The bushfire emergency continues to unfold across Australia, having a devastating impact on the wellbeing and livelihoods of families, communities and ANZ customers.
Despite the catastrophic effect of this natural disaster - expected to endure for some time yet – the generosity of the human spirit continues to shine through as people from across the nation and abroad band together to support those in need.
For 19 year-old ANZ Trainee Bronte Madden, the firefighting brigade was always a seminal part of growing up in the regional city of Tamworth, New South Wales.
“My dad’s been involved [in firefighting] for well over 11 years,” explains Bronte. “I grew up with him being part of the brigade and I loved it. I took a real interest in it when I was younger and so just kind of stuck with it over the years.”
That interest meant by age 12 Bronte had jumped at the opportunity to join the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) as a cadet –a structured program where members of the brigade supervise, mentor and develop junior members.
As soon as Bronte turned 16 she completed her Basic Firefighting (BF) course and was able to officially join the brigade as a volunteer at her local RFS.
ANZ Trainee by day, Volunteer Firefighter by night
Bronte began her traineeship at the ANZ branch in Tamworth about four months ago and says she enjoys her new role immensely.
“Everyone here is so open to helping me all the time. I have a lot of respect for all of them,” she says referring to her colleagues in the branch.
But Jason Johnson, Bronte’s manager, says it is Bronte who is the real hero. He remembers even with the ongoing drought and early bushfire season, “Bronte came into work after being up until 3am as she was helping to fight a bushfire burning near Glen Innes (in Northern NSW)”.
“She came in without bravado and although tired, just signed on and started helping our customers,” he says.
A balancing act
When asked how she manages her new career at ANZ with her responsibilities as a volunteer firefighter, Bronte admits “it can get a bit tricky. It’s really about time management I guess”.
“It does get tiring and sometimes I have to take a step back and think about my mental health,” she says. “You can also never guess when you’re going to get a call out for a bushfire or a motor vehicle accident. It could be anything. It could be a false alarm – there are all these different things.”
Father, role Model, hero
When asked to describe her relationship with her dad, the admiration and awe rings clear in her voice. “He is amazing. I really look up to him,” she says. “He is a hero to me. The types of things he’s gone through as a volunteer firefighter is just incredible.”
Bronte remembers her dad being away often throughout her youth as he spent a lot of his time volunteering for the RFS as part of their State Mitigation crew. Those crews perform a number of roles such as helping to prepare areas for hazard reduction.
Bronte says being involved in the RFS with her Dad has helped strengthen the father/daughter bond. “I really looked forward to spending time with him. It was really only the proper bonding time that we got together,” she recalls.