The Male Champions of Change: Advancing Gender Equality in Fire and Emergency Services

The Male Champions of Change (MCC) is a coalition of CEOs, secretaries of government departments, non-executive directors and community leaders.  Male Champions of Change believe gender equality.  They recently released the MCC  Fire and Emergency Impact Report 2019 provides detailed data on gender representation in the sector.

ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) Commissioner Georgeina Whelan is one of five women in the MCC group who lead their organisations.  She believes creating a supportive and inclusive work environment for women in the fire and emergency services will bring positive outcomes for the workforce and community.

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Overall women’s representation at ACT ESA is at 25.8% up from 22.0% reported in 2018. The agency has achieved gender balance (40-60% women’s representation) in a number of frontline service delivery enabling roles, including senior managers (42.9%) other managers (40.0%) and non-managers (46.35%).

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Across Australia and New Zealand, the group achieved gender balance or an increase in women’s representation across 77.6% of employment categories over the period. In addition, they report:

• 24.2% women’s representation overall across the group, compared to 22.0% in 2018 when the first report was released
• 40.1% of overall hires across the group were women
• 79.3% of members now have flexible working policies in place
• 92.9% of members have flexible parental leave policies in place
• 79.3% of members have a formal policy or strategy in place for preventing and addressing sexual harassment, including details of complaints/grievance processes.

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Members of the MCC group include chief executives, commissioners, chief fire officers and fire managers responsible for fire, emergency and land management for 29 agencies working across metropolitan, regional and rural areas. They lead some 288,000 staff and volunteers throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The group was established with the support of AFAC, the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services.

“All Australians have again witnessed the incredible role of the fire and emergency services this summer.  These circumstances highlight the range and complexity of their work and the increasing resource demands on the sector” said AFAC CEO Stuart Ellis  on the fire and emergency sector’s diverse and inclusive workforces.  “As a group, we firmly believe that attracting more women and tapping into new and different skills will be fundamental to meeting Australia’s fire and emergency prevention, preparedness, incident response and recovery needs into the future,”

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“This year’s results, particularly in the area of recruitment, show that real progress is being made to ensure our emergency services are more representative of the communities they serve.”  added  MCC Fire and Emergency’s Chair, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton.  “We have also seen an increasing awareness of the importance of having clear policies in place around flexible work, parental leave and dealing with sexual harassment. The real work now is ensuring that all employees and managers are trained in these policies and that they become a critical part of the way the organisation operates.”

 


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