Spirit of CFA Award for Excellence in Innovation

Member News image Lauren Young with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle Maclean


Our Community Engagement Program Team and Content Team received the Spirit of CFA Excellence in Innovation Award in recognition of the hard work and planning they put into reaching out to our communities during COVID-19.


During restrictions, communities were unable to come together to receive information in the conventional way through community meetings, town halls, or other face-to-face service delivery approaches.

In order to mitigate the risk, the team worked together to rethink CFA's strategy for community participation.

“To do this we had to make significant operational changes to the planning, design, processes and strategies for statewide community involvement,” Senior Engagement Adviser Christina Hanger said.

Christina led several workshops with key stakeholders from across CFA to develop a business case for the implementation of Zoom as a community-facing engagement platform. In close collaboration with the ICT team, the team also developed processes, guidance material, live training and recorded tutorials for CFA’s online Learning Hub.

“This shift to digital engagement ensured the relationship between CFA and community could be maintained – despite lockdowns and disruption to regular face-to-face activities in the community.

“Information relevant to local communities could still be delivered – in an engaging, meaningful and professional way – using attractive resources via a skilled CFA presenter.”

“Had the team not taken the initiative to undertake this program, under significant pressure due to short deadlines, there would have been very limited engagement with communities throughout 2020 to March 2021,” Team Leader of Program Development Paul Harris said.

“This is of significance considering the impact of the 2019-20 Black Summer fires and the growing expectation of communities to be able to access tailored information when they need it – in a format that suits them”.

“This program also ensured CFA had baseline capability to run sessions with community if there was a significant fire. This positioned CFA as the leader in this space, with training resources and advice provided to support capability building efforts of partner emergency services agencies including Emergency Management Victoria.”

Lauren Young, who accepted the award on behalf of the team stated it was a very special occasion.

“I was honoured to attend as a representative of the project team made up of myself, Christina Hanger, Chris Barber and Lisa Mackenzie. But more than that, it was a chance to think back on and thank everyone else who helped the project to be implemented successfully, including the regional coordination staff, front line facilitators, and other HQ teams,” Lauren said.

“It is fantastic to have this work recognised for improving the way we engage our communities in fire safety and preparedness . The award, in my opinion, highlights what CFA can accomplish under trying conditions when we all work together.”

As a result, CFA was able to keep up its participation levels with communities despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

This program will inform ongoing improvement processes to get CFA ready for a hybrid involvement (a mix of online and face-to-face sessions) now that face-to-face engagement activities have resumed.

Congratulations, team. Digital delivery is now the new norm for community participation.


Submitted by CFA Media