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Aboriginal Firefighter Cadets already helping the community
Wednesday 19 August 2015 – 1:35 PM

Following the launch of the DFES Aboriginal Firefighter Cadetship Program earlier this year, the cadets have already started to put their skills to the test.  

During a visit to Medina Primary School to take part in a National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) initiative, cadets rose to the challenge when a portion of a classroom ceiling unexpectedly collapsed.
 
By reassuring distressed students and teachers, closing off the room and liaising with multiple emergency services on their arrival, the recruits demonstrated their ability to serve the people of Western Australia and provided a glimpse of their potential.
 
Although they have only completed a few months of training, the cadets are showing their confidence in applying integral skills they have been taught during the program to real life situations, including leadership, teamwork and communication.
 
Project Manager Heidi Mippy said recruitment data from recent years shows that DFES has only been attracting a small number of applicants from diverse groups with only 1.2 per cent of applicants identifying as Aboriginal.
 
“This program is a significant step in the right direction and one that I am confident will have a positive effect on our workforce and the wider community,” Heidi said.
 
“The newly formed training program is the first of its kind and is designed to increase the competitiveness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ applications within the trainee firefighter recruitment process, which should lead to an increase in the number of Aboriginal employees within the fire service.
 
“Cadets are employed full time for a year and provided with on the job training and experience as well as a personalised fitness schedule.”
 
Deputy Commissioner Lloyd Bailey said the 12 month cadetship was an innovative program for potential recruits.
 
“While it is highly challenging it is also an extremely rewarding opportunity with the fire and rescue services, which includes both practical and theoretical components with a focus on essential skills,” Deputy Commissioner Bailey said.
 
“Cadets receive personal guidance and support from mentors and qualified assessors, helping them in every way possible to meet all the requirements to become a trainee firefighter, and therefore become more competitive to be selected into a trainee firefighter school.”
 
Amongst their many activities the Aboriginal firefighter cadets have been participating in various station drills, assisting Medina Primary School and Purnululu Independent Community School with their NAIDOC art projects and sporting activities, and participating in Noongar traditional burning and cultural enrichment programs.
 
The program is partly supported through the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy’s - Jobs, Land and Economy Program with the aim of bolstering Aboriginal employment opportunities in Western Australia. 
 
For more information on subsequent cadetship rounds visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au/registerme or contact Aboriginal Employment Development Officer Heidi Mippy on 0403 849 015.
 
Cadets have their say
 
"I have learnt more about my culture and about being proud of who I am, which in turn has made me more confident and professional in everything I do." - Phillip
 
"This program has given me the opportunity to improve my maths, spelling, comprehension and mechanical reasoning knowledge, along with developing my leadership skills." - Jayden
 
"I applied for the program to get a first-hand taste at what being a firefighter is like. I saw this opportunity as a chance to get real world training and to gain knowledge around a profession I am passionate about." - Sam
 
"I have expanded my knowledge, skills and all round actions as a person in many different ways since applying and becoming a part of the cadet team. I have more self-confidence, general motivation, awareness of Aboriginal culture and a clearer view of where my life could take me." - Bradley