ARARAT - More than 215 Grampians Region Country Fire Authority members have been awarded with National Emergency Medals for their efforts during the 2009 summer bushfires at two presentation ceremonies in Ararat.
The National Emergency Medal recognises the service provided by members during a declared nationally significant emergency.
The medal was approved by the Queen in October 2011 to acknowledge the work of firefighting personnel in the midst of the Victorian fires that included the devastating February 7 Black Saturday disaster.
Almost unparalleled the only other people that qualify for the award are those that assisted during the Queensland floods of 2010-11 and Cyclone Yasi.
The award sessions that were held at the Ararat Town Hall were attended by guests and dignitaries including representatives from Ararat Rural City Council and Northern Grampians Shire Council, CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson, CFA board member Don Robertson, CFA Regional Director for the Grampians Region Don Kelly and Emergency Services Commissioner Michael Hallowes.
Recognised duties performed during the Victorian firefight by firefighters, management teams and support crews between January 28 and March 5 2009 included the protection of lives and property, or in the service of interests, that are not their own, in direct response to the emergency, including support that enables or facilitates the emergency response.
Statewide, more than 4000 medals will be handed to CFA members at ceremonies at various locations. At the Ararat presentation 216 members from the Grampians Region received a medal.
The unique medal is a stylised representation of Australia's national floral emblem - the wattle.
The image around the central image is of flowering wattle, representing the accomplishments and sacrifices made by Australians in the service of others in times of crisis.
The back of the medal repeats the ring of flowering wattle, and details the award and recipient.
The National Emergency Medal ribbon colours match the colours of the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal ribbon. The colours of the ribbon are gold and eucalyptus green.
Gold symbolises the Australian sun, optimism and hope. Eucalyptus green complements the symbolism of the medal design.
The seven gold coloured bands represent Australia's six states, with the seventh representing the territories.