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AWL Summit 2019

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Each year Queensland Health recognises International Women’s Day and Queensland Women’s Week with a full day summit designed to empower women to reach their full career potential. In its fifth year, the 2019 Aspiring Women Leaders’ (AWL) Summit focused on “powerful partnerships, powerful conversations” and how gender balance can be achieved through productive conversations between men and women.

The AWL Summit was open to aspiring leaders from across Queensland Health and other Queensland Government agencies—both men and women. Attendees were able to:

  • gain inspiration and insight from a range of dynamic leaders
  • interact with presenters and other attendees, both face-to-face and digitally
  • find out how to actively support gender equality, regardless of individual gender identity or leadership status
  • expand and build professional networks.

2019 AWL Summit's video and audio recordings

In 2019 the AWL Summit was live audio streamed free of charge (via Pop Up Radio), allowing anyone from anywhere the opportunity to listen in. The podcasts feature keynote addresses from the event, as well as exclusive interviews with presenters and exhibitors.

Summit welcome

Barbara Phillips, Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services Division, Queensland Health

View the video

Video transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Now to get things underway it is my great privilege to be able to welcome Barbara Phillips.  Barb brings more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare to her role as the Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services Division of the Department of Health. Commencing in front-line services in allied health Barb has led significant New Zealand government health priorities before joining Queensland Health.  She is now moving into her third year as Deputy Director-General for Corporate Services here in Queensland.  She holds an Executive Masters in public administration and has commenced her PhD on the topic of leadership.  As this event is brought to you by Queensland Health women’s network with Barb as the executive sponsor she is a true champion for inclusion, please make her very welcome.

(Applause)

BARBARA PHILLIPS: Good morning, there is nothing more sobering or awesome than to look out to 1000 women and men in front of you as you prepare to do this so welcome to the first day of the Aspiring Women’s Leader Summit.  My name is Barbara Phillips, I work for Queensland Health and as Sophie so kindly introduced me I’m the Director, Deputy Director- General of Corporate Services division.  I would like to begin by respectively acknowledging the Turruwul, Jagera and Yagura people’s, the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which this event is taking place.  And the elders past, present and emerging.  I would also like to acknowledge the Honourable Stephen Miles, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services.  Directors General and my Director General colleagues from across government and our guest from Health Consumers Queensland.  I am delighted to be here with you all today to mark International Women’s Day and Queensland Women’s Week and to celebrate the contribution of women in our workplace in our society.

It is a privilege to be the executive sponsor for this event which we are celebrating the fifth year of running today to empower women to reach their full career potential.  I am also very proud of the strong representation today of our Queensland health workforce with most of our areas having a presence and it’s wonderful to see the breadth of our audience spanning 20 government departments.  It is clear to see the interest in this event as growing each year.  In 2015 we hosted 500 aspiring leaders but today you are here amongst 1000.  Over the last five years Queensland Health has also established a women’s network and an ilumni(?), something we are able to take great pride in.  The network champions and advocates for inclusion and diversity in our workplace and gives our people the opportunity to make meaningful contributions towards gender equality.  Our theme joins many others celebrating women’s achievements this week and acknowledging that our male colleagues are integral to the aspirations of women. Our themes that we feel are incredibly important and are up for discussion today.  We have also warmly invited both men and women to join us today and I would like to welcome those men who have been able to join us today. The theme for this event is powerful partnerships, powerful conversations, gender balance achieved through a productive conversation between men and women.  The program ahead of us today is one I’ve been looking forward to for some time.  Our speakers will immerse us into the depths of gender balance and yet we will only scratch the surface of how we can achieve mutual success.  This is a powerful conversation that we will carry through the day and into tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. There will be a wealth of insights I hope that will be shared today that will ignite the spark of inspiration and motivation to change within everyone.  To get the most out of ourselves today we need to engage and commit, engage with the program and with each other to challenge our barriers and through making the commitment which will be up to all of us, my hope is that you will be able to be a catalyst, to making yourself and those that you work with within your workplace and outside better.

Listen to the audio

Audio recording

Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Now to get things underway it is my great privilege to be able to welcome Barbara Phillips.  Barb brings more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare to her role as the Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services Division of the Department of Health. Commencing in front-line services in allied health Barb has led significant New Zealand government health priorities before joining Queensland Health.  She is now moving into her third year as Deputy Director-General for Corporate Services here in Queensland.  She holds an Executive Masters in public administration and has commenced her PhD on the topic of leadership.  As this event is brought to you by Queensland Health women’s network with Barb as the executive sponsor she is a true champion for inclusion, please make her very welcome.

(Applause)

BARBARA PHILLIPS: Good morning, there is nothing more sobering or awesome than to look out to 1000 women and men in front of you as you prepare to do this so welcome to the first day of the Aspiring Women’s Leader Summit.  My name is Barbara Phillips, I work for Queensland Health and as Sophie so kindly introduced me I’m the Director, Deputy Director- General of Corporate Services division.  I would like to begin by respectively acknowledging the Turruwul, Jagera and Yagura people’s, the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which this event is taking place.  And the elders past, present and emerging.  I would also like to acknowledge the Honourable Stephen Miles, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services.  Directors General and my Director General colleagues from across government and our guest from Health Consumers Queensland.  I am delighted to be here with you all today to mark International Women’s Day and Queensland Women’s Week and to celebrate the contribution of women in our workplace in our society.

It is a privilege to be the executive sponsor for this event which we are celebrating the fifth year of running today to empower women to reach their full career potential.  I am also very proud of the strong representation today of our Queensland health workforce with most of our areas having a presence and it’s wonderful to see the breadth of our audience spanning 20 government departments.  It is clear to see the interest in this event as growing each year.  In 2015 we hosted 500 aspiring leaders but today you are here amongst 1000.  Over the last five years Queensland Health has also established a women’s network and an ilumni(?), something we are able to take great pride in.  The network champions and advocates for inclusion and diversity in our workplace and gives our people the opportunity to make meaningful contributions towards gender equality.  Our theme joins many others celebrating women’s achievements this week and acknowledging that our male colleagues are integral to the aspirations of women. Our themes that we feel are incredibly important and are up for discussion today.  We have also warmly invited both men and women to join us today and I would like to welcome those men who have been able to join us today. The theme for this event is powerful partnerships, powerful conversations, gender balance achieved through a productive conversation between men and women.  The program ahead of us today is one I’ve been looking forward to for some time.  Our speakers will immerse us into the depths of gender balance and yet we will only scratch the surface of how we can achieve mutual success.  This is a powerful conversation that we will carry through the day and into tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. There will be a wealth of insights I hope that will be shared today that will ignite the spark of inspiration and motivation to change within everyone.  To get the most out of ourselves today we need to engage and commit, engage with the program and with each other to challenge our barriers and through making the commitment which will be up to all of us, my hope is that you will be able to be a catalyst, to making yourself and those that you work with within your workplace and outside better.

Opening address

The Hon Steven Miles, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services.

View the video

Opening address

The Hon Steven Miles, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services

Video transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Now it is time for our first speaker and whose support we greatly value in enabling this event to take place and whom we will also provide the opening address.  Please join me in welcoming the Honourable Stephen Miles, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services to the stage.

(Applause)

STEPHEN MILES: Thanks so much Barb, I too would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we are gathered on today and pay my respects to their elders past and present and of course thanks song woman Maroochy for welcoming us, welcoming us to country.  I am inspired every time I hear Maroochy sing and I get to hear Maroochy sing a lot, I think I am now qualified, fully qualified as a song woman Maroochy groupie and I think you saw just briefly there her voice was too strong for the sound system even here at the Convention Centre, isn’t it incredible.

Good morning everyone, Happy International Women’s Day for Friday I think so happy International Women’s Week.  To the 750 of you who work for Queensland Health or the Queensland Ambulance Service let me on behalf of the Palaszczuk government and all Queenslanders, thank you for what you do every single day helping Queenslanders to stay healthy and get healthy again when they are sick.  Let me note that 75 percent of Queensland health staff are women and while the proportion of ambos is slightly less than that, two thirds of new ambos coming into the system are currently women.  To the 250 people who are here from other agencies, you are important too, just a tiny bit less important.

It’s the nature of, it’s the nature of my job that I am often asked to talk at events that I don’t feel qualified to talk at and quite obviously I am not an aspiring women leader.  But I do have what is a unique perspective I think in the world in fact in that not only have I served a bit over four years now, you know a government led by a woman, assisted by a Deputy Premier who is a woman but in a cabinet where half of the members of the cabinet are women, one of the first in the world.  A caucus which is 50 percent women, we say it’s 50 percent women, I think it’s actually one vote, well not one, they’re not votes, they’re people.  One person shy of 50 percent.  You might not know but the secretary and assistant secretary of the Labour Party are also women so I am surrounded by powerful women in leadership roles.

And I was reflecting that my first job in politics the, was for a Queensland government minister in a government, a labour government which had one minister who was a woman.  I worked for her.  And that means that I have seen within my party the debate about how to achieve equal representation and seeing that largely be achieved.  And the observation I would make, and probably what I didn’t realise at the time we were making these kinds of decisions - and what people miss I think when they talk about quotas and debate quotas versus merit is that quotas, affirmative action delivers more than just gender inequality, it delivers more than just women into important roles.  It does more than just make your party more electable although it does that as well.  It forces institutions at every level to change their behaviour.  To change the way they identify skills, the way they identify future leaders, the way they support and mentor them and it incentivises them to do that for women.  And what I have seen is that it does much more than just give women a leg up, it entirely changes organisations.  And in the same way I think achieving gender equality in government does much more than achieve equal rights or equality, of course that’s important and it does that but having equal representation of women in government in my experience also changes the way government is done and the decisions that government makes. And I think in some ways those two things are even more important.  It’s hard for me to talk too much about how it changes the way government is done and decisions are made because of course so much of that is behind closed doors within the cabinet but what I can tell you is compared to other governments led by men with less women in the room, the tone is very different.  The culture of our government is very different.  It is much more we’re forced to be much more collaborative, much more consensus driven, there is a lot more discussion and I’m not much of a discusser so sometimes the discussion is a bit much for me but it leads to much better engagement with our stakeholders and ultimately most times our decisions are by agreement.

The second benefit though I think there is ample evidence of and that is that governments with equal representation of women make better decisions, they are better governments.  And I think there is, as I say ample evidence of that.  When a government sat down at the start of the second term to decide what our top priorities would be making sure that every child got a great start in life came out on top.  If you look at our focus on domestic and family violence, if you consider that when we went about rebuilding the health service we did it by employing 3000 more nurses, more midwives and nurse navigators to help people to find their way in a complex health system.  If you look across the range of reforms, if you look at what I was able to do last term as Environment Minister, I could not have done that without the support of those women in leadership roles.  It is no coincidence, no coincidence at all that after more than 100 years it took a cabinet where half the people in the room could get pregnant to change the laws to give women control of their reproductive health.

(applause)

And I think, I think it’s appropriate that we acknowledge that today, Tanya Plibersek has announced that if Labour is elected federally, not only will they provide federal funding to hospitals to give, to deliver those services but they will also allow women to get a three year prescription for the contraceptive pill.  The kind of decision that only gets made when people in the room are on the contraceptive pill.  And that is why we need to see the same kind of change across our organisations because it delivers a different culture and better decisions.  We are already benefiting from roughly 50 percent of our Hospital and Health Board members being women.  9 out of 16 of our Hospital and Health Chief Executives are women. We are working towards getting 50 percent women on all of our hospital boards as well as increasing the proportion of board chairs who are women and we are doing that because it delivers better boards, stronger discussions.  It’s part of why we are delivering and how we are delivering better health services to Queenslanders.  And it doesn’t happen by accident, that kind of turnaround doesn’t happen by accident. I can tell you that once you have seen a Minister bring to a cabinet a series of appointments that does not deliver gender balance and seen how that is received by the women in the room from the Premier down, while that sends a very strong message to us Ministers to not do that, you don’t want to be that guy. And that allows us to drive that change through all of the appointments and decisions that are made. And I think what is extraordinary is that what was extraordinary just a few years ago is now ordinary.  It is our ordinary process.  And similarly four years ago there were people saying that if we had two women leaders running our state this sky would fall in.  The sky hasn’t fallen in and it’s now kind of ordinary, it’s not extraordinary although of course they both are extraordinary.  We have coped, in fact I would argue we have done even better and this is the one area where I would ask for all of your help because while we will continue to seek to appoint more women into these roles every time we look at the people who have put themselves forward there are always extraordinary women, there are also extraordinary men and the male applicants range from extraordinary to mediocre.  For some reason women feel like they need to be extraordinary to put themselves forward for, for these roles, need to see themselves that way to have that confidence in themselves.  And so the one thing I would ask you to do is to consider putting yourself forward or if not talk to someone else who you think is extraordinary and encourage them to put themselves forward and that will make it easier for us to appoint even more extraordinary women to our boards and to our senior leadership roles. I hope you, I sincerely hope you enjoy the rest of the Aspiring Women’s Leader’s Summit.  It’s been my great honour to help you open it and I look forward to hearing how it goes, have a great day.

Listen to the audio

Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Now it is time for our first speaker and whose support we greatly value in enabling this event to take place and whom we will also provide the opening address.  Please join me in welcoming the Honourable Stephen Miles, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services to the stage.

(Applause)

STEPHEN MILES: Thanks so much Barb, I too would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we are gathered on today and pay my respects to their elders past and present and of course thanks song woman Maroochy for welcoming us, welcoming us to country.  I am inspired every time I hear Maroochy sing and I get to hear Maroochy sing a lot, I think I am now qualified, fully qualified as a song woman Maroochy groupie and I think you saw just briefly there her voice was too strong for the sound system even here at the Convention Centre, isn’t it incredible.

