Mobile community education vans, ultra-light tankers, station equipment and a transformative volunteer leadership program will be funded thanks to more than $20.5m in donations received over the extreme 2019-20 fire season.
CFA Chief Officer and CEO Steve Warrington said CFA members were beyond grateful for the outpouring of support over summer.
“CFA was incredibly humbled by the influx of donations from all over Australia and the world during the extreme 2019-20 season,” he said.
“From Kylie Jenner, Chris Hemsworth, Metallica and significant corporate donors, to everyday people giving what they could - every donated dollar was an acknowledgement of the vital and often dangerous work our members do in protecting their communities.
“Our largest donation was $1.84m generated by private citizen and former Portland resident Jodie Silva on a Facebook fundraiser - a hugely generous initiative.
“We cannot thank our donors enough; it means so much to our members.”
Funds were allocated in consultation with the CFA volunteer representative body, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria, and in line with suggestions and requests from members.
Donors generously gave about $5.3m to nominated brigades or districts to spend at their discretion. Recipients were predominantly brigades impacted by the summer’s fires and items purchased so far have included ultra-light tankers for each of Cudgewa and Nariel Valley brigades, field command vehicles for Lakes Entrance and Mallacoota and a mobile generator for CFA’s District 11 (East Gippsland). In addition to the donated funds, land has also been donated for a new fire station in Metung.
$950,000 will go towards 10 mobile education vehicles to be located throughout regional Victoria. The vehicles will be staffed by CFA members who will deliver bushfire safety education to Victorian communities, schools, public events and tourist hotspots. The vehicles will also be deployed to support and educate communities during major incidents.
A tools and equipment program is well underway to supply more than $4.8m in items which will provide an immediate benefit to brigades. CFA’s District Planning Committees are in the process of ordering items for their brigades from a shortlist. Hoses, mobile toilet trailers, defibrillators, thermal imaging cameras, washing machines and chainsaws are just some of the 28 items on the shortlist.
$500,000 will be spent on more than 300 mobile tablets for use by volunteer trainers and assessors to enhance and expand CFA’s growing online training program. Each region will be allocated a set which can be used individually for training presentations or as mobile 'class sets' to allow flexible learning at a station or any other location. Online training has become a vital tool with thousands of volunteers accessing training flexibly every year at a time which suits them.
Approximately $9m over five years will be invested in a transformative leadership and development program for volunteers. Packages will be tailored and inclusive, allowing CFA to build capability at all levels and grow holistic leadership skills which complement the traditional 'command and control' style. The program will develop current leaders and establish a scholarship fund to grow a pool of aspiring leaders and ensure the sustainability of brigades into the future.
“Training and leadership opportunities are consistently identified by members as a top priority and this significant, long-term investment in our people will be crucial in shaping CFA’s future as a volunteer-focused organisation,” CO/CEO Warrington said.
“I believe we have struck a good balance between funding practical tools and equipment brigades can benefit from right now, and longer-term initiatives that will transform and enhance the CFA volunteer experience into the future.”
Chair of the CFA & Brigades Donation Trust Graeme Jilbert said that the intention of donors was a top consideration in allocating funds.
“When people donate to CFA, they want the money to be spent supporting our hard-working volunteers.
“Careful consideration has gone into the allocation of funds to ensure every donated dollar is enhancing the volunteer experience and making their job a little easier,” he said.
Those who donated $200,000 or more included:
- Ben Luckock and family, his colleagues and global business associates at Trafigura, supported by the Trafigura Foundation
- Crown Resorts
- Chris Hemsworth
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia
- Hengyi Pacific Pty Ltd
- Jodie Silva’s Facebook fundraiser
- Kylie Jenner
- Kirkland Lake Gold
- Metal Manufactures Pty Limited
- Metallica’s philanthropic foundation All Within My Hands
- Newcrest Mining
- TEG Dainty and TEG Live (FIRE FIGHT AUSTRALIA - Concert for National Bushfire Relief)
(Note, some major donors declined to be named)