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Recognition, partnership and growth
As the wounds slowly heal from the tragic events of Black Saturday and we continue to rebuild, it's fitting that some of the key players from that period are receiving some well earned recognition.
Recently, both Whittlesea and Arthurs Creek/Strathewen brigades were presented with the Chief Officer's Unit Citation for Courage and their captains at the time, Ken Williamson and David McGahy, received individual Chief Officer's Commendations for Courage. Congratulations to both brigades.
In addition, ex Captain David McGahy and Captain Michael Chapman of Arthurs Creek brigade received the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2012 for their services to the community, particularly during and after the 2009 bushfires.
I would also like to congratulate members of Werribee and Wyndham Vale brigades who recently competed in the World Rescue Challenge. While they didn't gain a place in the event, they should be proud to have been able to represent Australia in this competition.
The Northern and Western Metropolitan region (NWMR) continues to build partnerships with other emergency services. The Regional Leadership Teams of CFA and MFB recently commenced meeting at regular intervals to facilitate the exchange of information and experiences and to develop strategies to better address common challenges found by both fire services across our shared communities.
The multi-agency Regional Control Team continues to develop an effective cross-agency forum to ensure more integrated readiness and response to incidents. Also, as the new Municipal Fire Management Committees (formed under Integrated Fire Management Planning) start to find their feet, there's an opportunity to deliver more effective fire management strategies across all land tenures through the cooperative efforts of all agencies and organisations.
As well as being CFA's fastest growing region, contributing 40 per cent to CFA's growth over the last 10 years, NWMR has a large increase in new and emerging communities in the region, and will face more complex challenges to meet the operational, educational and communities' needs. Thirty per cent of NWMR is culturally and linguistically diverse, which is above the Victorian average of 23.7 per cent and considerably higher than the Australian average of 22.2 per cent.
In response to this challenge, the region recently completed a project to scope and identify current gaps in community engagement, corporate understanding, volunteering, and the support to and from the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in NWMR. The project provided tangible outcomes in understanding the cultural demographics within the region's boundaries, and identifying emerging trends within these populations.
Consultations were undertaken with a number of key stakeholders, which revealed a number of significant outcomes, potential partnerships and future directions for NWMR to undertake when engaging with CALD communities. The region is actively working to progress these initiatives.