A CFA volunteer dedicated to increasing diversity and investing in our youth has been honoured with an Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM).
Gill Metz of Riddells Creek Fire Brigade received the honour today as part of the 2022 Australia Day Honours.
Starting her CFA journey 22 years ago, Gill has held many roles throughout her time as a volunteer, including firefighter, secretary and lieutenant.
Alongside this, Gill has worked for CFA as a member of staff, as well as working for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, holding the roles of Assistant Chief Officer, and Deputy Chief Fire Officer.
Gill has been a fierce driver for change during her time at CFA, advocating for increased youth engagement and increased diversity in our brigades.
She said the best way for us to adequately engage with our communities is to ensure we are reflective of them.
“To work with our communities, we need to reflect our communities,” Gill said.
“The capability of an organisation is linked to diversity.
“You have to think: ‘can I walk in their shoes? Do I understand their challenges?’ when thinking about your local community.
“When working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities, the key is not only understanding how their culture works, but also for them to see themselves reflected in your organisation. You become trusted.”
Gill said that when she first joined CFA, her local area was going through a period of rapid growth and this was a driver invest in young people and increase diversity.
“When I was working in District 14 (back when it was Outer Metro Norwest), we were going through huge growth, and it was obvious we had to appeal to more than just the traditional cohort.
“Investing in young people is so important because they truly are our future and bring new skills and outlooks to brigades and the organisation as a whole.”
Gill said diversity is a team effort.
“Developing our Brigade Management Teams (BMTs) as a complete unit rather than the individual positions, I think is key to our success, because with the diversity of roles in a BMT you can then get a diversity of people and that makes us stronger.
“My brigade has a diverse BMT and I really feel it benefits the brigade. We are stronger in our combined leadership.”
Gill said she is incredibly proud to be nominated for and receive an AFSM.
“It’s very humbling to be nominated and I’m very honoured.
“For me, it’s a recognition of all the people who continue to challenge the status quo and want to improve the lives of our frontline volunteers and want to improve the culture and efficiency of CFA as an organisation.
“I’m extremely grateful for my family, friends and mentors who trusted me, made sacrifices and supported me on this journey, because you can’t do it on your own.”