NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service burns bright with pride

A hazard reduction burn in Yiraaldiya National Park Thursday 9 March 2023 in Western Sydney is business as usual for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. However, this operation is remarkable in that it marks the first hazard reduction burn led by 39 LGBTIQA+ NPWS staff and allies, joined by 11 NSW Rural Fire Service allies.

Controlled Burn by National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Rural Fire Service, fire and Rescue NSW. Andrew Smith.

Katie Littlejohn, NPWS Cumberland Area Manager, said that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) workforce is as diverse as the ecosystems managed across the national park estate.

'NPWS offers a vast range of opportunities and a supportive working environment for anyone looking to work in environmental conservation, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,' said Ms Littlejohn.

'Firefighting is one of the essential ways NPWS protects local communities and wildlife, and today’s hazard reduction burn will help prepare the area for further conservation work later this year,' she said.

'NPWS also coordinates these activities with our firefighting allies in the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, and the Forestry Corporation of NSW.'

Natalie Drew, NPWS Aviation Fire Trainer, said that although there is diversity across the NPWS workforce, this is the first time a hazard reduction burn had been led by LGBTIQA+ staff and allies.

'NPWS has a number of hazard reduction operations planned across the state for when the weather conditions are favourable. We wanted to see if one of those planned activities could be conducted by LGBTIQA+ and rainbow ally staff,' Ms Drew said.

'This has been several weeks in planning, and now finally standing shoulder to shoulder with this unique crew makes me very proud to be doing my job,' she said.

'Although Sydney World Pride has now wrapped, it’s great to have this opportunity to continue a conversation about diversity in our workplace.'

'Firefighting can be a lot of hard work in conditions that are sometimes very difficult, but it’s rewarding work and a great career experience overall.'

'I encourage anyone keen to work in wildlife conservation to join NPWS. Any NPWS staff member is then eligible to undertake training to become a firefighter and work with teams on the ground conducting hazard reduction burns or fighting bushfires.'

Smoke may be visible in the National Park and from surrounding areas depending on wind direction. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are advised to keep clear of the area or stay indoors. Health information relating to smoke is available at NSW Health and the Asthma Foundation.

Further information about working for NPWS is available at NPWS Careers.