WOMEN are filling more boots on the ground than ever on the rural fire-defending line, one of the region’s longest-serving volunteers says.
Robyn Perry has been a volunteer with the Rural Fire Service for 33 years and she says there has been a marked change in the make-up of local brigades.
“When I first joined, there weren’t many women in the service, now it’s just about equal with women and men, which is good to see,” Ms Perry told The Leader.
Ms Perry wears a few caps in Tamworth, she’s also been on the beat with St John’s Ambulance for the last three-and-a-half years.
Whether it’s providing first aid or helping defend communities from fires, Ms Perry said she was compelled towards volunteering simply to “help the community”.
“I just like to be able to help others in need,” Ms Perry said.
While she’s seen more women herald the call on the firefighting front, Ms Perry said there’s always a need for more first-aiders in Tamworth.
“[St John’s is] always calling out for more members, especially around country music,” she said.
“All you need is a first aid certificate and once you’ve joined, your levels of first aid can go up.”
Veronica Filby works in Tamworth Regional Council’s volunteer referral program and says there are a number of organisation’s calling out for more help.
Mrs Filby said it’s often people from different countries and retired folks who are seeking volunteering opportunities as a means of “connecting with the community and looking to skill-build” and “keeping busy”, respectively.
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She said getting younger people interested was an ongoing challenge and finding what you’re passionate about was key to unlocking a fruitful volunteering experience.
“I come from a volunteering background myself and it’s benefited my life immensely,” she said.
“There’s lots of opportunities that exist and it’s also hugely beneficial for your physical and mental health.”
“It’s also an opportunity to make new friends and build skills.”