Good morning everyone, Happy International Women’s Day for Friday I think so happy International Women’s Week.  To the 750 of you who work for Queensland Health or the Queensland Ambulance Service let me on behalf of the Palaszczuk government and all Queenslanders, thank you for what you do every single day helping Queenslanders to stay healthy and get healthy again when they are sick.  Let me note that 75 percent of Queensland health staff are women and while the proportion of ambos is slightly less than that, two thirds of new ambos coming into the system are currently women.  To the 250 people who are here from other agencies, you are important too, just a tiny bit less important.

It’s the nature of, it’s the nature of my job that I am often asked to talk at events that I don’t feel qualified to talk at and quite obviously I am not an aspiring women leader.  But I do have what is a unique perspective I think in the world in fact in that not only have I served a bit over four years now, you know a government led by a woman, assisted by a Deputy Premier who is a woman but in a cabinet where half of the members of the cabinet are women, one of the first in the world.  A caucus which is 50 percent women, we say it’s 50 percent women, I think it’s actually one vote, well not one, they’re not votes, they’re people.  One person shy of 50 percent.  You might not know but the secretary and assistant secretary of the Labour Party are also women so I am surrounded by powerful women in leadership roles.

And I was reflecting that my first job in politics the, was for a Queensland government minister in a government, a labour government which had one minister who was a woman.  I worked for her.  And that means that I have seen within my party the debate about how to achieve equal representation and seeing that largely be achieved.  And the observation I would make, and probably what I didn’t realise at the time we were making these kinds of decisions - and what people miss I think when they talk about quotas and debate quotas versus merit is that quotas, affirmative action delivers more than just gender inequality, it delivers more than just women into important roles.  It does more than just make your party more electable although it does that as well.  It forces institutions at every level to change their behaviour.  To change the way they identify skills, the way they identify future leaders, the way they support and mentor them and it incentivises them to do that for women.  And what I have seen is that it does much more than just give women a leg up, it entirely changes organisations.  And in the same way I think achieving gender equality in government does much more than achieve equal rights or equality, of course that’s important and it does that but having equal representation of women in government in my experience also changes the way government is done and the decisions that government makes. And I think in some ways those two things are even more important.  It’s hard for me to talk too much about how it changes the way government is done and decisions are made because of course so much of that is behind closed doors within the cabinet but what I can tell you is compared to other governments led by men with less women in the room, the tone is very different.  The culture of our government is very different.  It is much more we’re forced to be much more collaborative, much more consensus driven, there is a lot more discussion and I’m not much of a discusser so sometimes the discussion is a bit much for me but it leads to much better engagement with our stakeholders and ultimately most times our decisions are by agreement.

The second benefit though I think there is ample evidence of and that is that governments with equal representation of women make better decisions, they are better governments.  And I think there is, as I say ample evidence of that.  When a government sat down at the start of the second term to decide what our top priorities would be making sure that every child got a great start in life came out on top.  If you look at our focus on domestic and family violence, if you consider that when we went about rebuilding the health service we did it by employing 3000 more nurses, more midwives and nurse navigators to help people to find their way in a complex health system.  If you look across the range of reforms, if you look at what I was able to do last term as Environment Minister, I could not have done that without the support of those women in leadership roles.  It is no coincidence, no coincidence at all that after more than 100 years it took a cabinet where half the people in the room could get pregnant to change the laws to give women control of their reproductive health.

(applause)

And I think, I think it’s appropriate that we acknowledge that today, Tanya Plibersek has announced that if Labour is elected federally, not only will they provide federal funding to hospitals to give, to deliver those services but they will also allow women to get a three year prescription for the contraceptive pill.  The kind of decision that only gets made when people in the room are on the contraceptive pill.  And that is why we need to see the same kind of change across our organisations because it delivers a different culture and better decisions.  We are already benefiting from roughly 50 percent of our Hospital and Health Board members being women.  9 out of 16 of our Hospital and Health Chief Executives are women. We are working towards getting 50 percent women on all of our hospital boards as well as increasing the proportion of board chairs who are women and we are doing that because it delivers better boards, stronger discussions.  It’s part of why we are delivering and how we are delivering better health services to Queenslanders.  And it doesn’t happen by accident, that kind of turnaround doesn’t happen by accident. I can tell you that once you have seen a Minister bring to a cabinet a series of appointments that does not deliver gender balance and seen how that is received by the women in the room from the Premier down, while that sends a very strong message to us Ministers to not do that, you don’t want to be that guy. And that allows us to drive that change through all of the appointments and decisions that are made. And I think what is extraordinary is that what was extraordinary just a few years ago is now ordinary.  It is our ordinary process.  And similarly four years ago there were people saying that if we had two women leaders running our state this sky would fall in.  The sky hasn’t fallen in and it’s now kind of ordinary, it’s not extraordinary although of course they both are extraordinary.  We have coped, in fact I would argue we have done even better and this is the one area where I would ask for all of your help because while we will continue to seek to appoint more women into these roles every time we look at the people who have put themselves forward there are always extraordinary women, there are also extraordinary men and the male applicants range from extraordinary to mediocre.  For some reason women feel like they need to be extraordinary to put themselves forward for, for these roles, need to see themselves that way to have that confidence in themselves.  And so the one thing I would ask you to do is to consider putting yourself forward or if not talk to someone else who you think is extraordinary and encourage them to put themselves forward and that will make it easier for us to appoint even more extraordinary women to our boards and to our senior leadership roles. I hope you, I sincerely hope you enjoy the rest of the Aspiring Women’s Leader’s Summit.  It’s been my great honour to help you open it and I look forward to hearing how it goes, have a great day.

In conversation with…

Annabel Crabb, ABC political journalist and author of The Wife Drought with interviewer Kay McGrath, award-winning journalist and news presenter

At the speaker's request, this content was not recorded.

Keynote Craig Foster

Former Socceroo, Chief Football Analyst and champion for women.

View the video

Video transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: So our next speaker for you today is certainly no stranger to the spotlight.  As a former captain of the national football team the Socceroos and the resident face of SBS football broadcasting Craig Foster is fondly known as Foz.  His official title is Chief Football Analyst.  And I imagine there’s lots of young ladies and men who grow up to want to have that job.  But I suspect that his sporting persona is just one dimension of a man who’s proven himself to be an extraordinary social champion.  He recently singlehandedly spearheaded a global social media campaign to save a young Muslim refugee from Australia that was imprisoned in Thailand.  I’m sure you all remember seeing it on the news while he was on a football trip.  It was an extraordinary feat.  But #save Hakeem is not the first time that Craig has chosen to be remarkable.  Many of you will know that he also stepped in squash the outrageous online trolling of Lucy Zelic the female anchor of SBS’s Coverage of the World Cup in Russia last year.  He was prepared to be a role model and to look at what it is like to respect the professional expertise of a woman who was working in a space that is traditionally occupied by men.  To talk about that and whole lot more please put your hands together and give a very warm Brisbane welcome to Craig Foster. [video shown]

Can I just start before I hit on that, with some stuff that’s happened back home as well.  I know the other day we talked about stuff with Robbie Kruse.  And I wanted to just touch on this stuff that I’ve seen regarding the pronunciations and so on.  Because I think you do an absolutely fantastic job here.

Thanks Foz.

You’ve done an amazing, I mean how many games did you have to do in the last four days?  13 games or something.

Well, same for you too.

Yeah.  But to host it and to really do that under immense pressure, time pressure, fatigue pressure, is really quite extraordinary.  I would image it’s probably actually a world record.  I’d have to check.  And I haven’t Googled, but I don’t think there would have been a host previous who would have hosted 13, 14 games in four or five days.  I don’t believe it would happen, ‘cause it’s probably madness.  Listen, you’ve done an unbelievable job.  As a young journalist and in your what, second World Cup now?

Second World Cup, yes.

First one hosting it.  It’s really quite incredible.  So what you’ve done here has been brilliant.  It’s not only proper, but it’s actually important for Australia.  The other day, just finally, I tried to pronounce one of the sayings of the Mexicans in relation to their fifth game, right.  And I probably butchered it.  But the point, and I sort of laughed about it a bit on air, but the point I should make is that I don’t wear that as a badge of honour the fact that I can’t get it right.  Right.  Having linguistic skills, being multilingual, is something you should be very proud of.

Well thank you Foz.

That’s okay.  And something that I think is, it all, you know it adds a lot to our coverage.  And it’s very important.

Thank you Foz.  Thank you.

Just in terms of the workload and everything it’s been amazing.  Yeah.  You’ve done... And you have been tremendous.  And everybody here at SBS is working incredibly hard under the circumstances.  And I’m so proud to work alongside you Foz...

Yeah, oh these guys are doing a great job.

...and all of our crew.  They are remarkable.

Okay.  That’s enough.

So let’s get to the football. [end of video]

Thank you everyone.  It’s wonderful to be here.  It’s great to be asked.  And it is wonderful to work with incredible women like Lucy Zelic.  But I’m sure you’ll agree with me that what we did there at the World Cup shouldn’t be praiseworthy because Lucy was at that moment experiencing, as some of you will know, a Twitter storm I guess you might call it, around her pronunciation of names.  And she is a colleague of mine.  We’ve worked together for some years.  But that shouldn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if we worked together for one day.  We are colleagues.  And my job as a colleague, as it is for you, as it is for all the men in the room, and we’ll get to that in a moment, is to stand up for those and protect those that we work with.  So it shouldn’t matter whether Lucy or my colleague was a male or female I should still do that.  But the sad reality is that I had to do it because Lucy’s female.  That’s the problem. And I think that’s the problem perhaps that we’re here to discuss today.  And I hope for you over the next two days that you’ll find some tools to be able to better resolve that in your work environments, and particularly here within the Queensland Health environment and other governments departments.  But more broadly in society it’s a really important one for us.  Why did I have to feel as though Lucy needed more support than perhaps what my former colleague the legendary Les Murray might have required is because Lucy was a woman coming in to what is a largely, particularly in football, a very largely male dominated area of broadcasting.  And she was being criticised in a manner that Les didn’t have to endure.  And in my view one of the reasons that was the case is precisely because she was a woman, and indeed is.  That’s how (ui) language is, right.  We’ll get onto that in a moment.  So I felt in that environment that Lucy needed my support and that of all of her colleagues.  And so it was an important moment for us as a group.

But I just wonder what it means for all of you and all of the very few males in the room. And I congratulate all of you who are here.  I sat down outside for a few minutes earlier and just changed my notes a little bit because I expected so many more males in the room. And I am not sure if that’s by design or by outcome.  But they certainly should be here.  And I’m delighted to be asked to come and speak to you and give you my perspective on a few different issues.  I should also recognise the traditional owners of this land, Elders past present and future before we get going.  And I think there’s probably three objectives as we work through some of the support that I’ve been able to give to Lucy and others.  And I’ve had the great privilege of working with some incredible females in broadcasting.  Lee Lin Chin was a long-term colleague of mine.  An extraordinary Australian and female broadcaster.  And of course Lucy has become an award winning broadcaster now, is really quite incredible.

I see here that this is about aspiring women leaders.  Right.  But actually I would say that women are leaders.  There’s no need for you to aspire to it.  What you achieve already today is so much about leadership.  And in fact Lucy is not just an aspiring leader she’s an inspiring leader.  And I’m sure there’s very many of you within this room.  So when I was asked to speak here I actually said well why don’t you bring Lucy, if you want to show this video.  Why don’t you bring Lucy and she can talk to this conference about her journey, about that moment, about how she felt pressured, about the threats that she had on social media.  She could talk about the challenges that she faced when she first come in to broadcasting, prior to and at SBS.  She could talk about perhaps the support that we’ve been able to give her.  And the culture at SBS, of which we’re extremely proud and is very much obviously multicultural, which means great diversity, inclusiveness and I think also tremendous respect across genders.  And I thought that would be more appropriate, but the organisers convinced me, no.  And I understand now why I stand in this room.  Why actually it’s appropriate that I come to speak to you.  Because in this space in getting more of the extraordinary Australian women into positions of leadership we must work together.  And we must have more of these moments.  Not in such a public sense, but even in the private domain where it’s so often hidden.  Where so much of the unconscious bias exists.  And where you need, we need, whether you want to call them male champions or male allies, whatever the term is doesn’t matter, it’s about all of us accepting that actually gender balance is the way things should be.

I wanted to start here just with a short statement for you, which I often use within the SBS context and others, is that in my view the world would be a far far better place if we had complete gender balance.  Now that’s not controversial, right.  Is it controversial?  How could it possibly be.  In every field of life we require more of our outstanding women having a voice.  You cannot tell me that in Australian politics that we wouldn’t benefit from the values, the heart, the compassion, the decision making, the different discussions, in this country of many more women being involved, and I would say gender balance, at the political level across all parties.  We would be a much more caring, and I think smarter, inclusive country.  And it’s something that we should all be working towards.  It may not be #save Hakeem, but it certainly should be # something.  Because this country needs a lot of help.  And one of the issues I saw through this recent campaign that we’ve lost our way.  One of the beauties of the campaign, which I hope many of you will have been aware of, ‘cause we don’t have a lot of time here today, but one of the beauties of it was that it was apolitical.  It was across all ages.  It was across all political parties.  And we welcomed everyone.  And that’s what I think needs to occur here.  I think you need to, this is the fifth year, and it’s a wonderful conference, and I’d like for us, ‘cause I need you.  So I don’t want to say for you.  I want to say for us.  I need you for Australia.  What would be great to come out of this would be for us to understand how we’re going to get this message across to the country in a better way, in a more effective way.  And that’s where the language becomes so important.

