Conference 2015: Sustainability through Diversity

  Posted on 2nd December 2015 by Loralee Hyde in UFBA News

Conference 2015: Sustainability through Diversity
The theme of this year’s conference was Sustainability through diversity.
This, along with the topical issue of keeping our people safe, was the focus of two keynote presentations and four interactive workshops.

Group Captain Catherine McGregor

Group Captain Catherine McGregor’s astonishing life and courage in sharing her story captivated the Conference audience as she Skyped in from commentating at the recent NZ-Aust cricket test at the WACA in Perth.

Catherine has been a military strategist for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), a political adviser, a speechwriter for the Chief of Army and a cricket writer and commentator.

In 2012, Catherine, then living as Malcolm, decided to transition to the female gender and live fulltime as a woman.

She praised her peers in the male-dominated ADF and the cricket world for their powerful messages of support.

Now working with the Royal Australian Air Force, she is “proudly transgender”.

Catherine had strong messages on increasing diversity in the workplace.She said if someone is good enough and they can do the job - welcome them on to your team.

Having a shared passion is the crucial point.

Merit has to count and you have to look past how people present.

Suspend your judgement and look to see how people do the job.

She observed that oestrogen is a "good drug" and based on that factor, strongly urged brigades to employ more women.

"This was an amazing speech. One of the highlights if not the highlight of the weekend and great for brigade leaders to hear. Well done UFBA!" Renee Moffitt, Stokes Valley Volunteer Fire Brigade

Wiremu and Marsella Edmonds

Passionate orators Wiremu and Marsella Edmonds inspired Conference attendees with a moving and thought-provoking presentation about their commitment to making workplaces safer.

They told the story of their “tribe” of five children - and how Robert, their eldest son, was killed when he was hit by a tree felled by a co-worker two years ago.

Wiremu and Marsella EdmondsWiremu said better communication and safer work practices could have prevented their tragic loss.

He challenged all leaders including the UFBA Board (pictured) to “stand in the gap” and have the right processes in place to protect the health and safety of their people so everyone gets home safely at night.

Marsella also had a challenge for us: “When was the last time you asked your son or daughter how safe they are at work?”

They stressed making sure we have work safety plans and clear communication - and encouraging fellow workers to stop taking shortcuts - will create a healthy and safe environment.

Wiremu and Marsella’s final plea was for all of us to have the courage to stand up and speak if we believe something risky is happening in our workplace.

“I was fortunate enough to hear Wiremu and Marsella at the NZFS Safety Summit but once again I had some dust in my eyes which I had to wipe away.” Rudi Verplancke, Edendale Volunteer Fire Brigade 

Four Skills Workshops

Coaching & Mentoring Skills - Carol Scholes

Participants found out how to get the best out of the people they lead by coaching not telling.

Building Diverse Teams - Damian D’Cruz

Participants explored how unconscious bias affects our thinking.

Managing Difficult Personalities and Dealing with Toxic Behaviours at Work - Aly McNicoll

How to identify toxic behaviours and better manage difficult personalities to reduce their negative impact.

Leading a Brave New World of Diversity - Tim McLeod

Discovering how to be an inclusive leader by harnessing the power of diversity.

“I will use the coaching workshop skills to change behaviour on fire calls, work out what type of people I have on the call and coach them into doing the work required.” Warren Maslin, Ashburton Volunteer Fire Brigade
Download the workshop presentations at

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in (top right) or register.


here ×