Wednesday 27 May marks the start of National Reconciliation Week 2020.
National Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May – 3 June and is a week for all Australians to reflect on our shared histories, cultures and achievements and learn about what each of us can do to support the national reconciliation effort.
For CFA, National Reconciliation Week is a time to reflect on what more we can do to improve Aboriginal inclusion and respect across our organisation.
CEO/Chief Officer Steve Warrington said CFA is proud to recognise its Indigenous members and all its members who have worked in their communities to promote Aboriginal cultural awareness.
“There are some very important lessons for us particularly in relation to fire and traditional burning that can be learnt from Aboriginal culture and history,” Steve said.
“Let us use this week to reflect on the work that has already been done and the work that is still needed to improve Aboriginal inclusion.”
CFA Cultural Heritage Advisor Michael Sherwen said it’s important to celebrate Reconciliation Week as there is still important work to be done.
“CFA today as an organisation has taken significant steps forward with building an understanding of working with Indigenous communities across Victoria,” Michael said.
“When Reconciliation Week first started in 2001 I was a 16-year-old CFA volunteer, and the priority then was life and property and Minimum Skills.
“So much has changed with interest in cultural values, cultural fire and communities working together; it’s extraordinary to be a part of.
“Members and communities working together have led to where we are today.”
CFA’s Koori Inclusion Action Plan, The Victorian Cultural Fire Strategy, fuel management JFMP program, Community Engagement and Volunteer and Sustainability are all areas that have ambassadors reflecting this week’s reconciliation theme.
“It is important that during Reconciliation Week we take the time to learn, respect, and walk with each other,” Michael said.
The ABC has created a documentary episode published on 24 May featuring some members of Michael’s family. The episode can be found on the iview website.
“I encourage members to watch this episode to understand Indigenous culture. A mutual understanding of one another is the key to moving forward as one.”
Morwell Brigade Firefighter Amanda Hill said she was excited about the steps CFA was taking to become more inclusive.
“I’m a woman of proud Torres Strait Island descent who grew up in far East Gippsland,” Amanda said.
“I was working in the fitness industry before joining the fire brigade and was a fair bit of a job hopper over the years, trying my hand at many different fields.
“My biggest achievement in the fire service so far is becoming a firefighter,” Amanda said. “I am still pretty new in this journey that is my dream job, but my life definitely changed for the better the day I got that acceptance phone call.
“I am lucky enough to be working with very passionate people on super exciting projects, such as creating better pathways for Indigenous Australians to become fireys.
“I’m looking forward to the next chapter in the fire service for everyone and exited for new possibilities that lie ahead for Indigenous Australians in our organisation.”