Women wired for Antarctic experience

In a first for the Australian Antarctic Division, Mawson station will have an all-women telecommunications team in 2008, and three of the four communications operators working in Antarctica this summer are women. With their diverse backgrounds, the five women bring a wealth of experience to the Australian Antarctic programme.

Supervising Telecommunications Technical Officer, Jodi Wruck, is a skilled radio frequency technician. Jodi joined the Australian Army in 1994, training and later working in radio communications and equipment testing. In 2006 she spent 12 months on Macquarie Island as the Communications Technical Officer – an experience which inspired her to leave the Army earlier this year and head south again for Mawson.

Jodi will be working with Communications Technical Officer, Roselin Bali, from Sydney. After training as an electrical engineer, Roselin specialised in network engineering with Cisco Systems, where she gained experience working with routers and switches.

Over summer, Narelle Rawnsley, Jane Leggate and Clare Ainsworth, will support the season’s air and field operations programmes. Their work will involve providing a safety radio net for helicopters, C212 aircraft, the new A319 Airbus, and scientific research parties living and working in the field.

Narelle is an operational planning officer with the Country Fire Service in South Australia. Operationally responsible for 87 fire stations, Narelle has specialised in incident preparedness and management, and risk planning. She will be based primarily at Casey, but will also work at Davis and briefly at Mawson.

Jane is an air traffic controller with Airservices Australia. Based in Melbourne, she first became interested in Antarctica several years ago during preliminary discussions between the Australian Antarctic Division and Airservices Australia about an Australian-Antarctic air link, as planes destined for Antarctica fly through Australian airspace. Jane will be based at Casey.

Clare moved to Western Australia three years ago from the United Kingdom, where she worked as a search and rescue officer with HM Coastguard. She was responsible for coordinating all civil maritime search and rescue operations for boats, people and aircraft. Clare has also crewed a sailing ship around Cape Horn and into the Southern Ocean. She will spend most of her time at Davis.

Annie Rushton, Operations Branch, AAD