Working as a Cultural Diversity Engagement Officer with CFA for the past four years has allowed me to engage with many multicultural communities around Victoria and build relationships.
My role is to deliver CFA’s Home Fire Safety programs to culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD) in South East Region. However, most of my work relates to building relationships, trust and support.
It’s important to try to open up paths to communities that perhaps haven’t been open to CFA before. My role has allowed me to visit different venues around the region and throughout Victoria to engage these communities.
Both my parents were born in Lebanon and moved to Australia to start a better life. Being Australian-born admittedly means I don’t speak much Arabic, but I have a strong connection to my culture.
I think coming from a multicultural background myself makes me a good match for my role in CFA. I can relate and connect to the communities I speak with and they trust me. It’s important to build these relationships, discuss their history and family and talk through issues they may be facing.
Because of this, I've had the opportunity to attend the premises of the local Aboriginal cooperative and many faith sites with Dandenong Fire Brigade to familiarise themselves with the buildings and customs in the event of an emergency.
By engaging multicultural communities we are able to bring their knowledge and skills to the table. CFA brigades will also understand how to best serve their communities and ways to provide fire safety advice.
I am currently working on a new program called ‘Firefighter for a day’ which has been adopted from the NSW Rural Fire Service, which allows individuals to become a firefighter for a month. The program will allow individuals to complete various training and development and provides them important information into what CFA does.
Cultural Diversity Week is a great opportunity for CFA members and Victorians to celebrate our diverse communities.
CFA has been working hard to reflect the range of communities in Victoria but there's still work to be done. Take the opportunity this week to understand the different cultures we have living among us. Let’s move forward to be an even more diverse CFA.