17th October 2023.
Today, I wish to shine a spotlight on the selfless volunteers of the Rural Fire Service in the Wollondilly and Southern Highlands districts. Recently, a ceremony was held at Mittagong RSL, awarding fifty-one medals to these extraordinary individuals for their dedication to community safety. I'd like to particularly acknowledge Michael Course from Balmoral RFS Brigade for his remarkable sixty-two years of service. He received both Long Service and National medals, a testament to his enduring commitment. Four other volunteers were honoured with the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal and British Columbia II Clasp for their efforts in Canada in 2017. This occasion also marked the handover of new fire tankers for Buxton and Yerrinbool RFS brigades, as well as four logistical supply vehicles. Valued at more than $650,000, the new additions will replace older models, bolstering emergency response capabilities. Operational Officer Gary Hansen aptly noted, "Tonight is also an opportunity to say thank you to the family, friends, employers, and colleagues of all our members." It indeed takes a village to support these volunteers. May this recognition serve as a small token of our immense gratitude for their sacrifice and dedication.