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Outcomes of International Women’s Day meeting in Canberra

On the eve of International Women’s Day 2019 – Balance for Better, more than 100 women from across Australia’s forest industries met at Old Parliament house in Canberra. This was history making for Australia, such a number of women in forest industries had never gathered before. Participants found the workshop extremely valuable, as they listened to thought-provoking presentations and collaborated on ideas to improve gender equity in forest industries, building their networks along the way. Source: Timberbiz

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Senator Richard Colbeck opened workshop and attendees heard from a panel of speakers including Dr Skye Saunders from Australian National University, Joanne Matsoukas from VicForests, Laureta Wallace from National Farmers Federation and Stuart Ellis from the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council.

Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers directors Shauna Black and Keith Lamb attended the workshop in Canberra.

“The old-fashioned notion of forestry being a bunch of blokes with chainsaws is well and truly debunked,” Ms Black said. “It was gratifying to see women there from all aspects of forestry – from directors to marketing professionals, silviculturists, scientists and machine operators.”

Following the guest speakers and Q & A panel, attendees participated in a workshop to discuss equity issues. Attendees shared their vision for the future, the barriers faced, current initiatives and new ideas before deciding on priority actions.

Finally, everyone had a chance to cast votes on the top three priority actions they most wanted to see realised. Natalie Heazlewood, Policy Manager at Australian Forest Products Association organised the event and is now analysing all of the information gathered attendees to determine the next step.

The AFPA Women in Forest Industries Workshop was just the beginning of the conversation about improving gender equity and diversity in our industries.

Groups worked together to formulate a vision, outline actions and rank priorities.

Ms Heazlewood said there were some common themes from the groups and she listed the top three priorities from the workshop as:

  1. Improve image/social license. Promote forestry as environmentally friendly and socially sustainable. Advertising campaign to show the diversity of the forestry industry and promote it.
  2. Gender policy for all AFPA members – adopt core principals (signed up to be reported) Plus aspiration goals eg flexibility, recruitment, mentoring, % employment. Industry standard/pledge that support women in the industry. Standard would be reportable against setting benchmarks. Companies sign on and report against it.
  3. AFPA board gender equity by 2021. Females invited to board meetings and Chamber meetings. Each member to commit to this target.