Body Repair Divisions'
Path to Equal Representation

words by Isabella Mizzi

For the first time in the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC)’s history, one divisional committee is now equally represented by both men (six) and women (five), including the committee Chair, Carly Ruggeri, Director of Europanels in Geelong.

The three newly appointed women on the Body Repair Division (BRD) committee - Michelle Ferbrache, Essendon Panels (Essendon), Madison Young, M1 Autobody, (Geelong), Kate Stanfield, Presnell Body Works (Invermay, Tasmania), and returning committee member, Deborah Stephens, Total Collision Repairs (Airport West) - were selected after their nomination through the VACC committee elections this September, beating out a number of other worthy candidates including men and women. 

WinA recently spoke with Carly on this notable step towards an equally represented committee (as it pertains to gender), and what it means for the Body Repair Division, as the sector faces one of the toughest environments it has ever seen.

“Equality for me is about working with exceptional humans, rather than exclusively focusing on gender” Ruggeri commented when asked about the committee’s accomplishment.

Ruggeri was also quick to note that while the committee now boasts an even number of men and women, “A truly equal representation should also display diversity in factors such as age, skills, cultural background, and geographic location.”

(Above) BRD Committee Chair, Carly Ruggeri pictured outside of her business, Europanels in Geelong, Victoria.

Following the rapid expansion of large corporations vertical and horizontal integration, the automotive body repair sector is currently facing one of its lowest points in history. Because of this, the BRD committee is proud to provide a unified voice on behalf of the sector, actively “advocating our members’ position on critically important matters to small business owners, to Government, and working with dedicated stakeholders to address market imbalance, raise standards, and improve treatment of independent body repairers” Ruggeri commented.

Like all VACC committees, each member of the BRD committee also actively works in the industry themselves, enabling them to bring a wealth of knowledge and understanding to the advocacy role.

Due to Covid restrictions, the committee as a whole has yet to meet in person, however Ruggeri commended the societal adaptation to virtual meetings that this year has brought, noting the committee hasn’t allowed restrictions to stop them from doing everything they can for their industry.

Women in Automotive is proud to promote the BRD committee’s accomplishment, and is equally supportive of the committee’s commitment to promote further diversity in representation.

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In the spirit of reconciliation, Women in Automotive acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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