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CFA participates in pilot safety program
The CFA North West region recently participated in a pilot project to enhance equality and prevent violence against women.
Led by the Macedon Ranges Shire Council, the Rural Challenge project worked with CFA brigades to build the capacity of male and female leaders through discussion based workshops and mentored action planning with the aim to develop equity action plans to change norms and develop practices to educate and ultimately prevent violence against women.
Jessica Crofts, Rural Challenge Project Officer, says key organisations such as CFA have influence in the community and could be leaders in community action for a safer and more equitable society.
“Our focus on CFA and football/netball clubs reflects the reach and influence of these rural institutions,” says Ms Crofts.
Men and women participated in the program with facilitators covering topics including causes of family violence, primary prevention, gender equality and stereotypes. Workshops focused on participatory activities and discussions to support critical group engagement and individual reflection.
Acting Operations Manager District 2 Trent McKinnon says the opportunity to participate in the program was welcomed.
“We had around seven participants from across the region. We’re really proud and supportive of the team members who took part. The next step is to implement an action plan from this pilot group which will really help work toward positive inclusion initiatives across the membership.”
Assistant Chief Officer Inclusion and Fairness Steve Smith believes programs like the Rural Challenge are crucial in sharing knowledge and solutions across brigades and in communities.
“The aim would be to use tools from the workshop to develop a peer-mentoring support model to educate and support other brigades in the region,” says Steve.
With word the Macedon Ranges Shire and City of Great Bendigo Councils have received a further grant to continue the work with organisations like the CFA, ACO Steve Smith believes the Rural Challenge model could be rolled out further afield and across Victorian brigades.
“One of the key findings from the report is that its important women and men participate in the program to enhance the learning. I would encourage more brigades to participate.”