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Robert Papalia AFSM

Rob Papalia AFSM - Vice President

Robert was born in Bunbury, and his first family home was in Brunswick Junction in the South West of Western Australia. Besides his fifth year of high school at Bunbury Senior High School, Rob completed most of his primary and secondary schooling in Manjimup.

After receiving a Bachelor of Business degree at Curtain University, Rob worked in Bunbury for Coopers and Lybrand Chartered Accountants for six years before relocating to Busselton, where he has resided since.

Rob’s brother convinced him to join the Brunswick Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1978 because the brigade decided to reform a team for firefighters competition and they were short on participants. Within the first year, Rob became an active firefighter.

As of October 2023, Rob has amazingly been a volunteer firefighter for 45 years with Brunswick Junction and Busselton Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service!

Over the years Rob has taken on the roles as secretary, apparatus officer and foreman. In 2000 Rob was appointed Captain of Busselton Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service and served for 15 years. During this time, the brigade awarded Rob with life membership.

In addition to his commitment to the brigades, Rob was elected to the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association of WA in 2009. He is the representative for the South West Zone and also the Vice President of the Association. “It is a very demanding position trying to achieve support for volunteers in the State from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Government authorities,” says Rob. The Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association of WA acknowledged Rob’s dedication and the work he does for the Association by awarding him with life membership in 2019.

For almost a decade, Rob was a member of the Volunteer Vehicle and Equipment Advisory Committee. “The Committee provided consultation to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services with respect to new volunteer fire appliances and equipment,” explains Rob.

Rob was the fire control officer for Busselton Gazetted Fire District for almost 15 years. The position involved consultative meetings with local government and issuing fire permits in restrictive fire season.

Since 2014, Rob has been the treasurer for the WA Emergency Service Volunteers Hardship Assistance Scheme. The scheme requires each volunteer emergency services association to nominate a representative. Rob was the logical choice as he is also the treasurer for the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association Welfare Fund committee.

The Australian Fire Service Medal recognises distinguished service by members of Australian fire services. The medal is awarded to both career (paid) and volunteer members and on Australia Day in 2015, Rob was presented with the prestigious medal. “Nominations are kept secret when they are submitted and it was humbling to be recognised for doing something that is rewarding and is also good for the community,” Rob says.

Rob married Annette, the captain of Brunswick Junction Fire Brigade’s daughter, and they are proud parents to four boys - Adam is a radio sports presenter for 6PR and Fox Footy, Marc a station officer at the Bunbury Fire Station (he is also ten times State Volunteer competition champion!), Bryn is a sergeant for the Western Australian Police Force and a volunteer firefighter at Busselton Volunteer Fire and Rescue, and Dean who is skipper of a pilot boat. Firefighting runs throughout the family - Dean also was a member of Busselton and Karratha Volunteer Fire and Rescue.

Thoroughly committed to the local community of Busselton, Rob sat on his children’s school board for six years and was a member of the Busselton Health Board for five years.

Anyone would be forgiven for assuming Rob retired at an early age with the commitment he has to volunteering. Instead in 1983 Rob established his own accountancy practice, as one man. UHY Haines Norton PRT now has four partners and employs a team of 20 staff members.

When not working or carrying out volunteering duties, Rob likes to think he is an accomplished fisherman and enjoys trying to keep up with his six grandchildren. A keen traveller, Rob takes pleasure in exploring the great outdoors in Australia by caravan.

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