The devastating bushfires last summer and the COVID-19 health crisis have highlighted incredible work about first responders: firefighters, police, paramedics.
One group that is still under-represented on the front line is women.
One program is working to change that.
Senior reporter Gabriel Boyle joins us from the Girls on Fire recruitment day in Alexandria.
Gabby: The girls on fire program is basically designed to get teenage girls interested in a career in the emergency services: fire, paramedics and ambulance. All of those frontline workers that did such an amazing job during the bushfires.
Gabby: They’re running through some of the drills this morning up here on the wall you can see one of the girls is abseiling down. The rest of the team at the top giving us a big wave there and take a look at what these girls are doing here on the ground, an amazing job. They’re dragging dummies. These are really, really heavy about to 60 to 70 kilos some of them.
Gabby: One of the girls I’m joined by is a Amaya. Amaya you’re just 15 years old, how heavy is this guy?
Amaya: He’s about 60 kilos.
Gabby: How are you finding it? You’re interested in being a firefighter one day?
Amaya: Yeah I would actually. I really enjoy that I like helping people, helping residents, helping the community.
Gabby: And you already volunteer for the rural fire service? Amazing job. You’re a little pocket rocket. We’re also joined by another group of girls Lauren Preston Lauren come over here. This guy has seeing better days. What do you like about being a firefighter one day?
Lauren: Helping the community and making friendships.
Gabby: It looks really tough.
Lauren: It’s a lot of hard work.
Gabby: And you already volunteer. So how long have you been volunteering for?
Lauren: I’ve been volunteering since I was since I was 12 .
Gabby: I’m also joined by Bronnie Mackintosh. Bronnie, you’re one of the organisers of this program, why is it so important we get girls involved?
Bronnie: It’s really important because I know that diverse teams are better problem solvers. If we can be better problem solvers we know that we can provide much better public safety outcomes for the people of New South Wales.
Gabby: And girls are really underrepresented aren’t they.
Bronnie: They are. We’ve got four agencies represented here today. Fire and Rescue has 8% women, the Rural Fire Service has 23% women, National Parks about 23% and Air Services Australia only 4%. We need to change that.
Gabby: Show me what they can do this looks pretty impressive they’re going to put a car fire out for us here.
Gabby: So these girls learn everything?
Bronnie: They learn everything. We put them in the gear, we get them using the gear and we have them doing the business, we have them doing everything.
Gabby: Show us what you’ve got girls.
Gabby: Most of these girls are 14, 15, 16 years old so pretty full on. It’s very hot there as well. In a couple of years, they could be on the front line.