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Diversity brings strength
Brigade members often talk about their CFA service as ‘from the community, for the community, by the community’. It’s an inspiring message of resilience and communities helping themselves.
The wider organisation also operates on this same principle. Our members come from all walks of life, backgrounds, occupations and interests. We serve communities comprising men and women, boys and girls of all ages from a very broad range of ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, sexual preference and gender identification, and people living with disabilities.
By honouring the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, CFA is proud to strive for greater inclusiveness and diversity, breaking down language and cultural barriers so we can truly be representative. As our communities change, we must change to better serve them. We do not serve them if we ‘play small’. If we are not relevant we will be left behind.
Diversity within our ranks brings a much richer culture. Having a diverse membership is one of CFA’s key strengths, but we can do even better.
Our recruitment practices strive to demonstrate our relevance to a wide range of Australians.
While only two women went through career recruit courses last year out of just 34 female applicants, one of these women received the Instructors’ award at graduation – a first for CFA. Our 2014 women and career firefighting information day was extremely well attended resulting in 126 female applicants for 2015. That’s a dramatic change in numbers in one year. Well done to our career firefighting recruitment team.
Two recruits from 2014 have an Indigenous heritage and another recruit can speak fluent Cantonese, which is also a first for CFA.
To all our new career and volunteer members, welcome. You have joined a proud organisation with proud traditions forging a path towards greater inclusiveness and diversity.
CFA’s Access and Inclusion Guidelines and other tools to support inclusion and diversity within CFA are being updated. We want to make it easy for you to better understand the diversity of your community and support you with the resources you need to better engage.
Our Koori Inclusion Action Plan will be officially launched in National Reconciliation Week in late May. It lays out actions that will ensure our structures, behaviours, culture and values will reflect our respect for the Koori community, the traditional owners of the land. We recognise their connection to country and pay our respects to their land management practices and their elders past and present.
Chief Officer Euan Ferguson is a White Ribbon Day ambassador as part of a national, male-led campaign that stands up against violence against women. Euan’s advocacy has encouraged more CFA members to swear the oath to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
More than 60 CFA members marched in February’s 2015 Pride March in solidarity with all people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and intersex. They were led by our Chief Officer alongside Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley and MFB Chief Officer Peter Rau.
CFA plays a critical role in keeping our communities safe and members of the emergency services are leaders in their communities. We are strengthened when we define our leadership role more broadly. Diversity and inclusiveness are the path to that greater strength and to relevance and resilience.