Women at the Edge

View all events in this series

at The Wheeler Centre

Disaster and Beyond

Fire. Flood. Earthquakes. With climate change making itself felt, the environmental challenges we face are changing rapidly – and so too are the ways people of different genders are impacted by them. Who gets to lead, and what does that mean for the climate emergency? As part of our Women at the Edge series, a panel of remarkable women working in disaster management will consider how we can take action on gender justice in disaster – and why we need to.

Join us for a thought-provoking discussion with an introduction from the Minister for Women, The Hon. Gabrielle Williams MP to launch the Gender Justice in Disaster: Inspiring Action conference, with Fire Rescue Victoria’s Commander Donna Wheatley, Commissioner for Gender Equality in the Public Sector Niki Vincent, Dr Meagan Tyler from the Centre for People, Organisation and Work at RMIT, and Cathy McGowan AO.

Presented in partnership with Women’s Health Goulburn North East

Women at the Edge: Disaster and Beyond

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, venue capacity is unfortunately limited. We will not be able to accommodate walk-ups or a waitlist as may have been the case in the past. Read more about our live events plan here. Check our website, follow us on social media or sign up to our e-newsletter The Wheeler Weekly for updates and any late ticket releases.


Portrait of Donna Wheatley

Donna Wheatley

Donna Wheatley is a Commander with Fire Rescue Victoria. After 15 years' service on trucks she was one of the first two women to achieve this rank in Victoria in 2018. With still less than 4% representation of women in operations within the paid fire services across the county, trail blazing continues to have its gender bias challenges in this industry. Donna came to the Fire Brigade from an established career in gendered services - managing family violence outreach across 3 shires of central Victoria and a specialisation in Gestalt Psychotherapy, with a lens of systems theory. As a result her ability to see the systemic gendered disadvantage has won her accolades and enemies for the work she has done "calling it out" for 20 years.

Portrait of Niki Vincent

Niki Vincent

As Commissioner, Dr Niki Vincent is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Gender Equality Act 2020 and plays a key leadership role in promoting gender equality in the Victorian community and workplaces.

Dr Vincent has a wealth of experience in gender equality and organisational leadership. This includes most recently serving as the South Australian Commissioner for Equal Opportunity since May 2016. In this role, Dr Vincent was responsible for the general administration of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA).

Portrait of Cathy McGowan

Cathy McGowan

Cathy came to national attention when she won the seat of Indi as an independent in 2013. The community backed her again in 2016. In 2019 Indi made Australian political history when Dr Helen Haines was elected as Indi's second, independent woman. During her time as a politician Cathy actively worked in Parliament to develop policy around regional development, constitutional change for First Nations people and a solution to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers. In 2019 she was awarded The Accountability Round Table award for political integrity. She is an Officer in the Order of Australia, a Churchill fellow and lives very happily on her farm in the Indigo Valley in NE Victoria.

Portrait of Meagan Tyler

Meagan Tyler

Dr Meagan Tyler is a Senior Lecturer based in the School of Management and the Centre for People, Organisation, and Work at RMIT University, Melbourne. Her research interests include: gender inequality, violence against women, sexual exploitation, emergency management, and disaster studies. She has published significant works on the social construction of gendered inequalities in the context of bushfire preparation and response in Australia, as well as gendered issues around bushfire policy. Her most recent book on these issues (with Peter Fairbrother) is 'Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice' (Routledge, 2019).

Women at the Edge

What are the major issues affecting women in regional areas? How important are local systems and solutions in dealing with local problems? What are the new and innovative ways country women are tackling issues of gender inequity? What can policy-makers learn from local community initiatives and what are rural women learning from each other?

In five events across 2020, we're hitting the road and heading north-east to the diverse Goulburn and Ovens Murray regions of Victoria to discuss these questions with local community leaders and experts. In partnership with Women’s Health Goulburn North East we'll hold critical conversations, and share stories, on topics ranging from women's health and housing to disaster relief, accessibility and financial empowerment.


More about this venue, including large map, parking, public transport and accessibility.