Written on the 15 June 2015 by Anna Stephan

Conference, 2015 Canberra, ACT

The 2015 WAFA Conference was held in Canberra last August and 100 delegates participated in presentations and workshops in the theme of 'Women at the fire front: Innovation, Motivation & Inspiration'.

There were 16 agencies represented across the rural and urban space with delegates travelling from every state. We were also fortunate to have representation from the NZ Fire Service with two female Station Officers in attendance; Rochelle Martin NZ's first female Officer from Auckland, and Kate Hill from Dunedin.

In a first for the conference, we ran pre-conference workshops for hands-on training. Inspector John McDonough from FRNSW delivered recent case studies in fire behaviour with some practical applications for extinguishment. Senior Firefighter Anthony Hatch, also from FRNSW took 30 participants through an introduction to Large Animal Rescue and ran team-based scenarios with "Bruce" the demo-horse.

Support for the conference was excellent with agencies sponsoring generously and also sending delegates. The ACT Emergency Services Association were a Gold Sponsor and had just announced their commitment to spend a Territory grant of $200,000 to increase their representation of women in their Emergency Services. This conference was planned for actions and deliverables and all participants engaged in sharing ideas, experiences and some objectives to work towards. Dr Dee Gibbon from the Australian Air Force led a hands on session to capture the issues, barriers and needs for the recruitment and retention of women into our Fire Services. Much of her research into the Military experience, with concepts such as "Homosocial reproduction" was directly transferable to the Firefighting sector. All of this data was captured and compiled into a conference report with recommendations for Agencies. Read the full report here: Women and Firefighting Australasia Inc (WAFA)

Author: Anna Stephan

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