So just quickly we might work through here a couple of things.  Firstly, some of my experience within sport.  And I think we demonstrated through the recent campaign of save Hakeem and I heard I think it might have been Annabel up here talking earlier about champions, visible, high-profile people in this space, in terms of gender balance around the world, and the Me Too campaign and how important it was.  And those of us in positions of public profile I think sometimes can feel as though it’s a bit gratuitous to be stepping forward. You know everyone wants the support across a whole range of campaigns.  So as a high-profile person, I guess, we’re kind of reticent to be talking about the impact that we can make.  But I think in this space it was wonderful to hear from Annabel that if that’s what we need then we need to get that organised.  People like Dr Kirsten Ferguson with her book and her wonderful Celebrating Women campaign is a really outstanding example.  But we’re not getting the message across to Australia well enough at the moment.  It’s not happening.  That’s why we’re here.  That’s why we have a very small percentage of males in the room today.  And I think that’s the big challenge for us right now.  How can we turn that conversation around, all of us together, to make sure that we’re going to have a better balance across the country.

So I’ll give you some of my experience about what’s occurring in sport and perhaps, and I am a big believer that sport, particularly in a country like Australia which loves it so deeply, it can make huge social impact.  And in fact those of us in positions of prominence have an obligation to society to step forward.  And that’s why I was able to pressure so many people to do it for Hakeen, right.  Is because those who stepped forward with courage, like Annabel and others, can create a wonderful coalition of support.  And we might just talk about some future initiatives and some of the challenges that we have, particularly in sport, which are really numerous.  This was for the males in the room.  Was to challenge all of those to say when do these moments arise?  When do they arise in our daily life?  When do they arise within our corporate environment?  When do they arise for those of you who are in leadership who are males?  When do situations like what happened with Lucy, when do those moments arise when we can actually provide that support?  I think that’s a message and that’s a discussion that we need to have a more effective way with those in positions of leadership, males across the country.  Because this message I would argue that at the moment is not getting through.

Save Hakeem was interesting because it was about standing up for what we believed in and learning things about how to run a campaign.  Now you have many people in the room who will be skilled in this area.  But it was about harnessing the support of the nation.  Language there was incredibly important.  And talking to Australia in terms that we would all engage with, that we would I guess in some way accept is important.  And there’s some pitfalls there to be avoided.  But essentially running a social media campaign the most important aspect of that, which I think’s important in this room, is that it crosses all boundaries.  And this discussion needs to make sure that everyone across society understands the positive impact that we can make.  So often it seems to me, and you have far greater experts in the room, I’m just here hopefully to offer you some of my experience, particularly in sport, but too often the discussion becomes about a limited number of positions and whether male or female are going to inherit those positions.  Where I think the discussion needs to be what I believe is that we’re better off together.  Society is better off with both of us.  Society is better off with balance.  And in fact the mix of gender balance across all of our Boards, across all of our senior executive positions, and certainly across all sport is greater than the sum of its parts. That  the culture is better.  The values are better.  The discussions are better.  And the outcome is far better.  And that goes as much for the country as it does for every level below.  So I think it’s interesting project and I’m delighted to speak to Dr Kirsten this morning and over the coming weeks about the possibility of making something like this happen.  And using the lessons from the campaign, which was very powerful.  We were able to create immense support across all sectors of Australian society for a young man who was in deep peril of his life, that’s true, but still was, how do I say this, in many respects was someone who at the moment Australia may not be predisposed to giving that level of support to.  And yet in the end we were able to supersede and transcend all of the current issues in Australia regarding refugees and so on.  And again, that’s why the campaign was completely apolitical.  But we have this national discussion going on about refugees offshore and onshore and immigration policy and all these things.  And yet at that time we were able to go and have the present government, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, all political parties and much of Australian society stand up rightly and say we’re going to protect this kid and we’re going to go save him ‘cause we think this is important for Australia.  We think this replicates who we are.  We are people who care about fellow Australians.  We are people who care about vulnerable Australians.  And we are going to go save him really as a country is what we did.  It was a wonderful time.  It was a great outcome. What we need to do is take the learnings and the lessons from here – and there are many – and apply it across to what you’re doing together, okay, for us.  For us as a country. My experience in sport was that there is significant pushback against gender equality.  Certainly in sport you’ll know that there’s immense pushback around gender equality and pay, and the gap of inequality.  A few years ago I went back to our players association, is essentially our players union, which oversees and bargains for the rights of our Socceroos, Matildas, our two senior national teams, and all of our professional players across the A league and W league.  And my job was to come back and to run a governance review and look into culture, values and those things and turn the organisation around a little bit. And one of the first things I did was said that we need a quota, not a target, we need a quota we need to mandate a level of female representation on the Executive.  And there was a lot of pushback.  Because, well it’s hard to know the because.  Right.  And I think in some respects we’re all still trying to work it out.  The structures are created by predominantly males.  The rules are created by predominantly males.  And the culture is created by predominantly males.  And there are many for us still in this country, and sport is one, at which that challenge, to get gender balance on a Board, was a significant one.  And many of the arguments are similar to what you face here.  Well, the economic value of what I would call the women’s game in football, which is the Matildas in our professional game, the quantum of that industry is nowhere near the quantum of the male game.  Sponsorship and broadcast rights and all of these things.  And say well, but we don’t use that same argument towards the men’s game.  The men’s game can have whatever resources that it needs.  In fact many of the resources we apply to the men’s game over the last 100 years have been completely ineffectual.  That doesn’t stop us.  In our game of football we have had significant – as have many sports – but significant economic challenges across a whole range of iterations of our professional game.  But that doesn’t stop us investing huge amounts in it.  Because that’s just what has been seen.  That’s what we see in our society here, or we certainly did, as being normal, as being natural.  Just as we saw in many institutions of sport of a natural situation being predominantly males in positions of authority.  And it’s just patently ridiculous.   So to bring some balance onto the Board was quite a challenge.  But now only 18 months later the feedback from the organisation is incredible.  That the discussions have changed.  The level of insight has changed.  The diversity of views has changed.  The culture of the organisation has changed.  And particularly the insight at Executive or Board level has been of phenomenal benefit to the organisation.  It’s one of the best, perhaps the best thing that we ever did.  But why would we have any doubt.  Because our women in football, our women in sport, our women in health, our women in government are of course equally and quite often far more capable. And it’s time that we recognise that as a country. I see recently discussions in the political field around the number of women in senior leadership positions across all of the parties and that’s really the challenge to us isn’t it?  It’s that we’re still having that discussion.  It’s difficult to understand how we’re doing so.  So it’s the misconceptions, and the preconceptions, that is the most important thing.  And we have to challenge those together.  That’s where we need the smartest people in this room, and we also need all of those in positions of leadership within Queensland Health, yes, to be here next year.  If not next month.  You need the males in this room.  And you need, they need to acknowledge that gender balance going forward is a principle that we need to find a path to.  It’s no longer a discussion in my view.  And I say that as someone who believes in it, but I also say because I think the country needs it.  Not just our government but across all levels.  But it’s this level here that should really lead.  So I’m delighted to know that there is a target until, for 50% representation across the Boards.  But I also see this morning I think, or last night in the Courier-Mail about one of the Councils who voted down gender equity on the Boards of all the Councils across Brisbane.  Right.  Which I think that’s something that we really need to push back against.  Not you.  We.  And I think you’ll find that there’s more than enough support, like many other issues in society right now, that I think Australia is ready for that discussion. So is it possible.  The underlying assumptions of sport, and particularly in ours, which is the biggest in the country, not by economic value.  Other sports have greater broadcasting deals and so on.  But we have more participants in our game of football/soccer than any other sport in the country.  So what we do, what we can do, makes a fundamental difference at a deep social level.  So is it possible?  Well, I’ll give you an example.  Governance is critically important.  Because decisions guide where we go as a country.  Where we go as a government, whether State/Federal.  Where we go as Councils.  You know the Brisbane City Council.  And gender balance is the only way forward.  When it comes to our national teams it’s really interesting.  So I don’t want to give too many financial details, but basically what happens, over a four year period of the Socceroos qualifying for a World Cup we have a percentage of player generated revenue that our national teams, like cricket and Rugby Union and most other national teams, and I think including netball and others, receive to the players.  And for the Socceroos that’s reasonably considerable today.  That’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars over a four year cycle.  And when they qualify for the World Cup there’s prize money that comes, a portion of which goes to the players.  The Matildas likewise, but the sum that the Matildas receive over that same period is far far far less.  And we’re asking the question – I was as Chairman, we’re going back 18 months ago – and our players association is still asking now and doing some wonderful work, someone needs to explain to me why that shouldn’t be the same.  So if you’re playing, it’s a great place to start for us.  And if sport can make social change our national teams are our biggest brands.  Our national teams are the most loved, two of the most loved brands in the country.  In fact I think Matildas recently on some studies have said  they are our most loved national team right now.  And why not, they’re extraordinary.  Extraordinary people.  Great performers.  And so why should they not have the same.  They all sacrifice, train every day and are professionals.  They all represent the country in roughly the same number of games.  Not that it should really matter.  They all speak to the next generation of Australians who are going to inherit all the Boards across the country.  They all are favourites of all of those millions of boys and girls across Australia who love them, love to see them play in World Cup, and five they play, they both play for us on the global stage, the biggest tournament in the world.  And that’s our showcase as a nation.  And it’s also our showcase back here to Australia.  So when the Socceroos or Matildas play this June in France all of Australia will be watching.  Those are wonderful moments to now be able to make social change. So within this environment we are talking about, and I think progress is going very well, about being two national teams who will now be on the same financial remuneration for playing for the country.  At professional level we need now to commit to parody at some point as soon as we can.  But we need to get to the table now and get enough people around that table in sport who are committed to that.  And we need to understand how we can make our women in football in Australia paid exactly the same as the males.  And through sport there where I believe that we can make huge social change.  So within our game that is a principle that we are working extremely quickly towards.  And I hope that something might happen in the near future.  By so doing there’s millions of Australians who love football and who we hope that we’re going to be able to demonstrate to them that there is a different way.  That as a sport, and the biggest in the world, we do believe that gender balance right across our Boards, right across our national teams and down through our professional game is not just important to us, but is an important principle for the country. When FIFA for instance, and this is some of the issues that we have globally, when FIFI just in 2017 were giving an uplift in prizemoney they now have a principle of gender equality they call it.  And yet at that time the male prizemoney was lifted from 358 million to 400 million and the women’s prizemoney was lifted from 15 million to 30.  So.  Exactly.  That was our response.  So the global governing body of sport – this shows the challenge that we have – the global governing body were saying we’re committed to gender equality.  But even in this moment we can’t even get parody in the uplift of the prizemoney.  Really extraordinary when you think about it.  I’m proud to say that our football association here, our players, pushed back immediately and were one of the most, one of the first and most prominent organisations in the world to say we don’t think that’s okay.  When the Matildas go this year to play in the World Cup, if they win it the Matildas would receive as a team 50% of what the Socceroos receive merely for qualifying.  And that’s in the biggest game in the world.  Which has extraordinary reserves of wealth.  But just has a cultural view that still entrenches this type of decision making.  It’s our obligation as a game, as an Australian game, and particularly as former players of the country the Socceroos to work with our Matildas together to get that to change, to work on the governance of our game, to bring our national teams in line, to have equality of remuneration across male and female, and to do what we did, I think, and I hope, in the save Hakeem campaign, is to work on a principle that we really believed in and to change the conversation in Australia. It’s been a pleasure to come and speak with you.  Thank you. MC: Wonderful Craig.  How lucky am I, I get to stand beside Craig or Foz, as he’s affectionately known.  Can I call you Foz? CRAIG FOSTER: You can, if you like. MC: We can? CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah. MC: And for those of you who aren’t aware, Foz is the father of three. CRAIG FOSTER: I am. MC: Two girls and a son. CRAIG FOSTER: Yes. MC: And wife Lara has chosen to be a homemaker.  She’s an interior designer.  And Foz tells me he lives in a very stylish, super-organised white home. Very white. CRAIG FOSTER: We have two white pets. MC: Two white pets as well. CRAIG FOSTER: In a white home.  And no sports memorabilia.  It’s just absolutely not allowed. MC: Wow.  Wow. CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah. MC: Craig, first of all I would like to congratulate you as I’m sure the rest of the room would on that extraordinary campaign to free Hakeem.  That was just sensational and so heart-warming. CRAIG FOSTER: Well I should say there was a lot of other really great people involved, right.  And I think that’s the lesson, I would think, for the room.  It was the lesson for me.  I’d never been involved in a campaign like that.  But what we were able to do was harness not just a broad cross-section of the boarder Australian community, so the public if you like, but also a huge number of organisations underneath.  And that was because we stayed just purely on principle.  That this wasn’t okay.  And that a young man needed saving.  And stayed out of what is you know still in this country now a lot of traps in these campaigns, right.  And we stayed away from all of the pushback that we get on social media, that many of you will get.  And that’s I think another really big discussion here.  As public figures we get a huge amount of, you know what happened to Lucy has happened to me multiple times, and I think to all public figures.  As soon as you want to have a view, as soon as you want to go down a certain path and advocating for social change we can expect that there is going to be a pushback.  And dealing with that and managing the messages was also critically important. MC: And you did it beautifully.  Congratulations to that.  I’m mindful of the time Foz. CRAIG FOSTER: Okay. MC: We will have time for a few questions.  Before we get to that can I just ask quickly.  You’ve mentioned Lucy, and we love you for that, how you stepped in and gave her such sensitive support.  What repercussions were there, or were there repercussions for you, particularly from other men?  What conversations did you have perhaps with other men about why you chose to step very publicly into that space and to support a female co-worker? CRAIG FOSTER: SBS is a pretty special place, so I think we’re probably a bit privileged there.  And that also came from Les who had built that culture earlier.  So I don’t need to step forward so much and support Lucy internally within our SBS environment. MC: What about outside?  Did you get criticised online? CRAIG FOSTER: Oh yes.  Yeah.  So.  But you know that’s just part of, that’s the nature of today. The skill really is in being able to shape, stay out of so many of the micro environments which are trying to pull you in different directions when you start a discussion. MC: Yeah.  And that was the advice that Annabel, well, Lee gave Annabel which she passed on to all of us is... CRAIG FOSTER: Yes.  You need to be really careful. MC: Pick your fights.  Exactly. CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah.  So look save Hakeem for instance was what happened is there were organisers who were trying to if you like pull us and me off message throughout that campaign.  And that’s their job.  They’re highly skilled. So social media’s become, it’s a really interesting place.  It can be incredibly powerful.  And it really saved Hakeem’s life.  But there’s also a lot of pitfalls.  And I think you need to understand really well, and obviously being in the media 20 year you have a fair idea about messaging, staying on, staying away, and not getting involved in all of the fights that can occur, and fracturing the message.  And I think that’s probably a good message for this room here moving forward. MC: You’ve given us some very good Tweetable quotes today Craig and I’m sure they’re going out to a bigger audience.  Let’s go to Kylie who has some audience questions to throw at you. CRAIG FOSTER: Okay. KYLIE: Good morning Craig.  Just a quick message for our audience.  When you post your questions if you would like us to attribute your question to you just add your name to the end.  Because I would love to tell Craig who actually posted this comment, which I’m going to read out verbatim.  Just need to fan girl Foz.  My husband is a much better dresser thanks to your awesome tie collection.  So thank you to whoever posted that one. CRAIG FOSTER: We have a wardrobe department.  In fact I was going to apologise for those jeans in that thing with Lucy there.  My wife just hates those jeans.  Says I’m a 50 year old dressing like an 18 year old you know. KYLIE: Would it be okay if they were white? CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah. KYLIE: Okay.  First question.  When did you have that moment where you identified that you really needed to act in an overt and public way for gender equity? CRAIG FOSTER: I’ve been a huge supporter of Matildas probably since we started, since I started when I was 26 years old playing for the national team.  And I’m a part of obviously our players association movement.  And through the history of our game we’ve had a number of iterations of our leagues and we’ve needed strong advocacy from former players and current at that time.  And I got involved in that to advocate for better conditions for, better medical conditions for players, for standard contracts, all of these things I was involved in mid-20’s.  And I could see at that time the problems that the Matildas were facing.  Matildas were completely amateur then.  Matildas had no medical support.  You know incredible names, Julie Murray, Cheryl Sainsbury, all of these incredible Australian icons of our game just were doing it horribly.  And the disparity and the difference was extraordinary. And so I’ve been a supportive, in many ways including going back to the PFA and helping in some respects, over quite a long period of time.  I think though the older I’m getting now I’m kind of shifting my focus also to broader Australia.  I think a lot of us are disappointed at where we’ve ended up. And we as footballers, this is what happened in save Hakeem, as a footballer I was privileged and very proud to wear the shirt of the country.  But we weren’t fighting, we weren’t playing for the shirt or even the flag we were playing for who we are.  And I think we’ve lost some sense of that.  So I’m very interested in where we’re heading as a country now.  And one of those areas I think many of the problems that we have as a country is because we lack gender balance.  So I believe in it from that perspective. And so I think the time I hope is right for a broader campaign.  And coming off the back of what happened with Hakeem I understand now the power of getting people on board with a particular message.  And I think whilst it might not happen in the next week I think one of the things I wanted to achieve today was just to connect what we are trying to achieve together.  And it’s not you.  And I don’t think you should leave this room and go back into your employment and start talking about us, or you know us as women, I think it’s got to be the country needs this, our government needs this.  And I think Australians will agree with that.  So it’s been a long campaign.  It’s been a long association.  But now I hit the point where I go okay, we really need to make this happen.  We need it in our sport.  I’ve seen the powerful benefit of it.  We need to help our professional players.  We need to help our Matildas.  And through sport, which I really advocate for strongly, I believe that can connect in to what we are trying to achieve here today. MC: Wonderful vision Craig.  I think we’ve got time for one more question Kylie. KYLIE: Okay. MC: Time is our enemy. KYLIE: It is always.  Craig, in the Department of Health we have a Director-General who unfortunately couldn’t be here with us today, but if you’re lucky enough to hear him speak he will often talk about being brave, and wanting that for all of us.  And I think that’s something that we see in you.  We’re interested in I guess your values and beliefs and principles come from.  Because they’re obviously strongly held, you’re very confident and overt in talking about those.  So can you tell us a little bit about where they come from for you. CRAIG FOSTER: Oh gee.  Look, I’m in, can I put it this way.  I’m in a public position and I work only as hard as any of you to play for the country.  And that gave me not just a position to then go to work on air and try to help our game and the broader country, which I feel strongly about, but also gave me an obligation.  And I believe in fairness.  I believe in, I believe that we are all exactly equal in terms of our rights.  And those fundamental beliefs I think have been lost a lot in the country.  But the reason I say that is because you all work equally as hard as me.  Just because I have a public position, you all can do the same thing.  I can do it in a different way.  But there’s different forms of bravery.  It’s not courageous to step forward to try and save a 25 year old kid’s life.  But people seem to think it is.  I don’t understand how it can be courageous.  It’s not courageous to talk about gender balance.  I mean that’s, it’s ridiculous to think anything otherwise.  So I think you know just because I’m in the public domain you know I don’t want you to look at me and say well you know, we need, you know that I can’t do it.  You can.  In fact the real success of the save Hakeem campaign was that thousands of rooms like this across the country got involved.  And that’s what needs to happen.  And within your own environment you can step forward.  That’s why I think next year, and maybe I’ll send a letter out to everyone next year for this conference, and I’ll send a message out to all of the males in your environment and say you need to get yourself there.  Maybe we need twice the hall.  But you need to be in that environment ‘cause we need to have a discussion here about all working together, ‘cause this is just not right you know.  And forget politics.  We know that you know that’s going to, we’re just principle focused here.  We believe this is necessary for the country.  It’s necessary for our governments, political parties and public service, both, and we think it’s worth fighting for.  I certainly do.  I’m happy to help.  Or I’d like you to help me actually.  And together we can do it.  High profile people are great.  It’s important.  But don’t place all of your trust in them or us.  You also have immense power.  And if we use this platform properly to fight for the right principle, and that is making Australia something special, then, and what we should be, then you can all do it. MC: And we are so lucky and grateful to have you as such a strong, courageous champion Craig that in closing I’m sure everybody in the room would be aware that as the save Hakeem campaign was unfolding there were very loud calls for Craig Foz Foster to be named as our next Australian of the Year.  But even better still as Prime Minister.  My question in closing Craig is are you contemplating that future role? CRAIG FOSTER:  Oh, look, I’m really committed to trying to help now. MC: I want a yes or a no.  Come on.  Is it Foz for PM? CRAIG FOSTER: If I was going to that’s exactly the type of language.   Look, I will get involved in politics as some point.  I’m just not quite clear at the moment when that is.  But I think we need a bit change.  We need to get back to some values and understanding what our country wants to be, and who we are as a people.  Particularly I must say around multiculturalism.  Because that’s what we are.  That’s where I’ve worked for 20 years and I believe in it very deeply.  We look around this room, it’s part of the beautiful mix that we have here.  And I think that all of those things we can become a much better global citizen and treat everyone much better here in Australia as well.  So at some point I will.  It’s a long answer. MC: You have my vote.  Ladies and gentlemen Craig Foster.  Thank you so much Craig.  That was fantastic.

