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Young members to shape the future
Young emergency service volunteers from across Victoria will gather in Melbourne this weekend to network and discuss issues the challenges confronting the sector.
Around 130 CFA members from 125 brigades will attend the Youth Forum at Victoria University. They’ll be joined by volunteers from St John Ambulance, Red Cross, SES, Life Saving Victoria, Coast Guard and Ambulance Victoria to talk about the future of volunteerism and recruitment in the emergency services.
CFA’s Learning and Volunteerism Acting Executive Director Kate Harrap said youth make a significant contribution to Victorian communities and were proud of the way that young people challenge convention, respect tradition and innovate.
“CFA is extensively involved with young volunteers with around 10,500 members aged between 11 and 29,” she said.
“To ensure CFA remains contemporary and adapts to change, we must engage the energy, idealism and fresh perspectives of our younger members who give so much of their time to volunteer.
“We want to bottle the essence of what drives young people to volunteer and share it across the community. We must ensure that we encourage, support and build the pipeline of youth for future growth and sustainable volunteerism.
“The future of Volunteerism is bright.”
By 2020, more than half of CFA’s membership is expected to be aged over 55. Ten thousand of CFA’s 60,000 members are aged between 11 and 30 years old.
The forum will also provide volunteers aged 18 to 30 with the opportunity to meet and network with members of other brigades and emergency services.
Eaglehawk Fire Brigade Captain Hayden Allen, 27, is attending the forum. He said became Captain of the busy, urban brigade when he was 25.
“I’ve always been very passionate about getting youth and new people into CFA,” he said.
“The forum will be a great opportunity to help new and young members build confidence and tell them others have gone through similar challenges. It’s also a chance to teach them strategies that have worked in the past.”
Truganina firefighter Stefanie McGeehan will discuss the need for more cultures to be reflected in CFA.
“We experience a lot of different cultures and languages on call outs and sometimes there are communication barriers,” she said.
“It would be great to get these communities more involved in CFA.”