CFA volunteers leading the way

Four CFA members in North East Region have completed a number of different leadership programs including the Alpine Valley Community Leadership Program (AVCLP).


Programs such as AVCLP are delivered each year with up to 24 participants selected to represent a diverse range of ages, professions and communities. Participants meet fortnightly, at locations across the region, to work with the region’s most outstanding leaders.

The program also includes overnight retreats, where the personal leadership skills of the participants are developed. The program culminates with visits to Melbourne and Canberra, to meet with leaders who are ordinarily not accessible to those living in regional Victoria.

The program is undertaken over ten months, from February through to November. Scholarships are given through the Enhancing Volunteerism Grants Program (EVGP)

The scholarship recipients develop their personal leadership skills, knowledge of the region and network of the community and business leaders - all skills that will be used in their roles within the brigades, groups or the district/region. 

District 23 and North East Region Volunteer Sustainability Team applied for the AVCLP initially in 2018. Lesley Forman and Fiona Corfield also completed the program in 2019.

Glenn Mercer and Craig Thorp are the latest two CFA volunteers to graduate from AVCLP supported by the EVGP funding.

CFA volunteers Monique Hillenaar (sponsored by Wangaratta Rural City) and Murray Bennett (sponsored by Agriculture Victoria) also graduated from AVCLP.

Glenn, Craig, Monique and Murray were all part of strike teams that supported the 2019-20 Walwa fires.

While completing AVCLP, the group attended a program day in the Upper Murray at Corryong, where they were able to revisit the area where their strike teams had supported the community.

Milawa brigade member Glenn Mercer said it was good to be able to share experiences and pass on knowledge to each other both during the fires and after when they were all in Corryong as part of AVCLP.

“It turns out that all the volunteers in this year’s program were in strike teams that responded to the 2019-20 Walwa fires," Glenn said.

“Murray responded early on the morning of 31 December, and myself and Craig turned out as part of a relief strike team in the early morning of 31 December.

“We were manning the Springhurst tanker as a relief crew and continued fighting the fire all day and left Corryong around 11pm.

“We dealt with numerous spot fires, a house fire, two shed fires and numerous running grass fires.

“We were also on asset protection around Corryong and met up with Murray briefly on that morning.

“Monique was part of a strike team around Corryong area a day or two later.”

Glenn gave credit to the program and said he had been asked previously some years ago to undertake the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program when he was living in Boort (North West Victoria). However, he was unable to do this because of time and cost.

“When the opportunity arose for one of two CFA scholarships, I thought now is the time and having lived in the area for the last four years I wanted to grow my community networks, skills and also see what other hidden gems are in the Alpine Valleys area.

“The best skill I learned from the program was to be able to learn and grow my leadership skills to further enhance CFA, local community and region.

“It was great to be able to share stories and revisit the area to view how recovery takes place and what is done in terms of leadership during a crisis. Resilience was often mentioned during the program and really did show both during the fires and also in recovery.”

Moyhu brigade member Craig Thorpe said the AVCLP course had far exceeded his expectations and was a great insight into the region. 

For more information on leadership programs or any other questions please email, Volunteer Sustainability Team- North East Region, Michelle Critchley.

Glenn Mercer and Craig Thorp

Author: North East VST