North-east firefighters are among the thousands of volunteers being celebrated as part of National Volunteer Week.
Greg Whitaker, who's been a volunteer at Edi Fire Brigade since moving to the area 25 years ago, said volunteering is one of his most important values.
“I grew up being told that you always do you part to help other people,” said Mr Whitaker.
“I was a football trainer for a local club in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs for 10 years and was involved in St John’s Ambulance for about 8 years as well.”
“Now I enjoy when we go out as a brigade on the fire truck, and I particularly enjoy helping training new members and passing my experience on to them.
“Volunteers are important for small communities. We have the fire brigade, primary school committees, the hall, and local tennis club in the area which all rely on volunteers and wouldn’t’ exist without them.”
This year’s National Volunteer Week theme is 'Better Together' which holds true to CFA.
CFA is one of the world’s largest volunteer emergency services with 54,000 volunteers and more than 1,200 brigades across Victoria.
Chiltern Fire Brigade’s Kurt Sorensen has been a CFA volunteer since he was 11 years old and said volunteering is part of his family.
“My father’s the vice-president at the local football club and my mother runs the canteen, plus my brothers and partner play footy and netball there as well,” he said.
Mr Sorensen’s volunteering with CFA extends beyond the brigade, with the young member also stepping up to be part of the District 24 Youth Reference Group, and the State Youth Reference Group.
“They both work in slightly different ways as the local group is about getting young members together and sharing the experiences and ideas from their group, then feeding that into the local Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO).
“In the state team though, we receive a topic each week then we come together and identify what we can be doing better from a youth perspective, before advising the CFA Chief Officer and CEO which helps them make decisions.”
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said National Volunteer Week is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering which gives us the chance to recognise the vital work of our volunteers.
“Our members selflessly provide assistance to community members across the state, taking time away from their families, friends and workplaces, to help others,” he said.
“As a former volunteer firefighter myself, I know that volunteering can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
“Our volunteers come from all walks off life; they are tradies, lawyers, nurses, chefs and farmers – just to name a few.
“The diversity of skills and expertise our volunteers bring to their CFA roles further boosts their brigades and the organisation, for which we are very grateful.”
CFA Chief Executive Officer Natalie MacDonald said this week and every week we thank our dedicated volunteers for the incredible contributions towards keeping Victorians safe.
“I am continuously impressed by the ongoing hard-work and professionalism of our volunteers,” CEO MacDonald said.
“They sacrifice their personal time to protect and serve Victorians and they are leaders and educators in their communities.”
Find out more about volunteering with CFA at https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/volunteer-careers/volunteers
- Kurt Sorensen - Chiltern Fire Brigade
- Greg Whitaker - Edi Fire Brigade