MIL-OSI Australia: Celebrative NAIDOC Week for Bunjil Fire Brigade

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Source: Victoria Country Fire Authority

CFA Chief Executive Officer Natalie MacDonald presenting registration to Kurnai woman and Bunjil firefighter Charmaine Sellings

This NAIDOC Week, CFA’s indigenous-led firefighting crew gathered to celebrate the formation of Bunjil Fire Brigade and the extension to their fire station facilities.

CFA Chief Executive Officer Natalie MacDonald headed to Bunjil today (11 July) to mark the event.

Kurnai woman and Bunjil firefighter Charmaine Sellings, a leading advocate for the brigade and region for over 20 years, was thrilled with the decision that recognises them as an independent brigade.

“Because it’s NAIDOC Week, it’s a time to celebrate everybody coming together, not only in our community, but people from other areas as well,” Charmaine said.

“To now have leadership and management rights for firefighting on our own country is really exciting.

“Over time there has been a significant reduction in fires which shows we’re doing a really important job of looking after our people and the cultural assets here on the Trust.”

Gunaikurnai Cultural Heritage representative Wayne Hood opened the event with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony before CEO Natalie MacDonald presented the certificate of registration.

“We are proud to officially recognise the establishment of the Bunjil Fire Brigade and visit their new and improved station this NAIDOC Week,” Natalie said.

“The NAIDOC Week theme is fitting, ‘Keep the Fire Burning, Blak Loud and Proud’ and speaks volumes here in the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust community.

“The brigade plays an important role educating other crews right across Victoria about the importance of recognising cultural history and traditional sites.”

Many members of CFA joined local community members, partner agencies and the Mayor of East Gippsland Shire to celebrate the new-look station, which was originally opened in 2006.

The station’s extension now holds a permanent toilet, a Personal Protective Clothing (PPC) store, a kitchenette and a small room for brigade training.

Deputy Chief Officer South East Trevor Owen and Assistant Chief Fire Officer District 11 Daryll Hunter also had the honour of presenting 20-year service medals to three long-standing co-founders of the brigade – Charmaine Sellings, Ronda Thorpe and Katrina Mullett.

“We’re recruiting a number of new volunteers from the local community to join our co-founders and they’re making their way through the process now.” Trevor said.

In July 2023, CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan approved the establishment of Bunjil on the Lake Tyers Trust in line with the principle of self-determination.

Submitted by CFA Media