South East women emerge as leaders at camp

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The sixth annual South East Region Women’s Challenge Camp recently saw over 40 women head to Trafalgar East to test their limits and enhance their leadership and skills development.


Hosted locally at The Summit Camp from Friday 19 April to Sunday 21 April, participants new and returning jumped into physical and mental challenges, faced heights and mud, while delving into personal, leadership, team building and networking sessions.

South East Region Volunteer Sustainability Team member and South East Region Women’s Network Project Lead Olivia Duffey said the event continues to prove its value.

“We are proud to see the impact our program has on the membership, watching our volunteers participate in the gruelling weekend, as they seek the most out of their development opportunities and get out of their comfort zones in a supportive environment,” Olivia said.

“These are the same people that go on to become leaders themselves, from starting new initiatives and running programs, to standing up for formal leadership positions, increasing their involvement in all facets of CFA and emergency services, and becoming the leaders of tomorrow, supporting the mentorship of future generations.

“We champion the development of all our members, but this can be particularly challenging in the gender equity space. It is why we continue to evaluate the needs of the membership to ensure we provide equitable opportunities for all.”

While many enjoyed the monster mud run, high wire and abseiling, and wellbeing and pathway activities, the leadership panel session was most popular.

CFA District 9 Assistant Chief Fire Officer Emma Conway hosted the round table alongside Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) Gippsland Fire & Emergency Preparedness Regional Manager Kelly Rash AFSM, CFA Diversity and Inclusions Manager Terri Wright and CFA Golden Beach Fire Brigade Captain Paula Grosveld AFSM.

Returning participant and Keysborough Fire Brigade 2nd Lieutenant Shandelle Ross said she continued to benefit from the program.

“We think of it as being high ropes and overcoming that fear of height, but it’s not that. It’s about the personal development we do in the room, and hearing from our leaders in the fire services that really have the most impact,” Shandelle said.

“It is also about the exposure. There is a lot more out there for us to do, it is not just within your brigade being a firefighter and jumping on the truck,” Women’s Advisory Committee Member Rachael Mason added.

“To have the opportunity to listen and learn from our current leaders, it helps us focus our efforts to instil and enhance those skills within ourselves, so we too can be those leaders in our brigade and local community,” Rachael said.

New members to the camp left fulfilled from an eye-opening experience with the support of a larger network, gaining new-found confidence and a real sense of achievement.


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Submitted by CFA Media