Far South Coast students attend emergency services leadership day

Tomorrow’s leaders from Far South Coast public high schools had the chance to talk the talk with today’s emergency service and business leaders in Narooma on Wednesday, July 26.

Ten Indigenous and non-Indigenous student leaders were invited to the day from public high schools in Batemans Bay, Bega, Eden, Moruya, Narooma and Ulladulla.

The young leaders had the opportunity to talk one-on-one in a fast rotation format with executives and personnel from Eurobodalla Shire Council, Bega Shire Council, NSW Fire and Rescue, Rural Fire Service, NSW Ambulance, NSW Police, State Emergency Service, DPI Fisheries and Volunteer Rescue Association.

Each service brought various vehicles, fire engines and boats that were parked at the Narooma Golf Club for the students to check out.

Narooma Public School just across the road also took the opportunity to bring its Year 6 students along to check out the vehicles and meet the firefighters, police officers, rescue volunteers and fisheries officers.

Speakers were NSW Fire and Rescue Assistant Commissioner Robert McNeil, Bega Cheese’s Max Roberts and NSW Police Chief Inspector Greg Flood.

Assistant Commissioner McNeil gave an inspirational talk about leading a team of 72 rescuers and two dogs to tsunami ravaged Japan in 2011, telling the students: “It just shows you can do anything you wish.”

Mr Roberts spoke about leading one of the region's biggest employers and how Bega Cheese got Vegemite back into Australian hands, while Chief Inspector Flood spoke about his career in policing, stating out in Brewarrina and then moving to Cabramatta and then the Far South Coast.

Local Aboriginal community liaison officer Eddie Moore’s son Layton gave the Welcome to Country and, at the end of the day, presented each school with a traditional wooden artefact they had made.

The initiative was developed by Public Schools NSW director Far South Coast Murray Campbell, NSW Police local area commander Superintendent Kevin McNeil and Jay Hill, senior adviser, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Superintendent Kevin McNeil said it was hoped that on top of gaining insights and valuable skills about leadership, the day would also assist participants in refining career choices and developing educational pathways that foster them to achieve their personal aspirations. 

This was the inaugural event for the Far South Coast, but depending on feedback from the schools and students, it could become a regular event, he said.

“If we just get two or three of the students thinking of a career in emergency services or go on to become firefighters, police or paramedics, then I think it would have been a success,” Superintendent McNeil said.