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Through bushfires, floods, and a global pandemic, the resilience of Queenslanders and our emergency services has been simply remarkable in recent years.
Frontline workers have emerged as community heroes, and among them, dedicated Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) staff and volunteers.
The annual QFES Australia Day Achievement Awards, proudly supported by QSuper, part of Australian Retirement Trust, recognise and celebrate the outstanding service of QFES staff and volunteers representing the State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service (RFS), and Fire and Rescue Service (FRS).
Australian Retirement Trust was created through the merger of QSuper and Sunsuper to become one of Australia’s largest super funds taking care of over $200 billion in retirement savings for more than two million members.
The awards are presented to recipients across seven Queensland regions, and include nominations based on leadership, initiatives, and education and awareness programs. Ceremonies took place from January 21 at Brisbane, Mackay, Longreach, Cairns, Maryborough, Townsville, Beenleigh and Toowoomba to recognise 100 remarkable Queenslanders in this year’s program.
"We sincerely thank Australian Retirement Trust for its ongoing support. This is an important event in our calendar each year and their support enables us to recognise the fantastic efforts of our staff and volunteers."
This is the 15th year QSuper, part of Australian Retirement Trust, has supported the awards and we are proud to share some of the stories of these amazing people.
Among the award recipients was Hailey Wetzel, a kindergarten educator and SES volunteer, who revealed her skill and dedication during a 15-day land search conducted on Magnetic Island in August last year.
Having grown up on Magnetic Island, Ms Wetzel’s involvement in the SES came naturally as an extension of her work to educate children in the community. Ms Wetzel is pictured above (second from left) with (from left) QFES Deputy Commissioner Readiness and Response Services, Mike Wassing; Australian Retirement Trust regional business development manager, Julie Bates; and Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper.
"Here, we really do rely on one another and band together in times of crisis,” Ms Wetzel said. “Whenever we have flooding, cyclones, or any natural disaster, we can become cut-off from the rest of the region. Growing up, I recognised that the SES were always present to lend a helping hand."
Ms Wetzel joined the SES with her partner a couple of years ago. Since then, their involvement and leadership has only increased.
"When the call came out that a young man had gone missing, my partner and I put our hands up to help in any way we could," Ms Wetzel said. "I am proud of the work we do, and what we have given back to the community through our service.
"I would encourage anyone to consider giving their time to the SES or other QFES organisations. Not only do you receive valuable training and wonderful support, but you really do grow as a person."
But Ms Wetzel was quick to call out the collective efforts of the community who worked with her during the Magnetic Island search.
"A sense of pride in community is exhibited by all award recipients," Australian Retirement Trust CEO Bernard Reilly said.
"These individuals are not only talented, but upstanding members of their diverse, and often rural and remote, communities where many of our members live and work.
"Through our support we not only honour those on the front line, but the networks of people who ensure the ongoing safety and care of Queenslanders in times of crisis or emergency."
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Read the stories of Queensland’s front-line emergency service workers recognised in this year’s Australia Day Achievement Awards, which we proudly support.
QSuper has recognised the QFES workers, as the proud and exclusive sponsor of the Australia Day Achievement Awards.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services staff and volunteers have been honoured in a series of official ceremonies across the state following a devastating summer of bushfires.
Senior Constable Kate Todman reflects on a decade in the police force, and the power of helping people.