Melbourne’s women in rescue train together in Moorabool

Women in Rescue event at Pykes Creek Reservoir on April 30 (supplied).

Liam McNally

Female VICSES volunteers across the Western Region, including Sunbury and Gisborne, came together on Sunday, April 30 at Pykes Creek Reservoir, Myrniong for a Women in Rescue (WIR) event.

WIR is a targeted training event established for female volunteers, by female volunteers, designed to celebrate women in emergency operations, to get hands on with the tools and equipment, share rescue skills and have fun in a safe and supportive environment.

The 2023 WIR was the largest since it began in 2018, with eight locations across Victoria hosting double the number of participants to last year’s event.

Participants undertook specialised training scenarios in Water and Land Search, Map and Navigation and Casualty Handling skills to cover the diverse capabilities that VICSES volunteers require during a range of different emergencies.

The WIR initiative first came about as the Sunbury Unit recognised the importance of encouraging more women into rescue operations. It’s designed to help modify training techniques to suit members with varying strengths and capabilities and empower women to showcase their skills.

The event also aims to promote gender inclusion and diversity within VICSES and encourage recruitment and retention of female VICSES volunteers, currently, 34 per cent of VICSES’ volunteers are female.

VICSES chief executive Stephen Griffin said Women in Rescue events are a “great opportunity” for both experienced and newer members to come together and share their skills and knowledge in a supportive environment.

“WIR aims to empower women to showcase their skills in contributing to the safety of our communities. It is critical that we reflect the communities we serve and build the confidence and leadership among our women in orange,” he said.

 “Our female first responders at VICSES are incredible, and attend highly complex, challenging incidents. Our Women in Rescue event showcases their life-saving skills, using the latest rescue technology and training.”

VICSES Bacchus Marsh Unit volunteer Jane Patton said the day helped “strengthen relationships across emergency services”.

“The Women in Rescue program gives female members the opportunity to learn together, enhance existing skills and spark interest pursuing further training in a variety of rescue skillsets,” she said.