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Join leaders at Pride March this Sunday
CFA members and their families are encouraged to join Chief Officer Euan Ferguson and other CFA leaders at the Melbourne Pride March this Sunday 1 February, and be part of the first ever CFA contingent at the annual event.
Deputy Chief Officer Steve Warrington and Assistant Chief Officers Trevor Owen, Bob Barry and Mike Wassing, and Executive Manager FEM Mark Potter will also be at the March, which supports and recognises Victoria's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transexual Intersex (LGBTI) community.
Mr Ferguson described the march as a great opportunity to embrace and be proud of the diversity within CFA.
“Freedom of expression and freedom of association are a vital part of being Australian,” he said. “Australian women and men have fought and died to gain this as an inalienable right for all people, irrespective of gender, race, skin colour, class, faith and preference. Amongst these freedoms is included the freedom to express our own sexual orientation. It is important that we respect all in CFA as equals and as valued members of one team.”
Russell Wright, a volunteer firefighter from Gippsland’s Erica and District Fire Brigade, has been the driving force behind CFA’s participation at the 2015 event.
Russell said CFA members attending last years’ event had noticed Ambulance and SES members marching and wondered why there was no presence from CFA. Deciding to do something about it, Russell’s first step was to set up the CFA Pride Facebook group.
Russell, who now describes himself as the ‘unofficial ambassador’ for the LGBTI community within CFA, said that the group was a social network for members to interact and organise get-togethers.
In only a year, the page has garnered more than 750 likes, which Russell describes as 'massive'.
“Apart from being a social thing, the Facebook page promotes the contribution of the LGBTI community within CFA and helps attract new members,” he said.
“99.9 per cent of the comments we get are positive and there have been a lot of messages to say ‘thanks for what you are doing’”.
Russell has been actively promoting the march over the last two months and says it is huge to have the support of CFA leaders at the event.
“It means a lot for the LGBTI community and volunteers such as myself,” he said. “CFA staff from the Brigade Sustainability project have also been really supportive.”
When asked where the CFA Pride network might be heading in the future, Russell said that he hoped to see things get bigger and better.
“Eventually we’d like to have an ambassador in each CFA region. They might even take an active role to reach out to local LGBTI groups or radio stations and say, ‘Have you thought about volunteering for CFA?'”
Russell says that, as the group expands, it will be important it keep its integrity as a social network.
“We are not political at all - we don’t advocate for issues,” he said.
CFA are 10th in marching order out of 142 organisations.
Members are asked to assemble from 1 to 1.30pm at the corner of Lakeside Drive and Fitzroy Street, St Kilda to be ready for the 2pm start. Uniform includes corporate wear, ‘blues’ or clean turn-out gear (not structure – too hot).