Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes): Ahead of International Women’s Day I rise to absolutely celebrate the way in which women are taking leadership roles in fighting Victoria’s bushfires. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Each for Equal’. On this side of the house we could not agree more with this vision.

Women have always been part of communities affected by bushfire, and now they are on the bushfire front line, leading through their strength and expertise to protect our environment and to protect their communities. This summer 140 female project firefighters working through Forest Fire Management Victoria were on the front line. This is more than what we have ever had in the past. It includes project firefighter Jordyn Chodziesner, who worked on the front line when fires hit her local community in East Gippsland.

However, tackling fires does not only require frontline firefighters; we also need strong specialist aerial experts such as Amy Caddick, who worked to identify hotspots within fire grounds. We have also had women leading the response to protect our environment, like Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning biodiversity specialist Penny Croupcamp and Zoos Victoria’s senior vet Dr Leanne Wicker, who together with a team flew out to Mallacoota to treat injured wildlife whilst the fires were still raging.

As a government we have promised to improve outcomes for Victorian women right across the board, something that cannot be said by those opposite, who have more men in their shadow cabinet than women in Parliament. This is a shocking achievement in 2020. That is not our way. When women are respected and are treated equally through tangible policy and commitments of a government, we are all better off for it—men and women. Absolutely this is a commitment that we will keep.