BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS: Dalby SES volunteer group leader Tanya Wittmann has been recognised with a QFES excellence award. Picture: Sam Turner
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS: Dalby SES volunteer group leader Tanya Wittmann has been recognised with a QFES excellence award. Picture: Sam Turner

Dalby SES hero rewarded for breaking down gender barriers

A Dalby State Emergency Service group leader has been recognised for her work in breaking down gender barriers by developing an initiative to aid women in regional areas.

Volunteer Tanya Wittmann was presented with an excellence award for her tireless efforts with the ‘Empower Women Project’ by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services this year.

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Now a proud SES member for more than eight years, Ms Wittman said she started the program two years ago to debunk the myth that the SES was only for men.

“We started it to show inclusivity, and to empower women in a male dominated industry,” Ms Wittmann said.

“The program helps teach SES women and civilian women to do simple manual tasks they may not know, empowering them in the process.

“This can range from anything tarping a roof during a storm or changing a tyre.”

Dalby’s SES faction contains 16 members, with only a quarter of them being women volunteers.

Ms Wittmann said the percentage of women in the entire Western Downs group was quite small, and she was endeavouring to increase the number of female volunteers.

“When I started I was the only female member within the group for Dalby eight years,” she said.

“I had to change a few opinions of those in the community that even though we were females, we can do the same things as the blokes.”

The group leader said she had encountered instances of prejudices against women SES members, with those in need of assistance questioning the skillet of the longtime volunteer.

“Some people I’ve helped in the past weren’t big fans of women rescuing them, or fixing their roof during a wild weather event,” she said.

“We have the same training, and the same skills, so this projects helps to make sure everyone is included and empowered as one, inside and outside of the organisation.”

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