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Invitation to the Women and Firefighting Conference

Welcome to the 3rd Australasian Women and Firefighting Conference. The theme of this year’s Conference is ‘Resurgence – Becoming Stronger’. The tragic events of the 2009 Victorian ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires and more recent challenges for individual women in our industry and other emergency services, highlight the need for individuals and communities to be equipped with the tools and support structures to build strength and recover from challenges.

It is hard to believe that it has been four years since the last Women in Firefighting Conference (WIFF 2006) was held in Sydney and five years since the thought-provoking inaugural Women in Firefighting Forum in 2005. While it may seem that it has been a quiet period since these ground breaking events, a group of dedicated Board members have been making steady progress to promote and enhance the role of women in the Australasian firefighting industry.

Accomplishments to date include:

  1. the incorporation of Women and Firefighting Australasia (WAFA) in late 2007 – a professional association for women either in, or considering a career in, the Australasian firefighting industry;
  2. Annual General Meetings including the 2009 AGM that was hosted by Caltex who provided attendees with a tour of their Kurnell facility and its firefighting systems;
  3. the development and ratification of the WAFA constitution;
  4. establishment of a WAFA network for members;
  5. development of a WAFA website; and
  6. preparations for the 2010 Women and Firefighting Conference.

As presented by Pru Goward at the 2005 WIFF Forum, statistics indicate that a higher proportion of child care, home duties and other highly valuable yet unpaid responsibilities are undertaken by women than men. Women and men are increasingly working longer hours and struggling to maintain a tenable work/life balance. Our aging population means that care of senior family members is another responsibility that is increasingly being thrown into the mix.

This year’s Conference aims to provide a variety of skills and knowledge that will assist delegates to better prepare for and recover from a range of personal and professional challenges. The networking opportunities that will also be provided by this year’s Conference will allow delegates to share their stories of their own life challenges and how they have overcome these challenges and moved forward personally and/or professionally.

The Sebel Heritage Yarra Valley has been chosen as the venue for this year’s Conference due to both its excellent facilities and services, and because it is located near one of the areas most severely impacted by the 2009 Victorian ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires. We wanted to support the economic recovery of these local communities by staging the 2010 Conference in their local area.

We look forward to welcoming salaried and volunteer members of the firefighting industry, from active firefighters to senior management to administrative staff, and men and women alike to the 2010 Women and Firefighting Conference.

Conference Themes
The overall focus of the 2010 Conference is ‘Resurgence – Becoming Stronger’. There are four themes under this overarching banner that will be explored within the Conference:

  1. Building strength – learn to harness the skills, knowledge and support networks available to us to build personal and professional strength and to recover from setbacks.
  2. Healthy bodies, minds, workplaces and communities – before we can look after those we serve, we first need to take care of ourselves
  3. Work/life balance – determine what works for you and how to go about achieving your required balance.
  4. Same but different – explore the challenges and opportunities for women in our industry.

WAFA Objectives
The objectives of the Association are:

  1. To facilitate and support women in taking an active role in defining and shaping the role of women in the firefighting and emergency services industries by promoting the expectations of and contribution by women to the sector.
  2. To provide a vehicle for women, in conjunction with their colleagues in the industry, to:
    1. foster and promote increased understanding and awareness of the contribution and capabilities that women bring to the firefighting and emergency management sector;
    2. create opportunities for frank exchange and discussion of the challenges, issues and opportunities for women in the sector;
    3. facilitate change through solutions and actions cooperatively developed with our colleagues in the sector; and
    4. generate opportunities for the development of knowledge and practical experience in roles of leadership and management.

 

 

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