Female Tradespeople Helping DV Victims Feel Safe

Amy Feyen walks into the warehouse with a toolbelt slung over her shoulder and bright magenta ear muffs around her neck. They're the heavy duty kind, designed for hearing protection from construction and electrical work, and they're hot pink.

"There's not many other workers with these on the sites," she says.

Amy is the sole owner and employee of Melba Electrical Services. She's been working as an electrician for seven years, and her business slogan is "Let me repair what your husband tried to fix."

In Australia, fewer than two percent of construction, automotive and electrical tradespeople are women. In 2011, there were just 676 female carpenters, 638 female plumbers and 1,432 female electricians nation-wide. The numbers have barely shifted in 25 years.

But it looks like the tide is finally beginning to turn. Female tradies are getting motivated and qualified, and helping to combat Australia's national trade skills shortage.

The women pictured here met on the job at the YWCA, Australia's oldest women's organisation. It offers housing, mentoring, training and advocacy for women in vulnerable situations, and in the state of Victoria alone provides 100,000 beds per year to women in need. 

No woman-carpenter ever came out for careers day at school. They just didn't exist.

Most of the YWCA tenants have experienced trauma, and many are survivors of domestic violence. It's not an ideal place for strange men to come wandering through, but there has to be someone on hand for when the taps stop working or the light fixture breaks. That's where the likes of Amy step in, providing a friendly and non-threatening service to women living in temporary housing.

Read the full article about Amy and the other tradeswomen here.