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State Forum connects in Creswick
The CFA-SES Community Engagement and Hazard Awareness State Forum was held in Creswick on 1 and 2 August 2015, as CFA joined forces with SES for the first time.
With close to 500 members attending from across the two agencies, and 205 different CFA brigades represented, the event was arguably the largest ever congregation of brigades in CFA history. 400 CFA members were joined by 100 SES members all sharing an interest in prevention and community preparedness with the 2015 theme of ‘Community Connections – Let’s Join Forces’.
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley opened the event with a presentation on the importance of local connections and imploring attendees to partner together and build local relationships. Key note presenter Dan Neely from Wellington, New Zealand then shifted gears on Saturday afternoon. His entertaining presentation on ‘What Emergency Managers Can Learn from Vanilla Ice’ left attendees from both agencies with a different perspective on the lyrics to classic hip-hop song ‘Ice Ice Baby’ and the need to “stop, collaborate and listen”.
The Q&A panel discussion on Sunday morning was as popular as ever with outgoing CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson, SES Chief Executive Officer Stephen Griffin and others fielding probing questions from the floor on the future of community education and the importance of prevention and effective community engagement. Regional breakouts then followed on the Sunday afternoon giving attendees an opportunity to network with other like-minded members from across their region before the ever passionate CFA Deputy Chief Officer Steve Warrington closed the event with his thoughts on just how important this work is and ‘where to from here’.
Breakout sessions operated throughout the weekend with attendees being given the opportunity to select sessions of most interest to them. This included successful grassroots presentations from members representing Noble Park, Arthurs Creek, Moe South and Upwey CFA brigades in addition to Benalla, Moorabbin and Footscray SES units.
The State Forum aims to bring together the network of members taking on community safety or engagement roles at local CFA brigades and SES units. 92% of attendees rated the event as either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ in what was a great opportunity to showcase successful initiatives and share the best approaches to assist members to better engage with their community. The Forum also supports the changes to brigade and member classification which has formalised a ‘Brigade – Community Safety Coordinator’ on each Brigade Management Team (BMT). The State Forum has proven to be a pivotal part of CFA’s community engagement endeavours over the past 5 years.
Key sessions were recorded and are still available to view via the CFA Livestream account.