Starting from Monday, 22 June Dandenong’s main fire truck will feature two displays of professional Aboriginal artwork on both sides of the appliance.
Members of Dandenong Fire Brigade were proud to unveil the new artwork to the community today, which was painted by a local Aboriginal artist on the brigade’s main pumper appliance.
Qualified Firefighter Aaron Felmingham, a proud Yorta Yorta man, of Dandenong Fire Brigade said the he and a number of other members of the brigade had the idea after they spoke with members of NSW Fire and Rescue who had placed Aboriginal artwork on their appliances to acknowledge First Nations People.
“NSW fire services have found these initiatives to be really valuable in strengthening their connection with the Aboriginal community,” QFF Felmingham said.
“The Aboriginal community is an important and significant part of our wider community and it’s important we are able to find new ways to connect and communicate with them to ensure we can continue to keep everybody safe from fire.”
Artist, Uncle Ian Harrison, said the piece was inspired by the recent summer bushfires.
“The painting I did for the CFA was inspired by the latest bushfires that ravished through East Gippsland; my father’s Country, the Gunai Kurnai people,” Uncle Ian said.
“The hands around the camp sites represents the healing and comfort for the community that was affected by the bushfires, the burnt trees depict the mark left by the fires and the symbols at the bottom reflect the strong Aboriginal culture throughout our Country.”
The brigade has been engaged with the local Aboriginal community over time to develop a way it can continue to show support to Indigenous peoples in a unique and positive way.
QFF Felmingham said the members have explored other ways to strengthen their connection with the local Aboriginal community by arranging for occasional visits to the local community centre to meet the Aboriginal youth.
“We started talking to the local mob and we all started learning and got an insight into why the Aboriginal community may not connect with their local fire brigade as strongly as we would like them to,” QFF Felmingham said.
“We had the opportunity to speak with a lot of the kids, play sports with them, learn from them and teach them about what we do and how we keep our community safe.”
CFA Deputy Chief Officer South East Region Trevor Owen said CFA is proud to show its support for the First Nations People in this way.
“We value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and welcome them to engage with their local brigades,” DCO Owen said.
“Initiatives like this strengthen our connection and it helps keep communities safe, which is our top priority.”