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Pat helps drive support program
One of CFA’s first female volunteer members in her area, Pat Bigham is an inspiring woman who has dedicated her career to helping others and serving her community.
After the devastating Ash Wednesday fires in 1983, CFA recognised a gap in support for those affected by traumatic events such as bushfires. Pat was approached along with some colleagues to coordinate and implement a welfare support system.
“It’s important for members to know there’s someone out there to help them,” Pat said.
“There’s nothing that can prepare you for what you’re about to experience, but CFA will train you and has a team of people to support you.”
Pat used her skills and expertise, along with other colleagues to develop what’s now called CFA’s Peer Support Program. Today, Pat continues to be involved behind the training and development of this program, which now exists in every CFA district across Victoria.
A current member of Gruyere Fire Brigade and one of the first female volunteer’s in her district, Pat has enjoyed her time as a CFA member and helped create a district which now boasts the highest number of females within CFA.
“I was always upfront and honest with any Captain. I said I’m here to help your crew. “I have always been accepted, because I treated people the way I expected to be treated,” Pat said.
Now Pat’s inspiring leadership and outstanding commitment is being recognised through her induction to the 2017 Victorian Honour Roll of Women.
The Honour Roll acknowledges and celebrates the outstanding achievements of women in Victoria. Since 2001, 582 inductees have been honoured for their significant and lasting contributions that span beyond the Victorian borders.
Pat’s inclusion on this illustrious list (in the police and emergency services category) is a testament to her dedicated career and service to the community.
“I think this award is a huge tribute to all CFA members – the fact CFA itself has been recognised is an honour,” she said.
After serving 35 years, Pat was awarded a CFA Life Membership for her valued service and selfless contributions to her local community. In 2008, Pat was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) for outstanding service to her community, brigade and CFA. Pat’s extremely overwhelmed and very humble about receiving the awards.
‘It’s bittersweet receiving these awards because my work consists of helping people at their lowest time. I don’t do what I do to receive awards. I get back more than I can ever put in and that’s what I tell people who are thinking of joining CFA.”