WOMEN EMPOWERING WOMEN: Tanya Wittmann is on a mission to let women know that the SES is open to everyone who wants to join.
WOMEN EMPOWERING WOMEN: Tanya Wittmann is on a mission to let women know that the SES is open to everyone who wants to join.

Meet Tanya, the SES woman determined to debunk this myth

FOUR years after Tanya Wittmann joined the Dalby SES unit, she attended a job where she was required to tarp a man's roof.

That man told Ms Wittmann that if he knew "a chick had to get up on her roof he never would have called the SES".

Ms Wittmann says it's this mindset, in certain stereotypes about the SES, that have stopped other females from joining the services.

But she's here to end that. Here and now she says.

This weekend, Ms Wittmann will be launching the Women Empowering Women in Orange initiative, in the hopes of recruiting more women to the SES and debunking myths of the units being a "man's world".

"We're just trying to build the portfolio for women, have people of the understanding that women can do everything," the Dalby SES group leader said.

"We have no issues with women giving it a go and there's nothing you can't achieve if you believe in yourself."

The Western Downs SES unit has opened its doors to 65 members; fewer than 20 of those are women.

In the whole of the south-west, the SES has just fewer than 700 members. Only 181 are women.

In her six years with the SES, Ms Wittmann has watched female membership numbers dwindle.

"If we're doing a recruitment drive we quite often see females say 'oh this might be good for husband, or brother, or uncle to do'," she said.

"There was no real interest in females getting into that environment. There's a lot of tasks that would be well suited to women even if they're not comfortable using a chainsaw or going at heights."

Ms Wittmann has had to overcome her own challenges to find her footing within the organisation.

"When I first started in the Dalby SES it was a bit of a boys' club," she said.

"I was anticipated to be answering the phone and making the coffee and fixing the office.

"At this very point in time now I've got myself and one other female member."

Ms Wittmann wants the women of the south west to know that the SES is not just for men.

"Even though we are in an era now of gender equality, it seems to be taking a little bit of a backstand when it comes to our emergency services," she said.

"We just want to lift the profile of women and empower our own. If you believe in yourself you can do anything you put your mind to."

Ms Wittmann has hand made close to 200 bows that will be distributed at the launch of the initiative this weekend as a sign of solidarity for all SES members, and to send a clear message that women should not be afraid to join the organisation.

"I think that being able to empower women to do their best is important.

"We believe in my unit that behind every powerful there's a group of women who have her back. And that's what we're trying to bring out here."

For anyone interested in joining the SES, the Dalby unit meets at the SES shed at Dalby Aerodrome at 6.30pm every Tuesday night, or you can call Ms Wittmann on 0427 589 231.



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