Terry Heafield with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle Maclean
District 4 Commander Terry Heafield has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Inclusion and Fairness Champion Award in this year’s ceremony.
Terry has been a career firefighter with CFA for almost 20 years. Starting out as a volunteer at Melton Fire Brigade in 2001 and then being stationed at Corio fresh out of recruitment training. In 2017 Terry relocated to Portland where he has since worked tirelessly to ensure a healthy work environment for staff and volunteers.
“I really do care about people and helping people to develop themselves to achieve their best. COVID-19 has really slowed things down, but I’m still happy to travel to brigades to discuss mental health,” Terry said.
Terry actively mentors people both internal and external to CFA, offering guidance and support to people with challenging life situations, and gives his time tirelessly to many individuals and volunteer organisations across the region.
Mental health and wellbeing is Terry's passion and focus which is demonstrated by his consistent participation in mental health and wellbeing awareness raising initiatives and activities, including bike rides, long walks and guest speaking opportunities such as the 2018 Emergency Service Foundation Volunteer Leaders Forum where he received a standing ovation and in the same year was interviewed for Foxtel’s ‘The Sally-Anne Show’.
Terry has also presented at several United Firefighters Union (UFU) Spouses and Partners Forums, and facilitated several R U OK? Days while also undertaking an ambassador role for White Ribbon to mention only a handful of the activities and initiatives he has participated in.
In 2016, following his own personal struggle with mental health and as part of his own journey of recovery, Terry embarked on a ‘Don’t Do It Alone’ bike ride around Victoria to raise awareness about mental health issues in the fire services.
“I knew what I was doing was making a difference when I got a call in the middle of nowhere asking for the Wellbeing Support Line number. That was humbling,” Terry said.
Terry is an inspiring leader and has not been afraid to share his mental health journey. But more importantly, his door is always open, he is compassionate and is a good listener. He willingly and openly shares the stories about his own struggle with mental health and encourages others to do the same.
“My personal journey with mental health has made me more aware of my own limits, of knowing when I’m having a not-so-great day and still being able to put that aside and be there for others if they need me,” he said.
Terry is not only well known for his skills in creating conversations about mental health and wellbeing, but also about diversity and equality. He is especially passionate about standing up for volunteers and being a voice of reason in a world that can get caught up in the ‘small stuff’. He is not afraid to have challenging discussions.
Terry also provides mentorship and support to young people and individuals in his community, where he is a valued leader who passionately passes on his knowledge and skills to help members of his community of all ages learn how to improve their life.
To support this Terry has undertaken and continues to undertake mental health-related training including Matter of Respect, Mental Health First Aid, Working Mind for First Responders, Suicide Prevention and many others.
“It’s not just about the people at CFA, it’s really about the whole community. I care about my community and want to make sure that people in my community feel they have somewhere to turn when they need someone to talk to.
“It’s really important too that young people feel comfortable expressing their feelings and learn how to do so effectively.”
Terry continually supports opportunities for members from all backgrounds to achieve their best and stands up and speaks out for equality of all members and the wider community.
He is known to call out inappropriate behaviour no matter the setting and tries to set high standards for both himself and the brigades he is involved with.