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Fire Safety Information for At Risk Refugees

26 Jul 2007

For newly-arrived migrants and refugees, fire safety issues are of paramount importance. But many of these people do not have the English skills or cultural values to know what the right procedures are.

To address this, refugee young people from African countries such as Sudan and Eritrea as well as China and Afghanistan will visit Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) firefighters at Eastern Hill fire station, 456 Albert St (cnr Gisborne St) East Melbourne to receive information about fire safety and emergency procedures on Friday 27 July between 10.30-2.30pm.

The refugee young people are students in the Young Adult Migrant Education Course (YAMEC) at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFEs Collingwood campus.

The visit to the MFB was organised by NMIT YAMEC teacher Julie Palmer, with the four hour information session designed to impart knowledge to the students and help break down the barriers between the students and government authorities.

'Many of our students are distrusting of people in authority due to negative experiences in their home countries. This visit is about building positive connections and forging links with authorities. It's also about ensuring the students have the necessary fire safety information that they can pass on to other family members,' Julie said.

YAMEC is a program for refugee and migrant young people aged between 16-26 years. Its courses are developed by linking the language and literacy needs of the students with the development of broader educational and living skills and has a holistic approach to the settlement needs of young people.

MFB Multicultural Liaison Officer (Central Zone) Steve O'Malley said the students would receive five important messages about fire safety.

These are:

- Reinforcing the emergency telephone number OOO
- Appreciating what the fire brigade uniform looks like so firefighters are not confused with police or ambulance officers and what the role of members is
- Understanding that the kitchen is the room where cooking should be done on a stove or in the oven
- Knowing that the brigade can cater for an emergency medical response and
-Installing, maintaining and testing of smoke alarms.

Steve said escape plans would also be highlighted in case of a fire.

'The MFB tries to engage new and emerging communities in home fire safety and prevention as cultural differences often means they do not have the knowledge and information they need.

'Some of these people have come from refugee camps and are deemed 'at risk' because they might not even know how to cook with electricity on arrival here,' Steve said.

'They often don't know about the triple OOO emergency telephone number or smoke alarms or that the MFB can now cater for an emergency medical response in partnership with the Metropolitan Ambulance Service.'

YAMEC students had also recently visited the Victorian Police Academy in Glen Waverley as part of an information day about the police.


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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.