Developing volunteer leaders is critical to CFA’s success.
By addressing barriers to progress for women volunteers, particularly those in operational roles, we can grow the future pipeline of women leaders and improve gender balance in brigade leadership roles.
The Women in Leadership Mentoring Program started in November 2022, and was initiated by the Women’s Advisory Committee and funded by the Volunteer Leadership Development project. From more than 100 expressions of interest, 44 CFA members (22 mentors and 22 mentees) were selected. Program participants come from all regions.
Designed to support women volunteers who are currently in, new to, or wanting to step into, leadership roles, the 12-month pilot program will provide support and guidance, break down silos, share knowledge, skills and experience across the state, and build and recognise people’s existing capability.
The initial workshop in November was an opportunity for mentors and mentees to establish their partnership agreements, meet other participants and create connections with leaders. The workshop also explored what it takes to be a good mentor and how to get the most out of the mentee experience.
Throughout the remainder of the program, mentees will be supported by their mentors to achieve their individual goals.
In addition, all participants will have opportunities to attend development workshops, learn more about different areas of CFA and build networks across the group.
Individual check-in conversations with participants during February 2023 identified a range of initial benefits for both mentees and mentors including shadowing opportunities in incident control centres, visits to the State Control Centre, support to address and resolve outstanding issues of concern within brigades and learning about good practices in different brigades. Several mentees reported that their self-confidence had increased.
The working group that developed the program plans to launch a second cohort of women members mid this year.
This program is one of several initiatives to support improved gender equality in CFA, to address recommendations from the External Review of Culture and Issues Management. Other initiatives include:
- Women’s Challenge Camps to build operational skills and develop peer learning networks
- Women’s Burn Days which enable hands-on skills in the planning and management of roadside burns
- pilot of the women-only General Firefighter course
- establishment of the Women of CFA Facebook page which provides a safe space for women across CFA to ask questions and share their knowledge and experiences.
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