Listen to the audio

Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: So our next speaker for you today is certainly no stranger to the spotlight.  As a former captain of the national football team the Socceroos and the resident face of SBS football broadcasting Craig Foster is fondly known as Foz.  His official title is Chief Football Analyst.  And I imagine there’s lots of young ladies and men who grow up to want to have that job.  But I suspect that his sporting persona is just one dimension of a man who’s proven himself to be an extraordinary social champion.  He recently singlehandedly spearheaded a global social media campaign to save a young Muslim refugee from Australia that was imprisoned in Thailand.  I’m sure you all remember seeing it on the news while he was on a football trip.  It was an extraordinary feat.  But #save Hakeem is not the first time that Craig has chosen to be remarkable.  Many of you will know that he also stepped in squash the outrageous online trolling of Lucy Zelic the female anchor of SBS’s Coverage of the World Cup in Russia last year.  He was prepared to be a role model and to look at what it is like to respect the professional expertise of a woman who was working in a space that is traditionally occupied by men.  To talk about that and whole lot more please put your hands together and give a very warm Brisbane welcome to Craig Foster. [video shown]

Can I just start before I hit on that, with some stuff that’s happened back home as well.  I know the other day we talked about stuff with Robbie Kruse.  And I wanted to just touch on this stuff that I’ve seen regarding the pronunciations and so on.  Because I think you do an absolutely fantastic job here.

Thanks Foz.

You’ve done an amazing, I mean how many games did you have to do in the last four days?  13 games or something.

Well, same for you too.

Yeah.  But to host it and to really do that under immense pressure, time pressure, fatigue pressure, is really quite extraordinary.  I would image it’s probably actually a world record.  I’d have to check.  And I haven’t Googled, but I don’t think there would have been a host previous who would have hosted 13, 14 games in four or five days.  I don’t believe it would happen, ‘cause it’s probably madness.  Listen, you’ve done an unbelievable job.  As a young journalist and in your what, second World Cup now?

Second World Cup, yes.

First one hosting it.  It’s really quite incredible.  So what you’ve done here has been brilliant.  It’s not only proper, but it’s actually important for Australia.  The other day, just finally, I tried to pronounce one of the sayings of the Mexicans in relation to their fifth game, right.  And I probably butchered it.  But the point, and I sort of laughed about it a bit on air, but the point I should make is that I don’t wear that as a badge of honour the fact that I can’t get it right.  Right.  Having linguistic skills, being multilingual, is something you should be very proud of.

Well thank you Foz.

That’s okay.  And something that I think is, it all, you know it adds a lot to our coverage.  And it’s very important.

Thank you Foz.  Thank you.

Just in terms of the workload and everything it’s been amazing.  Yeah.  You’ve done... And you have been tremendous.  And everybody here at SBS is working incredibly hard under the circumstances.  And I’m so proud to work alongside you Foz...

Yeah, oh these guys are doing a great job.

...and all of our crew.  They are remarkable.

Okay.  That’s enough.

So let’s get to the football. [end of video]

Thank you everyone.  It’s wonderful to be here.  It’s great to be asked.  And it is wonderful to work with incredible women like Lucy Zelic.  But I’m sure you’ll agree with me that what we did there at the World Cup shouldn’t be praiseworthy because Lucy was at that moment experiencing, as some of you will know, a Twitter storm I guess you might call it, around her pronunciation of names.  And she is a colleague of mine.  We’ve worked together for some years.  But that shouldn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if we worked together for one day.  We are colleagues.  And my job as a colleague, as it is for you, as it is for all the men in the room, and we’ll get to that in a moment, is to stand up for those and protect those that we work with.  So it shouldn’t matter whether Lucy or my colleague was a male or female I should still do that.  But the sad reality is that I had to do it because Lucy’s female.  That’s the problem. And I think that’s the problem perhaps that we’re here to discuss today.  And I hope for you over the next two days that you’ll find some tools to be able to better resolve that in your work environments, and particularly here within the Queensland Health environment and other governments departments.  But more broadly in society it’s a really important one for us.  Why did I have to feel as though Lucy needed more support than perhaps what my former colleague the legendary Les Murray might have required is because Lucy was a woman coming in to what is a largely, particularly in football, a very largely male dominated area of broadcasting.  And she was being criticised in a manner that Les didn’t have to endure.  And in my view one of the reasons that was the case is precisely because she was a woman, and indeed is.  That’s how (ui) language is, right.  We’ll get onto that in a moment.  So I felt in that environment that Lucy needed my support and that of all of her colleagues.  And so it was an important moment for us as a group.

But I just wonder what it means for all of you and all of the very few males in the room. And I congratulate all of you who are here.  I sat down outside for a few minutes earlier and just changed my notes a little bit because I expected so many more males in the room. And I am not sure if that’s by design or by outcome.  But they certainly should be here.  And I’m delighted to be asked to come and speak to you and give you my perspective on a few different issues.  I should also recognise the traditional owners of this land, Elders past present and future before we get going.  And I think there’s probably three objectives as we work through some of the support that I’ve been able to give to Lucy and others.  And I’ve had the great privilege of working with some incredible females in broadcasting.  Lee Lin Chin was a long-term colleague of mine.  An extraordinary Australian and female broadcaster.  And of course Lucy has become an award winning broadcaster now, is really quite incredible.

