Club to challenge the stereotype

Tarsha Walters and Elizabeth Gibson, of Benloch Fire Brigade, are keen to see women learn new skills through the Women's Chainsaw Club.

Tarsha Walters and Elizabeth Gibson, of Benloch Fire Brigade, are keen to see women learn new skills through the Women's Chainsaw Club.

A women's chainsaw club being piloted in the Macedon Ranges will arm local women with the skills and confidence to use a chainsaw, and has received overwhelming interest.

The Women's Chainsaw Club will offer 10 women an accredited trim and crosscut chainsaw safety and handling course, a design and chainsaw sculpting course, and emergency preparedness.

"Knowing how to handle a chainsaw has historically been a skill associated with men, so it's great to be able to challenge this stereotype," the mayor Cr Jennifer Anderson said.

The program is an initiative of the Macedon Ranges Shire Council in partnership with the Lancefield Neighbourhood House and Benloch CFA.

The call for participants for the Women's Chainsaw Club went out last month and organisers have already received about 75 expressions of interest.

"This show's that there is a real interest and real need for this kind of program," Lancefield House's Vivien Philpots said.

"I would love to see if there is way to offer this kind of training again or more regularly."

The program is open to all women in the areas of Lancefield, Benloch and Cobaw, with preference given to women in higher fire risk areas, single parent families, women in isolation and those experiencing financial hardship.

Course participants will be supplied with chainsaws and safety equipment, and following the successful completion of the program will be able to take them home for their ongoing use. Lunch is provided and free childcare is also available.

Angie Polglaze, course facilitator for the design and chainsaw sculpting component of the program, is no stranger to breaking boundaries.

Since picking up a chainsaw just over 20 year ago, Angie has competed internationally in chainsaw championships, and is the founder of the all-female chainsaw group, Chainsaw Chix.

"This artform has taken me all over the world, literally," Angie said.

"It keeps you strong, it keeps you fit … and there's always something new to make."

Funding for the program was made available through the CFA Summer Local Initiatives Grants Program.

For details or to express your interest in taking part, visit lancefield.org.au/chainsaw-club or call Viv on 5429 1214 or Emilie on 5422 0206.