Volunteering is an integral part of Dustin Barry’s identity.
The Great Western Brigade captain has been a CFA firefighter for 20 years, but remains modest about his contribution to the community.
“It’s just what you do in a small country town. I’d definitely be a different person if I wasn’t volunteering with CFA though.”
Dustin is one of the almost 55,000 CFA volunteers who are being celebrated during National Volunteer Week.
The annual recognition event kicked off on Monday, 18 May and runs through to Sunday, 24 May, with this year’s theme, Changing Communities. Changing Lives.
Like so many others, Captain Barry’s journey started by following in his family’s footsteps, joining the same brigade as his father at the age of 17.
“My old man’s still an active member here, but there were others in the brigade at the time as well; some older fellers that I knew. Most of the people in town were in the fire brigade in that period actually.”
Since then, he’s faced many challenges.
On Black Saturday, Captain Barry was fighting the devastating grassfire near Horsham, and just days later was part of a strike team helping with blacking out and patrol efforts around Alexandra.
And over the recent summer, his interstate deployment to New South Wales was quickly followed by another involvement in a strike team around Corryong.
Now, the brigade’s going through a changing of the guard, with Dustin saying many of the younger volunteers are taking up more roles and responsibility.
“The local farming community’s not as big as it once was, and a lot of them are getting older.
But we’ve while we’ve got an older member base and we’re always looking to expand that, we’ve had a few new members come through.”
Along with his CFA commitments, Dustin also volunteers as a committee member for the local racing club which organises the Great Western Cup in January each year.
“It’s an extraordinary thing that people give up their own time to help others. And not just in an emergency sense, but all the meetings, and community spirit are so important to a small town.
“Australia is lucky that we have such a volunteer base.”