I see here that this is about aspiring women leaders.  Right.  But actually I would say that women are leaders.  There’s no need for you to aspire to it.  What you achieve already today is so much about leadership.  And in fact Lucy is not just an aspiring leader she’s an inspiring leader.  And I’m sure there’s very many of you within this room.  So when I was asked to speak here I actually said well why don’t you bring Lucy, if you want to show this video.  Why don’t you bring Lucy and she can talk to this conference about her journey, about that moment, about how she felt pressured, about the threats that she had on social media.  She could talk about the challenges that she faced when she first come in to broadcasting, prior to and at SBS.  She could talk about perhaps the support that we’ve been able to give her.  And the culture at SBS, of which we’re extremely proud and is very much obviously multicultural, which means great diversity, inclusiveness and I think also tremendous respect across genders.  And I thought that would be more appropriate, but the organisers convinced me, no.  And I understand now why I stand in this room.  Why actually it’s appropriate that I come to speak to you.  Because in this space in getting more of the extraordinary Australian women into positions of leadership we must work together.  And we must have more of these moments.  Not in such a public sense, but even in the private domain where it’s so often hidden.  Where so much of the unconscious bias exists.  And where you need, we need, whether you want to call them male champions or male allies, whatever the term is doesn’t matter, it’s about all of us accepting that actually gender balance is the way things should be.

I wanted to start here just with a short statement for you, which I often use within the SBS context and others, is that in my view the world would be a far far better place if we had complete gender balance.  Now that’s not controversial, right.  Is it controversial?  How could it possibly be.  In every field of life we require more of our outstanding women having a voice.  You cannot tell me that in Australian politics that we wouldn’t benefit from the values, the heart, the compassion, the decision making, the different discussions, in this country of many more women being involved, and I would say gender balance, at the political level across all parties.  We would be a much more caring, and I think smarter, inclusive country.  And it’s something that we should all be working towards.  It may not be #save Hakeem, but it certainly should be # something.  Because this country needs a lot of help.  And one of the issues I saw through this recent campaign that we’ve lost our way.  One of the beauties of the campaign, which I hope many of you will have been aware of, ‘cause we don’t have a lot of time here today, but one of the beauties of it was that it was apolitical.  It was across all ages.  It was across all political parties.  And we welcomed everyone.  And that’s what I think needs to occur here.  I think you need to, this is the fifth year, and it’s a wonderful conference, and I’d like for us, ‘cause I need you.  So I don’t want to say for you.  I want to say for us.  I need you for Australia.  What would be great to come out of this would be for us to understand how we’re going to get this message across to the country in a better way, in a more effective way.  And that’s where the language becomes so important.

So just quickly we might work through here a couple of things.  Firstly, some of my experience within sport.  And I think we demonstrated through the recent campaign of save Hakeem and I heard I think it might have been Annabel up here talking earlier about champions, visible, high-profile people in this space, in terms of gender balance around the world, and the Me Too campaign and how important it was.  And those of us in positions of public profile I think sometimes can feel as though it’s a bit gratuitous to be stepping forward. You know everyone wants the support across a whole range of campaigns.  So as a high-profile person, I guess, we’re kind of reticent to be talking about the impact that we can make.  But I think in this space it was wonderful to hear from Annabel that if that’s what we need then we need to get that organised.  People like Dr Kirsten Ferguson with her book and her wonderful Celebrating Women campaign is a really outstanding example.  But we’re not getting the message across to Australia well enough at the moment.  It’s not happening.  That’s why we’re here.  That’s why we have a very small percentage of males in the room today.  And I think that’s the big challenge for us right now.  How can we turn that conversation around, all of us together, to make sure that we’re going to have a better balance across the country.

So I’ll give you some of my experience about what’s occurring in sport and perhaps, and I am a big believer that sport, particularly in a country like Australia which loves it so deeply, it can make huge social impact.  And in fact those of us in positions of prominence have an obligation to society to step forward.  And that’s why I was able to pressure so many people to do it for Hakeen, right.  Is because those who stepped forward with courage, like Annabel and others, can create a wonderful coalition of support.  And we might just talk about some future initiatives and some of the challenges that we have, particularly in sport, which are really numerous.  This was for the males in the room.  Was to challenge all of those to say when do these moments arise?  When do they arise in our daily life?  When do they arise within our corporate environment?  When do they arise for those of you who are in leadership who are males?  When do situations like what happened with Lucy, when do those moments arise when we can actually provide that support?  I think that’s a message and that’s a discussion that we need to have a more effective way with those in positions of leadership, males across the country.  Because this message I would argue that at the moment is not getting through.

