The event was held at Fortuna Villa as part of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, with attendees treated to a delicious lunch alongside six presentations on regionally-based gender equality initiatives.
Family violence is widely recognised as a whole of community challenge, so it was wonderful to hear about some of the amazing programs and projects being implemented across all levels to address the problem.
From pre-schools to health services and indeed CFA, the range of community groups and organisations involved highlights the sheer amount of people determined to address the levels of family violence in the Loddon Mallee Region.
Strathfieldsaye Captain Matt McCarthy was joined by brigade member Bec Lancaster and champion of Rural Challenge, Dr Jessica Crofts, to discuss the changes made at the Brigade following their participation in the program.
"We became involved in Rural Challenge in early 2018 when Brigade Management Team member Karen Thomas brought it to our attention. I am proud to say that there was not a single hesitation in the leadership group to take on the Rural Challenge," said Captain McCarthy.
"The brigade undertook a number of activities, culminating in the preparation of our own Gender Equality Plan. It was encouraging to see the enthusiasm with which the brigade embraced the process."
Ms Lancaster shared one of the new initiatives with the captive audience - an annual calendar, a first for the 20-year-old brigade.
"With the assistance of a grant from the Centre for Non Violence we have 300 copies ready to give out to families in the community at our annual santa truck appearance at playgrounds around Strathfieldsaye," said Ms Lancaster.
"Our calendar shows inclusiveness, acceptance and breaks down traditional gender stereotypes. We hope that there will be an increase in conversation within the brigade and community regarding gender equality and the impact we can all have regarding violence against women."
Captain McCarthy summed up the expectations of all who volunteer with his brigade.
"Safety, respect and inclusion. This is my expectation for every person who joins the Strathfieldsaye Fire Brigade, regardless of who they are."