Former Rugby player now battling blazes thanks to Indigenous program

New South Wales Fire and Rescue is reaching out to community to search for people from all walks of life to join the ranks.

Recruiting until early August, the organisation also provides an Indigenous pathway program which is aimed at inspiring First Nations men and women to consider a career with the fire brigade.

Former professional rugby league player Jason Moodie moved into a career with NSW Fire and Rescue not long after his sporting retirement.

“I played for ten years in the NRL. When I finished up, I applied to get into the fire brigade. I ended up taking another position, but eventually I came back and got in,” Mr Moodie said.

Born and raised in Narrabri, Moodie says that it was the community aspect that really attracted him to the position.

“With the footy – you have a lot of interaction with the public. I knew the fire brigade was a good job and I wanted to [remain] engaged with the community.”

“I enjoy being there for people, helping them out and supporting them on some of the worst days of their lives, whether it’s a house fire or more.”

Moodie entered NSW Fire and Rescue through the Indigenous Fire and Rescue Employment Strategy (IFARES).

“I found out about IFARES [through] a friend who went through before me and told me that if I wanted it, to apply and give the program a proper go.”

“When I first got the call saying I was going to get the job it was actually a fair bit of excitement and a bit of relief as I put in a lot of work.”

Stationed in Rutherford, just under an hour northwest of Newcastle, an average day for Moodie and the crew includes time within the station as well as out in community.

“We have a team brief in the morning, you do your daily chores and housekeeping. After that you go out and grab a coffee, have some community engagement, no matter where you go out people want to have a chat and ask questions and what not.”

“In the afternoon we do a work-specific drill [to] keep brushed up on the skills we need on the job.”

The IFARES program aims to increase the interest and recruitment of First Nations people in NSW Fire and Rescue.

“It’s important to know that if they want to [join NSW Fire and Rescue] there is an avenue for them to be involved and it’s accessible. That’s part of the reason a lot of us have gone through the process, to be mentors and show that there is that avenue.”

“If [Indigenous Australians] want to do [the program], they can either go onto the website … or they’re welcome to come and approach us. We’re more than happy to help … most of us who went through the program still have those contacts.”

“It is worthwhile … you do an important job and you get involved with the community.”

By Rachael Knowles

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