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District 5 Women’s forum a great success
Women are a vital part of the CFA. A successful forum was held in Hamilton for District 5 women on Sunday the 21st of June. Over fifteen Brigades were represented.
Following a welcome by District Volunteerism Coordinator, Julie Owens, Richard Bourke, District 5 Operations Manager, encouraged women to be involved in all aspects of the CFA. In his welcome he assured women they were valued members who had lots of different skills to contribute. His aim is to not only build the confidence of current members in District 5 but encourage more women to become involved.
Professor Caroline Taylor AM (PhD) delivered the keynote speech. Caroline is recognised as one of Australia's leading experts in the field of child and adult sexual violence, family violence and the criminal justice response to victims/survivors and social models of trauma and recovery. In 2012 Professor Taylor AM was awarded the prestigious appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), in recognition of her outstanding contribution as a researcher and author. She is an advocate for improving the welfare of children and women and is known for her contribution to academic research.
When Caroline moved to country Victoria she began work as District 16 Volunteerism Coordinator, but now holds the position of Management, Volunteerism Recruitment & Development. She assured those present there is no barrier that can’t be overcome.
One of the participants described Caroline’s speech as ‘brilliant …., very interesting and inspiring.’
The aim of the day was to bring women together in a supportive environment, to increase opportunities for female volunteers, to develop a network of women and to build a structure to empower and sustain women in the CFA. It was hoped that the women would have a chance to meet new people, feel supported to do as much as they want in the CFA and develop some strategies for working in a male dominated industry.
There was a panel discussion to highlight the different roles within the CFA. This included Barb Heazlewood from the Warrnambool Coastguard Brigade. Paul Marshall and Carolyn Bishop spoke about Incident Management Team roles including Ground/Air Observing and Logistics in particular. Carolyn also explained the role of the VFBV and its importance to volunteers. Merrilyn McCosh spoke of her experiences as the Captain of Ellerslie Brigade. Casual Presenter, Jill Parker spoke of her experiences as a Fire Safe Kids presenter as well as going into the community to talk about home and bushfire fire safety. Anne Anderson explained her role as the Group Secretary of the busy Hopkins-Curdies Group.
Members then had the opportunity in small group discussions to discuss what has worked well for them in the CFA and what they think would benefit them in the future. A number of suggestions will be followed up in the future.
Much of the feedback mentioned the opportunity to network and meet new people, just what the forum hoped to achieve. Committee members, Adrienne Anson, Carolyn Bishop, Paul Marshall, Jill Parker, Anne Anderson and Tiff Heeson, did an outstanding job of organising a wonderful guest speaker and a format that allowed for discussion and networking.