Noble Park brigade members Elise Gregory, James Smith and Shasha Jayasinghe
Diversity is the key to success at Noble Park’s CFA brigade with more than 15 languages spoken by their members.
Captain Matt Pond said their community is one of Australia’s most diverse and they strive hard to reflect the community in their brigade.
“Having brigade members who speak different languages has paid dividends in many ways.” he said.
During a recent safer homes smoke alarm installation program, brigade members met several non-English speaking residents.
The members who speak numerous languages were able to translate and discuss the need for working smoke alarms and residential fire safety while CFA members installed new smoke alarms to help make homes safer.
The 31 volunteers inspected over 170 properties and installed a new 10-year lithium smoke alarm free of charge in homes that did not have working smoke alarms.
Matt has been a CFA member for 19 years and Noble Park Captain for the past two-and-a-half years. He says the diversity and language skills also help with emergency call outs and has helped with recruitment of more members.
“These people thought they wouldn’t be able to join the brigade because their English wasn’t good enough.” he said.
Wanting to recruit more women too, Matt made sure Noble Park had the right culture where everyone felt valued and welcome.
“We’ve worked really hard to build the right environment in the brigade. Everyone feels they have a role and it’s a safe place,” he said.
“In the past year, we’ve had two recruit courses and we’ve had incredible success recruiting women. We recruited 16 women and nine men. And our women volunteers reach out to women they know, which also leads to new members.
“I’m proud of the brigade’s environment and its gender and ethnic diversity.”
Largely thanks to the demographic and Matt’s desire to rebuild the brigade with a younger base, Noble Park’s member age profile is quite different to many across Victoria.
“I’m in my mid-thirties and one of the oldest operational members.” he said.
The brigade has strong connections with its community and spends a lot of time reaching out to them.
“Every week we engage with our community. Our level of activity is much higher than the average brigade. We want to ensure our community members are as safe as possible.” he said.