The first conference event held by Professional Women in Australian Pest Management (PWAPM) has been deemed a success by its attendees.


The inaugural Professional Women in Australian Pest Management (PWAPM) conference was held on the Gold Coast in March. The two-day conference included a variety of talks on aspects of business management and included the 2021 PWAPM Recognition Awards during the conference dinner.

With 60 delegates coming from across Australia it certainly delivered on its aim of being a national conference.

“We wanted to create a leadership conference to bring women together. With the Covid outbreak under control we wanted to do something face to face, but do something a bit different. The majority of the sessions were interactive – workshops to get attendees out of their seats and out of their comfort zones,” said PWAPM President, Nicky Turner. Attendees appreciated getting out of the office post-lockdown and really responded well to the conference format.

“It’s been amazing to connect with other women in the industry. Often you find you’re surrounded by men, so it’s good to meet other women working in pest and who are passionate about it,” said Emily Skinner, district manager, NSW at Ecolab.

Many of the speakers were chosen to help develop leadership, business, and people management skills, as well as focusing on empowering women. A common theme in attendee feedback was that the speakers were both engaging and provided takeaway information and skills that could be implemented straight away. Pulling a conference together, especially the inaugural conference, can be a challenge. Ms Turner was keen to thank the team of volunteers and particularly the support from the conference sponsors.

“We had 29 industry sponsors, which allowed us to pull the conference together and bring in high quality speakers. A special mention goes to our gold sponsor, Rapid Solutions, who also supported the conference dinner.”

The conference dinner was attended by 90 delegates, partners and speakers. Apart from being the main social event of the conference, it also doubled as the presentation ceremony for the 2021 PWAPM Recognition Awards. Three recognition awards were presented: Rhonda Trotter – 2021 Honorary Life Member, Ash Fadian – 2021 Female Administration Award and Sheri Ambler – 2021 Female Trainee Award. The award ceremony also acknowledged the winner of the 2020 Excellence Award, Michelle Downs from Lethal Pest Control on the Gold Coast.

“Michelle is a complete all-rounder, the definition of a one-woman band. She does everything in her business, a true force of nature, and has overcome challenges in life to be a success,’ said Ms Turner. The choice of Ms Trotter for the inaugural Honorary Life Member Award was easy. “Rhonda was the trailblazer for women in pest management. Over the years Rhonda actually tried to start a women in pest association not once but twice. The only reason we have been successful this time round is due to timing and the presence of social media,” observed Ms Turner.

Many women brought their partners to the Gold Coast as well, not only showing their support and enjoying a weekend away, but male partners also had the opportunity to attend a satellite session organised by Dr Don Ewart and TIPRM (The Institute of Pest Risk Management). “Blokes’ Day” included a core session on men’s health with a speaker from the Australian Men’s Shed Association and various technical talks on pest management.

The intention is for PWAPM to host an annual event and plans are already underway for a 2022 conference. “The plan is to run the conference again next year at the same time, to coincide with International Women’s Day in March. It’ll be back on the Gold Coast and we’re aiming for over 100 delegates next time,” concluded Ms Turner.

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