FRNSW firefighter nominated for 2023 NSW Young Australian of the Year - Brewarrina

Published: 02 Nov 2022 01:49pm

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) firefighter Christopher ‘Burra’ McHughes is one of four people in the running for the 2023 NSW Young Australian of the Year award, with the winner to be announced at a ceremony in Sydney tonight.

The respected on-call firefighter is a proud Murriwarri Ngemba Yuwaalaraay man hailing from Brewarrina, in the state’s north-west with a 65 per cent Indigenous population.

Burra has worn the FRNSW uniform for almost five years, having previously served as a volunteer in the NSW Rural Fire Service and NSW State Emergency Service.

He also currently works for the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services as a First Nations Bushfire Safety Officer.

Burra’s nomination for the prestigious award is recognition of his dedication to firefighting and fire risk mitigation, especially in First Nations communities.

“To be a young Aboriginal man from western NSW and be a finalist for this award, it’s very special to me and other people in my local community,” Burra said.

“Hopefully it’s inspiration for more Indigenous firefighters and land managers, so we can all better care for country and protect our natural environments.”

During his firefighting career, Burra has led teams fighting remote fires, protecting sacred sites, and imparting knowledge in traditional land management.

This includes promoting cultural burns, which are cooler and slower than hazard reduction measures and seek to protect the health of certain animals and plants.

Burra’s efforts have also helped improve trust in emergency services.

“When our firefighters engage with locals, and people see FRNSW present in their community, they’re reassured that everything is okay and we’re ready to help,” Burra said.

FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said Burra is an inspiration to everyone and it’s no surprise he is being recognised on the national stage.

“Burra tirelessly shares his insights as a First Nations person, both to improve emergency services outcomes and support our rural and regional communities,” said Commissioner Baxter.

“FRNSW appreciates Burra’s extraordinary contributions to our agency and congratulates him on being recognised in this way.

“We wish him all the best in tonight’s ceremony.”

The winners across the four NSW Australian of the Year award categories will be declared at an event at Luna Park tonight and will vie for the national awards in Canberra on January 25. 

EDITORS NOTE: Additional high-res photos of Christopher 'Burra' McHughes are available via the FRNSW website: [external link]

Updated: 30 Jan 2023 09:13pm

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Stations nearby


98 Bathurst Street, Brewarrina NSW 2839

BOURKE Fire Station

25 Mitchell Street, Bourke NSW 2840

WALGETT Fire Station

38 Pitt Street, Walgett NSW 2832