When 2022 rolled around, the Girls on Fire team walked out into a very strange world indeed. The need for fire and disaster preparedness, prevention, management and recovery were hitting the news. Devastating scenes out of Lismore began the year and damn near broke our hearts. Indeed, plans to hold a camp in Lismore were placed on hold as the town struggled with the aftermath. These images haven’t abated for a New South Wales that has faced catastrophic floods in the Central West, Far West and Riverina.
It makes us all the more resolved to enable communities through:
- Acting as a way to engage young people with the fire and disaster preparedness message
- Invite them to see their future as a volunteer and/or as frontline personal protecting their communities
- Giving entire towns skills through these young people and early-stage interagency cooperation
And above all else, giving people hope when the chips are down through training, visibility and connections forged that help bring everyone together.
To raise a girl on fire takes a whole lot of villages
Thank you NAB Foundation & NAB
This year, Girls on Fire welcomed a commitment from NAB that gave us the ability to power forward in ways we had not anticipated. NAB has personally and financially invested in the Girls on Fire ethos. NAB, with support from NAB Foundation has been instrumental in transforming Girls on Fire from program to fully fledged incorporated not-for-profit. They have helped build a solid foundation and taken a personal interest in Bronnie’s professional development. NAB Foundation has opened their hearts and their rolodex, connecting Girls on Fire to the resources of the likes of Australian Business Volunteers, sponsored television coverage for the programs, and genuinely walked the walk with their commitment to help safeguard communities by funding projects that prepare for natural disasters.
With help from NAB and the NAB Foundation, we’ve:
- Rolled out of a greater number of Girls Fire & Resilience Programs in areas impacted by the 2019 and 2020 bushfires such as Newcastle where we shot a commercial the good work NAB do
- Promoted cultural inclusion in Southwestern Sydney and as part of Reconciliation Week in Tamworth
- Committed to research on the effectiveness of our programs with Dr Karen Lambert from the School of Curriculum Teaching and inclusive Education in the Faculty of Education, Monash University to grow our capabilities with the Girls on Fire programs.
With this partnership continuing to 2025, NAB is committed to not only the future of Girls on Fire, but to raising a generation of young people committed to safeguarding communities for all time.
Thank you, RIEP and DET
Much of regional Australia faces issues with the brain drain. With a team with strong roots with regional Australia, Girls on Fire know all too well the tug between wanting to stay in the beautiful country yet moving to the city to find jobs and opportunity.
Our partnership with RIEP is changing this for girls everywhere throughout New South Wales.
Regional Industry Education Partnerships (RIEP) connects local industry and secondary school communities. They work with the Department of Education to create alternative pathways for young people that may not see their future at university or in the city. RIEP created the opportunity for twenty individual camps to be run throughout New South Wales. A scheme designed to connect local industry with school communities, the Girls on Fire camps aim to provide practical experience and insight into life with the emergency services. All while developing skills that can transform each individual girl’s perspective on their community, working in a team and their own personal capability and contribution to society.
That’s 290 girls we’ve educated in fire and disaster management with RIEP’s help. And the potential for 100 more to consider emergency services as a viable future career.
From A to Wollongong, Girls on Fire flew the flag for girls everywhere making a career out of community service through disaster prevention. We will be giving you an inside look to some of our 2022 camps with our case studies series shortly.
We look forward to exploring the relationship further in 2023.
Thank you agency partners
Any of the first responders and emergency service personnel throughout the country know that we often only find each other at the conferences or during the disasters. A wonderful side effect of Girls on Fire has been the ability to bring together so many committed agencies, paid and volunteer, who give up their time, energy and acumen in service of their country.
This year alone, we worked with six outstanding partners in NSW Fire and Rescue, Rural Fire Service, Air Services Australia, The SES, National Parks and Wildlife, Forestry Corporation and welcomed two new friends in agency VRA Rescue NSW and our incredibly generous equipment sponsor, Chubb Fire and Security into the fray.
Bringing together so many agencies might seem like a challenge. But in every town and for every camp, we found dedicated people willing to give their time, skill and courage to help our girls experience life on the frontline.
It’s hard when you are demonstrating how to extract a person from a mangled car wreck to a bunch of teens who understand full well how those moments can impact their lives. It’s difficult talking about preparedness and prevention with young people who have seen their towns burn and flood in the space of three short years. But you are giving these young people and their parents, teachers and communities empowerment and hope at a time when the challenges feel insurmountable.
We’re all giving a generation of kids overwhelmed by the enormity of natural disaster and climate change somewhere practical to channel their anger and despair. Even if they don’t follow in your bootsteps, you’re giving them a future they can believe in again.
Thank you, Monash University
Thank you to Dr Karen Lambert and Monash University for your research and commitment to Girls on Fire over the years. That we could pull you and NAB together to create an evidence-based foundation for our programs makes us happy indeed.
We look forward to showcasing your amazing work throughout our programs, whether in research format and/or development.
Thank you, careers advisors and schools
Thank you for embracing the Girls on Fire programs and promoting them in the schools. Thank you so much for showing up at camps and giving your all to the future of your students. Thank you for being there through some of the hardest and most challenging educational conditions on record. And thank you for helping create the smart, independent, creative problem solvers with wonderful manners, great attitudes, healthy acceptance of others, open-mindedness and genuine zest for working together as a team we’ve seen.
Thank you, Girls on Fire supporters
Behind the scenes at Girls on Fire is a network of people looking to support everything we do. Bronnie may lead the camps and the relationships, but she readily acknowledges that “teamwork makes the dream work” in all facets.
As well as specialists in inclusion, Brewarrina’s Burra McHughes, (Qld Rural Fire Service), Peter Jensen (Firefighter with FRNSW & Aboriginal Engagement Lead with Western Sydney Airport), Luke Russell (Firefighter with FRNSW & Cultural Burning facilitator), and Kamilaroi designer Jodie Herden who created our Indigenous logo for this year’s Reconciliation program theme – Be Brave, Make Change.
We also want to recognise the ongoing support of International Towers and including us in their generous 12 days of giving two years in a row.
Thank you, every program attendee
Every girl we saw during the 2022 season of Girls on Fire greeted the opportunity with a curious, compassionate and go-getter spirit. There were times when we worried about the impacts of Covid and world crisis on your ability to connect. There were times when we wondered if the small group in front of us could make a proper day of it. And there were times during the roadshows and long nights, we started to wonder what the heck we were doing.
But then, you would arrive. You might be the lone girl from your school, nervous about the other kids who seemed to know each other. Or you were the one who doubted if you were sporty enough to cut it. Or wondered if that big hose, heavy uniform or fire you faced would be a moment of failure in front of everybody.
We saw it on your faces and the eyes that flicked around the classroom or simulation. We saw it as you wondered about the people standing around in the uniforms.
But then every day without fail, you showed up. You stood up and took in the girl who travelled solo. You made the new friend from a shared love of a new activity. You picked up those big cutters or lined up to throw or roll or point that hose. And you gave it your all. You ran with water, stepped up literally and figuratively in physical challenges, thought your way through sensory challenges, and learned what it takes to face a fire or disaster with knowledge and courage.
Thank you for making Girls on Fire what it is today. Whether this was your first year or one of many, each of you continue to show the future is safer with you in it.
What 2023 will bring
Right now, we’re in the process of planning our adventures for 2023. We welcome interest from sponsors and schools, and any state that is looking to welcome Girls on Fire programs to your arsenal. If you have ideas and opportunities to discuss, please get in touch.
We want to wish everyone a safe festive season. One that is filled with loved ones, generosity and the continued hope that together as a community, we can be the change we want to see.