Push for more Abo­rig­i­nal fireys

Albany Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Tim Ed­munds

The Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Services hopes to strengthen ties within the lo­cal com­mu­nity and achieve a greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple join­ing to be­come vol­un­teer or ca­reer fire­fight­ers.

The Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Services Abo­rig­i­nal Ad­vance­ment Unit made their first visit to the Great South­ern this week to de­liver ses­sions of Abo­rig­i­nal gov­er­nance train­ing to all DFES ca­reer fire­fight­ers and emer­gency services vol­un­teers.

Abo­rig­i­nal Ad­vance­ment Unit man­ager Tr­ish Wall said the pro- gram had been a suc­cess in the South West lead­ing to the visit this week and hoped the Great South­ern would also em­brace the op­por­tu­nity.

Ms Wall, who was born in War­dandi Coun­try and is a child of the Stolen Gen­er­a­tion, said one of the out­comes of the visit would be for more Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple to be­come fire­fight­ers. “One of the bar­ri­ers (in the past) has been shirt colours,” she said. “The uni­form is very sim­i­lar to po­lice and there has been this fear of author­ity.

“So it’s im­por­tant we defuse that think­ing in the com­mu­nity and that DFES is here for the com­mu­nity.”

Dis­trict man­ager Shane Klun­der, who has been a ca­reer fire­fighter for 17 years, said there were many vol­un­teer and ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties in Fire and Res­cue for Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple.

“The Abo­rig­i­nal Ad­vance­ment Unit can set up in­for­ma­tion ses­sions any­where in the State and push peo­ple to­wards vol­un­teer­ing which may lead to a ca­reer with Fire and Res­cue,” he said.

“If we en­gage one per­son out of 100 as far as con­cerned I’ve changed some­one’s life.” Part of the pro­gram has in­cluded a firefighting ap­pli­ance and two DFES ve­hi­cles fea­tur­ing the art­work of Indige­nous artist Stephen Tay­lor.

Pic­ture: Lau­rie Ben­son

DFES Abo­rig­i­nal Ad­vance­ment Unit man­ager Tr­ish Wall and dis­trict man­ager Shane Klun­der.

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