Australasian Women in Emergencies Day

Australasian Women in Emergencies Day

10/10/2022, 4:46 PM

VICSES Deputy Controller, Goldie Pergl 

Goldie Pergl has been a member of the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) for six years, and recommends the Australasian Women in Emergencies (AWE) Network - of which she is a member - to her female colleagues whether they are starting out, or interested in mentoring.

“Women have an equal part to play in emergency management," says Goldie. “We have equal responsibility to care for our communities, so we need to be involved.”

In addition to offering networking and support, the group offers female responders a chance to discuss some of the challenges of working in emergency management, as the sector undergoes a cultural change inclusive of more women.

“I was an administrative worker at a university when I joined,” says Goldie. “Now I can drive a truck, and have been on deployments. I’ve been an Incident Controller, and a crew leader. If you want to grow and put yourself in a position to grow, volunteering is the way to go. It’s even had benefits to my career.”

At VICSES, the participation rate of women amongst our volunteers is at 37% of the workforce - one of the highest in the sector - but Goldie says there is still more progress to make.

“Women have traditionally been seen as carers,” says Goldie. “Men have come in wanting to get in on the tools but, as a woman who loves getting on the tools, I think there’s room for both. Women can do the technical work, men can have a caring role, or vice-versa.”

“Gender shouldn’t matter.”

VICSES recently rolled out new female personal protective clothing, including appropriately-sized gloves. “With the new uniforms, getting on the tools is so much easier,” says Goldie.

“Women can do the role, but one of the biggest challenges was getting rigger’s gloves - necessary to operate the tools - that fit me. They were like clown gloves on me!”

AWE has mentoring as well as networking, things like morning teas and after-work drinks. “These opportunities are important,” says Goldie, “so you can have a chat about challenges at your unit or at work."

"Being able to talk to someone who understands where you’re coming from is really helpful, and helps to retain women in the service as they gain skills and build a career; women who otherwise might have left.”

AWE also has scholarships for professional development, job opportunities, and mentoring programmes. It’s even free to join.

For more information, see here.