Save Hakeem was interesting because it was about standing up for what we believed in and learning things about how to run a campaign.  Now you have many people in the room who will be skilled in this area.  But it was about harnessing the support of the nation.  Language there was incredibly important.  And talking to Australia in terms that we would all engage with, that we would I guess in some way accept is important.  And there’s some pitfalls there to be avoided.  But essentially running a social media campaign the most important aspect of that, which I think’s important in this room, is that it crosses all boundaries.  And this discussion needs to make sure that everyone across society understands the positive impact that we can make.  So often it seems to me, and you have far greater experts in the room, I’m just here hopefully to offer you some of my experience, particularly in sport, but too often the discussion becomes about a limited number of positions and whether male or female are going to inherit those positions.  Where I think the discussion needs to be what I believe is that we’re better off together.  Society is better off with both of us.  Society is better off with balance.  And in fact the mix of gender balance across all of our Boards, across all of our senior executive positions, and certainly across all sport is greater than the sum of its parts. That  the culture is better.  The values are better.  The discussions are better.  And the outcome is far better.  And that goes as much for the country as it does for every level below.  So I think it’s interesting project and I’m delighted to speak to Dr Kirsten this morning and over the coming weeks about the possibility of making something like this happen.  And using the lessons from the campaign, which was very powerful.  We were able to create immense support across all sectors of Australian society for a young man who was in deep peril of his life, that’s true, but still was, how do I say this, in many respects was someone who at the moment Australia may not be predisposed to giving that level of support to.  And yet in the end we were able to supersede and transcend all of the current issues in Australia regarding refugees and so on.  And again, that’s why the campaign was completely apolitical.  But we have this national discussion going on about refugees offshore and onshore and immigration policy and all these things.  And yet at that time we were able to go and have the present government, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, all political parties and much of Australian society stand up rightly and say we’re going to protect this kid and we’re going to go save him ‘cause we think this is important for Australia.  We think this replicates who we are.  We are people who care about fellow Australians.  We are people who care about vulnerable Australians.  And we are going to go save him really as a country is what we did.  It was a wonderful time.  It was a great outcome. What we need to do is take the learnings and the lessons from here – and there are many – and apply it across to what you’re doing together, okay, for us.  For us as a country. My experience in sport was that there is significant pushback against gender equality.  Certainly in sport you’ll know that there’s immense pushback around gender equality and pay, and the gap of inequality.  A few years ago I went back to our players association, is essentially our players union, which oversees and bargains for the rights of our Socceroos, Matildas, our two senior national teams, and all of our professional players across the A league and W league.  And my job was to come back and to run a governance review and look into culture, values and those things and turn the organisation around a little bit. And one of the first things I did was said that we need a quota, not a target, we need a quota we need to mandate a level of female representation on the Executive.  And there was a lot of pushback.  Because, well it’s hard to know the because.  Right.  And I think in some respects we’re all still trying to work it out.  The structures are created by predominantly males.  The rules are created by predominantly males.  And the culture is created by predominantly males.  And there are many for us still in this country, and sport is one, at which that challenge, to get gender balance on a Board, was a significant one.  And many of the arguments are similar to what you face here.  Well, the economic value of what I would call the women’s game in football, which is the Matildas in our professional game, the quantum of that industry is nowhere near the quantum of the male game.  Sponsorship and broadcast rights and all of these things.  And say well, but we don’t use that same argument towards the men’s game.  The men’s game can have whatever resources that it needs.  In fact many of the resources we apply to the men’s game over the last 100 years have been completely ineffectual.  That doesn’t stop us.  In our game of football we have had significant – as have many sports – but significant economic challenges across a whole range of iterations of our professional game.  But that doesn’t stop us investing huge amounts in it.  Because that’s just what has been seen.  That’s what we see in our society here, or we certainly did, as being normal, as being natural.  Just as we saw in many institutions of sport of a natural situation being predominantly males in positions of authority.  And it’s just patently ridiculous.   So to bring some balance onto the Board was quite a challenge.  But now only 18 months later the feedback from the organisation is incredible.  That the discussions have changed.  The level of insight has changed.  The diversity of views has changed.  The culture of the organisation has changed.  And particularly the insight at Executive or Board level has been of phenomenal benefit to the organisation.  It’s one of the best, perhaps the best thing that we ever did.  But why would we have any doubt.  Because our women in football, our women in sport, our women in health, our women in government are of course equally and quite often far more capable. And it’s time that we recognise that as a country. I see recently discussions in the political field around the number of women in senior leadership positions across all of the parties and that’s really the challenge to us isn’t it?  It’s that we’re still having that discussion.  It’s difficult to understand how we’re doing so.  So it’s the misconceptions, and the preconceptions, that is the most important thing.  And we have to challenge those together.  That’s where we need the smartest people in this room, and we also need all of those in positions of leadership within Queensland Health, yes, to be here next year.  If not next month.  You need the males in this room.  And you need, they need to acknowledge that gender balance going forward is a principle that we need to find a path to.  It’s no longer a discussion in my view.  And I say that as someone who believes in it, but I also say because I think the country needs it.  Not just our government but across all levels.  But it’s this level here that should really lead.  So I’m delighted to know that there is a target until, for 50% representation across the Boards.  But I also see this morning I think, or last night in the Courier-Mail about one of the Councils who voted down gender equity on the Boards of all the Councils across Brisbane.  Right.  Which I think that’s something that we really need to push back against.  Not you.  We.  And I think you’ll find that there’s more than enough support, like many other issues in society right now, that I think Australia is ready for that discussion. So is it possible.  The underlying assumptions of sport, and particularly in ours, which is the biggest in the country, not by economic value.  Other sports have greater broadcasting deals and so on.  But we have more participants in our game of football/soccer than any other sport in the country.  So what we do, what we can do, makes a fundamental difference at a deep social level.  So is it possible?  Well, I’ll give you an example.  Governance is critically important.  Because decisions guide where we go as a country.  Where we go as a government, whether State/Federal.  Where we go as Councils.  You know the Brisbane City Council.  And gender balance is the only way forward.  When it comes to our national teams it’s really interesting.  So I don’t want to give too many financial details, but basically what happens, over a four year period of the Socceroos qualifying for a World Cup we have a percentage of player generated revenue that our national teams, like cricket and Rugby Union and most other national teams, and I think including netball and others, receive to the players.  And for the Socceroos that’s reasonably considerable today.  That’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars over a four year cycle.  And when they qualify for the World Cup there’s prize money that comes, a portion of which goes to the players.  The Matildas likewise, but the sum that the Matildas receive over that same period is far far far less.  And we’re asking the question – I was as Chairman, we’re going back 18 months ago – and our players association is still asking now and doing some wonderful work, someone needs to explain to me why that shouldn’t be the same.  So if you’re playing, it’s a great place to start for us.  And if sport can make social change our national teams are our biggest brands.  Our national teams are the most loved, two of the most loved brands in the country.  In fact I think Matildas recently on some studies have said  they are our most loved national team right now.  And why not, they’re extraordinary.  Extraordinary people.  Great performers.  And so why should they not have the same.  They all sacrifice, train every day and are professionals.  They all represent the country in roughly the same number of games.  Not that it should really matter.  They all speak to the next generation of Australians who are going to inherit all the Boards across the country.  They all are favourites of all of those millions of boys and girls across Australia who love them, love to see them play in World Cup, and five they play, they both play for us on the global stage, the biggest tournament in the world.  And that’s our showcase as a nation.  And it’s also our showcase back here to Australia.  So when the Socceroos or Matildas play this June in France all of Australia will be watching.  Those are wonderful moments to now be able to make social change. So within this environment we are talking about, and I think progress is going very well, about being two national teams who will now be on the same financial remuneration for playing for the country.  At professional level we need now to commit to parody at some point as soon as we can.  But we need to get to the table now and get enough people around that table in sport who are committed to that.  And we need to understand how we can make our women in football in Australia paid exactly the same as the males.  And through sport there where I believe that we can make huge social change.  So within our game that is a principle that we are working extremely quickly towards.  And I hope that something might happen in the near future.  By so doing there’s millions of Australians who love football and who we hope that we’re going to be able to demonstrate to them that there is a different way.  That as a sport, and the biggest in the world, we do believe that gender balance right across our Boards, right across our national teams and down through our professional game is not just important to us, but is an important principle for the country. When FIFA for instance, and this is some of the issues that we have globally, when FIFI just in 2017 were giving an uplift in prizemoney they now have a principle of gender equality they call it.  And yet at that time the male prizemoney was lifted from 358 million to 400 million and the women’s prizemoney was lifted from 15 million to 30.  So.  Exactly.  That was our response.  So the global governing body of sport – this shows the challenge that we have – the global governing body were saying we’re committed to gender equality.  But even in this moment we can’t even get parody in the uplift of the prizemoney.  Really extraordinary when you think about it.  I’m proud to say that our football association here, our players, pushed back immediately and were one of the most, one of the first and most prominent organisations in the world to say we don’t think that’s okay.  When the Matildas go this year to play in the World Cup, if they win it the Matildas would receive as a team 50% of what the Socceroos receive merely for qualifying.  And that’s in the biggest game in the world.  Which has extraordinary reserves of wealth.  But just has a cultural view that still entrenches this type of decision making.  It’s our obligation as a game, as an Australian game, and particularly as former players of the country the Socceroos to work with our Matildas together to get that to change, to work on the governance of our game, to bring our national teams in line, to have equality of remuneration across male and female, and to do what we did, I think, and I hope, in the save Hakeem campaign, is to work on a principle that we really believed in and to change the conversation in Australia. It’s been a pleasure to come and speak with you.  Thank you. MC: Wonderful Craig.  How lucky am I, I get to stand beside Craig or Foz, as he’s affectionately known.  Can I call you Foz? CRAIG FOSTER: You can, if you like. MC: We can? CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah. MC: And for those of you who aren’t aware, Foz is the father of three. CRAIG FOSTER: I am. MC: Two girls and a son. CRAIG FOSTER: Yes. MC: And wife Lara has chosen to be a homemaker.  She’s an interior designer.  And Foz tells me he lives in a very stylish, super-organised white home. Very white. CRAIG FOSTER: We have two white pets. MC: Two white pets as well. CRAIG FOSTER: In a white home.  And no sports memorabilia.  It’s just absolutely not allowed. MC: Wow.  Wow. CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah. MC: Craig, first of all I would like to congratulate you as I’m sure the rest of the room would on that extraordinary campaign to free Hakeem.  That was just sensational and so heart-warming. CRAIG FOSTER: Well I should say there was a lot of other really great people involved, right.  And I think that’s the lesson, I would think, for the room.  It was the lesson for me.  I’d never been involved in a campaign like that.  But what we were able to do was harness not just a broad cross-section of the boarder Australian community, so the public if you like, but also a huge number of organisations underneath.  And that was because we stayed just purely on principle.  That this wasn’t okay.  And that a young man needed saving.  And stayed out of what is you know still in this country now a lot of traps in these campaigns, right.  And we stayed away from all of the pushback that we get on social media, that many of you will get.  And that’s I think another really big discussion here.  As public figures we get a huge amount of, you know what happened to Lucy has happened to me multiple times, and I think to all public figures.  As soon as you want to have a view, as soon as you want to go down a certain path and advocating for social change we can expect that there is going to be a pushback.  And dealing with that and managing the messages was also critically important. MC: And you did it beautifully.  Congratulations to that.  I’m mindful of the time Foz. CRAIG FOSTER: Okay. MC: We will have time for a few questions.  Before we get to that can I just ask quickly.  You’ve mentioned Lucy, and we love you for that, how you stepped in and gave her such sensitive support.  What repercussions were there, or were there repercussions for you, particularly from other men?  What conversations did you have perhaps with other men about why you chose to step very publicly into that space and to support a female co-worker? CRAIG FOSTER: SBS is a pretty special place, so I think we’re probably a bit privileged there.  And that also came from Les who had built that culture earlier.  So I don’t need to step forward so much and support Lucy internally within our SBS environment. MC: What about outside?  Did you get criticised online? CRAIG FOSTER: Oh yes.  Yeah.  So.  But you know that’s just part of, that’s the nature of today. The skill really is in being able to shape, stay out of so many of the micro environments which are trying to pull you in different directions when you start a discussion. MC: Yeah.  And that was the advice that Annabel, well, Lee gave Annabel which she passed on to all of us is... CRAIG FOSTER: Yes.  You need to be really careful. MC: Pick your fights.  Exactly. CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah.  So look save Hakeem for instance was what happened is there were organisers who were trying to if you like pull us and me off message throughout that campaign.  And that’s their job.  They’re highly skilled. So social media’s become, it’s a really interesting place.  It can be incredibly powerful.  And it really saved Hakeem’s life.  But there’s also a lot of pitfalls.  And I think you need to understand really well, and obviously being in the media 20 year you have a fair idea about messaging, staying on, staying away, and not getting involved in all of the fights that can occur, and fracturing the message.  And I think that’s probably a good message for this room here moving forward. MC: You’ve given us some very good Tweetable quotes today Craig and I’m sure they’re going out to a bigger audience.  Let’s go to Kylie who has some audience questions to throw at you. CRAIG FOSTER: Okay. KYLIE: Good morning Craig.  Just a quick message for our audience.  When you post your questions if you would like us to attribute your question to you just add your name to the end.  Because I would love to tell Craig who actually posted this comment, which I’m going to read out verbatim.  Just need to fan girl Foz.  My husband is a much better dresser thanks to your awesome tie collection.  So thank you to whoever posted that one. CRAIG FOSTER: We have a wardrobe department.  In fact I was going to apologise for those jeans in that thing with Lucy there.  My wife just hates those jeans.  Says I’m a 50 year old dressing like an 18 year old you know. KYLIE: Would it be okay if they were white? CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah. KYLIE: Okay.  First question.  When did you have that moment where you identified that you really needed to act in an overt and public way for gender equity? CRAIG FOSTER: I’ve been a huge supporter of Matildas probably since we started, since I started when I was 26 years old playing for the national team.  And I’m a part of obviously our players association movement.  And through the history of our game we’ve had a number of iterations of our leagues and we’ve needed strong advocacy from former players and current at that time.  And I got involved in that to advocate for better conditions for, better medical conditions for players, for standard contracts, all of these things I was involved in mid-20’s.  And I could see at that time the problems that the Matildas were facing.  Matildas were completely amateur then.  Matildas had no medical support.  You know incredible names, Julie Murray, Cheryl Sainsbury, all of these incredible Australian icons of our game just were doing it horribly.  And the disparity and the difference was extraordinary. And so I’ve been a supportive, in many ways including going back to the PFA and helping in some respects, over quite a long period of time.  I think though the older I’m getting now I’m kind of shifting my focus also to broader Australia.  I think a lot of us are disappointed at where we’ve ended up. And we as footballers, this is what happened in save Hakeem, as a footballer I was privileged and very proud to wear the shirt of the country.  But we weren’t fighting, we weren’t playing for the shirt or even the flag we were playing for who we are.  And I think we’ve lost some sense of that.  So I’m very interested in where we’re heading as a country now.  And one of those areas I think many of the problems that we have as a country is because we lack gender balance.  So I believe in it from that perspective. And so I think the time I hope is right for a broader campaign.  And coming off the back of what happened with Hakeem I understand now the power of getting people on board with a particular message.  And I think whilst it might not happen in the next week I think one of the things I wanted to achieve today was just to connect what we are trying to achieve together.  And it’s not you.  And I don’t think you should leave this room and go back into your employment and start talking about us, or you know us as women, I think it’s got to be the country needs this, our government needs this.  And I think Australians will agree with that.  So it’s been a long campaign.  It’s been a long association.  But now I hit the point where I go okay, we really need to make this happen.  We need it in our sport.  I’ve seen the powerful benefit of it.  We need to help our professional players.  We need to help our Matildas.  And through sport, which I really advocate for strongly, I believe that can connect in to what we are trying to achieve here today. MC: Wonderful vision Craig.  I think we’ve got time for one more question Kylie. KYLIE: Okay. MC: Time is our enemy. KYLIE: It is always.  Craig, in the Department of Health we have a Director-General who unfortunately couldn’t be here with us today, but if you’re lucky enough to hear him speak he will often talk about being brave, and wanting that for all of us.  And I think that’s something that we see in you.  We’re interested in I guess your values and beliefs and principles come from.  Because they’re obviously strongly held, you’re very confident and overt in talking about those.  So can you tell us a little bit about where they come from for you. CRAIG FOSTER: Oh gee.  Look, I’m in, can I put it this way.  I’m in a public position and I work only as hard as any of you to play for the country.  And that gave me not just a position to then go to work on air and try to help our game and the broader country, which I feel strongly about, but also gave me an obligation.  And I believe in fairness.  I believe in, I believe that we are all exactly equal in terms of our rights.  And those fundamental beliefs I think have been lost a lot in the country.  But the reason I say that is because you all work equally as hard as me.  Just because I have a public position, you all can do the same thing.  I can do it in a different way.  But there’s different forms of bravery.  It’s not courageous to step forward to try and save a 25 year old kid’s life.  But people seem to think it is.  I don’t understand how it can be courageous.  It’s not courageous to talk about gender balance.  I mean that’s, it’s ridiculous to think anything otherwise.  So I think you know just because I’m in the public domain you know I don’t want you to look at me and say well you know, we need, you know that I can’t do it.  You can.  In fact the real success of the save Hakeem campaign was that thousands of rooms like this across the country got involved.  And that’s what needs to happen.  And within your own environment you can step forward.  That’s why I think next year, and maybe I’ll send a letter out to everyone next year for this conference, and I’ll send a message out to all of the males in your environment and say you need to get yourself there.  Maybe we need twice the hall.  But you need to be in that environment ‘cause we need to have a discussion here about all working together, ‘cause this is just not right you know.  And forget politics.  We know that you know that’s going to, we’re just principle focused here.  We believe this is necessary for the country.  It’s necessary for our governments, political parties and public service, both, and we think it’s worth fighting for.  I certainly do.  I’m happy to help.  Or I’d like you to help me actually.  And together we can do it.  High profile people are great.  It’s important.  But don’t place all of your trust in them or us.  You also have immense power.  And if we use this platform properly to fight for the right principle, and that is making Australia something special, then, and what we should be, then you can all do it. MC: And we are so lucky and grateful to have you as such a strong, courageous champion Craig that in closing I’m sure everybody in the room would be aware that as the save Hakeem campaign was unfolding there were very loud calls for Craig Foz Foster to be named as our next Australian of the Year.  But even better still as Prime Minister.  My question in closing Craig is are you contemplating that future role? CRAIG FOSTER:  Oh, look, I’m really committed to trying to help now. MC: I want a yes or a no.  Come on.  Is it Foz for PM? CRAIG FOSTER: If I was going to that’s exactly the type of language.   Look, I will get involved in politics as some point.  I’m just not quite clear at the moment when that is.  But I think we need a bit change.  We need to get back to some values and understanding what our country wants to be, and who we are as a people.  Particularly I must say around multiculturalism.  Because that’s what we are.  That’s where I’ve worked for 20 years and I believe in it very deeply.  We look around this room, it’s part of the beautiful mix that we have here.  And I think that all of those things we can become a much better global citizen and treat everyone much better here in Australia as well.  So at some point I will.  It’s a long answer. MC: You have my vote.  Ladies and gentlemen Craig Foster.  Thank you so much Craig.  That was fantastic.

Keynote Simone Jackson

Executive Director, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

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Video transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: It’s my delight to now introduce to you our second speaker for today, Simone Jackson.  Simone is the Executive Director in the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships and has been an executive across portfolios including Child Safety, Youth Justice, Corrections, Housing, Disability Services in Queensland and Child Protection in the Northern Territory. She has built her career by seizing opportunities that would have normally been shunned by many others.  It hasn’t been an orthodox route but she is here today to share what she has learnt about constructing a powerful and meaningful, a powerful career and meaningful life.  Please welcome Simone.

Simone Jackson:         Good afternoon everyone, it would be remiss of me not to note how nervous I am but I’m just going to embrace that and go with it.  This is by far the largest group of people I have ever spoken in front of.  So firstly I welcome you all and I take this opportunity to acknowledge the traditional owners on the land in which we meet today.  The Jagera, Yagura and Turruwul people, I pay my respects to their elders, past, present and emerging.  I also thank Maroochy for her very special traditional welcome, it was spiritual and something I will remember forever.  I say a special hello to all the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people that are participants in the audience today and can I ask for all my sisters, tiddas and countrymen to put your hands up so we can all see who you are. Terrific.

My name is Simone Jackson and this afternoon I’m going to take you on a journey.  A journey of what is definitely an ordinary life but a life in which I have found the gold to take up opportunities that have provided me with gifts to end up where I am today.  And where I am today is well beyond the footprint that was given to me by default of my heritage.  I am grateful every day for the opportunities, grateful for my braveness and grateful for my determination to succeed.  To start this journey I return to my childhood suburb of Inala, a suburb that had a sense of the outside world, not thinking much of it.  A sense that we would never succeed.  I can tell you that I loved every day of growing up in Inala and what I had was a rich multicultural fabric with a large aboriginal community that kept us safe, embraced us and we had all the opportunities we thought we needed there.

I also had access to a very special teacher, Henry Palaszczuk, the current Premier, her father was a teacher at the school I went to. Henry Palaszczuk at Serviceton South and I always reflect on remembering how he took great interest in all of the children there and took the time to talk to us and make us feel important and valued.  My parents Margaret and Douglas who are unfortunately both deceased now had six children, five brothers, or five boys.  I’ve have got five brothers and me, the only girl.  My mother is Australian, she is from good convict stock, she is Irish and Scottish and my father has a very interesting heritage of being both aboriginal and South African and I am going to give you an abridged version now of how that occurred.  So like many aboriginal men in particular for the first and second world war one of the ways to get an exemption card was to join the armed forces. Both my great-grandfather who was a light horseman and my grandfather who joined the Royal Australian Navy got their exemptions through this method.  My grandfather was fighting in the north of Africa and he had R&R in Durbin, in South Africa and he went to a dance.  And at that dance he met my grandmother who was a South African woman. I give you this next bit with no bias, no opinion, just the facts.  My grandmother came from a very wealthy family.  She often recalled that she had never washed her own hair before she came to this country, she had never made a bed.  They had help as she called it, all of us in this room could call it something else.  But on reflection I had to just acknowledge that that was her life.  So I didn’t make judgement on that, that was her set of circumstances.  I often think my grandfather must have thought he’d hit the jackpot however, because that is not the set of circumstances that he came from.

My grandmother came over here as a war bride and she went to live with his mother in South Brisbane.  And there was an interview with her coming down the steps of the ship, more embarrassing that I’m even sharing this with you but one of the comments she made was she thought that there would be far more natives running around. I guess my grandfather hadn’t told her at that time perhaps what his ethnicity was.

