Diversity leader, firefighter, thriving in chaos.
It takes a special type of person to be a first responder. To witness tragedy, death, injury and unspeakable horror through everything from fires and floods, to accidents and acts of terror. But like many high-stakes vocations, those who choose to take on that responsibility are those who not only also thrive in chaos, but have an unwavering dedication to help their fellow human. Dawn De Pew Hartog is one of those people.
I met Dawn during my time working in communications in the emergency services space, where she was briefly my manager, and also a team leader within the State Control Centre (SCC). Dawn is also not only a volunteer at the Country Fire Authority (CFA), but also her local brigade’s Captain and on the CFA Board. For someone who is immersed in a very intense, often sober environment, Dawn is a bundle of positive energy.
On top of this, Dawn’s day job is as the Senior Program Manager in Forest Fire Management Victoria’s (FFMVic) Culture and Diversity team, where she is working to bridge the gender gaps across the fire and emergency services space, as well as create greater cultural diversity.
I spoke to Dawn, from what I shall call her forest log cabin, about her journey to the fire frontline, looking after the mental health of yourself and your team in a crisis, and being a female leader in a traditionally male-dominated world.