Lady tradies teach

More than 15 women, young and old, gathered at Pepper Green Farm to learn the value of women in the trade workforce.

The workshops were introduced by nation-wide organisation, SALT, Supporting And Linking Tradeswomen. 

Five women working in trades from around Australia taught women from the Bendigo region a new skill.

The women learnt how to create a cutlery caddy.

Fi Shrewing is a painter and decorator, she began the SALT program six years ago. 

She is one of the 1.7% of trades people that are women.

The organisation was founded in 2009 based on what Ms Shewring had researched on a trip to America.

We are all a lot happier than if we were in an office. We like being outside, making things with our hands. - Fi Shewring

"Before starting the organisation I did research and wrote academic papers, as I thought people would listen to me that way," she said.

"Then I went to America and did a whole heap of research, and I found the American women were well supported in their trades.

"So, when I came back to Australia I decided we needed that here.

"That's why I started SALT.

"We started with seven tradeswomen in Wollongong.

"Now we have tradeswomen all over the country and overseas.

"Also we include men because we do not believe jobs should have a gender.

"We are trying to change the attitude that there are men specific jobs.

"The issue isn't gender. 

"We have to change the social attitudes of men and women.

"Women also think they cannot do this work.

"But I have found tradeswomen in every single trade that there is, it does not matter what.

"They are able to do the work - where there is a will there is a way.

"I think the mentality is a hangover from the old culture - men worked and women did not.

"Women stayed at home but nowadays women work.

"Australian women need to work.

"Australia needs women to work.

"At the moment they are being channeled into quite a limited employment base.

"They are often quite restricted in what they think about doing.

"They steer toward these jobs dominated by women.

"All the women here today have proved their worth as a tradie.

"We are all a lot happier than if we were in an office.

"We like being outside, making things with our hands.

"That's what we are trying to change this mindset that goes way back into the 1940s.

"There are just over 650 carpenters in the whole of Australia.

"There are no reasons why women can not be carpenters."

Ms Shrewing said the touring workshops will be ongoing as long as the funding continues.

"It has been really well received so far," she said.

"When we started doing the workshops we did them on just a Saturday.

"The office for Women for Victoria funded this current tour.

"Our ethic is even if we don't have funding we could still do workshops on the weekends.

"Whilst we are able to get funding we can reach much further afield."

SALT have travelled around Victoria and will soon move onto NSW as part of a re-education program.

"Before we came down to Vic we had been to the ACT," Ms Shrewing said.

"This is our biggest interstate trip.

"I currently live in Sydney.

"I was born in Melbourne so this is coming home.

"I have five children and six grand children.

"Most of us are working mothers."

Women from Strath-Haven community group joined with the women from SALT to learn their skills.

The group encouraged seniors to get out and try something new.

Mary Gooch, 96, is familiar with trying new things.

"I go out every single day to different things," she said.

"Somebody asked me if I was interested in joining the community group.

"It's wonderful.

"It's a little bit out of the box.

"We are all happy to do something hands on.

"We like to get active.

"My life has been a satisfying one.

"I must keep moving though.

"Whatever you are physically able to do, you should do it.

"I hope I can keep going for a bit longer.

"The young people around me have kept me feeling young.

"I don't ever think about how old I am."

Strath-Haven community programs coordinator Mrs Kerry Egan said she was excited to receive an invitation to be a part of the SALT workshops.

"We run men's shed programs in Inglewood," she said.

"They were saying it is about time that we had a ladies shed.

"We thought it was a great idea.

"We wanted to do something different because our ladies only do a gardening program.

"It was excellent and they were very excited.

"There are people out there who need this support and Strath-haven is very good at providing this."

Penny Jamieson, 20, has dreams of becoming a fabrication engineer, she was among the women learning skills.

Ms Jamieson said she had enjoyed getting to learn more about the industry.

She had looked into many different ways of studying her chosen trade.

She said there were not enough financially achievable opportunities available.

"I am not sure how to get into the industry," she said.

"(At school) I was the only girl in my trade class.

"A lot of people, especially the teachers, are stuck in the idea that trades is a men's thing.

"Going into the industry I am prepared for that I know to expect it. 

"I love what SALT are doing

"There are more and more girls wanting to do trades.

"They just don't have the support or any way of knowing how to get into the industry."

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