The Yallourn power station in Victoria's Latrobe Valley today welcomed its first intake of women to train as plant operators since the site was privatised two decades ago in 1996.
The appointments make good on a commitment made on International Women's Day last year by EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna to hire female operators at the company's power stations.
"We have women working across the Yallourn power station as tradespeople, truck drivers, engineers and managers but it's taken far too long to hire females to train as plant operators," Ms Tanna said.
"On the surface these appointments might seem a small step, and it's true we have more to do, but they help address an obvious imbalance in an important part of our business.
"The great reaction to our recruitment campaign confirms the strong attraction many women feel to a career in energy. It's easy to understand why – what we do is fundamentally good and important for the wellbeing of families and businesses across Victoria and around the country.
"There's never been a better, more important time to join our industry as we support the transition to reliable, affordable and cleaner forms of energy," Ms Tanna said. "And this program shows how it's possible to lead that transition while providing good, rewarding and secure jobs in the Latrobe Valley."
A recruitment campaign announced in October 2016 generated more than 370 applications from women for the operator roles. A separate call for female apprentices at Yallourn drew another 86 responses.
The six new trainee operators are Latrobe Valley locals from a variety of backgrounds: chemistry specialist, power station unit attendant, scientific technical officer, consumer coordinator, learning and development trainer and intensive care nurse.
Mark Pearson, Head of Yallourn, said he was delighted by the volume and quality of applications and the site was keen to welcome the new arrivals.
"To receive more than 370 applications was a fantastic result. Even better was the outstanding calibre of the applicants," Mr Pearson said.
"We originally planned to hire five trainee operators but given the high quality of the field we expanded the intake. The diversity of experience and skills these women will bring to the site is a major positive," he said.
Mr Pearson said the six trainees would now begin an extensive program involving a mix of theory and on-the-job training to qualify as power station operators. At the end of the course, graduates will receive a formal qualification in power plant operations.
Gender representation is just one component of a broader commitment to diversity and inclusion by EnergyAustralia, one of the country's leading energy retailers. The company also supports programs aimed at increasing indigenous participation, providing assistance to vulnerable customers and supporting LGBTI colleagues.