Volunteer Firefighters Should Be Collectively Nominated As Australians Of The Year
Australians have watched in horror as bushfires continue to rip through large swathes of the country. So far, this bushfire season has killed at least 25 people, destroyed thousands of homes and wiped out millions of animals.
It has been described as the worst bushfire season Australia has ever experienced and it's not hard to see why.
But the situation would be so much worser if it wasn't for our volunteer firefighters who have been putting their lives at risk every single day since the bushfires broke out.
They've been working around the clock, under tough conditions, often exhausted beyond comprehension, and having not seen their loved ones in days or weeks. They've witnessed things on a daily basis that people should never have to see even once.
These volunteers have given up their spare time and even eaten into their holiday leave so that others can be safe and keep their home.
There have been loads of stories of firefighters going above and beyond while doing their job.
Jenna O'Keeffe shared a picture of her dad outside their farm in Conjola on Facebook and explained that he had spent the previous 10 days fighting the devastating bushfires in 12 hour shifts alongside hundreds of other volunteer firefighters.
She wrote: "This is a picture of my dad getting five mins sleep on our front lawn, while my brother keeps watch over the fire burning at the top of our farm after he finished his 10th 12 hr+ day in a row fighting voluntarily in the community with the RFS NSW.
"My family have been fighting these fires on our farm and our community nonstop for over a month. They are tired, they are sore, and they are running out of resources.
"Today I heard my dad cry, he said 'Jen I have never seen anything like this, it's never ending'. We still have over 50 days of summer left we aren't even halfway and there is currently no end in sight."
For this reason, they should be collectively nominated for the honourable Australian of the Year Award.
While the award has always been given to an individual for their hard work in the community, there is a precedent for it to be given to a group.
When you look at Australian of the Year's website, it says: "Groups of people or couples will not normally be eligible though in exceptional cases the selection panels reserve the right to consider such nominations."
It's fair to say that this bushfire season has been an 'exceptional case'.
The eligibility criteria also says that winners are picked based on whether the person (or in this case group) has made a significant contribution to the Australian community and nation, been an inspirational role model for the Australian community, and demonstrated excellence in their field.
These firefighters have sparked a massive outpouring of support from people across Australia and around the world. These people aren't just role models for the Aussie community but for the planet.
Last year's award was also given to two people, Craig Challen and Richard Harris, who were honoured for their role in the Tham Luang cave rescue. So there is room to nominate more than one person for their contribution to one single event.
Sadly, the nominations for the 2020 award closed in July last year, but we want to get the message out now for next year.
You can nominate at any point during the year here, but applications will be stopped at the end of July.
So if you think that volunteer firefighters should receive one of the country's highest honours, then give them a nomination.
Featured Image Credit: NSW RFS