Honoured at last

398104_01 Shane Keen.

By Emma Xerri

CFA volunteer, former brigade captain and Casey Group Officer Shane Keen has been honoured by the City of Casey with the title of Casey Citizen of the Year for 2024, after more than 47 years of devout service across Casey’s CFA brigades.

Announced at a gala celebration event at Bunjil Place on Friday 22 March, the Casey Community Award winner was “humbled” to receive the accolade, marking a very proud moment for Shane who is otherwise quick to laugh about his “senior’s moments.”

“There were some very good candidates, and the finalists were all terrific, so I was very humbled to accept the award,” Shane said.

“It means a lot to me. I grew up in this area, so to see it grow so much and be part of that growth has been great.”

Shane’s decades-long run with the CFA got its start in 1977, after a desire to become more involved with his community saw him join the Hampton Park Brigade.

“I wanted to give something back to the community. I wasn’t the type of person to join footy or cricket, so I thought I would give the CFA a go,” he said.

While Shane has since done the rounds throughout various local brigades, including five years at Narre Warren and three and a half years at Narre Warren North where he served as captain, the “comradery” and “community” that first inspired him to join at Hampton Park continues to live on for Shane, who believes “community is at the centre of all we do at the CFA.”

Quick to climb the volunteer ladder, Shane has taken turns occupying various positions across the organisation, from captain to Casey Group Officer.

In his role as the Group Officer, Shane works to facilitate information sharing and emergency response development between the 13 brigades within the City of Casey, and assisting with their training and operational needs.

In an unceasing quest to give his all to his volunteer work, Shane is also a representative of the City of Casey Municipal Fire Management Working Group and the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee.

When asked why he has always sought to climb the CFA ladder, Shane humbly shared that he thinks it is because he is a “leader.”

“I believe I always have something good to offer,” he said, though hesitantly.

“And I’m a good listener. I listen to people’s needs and make sure they are met.”

As well as cultivating a rich investment in local fire safety and in his community as a whole, Shane’s time in the CFA has also helped him grow at a more personal level, immersing him in career development opportunities that have allowed him to develop in his career outside the CFA, working for a private fire company Venetia Pty Ltd that looks after defence force bases.

“The CFA has given me the qualifications to be able to accept this job, which I’ve been at for nine years.”

But surely the most important of these personal experiences was getting to meet his wife and fellow volunteer, Sharyn, whose family has a combined effort of around 500 years with the CFA.

Together they have raised a son and daughter who, now adults themselves, have adopted their parents’ love for the organisation.

“We like to go for drives through the country and get away when we can.

“We’re not big explorers, we just like to have a break, read a good book, put our feet up and have some nice conversations.”

And for Shane, these getaways, much like his Citizen of the Year award, are more than deserved.

“I believe I’ve put so much into the community over this time.

“During the Black Saturday fires, which impacted Casey so heavily, I spent nearly two weeks mostly away from my family.

“And serving in these leadership roles and as the Group Officer, there have been times when I’ve given up birthday parties or family functions to get to an emergency.

“But all of that has accumulated in this award, so it has been well worth it.

“This is my time.”