The Swan Hill community has added further strength to their emergency response over the weekend, with eight Fijian CFA members receiving their General Firefighter Course certificates.
Gathered at the Italian Social Club in Swan Hill on Sunday, 2 July, Swan Hill Fire Brigade Captain Michael Howard proudly presented four Swan Hill brigade and four Woorinen South brigade members their operational credentials in a traditional service.
Hailing from Fijian villages, Captain Michael Howard said it has been fantastic to have such diversity within the brigade following their arrival in July last year.
“It’s been great to have the Fijian’s join us. They’ve brought a great deal of their culture to our brigade and imparted a different way of looking at things,” Michael said.
“It’s helped bring our community together and realise the different cultures we have.
“They’re always very happy and joyful to be a part of the team. We all work as one.”
Josateki Vunimasi joined the Swan Hill Brigade last year, moving from his village after COVID-19 impacted the availability of jobs back home.
“I came here under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility program and was lucky enough to come and work at the Abattoir,” Josateki said.
“The Swan Hill community, the way they have welcomed us here, it’s like living back at home in Fiji. They’re so friendly, so kind and so helpful. Especially here at CFA, they’re our family now.
“Everywhere you go, they give us a ‘bulla’ smile.
“Even when I was a kid back at home I always wanted to get on the big truck and wear the uniform.”
Joseph Nacuva from the neighbouring Woorinen South Brigade said although he didn’t know anybody when he arrived at Swan Hill, he wanted to spend his time helping the people of the community.
“The fire safety in my area in Woorinen plays a very important role in helping people and distinguishing how we can put out the fires,” Joseph said.
“By the end of the program I just want to have spent my time helping the people of Swan Hill.”
Although the brigades didn’t actively try and recruit them, Michael’s brief discussion with their Fijian leader who approached him was more than enough to build their eagerness and excitement to uncover what CFA is all about.
“It’s been great to bring new people in and new blood into the brigade.”
- Swan Hill Fijian brigade members
- Swan Hill Captain Michael Howard
- Presentation ceremony