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Rewarding work for Mary Anne
When Mary Anne Egan moved to the country to marry husband John 17 years ago, she thought joining the local CFA would be a good way to make friends and meet other like-minded people in the community.
***Mary Anne Egan is a CFA volunteer who is being profiled as part of a special series ‘Celebrating CFA Women’ in recognition of International Women’s Day on 8 March***
Little did she know how much CFA would become a part of her life.
In an impressive portfolio Mary Anne is currently the Secretary of Maindample Fire Brigade, a state and district representative for VFBV (Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria) and is involved with various community safety programs. She also works as a marriage celebrant.
Speaking about her various volunteer commitments, Mary Anne says, “there’s not a lot of spare time but that’s OK – it’s good to be busy with work in the community.”
When a position came up a few years ago for a VFBV local and state delegate Mary Anne decided to apply for the voluntary role.
“When the previous delegate retired I decided to apply for the role influenced by the commitment and the passion shown by the brigade and state delegates. I felt I was privileged to be elected, as it was traditionally a male-dominated role.
“It was a big commitment on the part of the people who voted for me, given I was fairly new to VFBV and didn’t have as much knowledge or experience as a lot of other people – but they could see that I was very keen and had worked with them well as secretary of the district council.”
Mary Anne’s work with VFBV involves representing volunteers at district and state level.
“It’s both rewarding and humbling that I’ve now been re-elected several times to represent District 23 VFBV Council at state level but I’m backed by a committed team and a supportive husband!
“VFBV is really the voice and the ears of volunteers in the regions – it’s our job to campaign or act on issues raised locally at a district or state level.”
Mary Anne says working with a range of great people in CFA has helped her build positive working relationships with many people and communities throughout CFA and emergency services.
In her time with CFA Mary Anne has seen a lot of positive change, particularly in promoting greater female participation in the organisation and the strengthening of the role of the volunteer in CFA.
“Now there’s a much greater awareness that CFA is made up of both men and women, and we’re seeing that espoused in the leadership at all levels both district and state.”
However, she still believes there’s a way to go with female representation in CFA – and the broader emergency services sector.
“Whenever I go to a state forum or meeting I frequently see that all the delegates sitting up the front are men.
“I think until we start to see women at the highest operational levels of CFA, such as an ACO (Assistant Chief Officer) or DCO (Deputy Chief Officer) and women on those leadership panels, things will only change gradually.
“I really hope one day soon we see a female there in her own right.”
When asked what benefits higher representation of females in CFA might bring the organisation Mary Anne says an all-embracing observation of people and compassion could come in handy for CFA.
If there are great women in your brigade you’d like to recognise this Women’s Day, we’d love to hear about them in the posts section below this story. Read more stories and watch a video from last year’s Celebrating CFA Women series here.
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