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From the CEO – recruits and lessons from the field
New recruits and more lessons from the field
I’ve had the pleasure to attend two CFA recruit firefighter graduation ceremonies since I began.
Fifty-nine new firefighters have completed the 19-week course in the past fortnight and been allocated to various CFA integrated fire brigades where they will work side-by-side with volunteer members and career staff.
I’d like to congratulate all our recruits on their hard work and dedication to complete what is a tough course, and I wish them well as they begin their new careers.
Last week I had the opportunity to meet three women who were preparing to graduate. It’s great to see more women joining CFA, but it again highlights that we need to find more ways to encourage women to consider firefighting as a career.
More than half of Victoria’s population is female so we are missing out on an incredible resource.
We will be looking at what the barriers are preventing women joining CFA, and tackling those issues to help our organisation become a more inclusive workforce.
In the past fortnight, I have been travelling across the state meeting volunteers and staff to get an understanding of the organisation and what’s happening in our districts and regions. I am still in the early learning phase, so these visits are an important way for me to gain a better understanding of what you do on the ground and how our executives and their teams can support you.
There is always a warm welcome from our members, and I’m impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of our people.
Recently, I visited Clunes and Kingston brigades and called in at our regional headquarters at Wendouree. I met many of the staff and discussed the delivery of training, building community capability and a range of potential improvements we can make to how we deliver front line services and support our staff and volunteers. What I have already learned is that each brigade and district has its own specific, and sometimes unique, challenges in the preparation and delivery of community capability programs and responding to fires and other emergencies.
As I said when I joined CFA, a major objective is to ensure that all our members, no matter what job they’re doing, are thinking and working to support our front line service.
Last week, I travelled to District 20 to visit staff at the Echuca Service Centre and later met volunteers at Echuca Fire Brigade. I inspected the new Echuca Fire Station and Deakin Group Headquarters, which is a significant improvement on the current facilities and keenly anticipated by our members.
On the way back I called in at District 2 Headquarters in Bendigo and met with the North West Region Leadership team, who provided me with a valuable overview of the region and the challenges and opportunities they face. This last weekend, I attended the official opening of the Wesburn-Millgrove Fire Station and Community Fire Refuge.
Meeting CFA members who perform a wide range of roles reinforces my intent to broaden the reward and recognition program. I want to ensure we celebrate the special efforts of not only our front line firefighters but also those who do essential work supporting operations.
On other matters, the CFA 2015 Wellbeing Research Survey closes this Sunday. The survey is a chance to find out what you think of the mental health and wellbeing support services available, and how they can be improved.