Celia Scott, captain of Poolaijelo Fire Brigade - middle, holding helmet
The vital role of women to their communities, their brigades, and to CFA as an organisation is being celebrated as CFA marks International Rural Women’s Day on 15 October.
Libby Garoni is one of the thousands of women who volunteer with CFA to help her community in Victoria’s north east.
As a 3rd lieutenant at Gundowring Fire Brigade and Deputy Group Officer of the Bogong Group, Lt. Garoni said she there’s nothing like living in a rural area.
“I’m from north east Victoria and while I lived in Melbourne for a while, I’m a country girl at heart,” she said.
“I’ve been a CFA member for more than 20 years, and actually joined when a local member came round to ask my husband to join. I’ve always been a bit of a do-er and always been part of community organisations, so I told him I’d sign up as well.
“I certainly wasn’t the first female member of Gundowring Brigade but when I first started, there weren’t a lot of women in the roles that I’ve taken on.
“I think when people see women out there having a go, they’re much more likely to get out and be part of it, and there are a lot more young women joining nowadays which is fantastic.”
The number of women in CFA’s ranks has been increasing over many years, with 12,622 female volunteers currently supporting their communities in operational, support, and junior capacities.
Poolaijelo Fire Brigade captain Celia Scott said being female doesn’t hold her back from doing anything as a CFA volunteer.
“I don’t see myself as a female volunteer firefighter, simply a volunteer firefighter, she said.
“People out here in the middle of nowhere are some of the hardest working people, and without those types of rural people, we’d be a bit stuffed.
“CFA is made of these local women and these local people, which is why it’s so important to rural communities.”
CFA Chief Executive Officer Natalie MacDonald said opportunities like International Rural Women’s Day provide a chance to recognise what rural women bring to their communities and to CFA as an organisation.
Having grown up in a rural area, Natalie is only too aware of how important rural women are to the protection and the future of their communities.
“CFA’s women are great role models showcasing the strength, determination, diversity of skill and adaptability of women to the whole Victorian community and beyond.
“We are committed to providing a welcoming, inclusive and safe place to volunteer and work, and wants to continue to attract and retain members of diverse backgrounds and experiences that reflect our communities.”
- Libby Garoni, Gundowring Fire Brigade