DEECA’s Program Manager for Aboriginal Partnerships Donna Sherwen, CFA’s CEO Natalie McDonald, Jamieson Brigade’s 4th Lieutenant Janene Ridley, and FRV’s Senior Station Officer Fire Station 76 Wodonga Claire Healy.
Last month, more than 70 volunteers and staff from CFA’s North East Region gathered in the Lakeside Community Centre in Benalla to launch the joint District 23 and 22 Women’s Networking Group.
Designed to connect women from across the area, the group offers the opportunity to share experiences, train together and effect real change within CFA.
A driving force behind the group’s creation has been volunteer Janene Ridley, 4th Lieutenant at Jamieson Fire Brigade, who has been passionately advocating for women in CFA for some time. As the current District 23 representative on the statewide Women’s Advisory Committee, Janene meets regularly with CFA’s CEO Natalie McDonald and Chief Officer Jason Heffernan.
“The turnout for the launch of the new Women's Networking Group demonstrated that there are many members who are women who are interested in sharing their expertise to support one another,” she said.
“It's important that we keep the momentum going right now, so we’re inviting all women in Districts 22 and 23 to join our online meetings to help us work toward making the changes we want to see in CFA.”
Guest speakers for the day were proud Anangu person – Pitjantjatjara woman Donna Sherwen, DEECA Program Manager for Aboriginal Partnerships, Claire Healy, Fire Rescue Victoria Senior Station Officer Fire Station 76 Wodonga, and CFA’s CEO Natalie McDonald.
After learning about cultural burning from Donna and how we can tackle challenges in ten easy steps from Claire, the speakers and Natalie formed a panel to take questions from the attendees.
“This was an excellent opportunity to hear where CFA is heading in the future, and for participants to clear any reservations they had and share their experiences.” Janene said.
Following the panel discussion, Natalie officially launched the District 22 and 23 Women’s Networking Group and acknowledged that it was the largest gathering of CFA women in one room that she had been a part of since her appointment in early 2021.
The presentations were concluded by the Personal Protective Clothing (PPC) review team consisting of Head of Fleet and Protective Equipment Danny Jones, Project Manager Wildfire PPC Nicki Lund and Chris Britton, Manager Supply Chain and Logistics. The team presented a sample of the new next generation wildfire PPC and gave an overview of the State Logistics Centre and structural PPC.
The launch was made possible from funding secured through the Valuing Volunteers Program.
“We also wish to thank all the participants who journeyed to Benalla for the event, and we look forward to the launch of the new District 12 network in the coming months,” Janene said.
For more information about this Women’s Networking Group, go to the Facebook page.