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District 24 Women's Training and Networking Day
On Sunday 29 March 2015, 27 female CFA members from across District 24 met at the Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC) Wangaratta Campus to participate in a CFA Women’s Training and Networking Day.
District 24 Operations Manager Paul King developed the idea in order to recognise women in CFA and to celebrate International Women’s Day 2015. Kate Harrap, now Acting Executive Director Operational Training & Volunteerism, gave her full support to the event and provided the necessary funding from the Volunteer Support Program. District 24 Volunteerism Coordinator, Kimberley Taylor, took on the role of organising the event with the support of district members Julie Reeves; District 24 HQ, Marelle Whitaker; Chiltern Brigade; and Tracy McVea, Beechworth Brigade.
The purpose of the day was to provide the women with an opportunity to establish and reinvigorate their networks, re-engage them with CFA and learn about other roles available across the organisation. It was also a great way to update and broaden their skills in operational training scenarios, share stories and have fun.
The participants were divided into four groups with varying skills and experience. The groups were led by experienced volunteer instructors and were well supported by other members from across District 24 and District 23.
Here is what participants had to say:
“A great day with plenty of hands-on exercises that I love! All good experience, particularly the exercise in the house full of smoke. Hadn’t done that before, so I was pleased to see how I reacted. Enjoyed working with my fellow female firefighters and the way everyone pitches in and just ‘does.’ That’s one of the things I enjoy most about the CFA – being part of a great team.” – Margrit, Yackandandah
“It was a good opportunity to meet so many women from our region and share our experiences.” – Pam, Cudgewa
“As a new CFA member, it was inspiring to meet the other participants and to have them so generously share their knowledge and teach us newbies. There are some very inspiring women in the organisation and it was a privilege to meet them.” – Bridget, Kiewa
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley and CFA Assistant Chief Officer Garry Cook observed the activities and networked with some of the participants during the morning tea break.
As keynote speaker, Commissioner Lapsley spoke about the importance of women in CFA and the emergency service sector generally. He spoke about the new wildfire personal protective clothing for women and the process of developing and implementing the new attire. He also reflected on the fire-ground comfort and usability benefits realised for women through the issue of new personal protective clothing. Commissioner Lapsley acknowledged there are still barriers to remove but thought that overall the experience for women firefighters was improving, thanks partly to events such as the D24 women's training and networking day.
The event ended with lunch, a debrief and a certificate and showbag presentation.
Thanks go to our sponsors – Beechworth NewsExpress; Beechworth Honey; Beechworth Pharmacy; the Winemakers of Rutherglen; Coles Wodonga Plaza; the PAD operators – and all of the volunteers who helped run the training scenarios, participated with enthusiasm and helped make the day a success for CFA.