They didn’t last long here, she didn’t like it, she thought some of the terms she used was she thought her throat had been cut. She came from a place where there was running water and a bathroom and a kitchen.  He presented her with an army tent and a block of land.  So they returned to South Africa, to Durbin in particular and my father was actually born there as was his sister and the other sibling was born on the boat coming back.  Now the reason they didn’t stay there, even though they carved out quite a successful life, my grandfather started a company called Aussie Caps which I believe is still in operation in Southern Africa in Durbin until this time.  But alas Apartheid came in and one of the obligations was him not being from that country was to produce paperwork to prove his whiteness and he couldn’t do that. So he would be referred to as coloured which would in turn change the whole arrangements of how they were living over there.  So that then forced my grandmother to pack up and move back to Australia and carve out a new life for herself here.

Despite all of this, these two wonderful people did love each other with these two extreme differences.  My grandmother wouldn’t speak English for the first little while, little while could be 20 years everyone.  All of my nursery rhymes were in Swahili, Zulu, African, she was not a fan of being here but again that just added to the richness.  Now the reason I give you that background is to understand the complexity of trying to work out who Simone Jackson was.  What is that meta space, am I white (ui) like my mother, am I South African or am I Aboriginal.  And where I have got to as a near 50 year old woman which I am now is that I can’t meet anyone else’s sensibilities, I can only meet my own.  So I am very comfortable being an Aboriginal Australian who has a grandmother from South Africa and a mother who was Australian and non-aboriginal.  And that’s where I’ve landed.  I was sent, post Inala my parents bought there, well they were paying off their housing commission house at Inala and then they decided for high school that they would move us from Inala to Sandgate so all you Brisbane folk will understand that I don’t think you can get two different extremes, Inala to Sandgate.

So as young teenagers we were quite confused because suddenly there was no diversity, there was no multiculturalism, there was a lot of lovely white faces.  Nonetheless I went to a good Catholic girl’s high school there and I achieved academically. I often said to my father it was his fault for sending me to an all-girls school because at 18 I came home with a piece of news which was I was pregnant.  Now I did say that very quietly, a bit like the Madonna film clip, you know where I walked around the house hoping I wasn’t going to get into too much trouble.  Being a wonderful father, there was no judgement, it was just well you’re going to have to get on with it now and you’re going to have to do the best you can. Now I am pleased to say I did stay with my daughter’s father for 22 years so I gave that a very good go.  Noting I was pretty comfortable three weeks in it wasn’t going to last but hey.  You know got to do what you’ve got to do.  And she, as a result had a father I guess for the first 16 years which is the best outcome.  And I am respectful that we weren’t selfish enough to not give her that opportunity.

But that meant that there was no gap year for Simone, I didn’t go to England where all my friends went, what I did was give birth and then had an absolute period of panic about what this meant and where I would end up.  And at that time being a child of the early 70s, at that time there was a high number of single mothers and that did play on my mind, would this be the footprint and indeed would I fall into the stereo typical outcome that was expected of me. But I dug deep and I asked my parents to mortgage their home and I bought a snack  bar.  This snack bar cost me $17,000 and I worked really hard for about a year and a half and I sold that snack bar for $47,000.  And I used that money to buy my first home which I had bought by the time I was 20.  I then had a look around and in the Courier Mail there were some advertisements for Corrections so there was a big campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s in an intake to be Correctional Officers or as we were affectionately known Screws.  So I thought this looked like a good idea at the time, you know you could work three, four days a week, only doing 12 hour shifts and then I would have enough time to be a mother and perhaps to take on some study opportunities.

I don’t think I should have been let through that course and I’ll explain why I did get the job and I did make it through the course. Simone was known for, I started at Boggo Road and I was a walking disaster, I handcuffed myself to the toilet roll holder and got a special award for that.  Once when exchanging uniforms I threw everything, the knife, the radio, the duress alarm in the bin and the whole jail got locked down while they were looking for it, it took me about two hours to remember where that was.  But I did embrace the opportunity for those study hours.  From that I, and I did work at most jails so Moreton A, Moreton B, Boggo Road, Boggo Road Women’s, Dutton Park.  Wolston New Women’s.  The last jail I worked at was commissioning Maryborough.  I thought it was best for Corrections and myself that I leave so I found a job as a CEO of an Aboriginal justice organisation and that was a fantastic experience.  I nearly starved, it didn’t pay very well but I got to lead you know, the part of big government programs like Murry Court and Cherbourg, writing pre-sentence reports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  Having a council of elders to help inform those reports.  So really doing something meaningful at the other end, trying to keep people out of the correctional system.

From that I applied for a project officer role for the Department I’m with now, the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships in Townsville and I won that position and we moved to Townsville.  And the first, or the second I think most powerful conversation I had I was in my mid-to late 20s and I remember saying to my boss can you tell me what a career is, I keep hearing I’m having a career or this one is on a career, I didn’t understand what that meant.  And I remember him telling me Simone, there is two types of people.  People who go to work, they enjoy their work, they do the best they can every day, they collect their pay packet and they enjoy their lives on the weekend and there’s other people that are never satisfied and they continually want to go up the ladder, do something more, be challenged and that’s a career.  And I remember thinking right, I’m going to remember that.  And not too long later with that powerful conversation and trying to work out how I might implement that I noted a job that was a couple of levels higher but it was in Mount Isa.  And what I had worked out very quickly was in the beginning of your career it might be better to be the big fish in the small pond rather than try and be any fish in the very large pond.

So that’s one of the key things I’m going to tell, particularly all the young women here today is you need to recognise what an opportunity is and embrace that.  Now I understand that not everyone can do that but for me I had the opportunity to move, I accepted that and that’s what I did.  Can I tell you after five years in the north-west region I was the Executive Director for 11 portfolios under the Department of Communities so Housing, Disabilities, Sport and Rec, Office for Women, Child Safety all reported to me in that locale and from that opportunity I have been successful in going to the Northern Territory.  First at level as an Executive Director of a region, and then the last position I held was General Manager which is the Deputy Director General equivalent.

This career and these opportunities and being brave enough to have conversations has really allowed me to achieve some really big things for this girl from Inala.  I was the chief witness for the Northern Territory government for the Royal Commission into institutional child sexual abuse.  I was the lead for the Nova Peris Senate enquiry into out-of-home care.  I am now a member of the Queensland Parole Board. So the message I want to take, I want you to take away today is the first person that you need to have a powerful conversation and relationship with is yourselves because if you don’t pack who you are or the product that you are you can’t ask others to do that. Two, it’s not a mystery, a career.  You don’t have a career because you don’t deliver or produce something or make a change.  You have to put in the hard work.  I think it’s really important if anyone here is a parent that that is a very powerful conversation to have.  My father told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be and that has stayed with me for life, it doesn’t matter that he’s not here.  I know that that is sitting in the back of my head that I always had that support behind me that nothing was out of reach.

I have been really, really lucky to easily return to Queensland, can I tell you when I was in the Northern Territory there was a period of absolute fear about could I come home.  I had been there for five and a half years and anyone, I’m sure I’ve got colleagues here from Child Protection, Child Protection is a hard gig end I was looking forward to being able to separate from that nicely and come home. And I was lucky enough to win a job back with this department where I had indeed started.  For the first 12 months I was in Cairns but I have now been able to permanently relocate to Brisbane.  I want you all to know that I really believe in this country and I really believe that if you work hard and deliver you will be recognised.  I didn’t come to any role with academia per se, I did understand that as an executive what I was selling, my commodity was my ability in leadership capabilities.  That is I’m not being employed to be the technical expert, I have got rooms of technical experts.  I am an executive and I have to provide the change management, how to identify and mitigate risk.  How to develop the teams, how to deliver quality and timely responses.  How to read the political and government landscape. How to be forward facing and ready to respond.  How to deliver on the strategic intent and of course how to be accountable for finances. My key to success I believe is that I make relationships count.  I become someone that you know will respond to you.  I prioritise these relationships because at any time I may want you to respond to me in a timely manner and that’s the relationship I want to build. I take every opportunity for professional development, I have great self-awareness.  Sometimes we need to suck up that we are perhaps not as good as we think we are and take on board that feedback and opportunity.  And that’s fine, you will always be able to take something home even if you’re not fully invested in it.

I also want to tell everyone that whether we like it or not you have got to dress and look the part.  I suspect I had a bit of a twang, I probably have a Mount Isa twang after five or seven years and the Territory didn’t help so I’ve really worked on how I present myself and how I speak.  And people may be resentful of that but that is the world we live in.  I also make sure I am contemporary, that I can talk with authority over whatever that portfolio is and that doesn’t require academia necessarily but it does mean that you have to be abreast of the latest readings et cetera and get yourself across that.  My leadership style has definitely been influenced by my heritage. I respect the chain of command, what we would call elders, I respect those that I report to.  I don’t expect people to like me but I expect them to respect the level of position that I occupy.  I respect each individual in my team.  I don’t ask them to do any more than their best every day.  I don’t ask them to do anything that I haven’t done before. I never come to work in a bad mood. I figure if I have spilt milk and kicked the cat, it’s probably not be the AO2’s problem, it’s best I just keep that to myself and I don’t think that people need to be tiptoeing around in the workplace because their boss is in a bad mood.  And if you’re really in a bad mood because you don’t like your job I suggest you get another one and I have done that before.  I am responsible for my happiness and my career, not anyone else.

I also believe we are at work for a very very long time, more so than we are at home and that’s where you’ve really got to find something that you want to do.  I am not special, I am just a woman, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a friend and sometimes this means my life is full of complexities and I have had to learn that those competing priorities mean I’ve got to find a balance.  This didn’t naturally come in my 20s or 30s but it has come now.  I am more than the job.  I am Simone Jackson, I have a life and the job I enjoy and it allows me to live that life. I have not had the balance previously and it didn’t possibly lead to the breakdown of relationships and whilst that was okay at that time I don’t want that to be the end.

So finally if you want to be successful then only you can make this happen.  You need to believe in yourself, you need to ensure you know your brand, what you are, who you are and what you bring to the role.  Back yourself and seek out successful people to be your champion. Lastly make sure you deliver, as I said before.  Your reputation and opportunities will only grow if you deliver.  I also encourage frank and fearless conversations in the workplace and let me tell you as a sister to five brothers, gender equality to me is very important.  I love my brothers and I love their contribution to my life.  I want a workplace where the barriers are gone and we are all there supporting and championing that equity and I want the people coming up behind us to not even have to have this conversation.  For me I’m successful because I believe in myself.  The girl from Inala with the footprint bigger than that that was assigned I ask for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today and all non-aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today to please look at us without your sensibilities, to really see us and understand the contribution that we have made to this country and continue to make.  You need to embrace this and we need to embrace you. We all have something to contribute.

Success can be many things to many people.  It can be a job, money, family, community, the contribution you make but ultimately it’s going to be what you decide. I have been exposed to fantastic leadership.  I have achieved my own level of success and am very happy with that and my final words are just embrace the humanity of each other, that’s when we’ll all succeed. Thank you.

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Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: So our next speaker for you today is certainly no stranger to the spotlight.  As a former captain of the national football team the Socceroos and the resident face of SBS football broadcasting Craig Foster is fondly known as Foz.  His official title is Chief Football Analyst.  And I imagine there’s lots of young ladies and men who grow up to want to have that job.  But I suspect that his sporting persona is just one dimension of a man who’s proven himself to be an extraordinary social champion.  He recently singlehandedly spearheaded a global social media campaign to save a young Muslim refugee from Australia that was imprisoned in Thailand.  I’m sure you all remember seeing it on the news while he was on a football trip.  It was an extraordinary feat.  But #save Hakeem is not the first time that Craig has chosen to be remarkable.  Many of you will know that he also stepped in squash the outrageous online trolling of Lucy Zelic the female anchor of SBS’s Coverage of the World Cup in Russia last year.  He was prepared to be a role model and to look at what it is like to respect the professional expertise of a woman who was working in a space that is traditionally occupied by men.  To talk about that and whole lot more please put your hands together and give a very warm Brisbane welcome to Craig Foster. [video shown]

Can I just start before I hit on that, with some stuff that’s happened back home as well.  I know the other day we talked about stuff with Robbie Kruse.  And I wanted to just touch on this stuff that I’ve seen regarding the pronunciations and so on.  Because I think you do an absolutely fantastic job here.

Thanks Foz.

You’ve done an amazing, I mean how many games did you have to do in the last four days?  13 games or something.

Well, same for you too.

Yeah.  But to host it and to really do that under immense pressure, time pressure, fatigue pressure, is really quite extraordinary.  I would image it’s probably actually a world record.  I’d have to check.  And I haven’t Googled, but I don’t think there would have been a host previous who would have hosted 13, 14 games in four or five days.  I don’t believe it would happen, ‘cause it’s probably madness.  Listen, you’ve done an unbelievable job.  As a young journalist and in your what, second World Cup now?

Second World Cup, yes.

First one hosting it.  It’s really quite incredible.  So what you’ve done here has been brilliant.  It’s not only proper, but it’s actually important for Australia.  The other day, just finally, I tried to pronounce one of the sayings of the Mexicans in relation to their fifth game, right.  And I probably butchered it.  But the point, and I sort of laughed about it a bit on air, but the point I should make is that I don’t wear that as a badge of honour the fact that I can’t get it right.  Right.  Having linguistic skills, being multilingual, is something you should be very proud of.

Well thank you Foz.

