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GippsAero supports volunteers
To celebrate National Volunteer Week (13-19 May), CFA is saying “thanks a million” to its volunteers, families and employers for everything they do. This week we will feature a series of profile stories to highlight the great work and diversity of our volunteer members.
Moe 3rd Lieutenant Jon Dewsbury got the call at 4.50am to be deployed as part of a Rapid Response Team for the major Aberfeldy bushfire – just two hours before his shift at GippsAero as an aircraft maintenance engineer.
“If it wasn’t for understanding employers such as mine, it just wouldn’t be possible to deploy volunteer crews to the fireground as quickly as we do,” Jon said.
“I worked until 8.00pm that day, stayed another day and then worked another 26 hours at Walhalla that week. I’ve had to leave work quite a few times this summer. I kept in close contact with work about the conditions and they were fine with it.
“We had quite a few fires down here throughout summer – throughout the Thorpdale area, Yarragon and Darnum. There was a fire at Colville that lasted two weeks. Our tanker was working on the major fires and it was a big commitment from the brigade to back it up at home.”
Bushfire is a big part of the business for GippsAero, which is based at the La Trobe regional airport alongside the Department of Environment and Primary Industries airbase.
“We’ve got good relations with the Skycrane guys as we do a fair bit of maintenance work on the firebombers. Everyone has a good understanding of how it all works when the CFA and SES volunteers have got to go,” Jon said.
According to Lloyd Clarke, Human Capital Manager at GippsAero, volunteer work fits in well with the company’s ‘Rise’ philosophy which encourages employees to improve the lives, environment and wellbeing of their community.
“We’re totally committed to our volunteers so we’re more than happy to release them for any emergency, either training or emergency relief. We’ll do whatever is necessary to support them in their roles in the community now and moving forward,” Lloyd said.
“They give us a heads up of what may be happening as soon as practical, especially when they’re on call, and we worry about the paperwork later. With CFA or SES volunteers it’s more important that they respond and that no one’s health or safety is in jeopardy.”
Out of approximately 150 staff at GippsAero, around 10 are volunteers with CFA or SES.
“There are a few guys here from Traralgon and Traralgon West and they’re covered by staff at Morwell and Traralgon so it works well. We try not to go away at the same time,” Jon said.
“Volunteering with CFA creates good life skills and is a good way to help out your local community. I’d encourage people to get in there and do it. You’ve got to work hard to get opportunities in life and you don’t get them if you hesitate.”
In addition to his operational role with the Moe brigade, Jon has volunteered with the council to work with local youth, plays football for the Moe Lions and coaches the Moe brigade junior running team.
“I’m busy but it works out in the long run. It takes an effort. At Moe we work together as a good team and share the load,” Jon said.
- Story by Jason Leigh