A $3000 win for women in non-traditional trades

By Charmayne Allison

FOUR local women will pursue their careers thanks to a share in the inaugural $3000 Echuca Moama Women’s Scholarship.

The scholarship encourages women to challenge gender stereotypes, promote gender inclusive work environments and encourage participation in the local economy.

It was developed by Committee for Echuca Moama (C4EM), Campaspe Primary Care Partnership (CPCP) and Campaspe Cohuna Local Learning and Employment Network (CCLLEN) following the community’s overwhelming response to the recent International Women’s Day event hosted by Moama Bowling Club.

The one-off scholarship was formed from surplus funds raised on the day.

‘‘It aims to support women in non-traditional trades, occupations or sectors,’’ Campaspe Primary Care Partnership executive officer Emma Brentnall said.

‘‘The PCP has had gender equity as a priority for the past few years and this was a strategy we thought could start to address some broader community stereotypes we unfortunately place on women to not pursue occupations that are usually dominated by men.’’

While it’s currently a one-off scholarship, C4EM chief executive Nina O’Brien said it had generated discussion around the pursuit of similar opportunities in the future.

‘‘It has certainly initiated some interesting data in terms of the low representation of women in trades not just in our region but right across the nation,’’ she said.

‘‘The amount of women in trades has only increased 1 per cent from 12 to 13 per cent in our nation over the past 20 years — so I think there’s some very important work to be done in that space.

‘‘We certainly take the opportunity to celebrate the local employers who support these young women in these diverse industries.’’

Ashlee Collins, Campaspe Primary Care Partnerships Executive Officer Emma Brentnall, scholarship recipient Kelly Shotten with C4EM chief executive Nina O’Brien. 

First year electrical apprentice at Foodmach

KELLY Shotton was in school when she decided her future career path.

‘‘I knew I wanted to do an apprenticeship in a trade of some description because that was kind of how I learnt, I didn’t do well in classrooms,’’ she said.

‘‘I had a look at all the trades and I knew people who did electrical so I narrowed that down as the one best suited to me.’’

Now in her first year of an electrical apprenticeship at Foodmach, Kelly is loving the challenge.

‘‘There’s a lot to wrap your head around, that’s for sure. But everything’s a challenge until you figure it out,’’ she said.

‘‘We do a lot of wiring of switchboards, palletisers, depalletisers, conveyors, a lot of industrial stuff.’’

While data shows the percentage of women in trades is low nation-wide, Kelly thankfully hasn’t felt any negative impacts from that at work.

‘‘At my workplace there aren’t many challenges as a woman, I’m really fortunate to have a wonderful group of boys,’’ she said.

‘‘They’re all fantastic. I know there are challenges out there for other people. But I’m really lucky.

‘‘If you’re a woman and you want to pursue a trade, go for it. Just figure out how you learn best and if you learn best hands-on, go for something like a trade. Don’t let being a female stop you.’’

She will be using her scholarship money to buy a toolbox.

‘‘At the moment my tools are either in a toolbag which is really heavy or in a box,’’ she said.

‘‘So it will be a lot more accessible, secure and safe with a new toolbox.’’

Ashlee Collins, Campaspe Primary Care Partnerships Executive Officer Emma Brentnall, scholarship recipient Beth Connor with C4EM chief executive Nina O’Brien. 

Paddlesteamer skipper

BETH Connor is pretty sure she has more river water running through her veins than blood.

Which is why she didn’t bat an eyelid when choosing her career.

‘‘I’m currently a skipper for Murray River Paddlesteamers here in Echuca but I’m working towards getting my engineering ticket as well,’’ she said.

It all started with her great-grandfather and his brother, who owned nine paddlesteamers between them.

‘‘I would go to sleep as a kid looking up at pictures of these boats,’’ she said.

‘‘But I’ve always loved the river and the riverboats and whenever I’d go missing as a kid they’d find me next to the river.’’

She’s still pinching herself over her current employment — as a skipper on one of those old family paddlesteamers, the PS Canberra.

‘‘We load wood, go out for a run, do some commentary and get some kids on the wheel to teach them how to steer, talk people through how the boats work and a history of the area and just drive a boat — it’s good fun,’’ she said.

Beth admits there aren’t many women in her occupation — currently there’s one known female steam engineer and three known qualified skippers in the area.

But that’s not about to stop her.

‘‘It has its moments ... but a lot of the blokes around here don’t care, as long as you can do the job,’’ she said.

The scholarship will help Beth secure her diesel engineering and steam engineering tickets.

‘‘That way I can be anywhere they need me to be on the boats,’’ she said.

Ashlee Collins, Campaspe Primary Care Partnerships Executive Officer Emma Brentnall, scholarship recipient Anthya Beriman with C4EM chief executive Nina O’Brien. 

Apprentice chef at Radcliffe’s

FOR Anthya Beriman, a chef’s apprenticeship is a dream come true.

She only has one regret.

She can’t go on Masterchef.

‘‘I’d always dreamed of going on but now because of my qualification I can’t,’’ she laughed.

An apprentice at Radcliffe’s, Port 53 and Minute Chef, Anthya is taking her first step in every foodie’s dream career.

Growing up with parents in hospitality, she always knew she wanted to pursue a food-related career.

‘‘I didn’t ever really cook with my mum but it was just one of those things I’ve always loved and always wanted to do,’’ she said.

She got her ticket into the industry when Radcliffe’s was looking for a waitress.

‘‘They asked me because I had mutual friends. Then they asked whether I’d like to help in the kitchen,’’ she said.

‘‘I said ‘yes’ and after my first shift in the kitchen the chef said ‘I can see you have got genuine passion, would you like to go for the apprenticeship?’’’

Of course, Anthya went for it, had three trial shifts, and the rest is history.

Surprisingly, the world of hospitality is still a male-dominated industry.

And while Anthya loves her job and workplace, there are still times when she has to assert herself.

‘‘Because I’m smaller and younger, people will sometimes say, ‘Oh you can’t carry that!’ and I’ll say, ‘I can do it the exact same as you can’,’’ she said.

Anthya is planning to invest her scholarship in a brand new set of knives.

Ashlee Collins, Campaspe Primary Care Partnerships Executive Officer Emma Brentnall, scholarship recipient Alison Barnes with C4EM chief executive Nina O’Brien.

First year apprentice fitter and turner

AS AN apprentice fitter and turner at Riverport Engineering, Alison Barnes is used to answering the question, ‘‘So what exactly do you do?’’

‘‘It’s essentially machining — and it involves a lot of hard work,’’ she said.

‘‘I do a lot of custom jobs for farmers. So a lot of fixing tractors and creating small bits and pieces you wouldn’t be able to buy in a shop.

‘‘There can be some jobs that are really detailed and need very precise measurements or there can be simple stuff, there’s a big range.’’

Alison first became interested in pursuing the career while she was in school.

‘‘I just enjoyed woodwork and metalwork at school and went from there and did my VET course and did work placement at many different places and took a long time to get to where I am now,’’ she said.

But the entire way through her courses, Alison felt a little bit like the odd one out.

‘‘I was the only female through all my courses,’’ she said.

‘‘They always thought I wanted to do something different and I’d always say, ‘No, I’m here for the hands on’.’’

To all those women and girls interested in pursuing a trade, Alison said: ‘‘Go for it’’.

‘‘Don’t let people stop you,’’ she said.

‘‘Try around and see what you enjoy.’’

She’ll be using her scholarship to buy more tools.

‘‘Work does supply a lot of my stuff but there are certain things I need to get for myself especially if I move on to somewhere else after my apprenticeship,’’ she said.