when CFA teamed up with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) to digitally produce the personal stories of 15 volunteers to create more awareness about CFA volunteers – what they do and why they do it.
This State Government funded digital storytelling project involved volunteers taking part in a workshop, during which their stories were compiled.
Given the success of this project, in 2014, CFA decided to continue the concept and again called for volunteers to come forward and tell their stories. Their videos were officially launched and screened in early May 2015, as part of National Volunteer Week.
Speaking at the launch, CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said the concept of storytelling was powerful.
“It passes on valuable knowledge to future generations and potentially to those young men and women who are considering joining CFA,” he said.
Tracey said it was while doing relief crew work in the second week of the 2009 fires that she realised the effect the fires had on brigade members and their families.
“I thought to myself, there are so many members and families out there who will need our help. I’d heard about the peer support program we run in CFA and the great work they do with members and their families and this inspired me to join the program.”
Tracey still volunteers in the community support and peer programs, but is also employed by CFA, working as a Project Officer at the District 2 Headquarters in Bendigo.
She said she’d told her story because she thought it was “important for people to know that even though circumstance might change and fighting fires may not be an option anymore, there is more to CFA than fighting fires.”