AFAC19 powered by INTERSCHUTZ | 27-30 August 2019 | Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre | #AFAC19

Session information

11:10 - 11:40

Inclusion in the Fire Service – Storming to Norming

Women And Firefighting Australasia (WAFA) is a not-for-profit Incorporated Association. WAFA delivers a range of member benefits, including a biennial conference. The 2018 conference, held in Wellington, delivered a three day program to over 250 truly diverse participants from agencies across Australasia. This 6th WAFA conference, themed: “Looking Forward, Looking Back: Shaping the New Norm” exceeded all previous measures of success that WAFA conferences have achieved. The increased delegate numbers, participation of heads of agencies, active AFAC support, increasing organisational sponsorship and truly exceptional keynote presenters all indicate that the “critical mass” is upon us. The opportunity for a paradigm shift is within sight; after 13 years of “early adopters” taking on gender inclusion in the fire services, we can transition from the storming phase to the norming phase – WAFA is providing sector wide drivers for the change we need to see. This presentation will articulate the success of WAFA in addressing gender diversity and inclusion in the fire and emergency services, with particular emphasis on the 2018 conference outcomes at this time, when representation of women in operational roles continues to be unacceptably low. The first of its kind, these findings are ground breaking and clearly demonstrate advice and direction for the sector to ensure our organisations progress the inclusion and representation of women in order to deliver the best possible service for our communities. “To go to the WAFA conference was to be part of an expression of the commitment, honesty, raw emotion, and ultimately hope for the future of and for women in the fire and emergency services. It was like nothing I have experienced in the sector. It changed my perspective on the importance of increasing diversity and how I and other men can contribute to creating a new norm alongside our female colleagues.” (Male delegate)