The final day of the conference saw Yvette Dowling of the SA Country Fire Service present a “Proud History of Women in the CFS”, as well as an evolution of the service into the modern world of technology and incident control. It was a great insight into the service of the volunteer, in particular the female volunteer, as we hope to see more of this in future conferences.
The rousing finale of the conference was Carol Fox’s delivery of “No Limits Leadership”, which brought together Carol’s favourite lessons in conquering fears and self-limiting language, eradicating barriers that the self and others put in our way, how to reframe potentially negative situations and personal encounters, and how to be the change you want to see in your world. More than a set of “what ifs”, Carol spoke of how to turn “what ifs” into “I’m doing” and making possible the possibilities. Carol has done extensive work with the CFA as well as various sporting and community entities and is keenly aware of the types of limiting language women in firefighting hear and tell themselves when they allow it to take hold.
With all the courage and motivation in the world, the conference delegates were invited to participate in a forum designed to set the agenda for WAFA. At a crossroads with our relatively fledgling organisation, the WAFA board felt it was important to gain insight into the reasons delegates attended, what they wanted from the conference and how they anticipate WAFA could benefit their involvement in firefighting, both from career and volunteer perspectives. This was in addition to a survey that was distributed to all delegates.
WAFA is not a union, we are not a representative body and that is not what the financial members or the delegates want. We are still collating the responses and with our new and returning board members we will deliver new and inventive ways to fulfil our purpose of promoting and celebrating women in firefighting, and acting as a portal to a network of like-minded women and men across agencies in Australasia, connecting colleagues, mentors and importantly, our male peers’ support and recognition.
In this report I would also like to welcome our newest board members in Megan Stiffler (Qld F&R), Bronnie Mackintosh (F&RNSW)and Steve O’Malley (MFB Vic and White Ribbon Ambassador), with Donna Wheatley (MFB Vic) and Angela Seymour (NP&WS/FRNSW) as committee volunteers.
I was kindly sponsored by CFA to attend the conference and many phone hours were spent at Korumburra FB organising my responsibilities to help get the conference off the ground – big appreciation to both CFA and my home brigade for their understanding and support. Host Jurisdiction sponsorship was provided by CFS and MFS (SA), and Conference sponsors were Fire & Rescue NSW (Platinum), Air Services and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (Gold Sponsors), Country Fire Authority and NSW Rural Fire Service (Silver), AFAC, NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union and ACT Emergency Services Agency (Bronze), and without our valued agencies our conference cannot be offered, so thank you for your support.
Iznaya Kennedy is a CFA firefighter with Korumburra Fire Brigade, CFA Chairmans Challenge alumni and has been a WAFA board member since 2010, among other things. CFA is in the process of providing guidelines for establishing a network of CFA women across the state, which will be a valuable resource for brigades, groups and districts, as well as at an individual firefighter level. Any members wishing to know more about WAFA and how to connect with cross-agency women in firefighting for inspiration, professional networking or mentoring may visit the website at www.wafa.asn.au, or ‘like’ the Women And Firefighting Australasia Inc Facebook Page. Be a part of the exciting evolution of firefighting in Australasia.