CHARLIE Wroth is a Wheatbelt farmer who – like others who work the land – is a blunt man of action who speaks his mind.
He showed those qualities 10 years ago when a catastrophic bushfire devastated Toodyay, destroyed 38 homes and left deep scars on our precious community.
Mr Wroth is largely credited with helping to lead a massive recovery effort that demanded strong leadership and decisive action in a community numb with shock.
Corners were cut, feathers ruffled and noses put out of joint to provide urgent assistance to devastated home-owners.Read more
Detractors claim it could have been handled differently but others – particularly emergency services volunteers – see the man they simply call ‘Charlie’ as a heroic figure of selfless community sacrifice.
It is no surprise that Mr Wroth should be a thorn in the side of petty officialdom.
On the day of an ill-fated emergency services forum in Northam that led to his shock sacking as Toodyay ambulance chief last month, Mr Wroth was busy seeding his Julimar farm and nearly decided not to go.
But he put commercial interests aside to represent the views of local ambos chafing under the yoke of distant administrators.
Local Nationals WA MP Shane Love told State Parliament that what happened next showed a shocking lack of respect by St John for its unpaid ambulance volunteers.
“It was beyond the pale,” he said later.
Mr Love’s party has called for the State Government to back a new association to exclusively support and represent the interests of all WA ambulance volunteers in their emergency services roles.
It will be too late for Mr Wroth but may help others who answer to a secretive organisation that seems to lack a basic understanding of how essential services work in small country towns like Toodyay.
Chief Fire Control Officer Craig Stewart may have hit the mark when he said “it looks like someone put a target on Charlie’s back and was gunning for him”.
A St John Ambulance Perth manager responded with weasel words emailed to local volunteers that Mr Wroth “is no longer a volunteer”, “has provided outstanding service to the Toodyay Community’ and “I wish him all the best for the future”.
Shocked local ambos were not told why their leader was sacked, and the official Perth response was ‘no further comment”.
To add insult to injury – a St John November 13 dismissal letter to Mr Wroth said “we understand that it is a difficult time for you” and offered him up to six sessions of “Wellbeing and Support Services”.
No prize for guessing where they can stick it.