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Women and fire mentoring program
The District 4 and 5 Women and Fire mentoring program is reaching the end of its third year.
The program that encourages the role of women in CFA now provides many committed women with a support network as they work towards their CFA goals.
“Those goals are realistic things like learning to drive the truck or doing BA,” explains mentor and Warrnambool Fire Brigade member Adrienne Anson. “We work one-on-one to help women navigate the culture of CFA and access training while encouraging them to take on leadership roles.
“The benefit of having a mentor is feeling that someone further up the chain in invested in you. Confidence building is a really important aspect: I think the program helps women stand firm in their brigades. A lot of them might be the only woman and this gives them a peer base.”
Invitations to the program are sent out to all new women in brigades with men and career firefighters also in the mentoring ranks.
The formal part of the program includes each mentee signing a contract to show their commitment; a hands-on day of practical skills at Penshurst; a gathering with guest speakers discussing leadership; a session in an incident control centre, and a Christmas celebration and graduation.
“There’s a real buzz about the ICC session,” says Adrienne. “Women rotate around areas like logistics and air and ground observation and we talk about how they can secure training. A lot of ladies think being in CFA is being on a truck but this helps them realise how many roles there are.”
Kerry Smith from Hawkesdale brigade has been re-energised by Adrienne’s championing. “She’s fab!” Kerry exclaims. “All the conversations are memorable. She has had so much experience and you can talk to her about anything. She’s had such a huge impact on my life.
“I joined CFA because my hubby and kids were in it and I got catapulted into the secretary/treasurer role. Now I’m really keen on ICC roles and being behind-the-scenes. Being mentored has really got me into a new, busy phase and it’s all about community. It’s a long time since I’ve been this enthused.”
Photo by Julie Owens