Christine Bittner and her beloved Murray Greys
International Day of Rural Women, observed on 15 October each year, is a global reminder to recognise and celebrate the strength, resilience, and achievements of women in rural areas.
Women are often the backbone of rural communities playing critical multifaceted roles as farmers, caregivers, entrepreneurs, volunteers and community leaders. Their dedication to cultivating the land, preserving traditions, and fostering volunteerism is a testament to their vital role in shaping the fabric of rural societies.
One fifth of all women who live in rural Australia volunteer and CFA is one of many volunteer organisations who benefit from their contribution.
Ross Sullivan, Deputy Chief Officer North East Region, is championing the importance of International Day of Rural Women by supporting it in his role as CFA executive sponsor.
“While International Day of Rural Women highlights the accomplishments of women in rural settings, it is important to recognise that the struggles, triumphs, and aspirations of women transcend geographical boundaries,” Ross said. “Women, regardless of their location, face similar challenges and opportunities, and each one contributes to the socio-economic and cultural fabric of their respective communities.”
Christine Bittner, 1st Lieutenant at Mossi-Tambo Fire Brigade, is one of many CFA rural women. She manages the day-to-day operations of the family farm where she lives – a 100-acre property in East Gippsland breeding Murray Grey cattle. Growing up, Christine spent a lot of time at the farm with her grandparents and brother and can’t see herself living anywhere else.
“I never want to move away. Nothing else feels like home,” she said.
When asked about what she enjoyed most about the farm, Christine said it’s the animal husbandry aspects of farming.
A recent conversation with another Murray Grey breeder in NSW about ear tagging implements led her to the realisation that the challenges associated with rural farming and firefighting for women in CFA are similar.
“It's not always one size fits all or one way of doing things, and often you need to adjust so that things work more easily and safely due to your circumstances. And sometimes that change you made can be for the better.”
Christine has worn many hats over the 25 years she’s been with CFA. Starting as a junior member, she’s held the title of youngest captain of Mossi-Tambo brigade as well as its first female captain. She’s currently the Deputy Group Officer of the Tambo Group and is on the lookout for new members.
“If you live in the Mossiface, Tambo Upper, Sarsfield area, we can definitely use you. Like many other brigades we need more daytime responders. I’m one of a handful of the brigade’s usual volunteers who turn out to a fire call. If you’ve ever thought about volunteering, I urge you to contact your local brigade to find out more.”
The fire season has already begun for Christine as she helped coordinate resources and crews as part of the firefighting effort for the Wattle Point and Briagolong fires earlier this month.
International Day of Rural Women is an excellent opportunity to amplify the voices of women at CFA. It is a day to acknowledge the rich diversity of experiences, talents, and perspectives that women bring to the table, whether they live in bustling regional centres or remote rural landscapes.
Find out how CFA is supporting women through the initiatives and actions outlined in its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Read or download the strategy here.
- Christine and Captain Phil Loukes (Lakes Entrance Brigade) were joint Masters of Ceremony at the District 11 National Emergency Medal presentations
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