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Drouin West member receives OAM
Also receiving an Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen’s Birthday honours was new Drouin West Fire Brigade member Ruth McGowan.
Story from the Warragul and Drouin Gazette
Ruth was a teenager when she developed an interest working with and being involved in the community. Thirty years later, little has changed.
"I have worked with some wonderful people,” she said. “I am humbled and thrilled by the OAM but there are so many people in the community who are deserving of recognition.
"I grew up in a family where we were always encouraged to put back into the community. Our parents were always involved in the community.
"I can see it now flowing on to my children who also get involved and that's the real reward – to lead by example.”
Ruth received an OAM for "service to community health through support organisations and for services to the Baw Baw Shire”. She worked for 10 years as a volunteer with local disability support groups, was a local government councillor for five years and Baw Baw Shire mayor at the time of the February 2009 bushfires.
“I had been active in our local Community Fireguard for 15 years and still am,” said Ruth.
“When the bushfire came we stayed at home and defended – my husband, two of our sons, ages 12 and 15, and me. Our house was one and a half years old and we had built it to be defendable according to CSIRO guidelines at the time. We had sprinklers and gravel all around. We didn’t lose any fencing and our horses all survived – we opened up the paddocks.
“Being in the council at that time involved a lot of liaising with CFA through recovery. I was also fortunate enough to receive an emergency services medal for my work through that period.
“I joined Drouin West Fire Brigade in March this year and have gone through Minimum Skills. I’ve also been appointed the brigade’s community safety officer and that’s what I plan to dedicate myself to. I have a passion for community engagement and I plan to use my skills to engage the community on bushfire preparedness.
“If the OAM helps get my foot in the door, then that’s all good.”
Ruth also had a career as an agricultural scientist at the Department of Environment and Primary Industries before resigning to commit herself more fully to volunteering.