CFA women volunteers reach new heights at networking camp

Member News image Dumbalk brigade's Janet Auchterlonie and Churchill brigade's Kayla Dransfield abseiling down the high wire


Mud, rain, fearsome heights, and physical and mental tests were just some of the challenges a group of CFA women volunteers faced in the South East Region Women’s Network Challenge Camp.


The camp, which hosted 45 brave women at The Summit in Trafalgar East from Friday, 31 March to Sunday, 2 April, is in its fifth year, and is run by the South East Region Volunteer Sustainability Team to give women volunteers further development and networking opportunities.

With a specific focus on developing each of the participating volunteer’s leadership, courage and skills to be used both within the fire service and in their personal and professional lives, it proved to be an impressive and stimulating weekend.

Volunteer Sustainability Team Member and South East Region (SER) Women’s Network Project Lead Olivia Duffey said the event exceeded the volunteers' expectations.

“The feedback so far has been outstanding, with many walking away with new skills, a new network of people they can lean on, and confidence in their abilities within CFA and their personal lives,” Olivia said.

“This was the most challenging camp we have run yet, intricately combining a variety of mental and physical challenges with learning outcomes to assist the development of these future leaders immensely.

“It is important to understand that while we absolutely support the growth of all our members, there is a need for equitable opportunities for women and our diverse communities to ensure everyone has the ability to succeed, and to emerge as leaders of our organisation and beyond.

“This is what the Women’s Network achieves, supporting female volunteers in providing the support they need to succeed. It is one small step to seeing all of our volunteers excel on the fireground, in their brigades and in their personal lives.”

Each volunteer started the camp by participating in The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, a system to measure and describe thinking preferences in people. The personalised quiz allowed volunteers to become aware of their own preferences in normal circumstances and when under stress, before applying their actions individually and in group scenarios for both at camp and in the future.

The camp also covered unconscious bias, and exploring conscious awareness that they may face in everyday life particularly as women in a male dominated industry.

The Summit activities however were the thrill of the weekend, with a variety of high rope activities including High Wire, Leap of Faith, Sky Bridge, the Giant Swing, and intense obstacle courses in mud and water. Despite the chilly weather, each participant pushed themselves to complete the physical challenges and face their fears, improving their self-confidence and teamwork abilities.

Participants went home extremely fulfilled from the eye-opening experience, with a new outlook, new skills, newfound confidence, a larger support network and a real sense of achievement.

“The immediate and long-lasting outcomes of this camp make this event absolutely worth it and is why we are excited to look forward to a sixth camp in 2024. We hope to continue providing this opportunity to other female volunteers,” Olivia said.

“This is part of what makes CFA a great place to volunteer, no matter what walk of life you come from.”

If you are interested in starting your volunteer career with CFA Country Fire Authority, visit the website or speak with your local brigade. You can also keep up to date with the latest news on our Facebook page.


  • Member News image
  • Member News image Noojee's Jean Edney on the Sky Bridge
  • Member News image CFA board member Dawn Hartog on the high wire
  • Member News image Participants going through the mud run
  • Member News image Mallacoota's Tracey Johnston on the leap of faith
Submitted by CFA Media