Donation from Mindaroo Foundation for Bush Fire Cadetship Program

Published on Friday, 18 December 2020 at 1:43:28 PM

Last Friday (11 December) the Minderoo Foundation made a special donation to Gingin District High School as part of its Resilient Communities Mission. This donation totalled over $25,000 and was gladly received by the students and teachers involved in the Bush Fire Cadetship Program.

“It (the donation) is a huge boost for our program,” said Deputy Principal, Andrea Vis. “It means that we can now get a class set of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which probably doesn’t seem huge in the scheme of things but for us it’s massive. What that actually means is that we can expand the practical component to take kids out doing some hands on fire training which is more than we could manage this year. It opens up the program for better development and better education for the students.”

Shire of Gingin Chief Bush Fire Control Officer / Community Emergency Services Manager, Phil Barrett, said the donation from the Minderoo Foundation to Gingin DHS was a fantastic result.

“We’re extremely grateful that Andrew & Nicola Forrest and the Minderoo Foundation have chosen to make this donation to the school. Shire staff have given up their time free of charge to undertake this program in partnership with the school and supported by DFES and the Gingin Volunteer Fire & Rescue Service. This donation from Minderoo will go a long way towards helping us to fully establish the program and ensure its longevity.”

The grassroots training program was developed by the Shire of Gingin in partnership with Gingin District High School (DHS) as a key element of the Shire’s ongoing strategies to build community resilience and firefighting operational capacity. The large scale bush fire north of Perth that burned through 12,000 hectares of land and threatened 6,000 homes in December 2019 highlighted the value of such a program in addition to an existing desire for the Shire to better source local volunteers.

The fire saw some students from Gingin DHS fighting on the frontline with their parents as the blaze approached Woodridge. It was the second major fire to affect local communities within the Shire in less than 6 months after a blaze damaged several classrooms at the school in August 2019.

After initial discussions, the Shire of Gingin worked with Gingin DHS and were supported by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and Gingin Volunteer Fire & Rescue Service (Gingin VFRS) to develop an educational program aimed at raising awareness and building capacity within the students and the community at large to handle bush fires and other fire related emergencies.

The compulsory 16-week program for Year 10 students is now part of the school’s core curriculum and educates pupils about fire safety, firefighting and bush fire management. Students graduate the program with a DFES Bushfire Safety Awareness and Bush Fire Firefighting qualification.

The cadetship in its inaugural year was taught by two Shire staff being Phil Barrett, the Chief Bush Fire Control Officer / Community Emergency Services Manager and Dave Wilson, Bush Fire Risk Planning Coordinator. Both have set aside two afternoons per week to undertake this program in conjunction with DFES and it gives the students great insight into what it is like to be a local volunteer fire fighter and a valuable member of the community.

Gingin VFRS also assisted with teaching this program as the host brigade. Captain Nikki Woods, supported by Gingin VFRS Brigade members, assisted with the practical training of the students. On completion of the program some of the students may potentially go on to be members of the Gingin VFRS whilst others may choose to join their local bush fire brigade.

“As part of Minderoo Foundation’s comprehensive response to Australia’s 2019-20 Black Summer bush fires, we are proud to support innovative programs that build resilience and equip communities to better deal with disasters,” Minderoo Foundation Co-Chair Nicola Forrest said.

“We have since launched Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative which is helping communities to access support and resources to mitigate their disaster risk and bounce back stronger.”

Minderoo Foundation Resilient Communities Mission lead, Kim Wilkie, said the Gingin DHS program was an excellent example of how communities could be equipped with the skills and resources to prepare for and respond to bushfires.

“We’re committed to supporting local programs like this which aim to inspire young people to take an active role in preparing for and fighting fires,” Mr Wilkie said. “We will be drawing from the lesson papers and curriculum content that has been developed from this program to further expand it in fire prone district high schools across Western Australia and in other States and Territories.”


For further media details please contact:

Miranda Wallace
T: (08) 9575 5150

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