District 15 International Women’s Day event a great success

On Sunday 14 March the District 15 Women’s Reference Group (WRG) hosted the first CFA Statewide International Women’s Day event. 


The event had 267 volunteers and staff from around the State register to attend, including 57 who opted to attend online.  A face to face event was held in most Districts which provided an opportunity for networking and discussion after the event.

Volunteer Sustainability Team, Jessica Bettess help organise the event and said the day was a great success.

“The day was a great opportunity for members across the state to share successful initiatives they have introduced to increase female participation.” Jess said.

At 2.00pm each of the locations around the state joined a video conference which began with the guest speaker for the day CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald.

“Natalie was followed by brigades and Women’s Networks from around the state who presented on successful initiatives they had introduced to increase participation of women in their brigades and how they ‘Choose to Challenge’ gender bias and inequality.” Jess added.

“The event was a great success with attendees enjoying the opportunity to hear about initiatives from around the State and the opportunity to network with others from their District.”

Cape Clear, Colac and Malmsbury Fire Brigades all shared initiatives which have increased women’s participation in CFA along with District 14 Learning and Development presenting on their female driver education program. Participants also heard from District 24 WRG, the first District to form a WRG, about what they have achieved so far and the future of their group. 

Chief Officer Jason Heffernan attended the day and congratulated District 15 WRG for an inspiring event.

“It’s great to hear of so many fantastic initiatives happening across the state, something that all members should be aware of.

“Today the challenge has been set, the challenge to change. I want to see more women in CFA and more women in leadership roles.

“I want to take the time to thank and congratulate everyone who has been involved in setting up this event and I look forward to working together to make change happen.”

D15 WRG Chair Michelle Phillips opened the event and thanked everyone who has been involved.

“To the best of our knowledge Sunday’s event was a landmark moment in CFA history,” Michelle said. “The day represented a vision created and developed by volunteers with the able support of the Volunteer Sustainability Team and all levels of CFA.

“Creating an event to recognise International Women’s Day resonated strongly with our group. It ticked all the boxes around our reasons for creating a WRG and the vision we have for the future.

“Rarely do we stop and take the time to appreciate our achievements, to take stock and plan our way forward. In little more than a century there has been an accelerating drive to change the balance within society. Equality, Fairness, Inclusion, Equity, Opportunity have become clear goals to be achieved.

“The theme “Choose to Challenge” provided a clear focus to develop the structure for our event.

“We have chosen to challenge the unity of purpose of our volunteer structure.

“To challenge the invisible divisions that exist across lines on a map by establishing a state-wide event that will stimulate communications and inspire action. To challenge female volunteers to step beyond simply identifying problems and move towards creating meaningful change.

Members can watch all initiatives and presentations on the Knowledge Sharing Platform.

Members can also use the platform to add your own experiences and initiatives for others to learn from.

Author: Holly Penketh