That’s okay.  And something that I think is, it all, you know it adds a lot to our coverage.  And it’s very important.

Thank you Foz.  Thank you.

Just in terms of the workload and everything it’s been amazing.  Yeah.  You’ve done... And you have been tremendous.  And everybody here at SBS is working incredibly hard under the circumstances.  And I’m so proud to work alongside you Foz...

Yeah, oh these guys are doing a great job.

...and all of our crew.  They are remarkable.

Okay.  That’s enough.

So let’s get to the football. [end of video]

Thank you everyone.  It’s wonderful to be here.  It’s great to be asked.  And it is wonderful to work with incredible women like Lucy Zelic.  But I’m sure you’ll agree with me that what we did there at the World Cup shouldn’t be praiseworthy because Lucy was at that moment experiencing, as some of you will know, a Twitter storm I guess you might call it, around her pronunciation of names.  And she is a colleague of mine.  We’ve worked together for some years.  But that shouldn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if we worked together for one day.  We are colleagues.  And my job as a colleague, as it is for you, as it is for all the men in the room, and we’ll get to that in a moment, is to stand up for those and protect those that we work with.  So it shouldn’t matter whether Lucy or my colleague was a male or female I should still do that.  But the sad reality is that I had to do it because Lucy’s female.  That’s the problem. And I think that’s the problem perhaps that we’re here to discuss today.  And I hope for you over the next two days that you’ll find some tools to be able to better resolve that in your work environments, and particularly here within the Queensland Health environment and other governments departments.  But more broadly in society it’s a really important one for us.  Why did I have to feel as though Lucy needed more support than perhaps what my former colleague the legendary Les Murray might have required is because Lucy was a woman coming in to what is a largely, particularly in football, a very largely male dominated area of broadcasting.  And she was being criticised in a manner that Les didn’t have to endure.  And in my view one of the reasons that was the case is precisely because she was a woman, and indeed is.  That’s how (ui) language is, right.  We’ll get onto that in a moment.  So I felt in that environment that Lucy needed my support and that of all of her colleagues.  And so it was an important moment for us as a group.

But I just wonder what it means for all of you and all of the very few males in the room. And I congratulate all of you who are here.  I sat down outside for a few minutes earlier and just changed my notes a little bit because I expected so many more males in the room. And I am not sure if that’s by design or by outcome.  But they certainly should be here.  And I’m delighted to be asked to come and speak to you and give you my perspective on a few different issues.  I should also recognise the traditional owners of this land, Elders past present and future before we get going.  And I think there’s probably three objectives as we work through some of the support that I’ve been able to give to Lucy and others.  And I’ve had the great privilege of working with some incredible females in broadcasting.  Lee Lin Chin was a long-term colleague of mine.  An extraordinary Australian and female broadcaster.  And of course Lucy has become an award winning broadcaster now, is really quite incredible.

I see here that this is about aspiring women leaders.  Right.  But actually I would say that women are leaders.  There’s no need for you to aspire to it.  What you achieve already today is so much about leadership.  And in fact Lucy is not just an aspiring leader she’s an inspiring leader.  And I’m sure there’s very many of you within this room.  So when I was asked to speak here I actually said well why don’t you bring Lucy, if you want to show this video.  Why don’t you bring Lucy and she can talk to this conference about her journey, about that moment, about how she felt pressured, about the threats that she had on social media.  She could talk about the challenges that she faced when she first come in to broadcasting, prior to and at SBS.  She could talk about perhaps the support that we’ve been able to give her.  And the culture at SBS, of which we’re extremely proud and is very much obviously multicultural, which means great diversity, inclusiveness and I think also tremendous respect across genders.  And I thought that would be more appropriate, but the organisers convinced me, no.  And I understand now why I stand in this room.  Why actually it’s appropriate that I come to speak to you.  Because in this space in getting more of the extraordinary Australian women into positions of leadership we must work together.  And we must have more of these moments.  Not in such a public sense, but even in the private domain where it’s so often hidden.  Where so much of the unconscious bias exists.  And where you need, we need, whether you want to call them male champions or male allies, whatever the term is doesn’t matter, it’s about all of us accepting that actually gender balance is the way things should be.

I wanted to start here just with a short statement for you, which I often use within the SBS context and others, is that in my view the world would be a far far better place if we had complete gender balance.  Now that’s not controversial, right.  Is it controversial?  How could it possibly be.  In every field of life we require more of our outstanding women having a voice.  You cannot tell me that in Australian politics that we wouldn’t benefit from the values, the heart, the compassion, the decision making, the different discussions, in this country of many more women being involved, and I would say gender balance, at the political level across all parties.  We would be a much more caring, and I think smarter, inclusive country.  And it’s something that we should all be working towards.  It may not be #save Hakeem, but it certainly should be # something.  Because this country needs a lot of help.  And one of the issues I saw through this recent campaign that we’ve lost our way.  One of the beauties of the campaign, which I hope many of you will have been aware of, ‘cause we don’t have a lot of time here today, but one of the beauties of it was that it was apolitical.  It was across all ages.  It was across all political parties.  And we welcomed everyone.  And that’s what I think needs to occur here.  I think you need to, this is the fifth year, and it’s a wonderful conference, and I’d like for us, ‘cause I need you.  So I don’t want to say for you.  I want to say for us.  I need you for Australia.  What would be great to come out of this would be for us to understand how we’re going to get this message across to the country in a better way, in a more effective way.  And that’s where the language becomes so important.

So just quickly we might work through here a couple of things.  Firstly, some of my experience within sport.  And I think we demonstrated through the recent campaign of save Hakeem and I heard I think it might have been Annabel up here talking earlier about champions, visible, high-profile people in this space, in terms of gender balance around the world, and the Me Too campaign and how important it was.  And those of us in positions of public profile I think sometimes can feel as though it’s a bit gratuitous to be stepping forward. You know everyone wants the support across a whole range of campaigns.  So as a high-profile person, I guess, we’re kind of reticent to be talking about the impact that we can make.  But I think in this space it was wonderful to hear from Annabel that if that’s what we need then we need to get that organised.  People like Dr Kirsten Ferguson with her book and her wonderful Celebrating Women campaign is a really outstanding example.  But we’re not getting the message across to Australia well enough at the moment.  It’s not happening.  That’s why we’re here.  That’s why we have a very small percentage of males in the room today.  And I think that’s the big challenge for us right now.  How can we turn that conversation around, all of us together, to make sure that we’re going to have a better balance across the country.

So I’ll give you some of my experience about what’s occurring in sport and perhaps, and I am a big believer that sport, particularly in a country like Australia which loves it so deeply, it can make huge social impact.  And in fact those of us in positions of prominence have an obligation to society to step forward.  And that’s why I was able to pressure so many people to do it for Hakeen, right.  Is because those who stepped forward with courage, like Annabel and others, can create a wonderful coalition of support.  And we might just talk about some future initiatives and some of the challenges that we have, particularly in sport, which are really numerous.  This was for the males in the room.  Was to challenge all of those to say when do these moments arise?  When do they arise in our daily life?  When do they arise within our corporate environment?  When do they arise for those of you who are in leadership who are males?  When do situations like what happened with Lucy, when do those moments arise when we can actually provide that support?  I think that’s a message and that’s a discussion that we need to have a more effective way with those in positions of leadership, males across the country.  Because this message I would argue that at the moment is not getting through.

Save Hakeem was interesting because it was about standing up for what we believed in and learning things about how to run a campaign.  Now you have many people in the room who will be skilled in this area.  But it was about harnessing the support of the nation.  Language there was incredibly important.  And talking to Australia in terms that we would all engage with, that we would I guess in some way accept is important.  And there’s some pitfalls there to be avoided.  But essentially running a social media campaign the most important aspect of that, which I think’s important in this room, is that it crosses all boundaries.  And this discussion needs to make sure that everyone across society understands the positive impact that we can make.  So often it seems to me, and you have far greater experts in the room, I’m just here hopefully to offer you some of my experience, particularly in sport, but too often the discussion becomes about a limited number of positions and whether male or female are going to inherit those positions.  Where I think the discussion needs to be what I believe is that we’re better off together.  Society is better off with both of us.  Society is better off with balance.  And in fact the mix of gender balance across all of our Boards, across all of our senior executive positions, and certainly across all sport is greater than the sum of its parts. That  the culture is better.  The values are better.  The discussions are better.  And the outcome is far better.  And that goes as much for the country as it does for every level below.  So I think it’s interesting project and I’m delighted to speak to Dr Kirsten this morning and over the coming weeks about the possibility of making something like this happen.  And using the lessons from the campaign, which was very powerful.  We were able to create immense support across all sectors of Australian society for a young man who was in deep peril of his life, that’s true, but still was, how do I say this, in many respects was someone who at the moment Australia may not be predisposed to giving that level of support to.  And yet in the end we were able to supersede and transcend all of the current issues in Australia regarding refugees and so on.  And again, that’s why the campaign was completely apolitical.  But we have this national discussion going on about refugees offshore and onshore and immigration policy and all these things.  And yet at that time we were able to go and have the present government, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, all political parties and much of Australian society stand up rightly and say we’re going to protect this kid and we’re going to go save him ‘cause we think this is important for Australia.  We think this replicates who we are.  We are people who care about fellow Australians.  We are people who care about vulnerable Australians.  And we are going to go save him really as a country is what we did.  It was a wonderful time.  It was a great outcome. What we need to do is take the learnings and the lessons from here – and there are many – and apply it across to what you’re doing together, okay, for us.  For us as a country. My experience in sport was that there is significant pushback against gender equality.  Certainly in sport you’ll know that there’s immense pushback around gender equality and pay, and the gap of inequality.  A few years ago I went back to our players association, is essentially our players union, which oversees and bargains for the rights of our Socceroos, Matildas, our two senior national teams, and all of our professional players across the A league and W league.  And my job was to come back and to run a governance review and look into culture, values and those things and turn the organisation around a little bit. And one of the first things I did was said that we need a quota, not a target, we need a quota we need to mandate a level of female representation on the Executive.  And there was a lot of pushback.  Because, well it’s hard to know the because.  Right.  And I think in some respects we’re all still trying to work it out.  The structures are created by predominantly males.  The rules are created by predominantly males.  And the culture is created by predominantly males.  And there are many for us still in this country, and sport is one, at which that challenge, to get gender balance on a Board, was a significant one.  And many of the arguments are similar to what you face here.  Well, the economic value of what I would call the women’s game in football, which is the Matildas in our professional game, the quantum of that industry is nowhere near the quantum of the male game.  Sponsorship and broadcast rights and all of these things.  And say well, but we don’t use that same argument towards the men’s game.  The men’s game can have whatever resources that it needs.  In fact many of the resources we apply to the men’s game over the last 100 years have been completely ineffectual.  That doesn’t stop us.  In our game of football we have had significant – as have many sports – but significant economic challenges across a whole range of iterations of our professional game.  But that doesn’t stop us investing huge amounts in it.  Because that’s just what has been seen.  That’s what we see in our society here, or we certainly did, as being normal, as being natural.  Just as we saw in many institutions of sport of a natural situation being predominantly males in positions of authority.  And it’s just patently ridiculous.   So to bring some balance onto the Board was quite a challenge.  But now only 18 months later the feedback from the organisation is incredible.  That the discussions have changed.  The level of insight has changed.  The diversity of views has changed.  The culture of the organisation has changed.  And particularly the insight at Executive or Board level has been of phenomenal benefit to the organisation.  It’s one of the best, perhaps the best thing that we ever did.  But why would we have any doubt.  Because our women in football, our women in sport, our women in health, our women in government are of course equally and quite often far more capable. And it’s time that we recognise that as a country. I see recently discussions in the political field around the number of women in senior leadership positions across all of the parties and that’s really the challenge to us isn’t it?  It’s that we’re still having that discussion.  It’s difficult to understand how we’re doing so.  So it’s the misconceptions, and the preconceptions, that is the most important thing.  And we have to challenge those together.  That’s where we need the smartest people in this room, and we also need all of those in positions of leadership within Queensland Health, yes, to be here next year.  If not next month.  You need the males in this room.  And you need, they need to acknowledge that gender balance going forward is a principle that we need to find a path to.  It’s no longer a discussion in my view.  And I say that as someone who believes in it, but I also say because I think the country needs it.  Not just our government but across all levels.  But it’s this level here that should really lead.  So I’m delighted to know that there is a target until, for 50% representation across the Boards.  But I also see this morning I think, or last night in the Courier-Mail about one of the Councils who voted down gender equity on the Boards of all the Councils across Brisbane.  Right.  Which I think that’s something that we really need to push back against.  Not you.  We.  And I think you’ll find that there’s more than enough support, like many other issues in society right now, that I think Australia is ready for that discussion. So is it possible.  The underlying assumptions of sport, and particularly in ours, which is the biggest in the country, not by economic value.  Other sports have greater broadcasting deals and so on.  But we have more participants in our game of football/soccer than any other sport in the country.  So what we do, what we can do, makes a fundamental difference at a deep social level.  So is it possible?  Well, I’ll give you an example.  Governance is critically important.  Because decisions guide where we go as a country.  Where we go as a government, whether State/Federal.  Where we go as Councils.  You know the Brisbane City Council.  And gender balance is the only way forward.  When it comes to our national teams it’s really interesting.  So I don’t want to give too many financial details, but basically what happens, over a four year period of the Socceroos qualifying for a World Cup we have a percentage of player generated revenue that our national teams, like cricket and Rugby Union and most other national teams, and I think including netball and others, receive to the players.  And for the Socceroos that’s reasonably considerable today.  That’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars over a four year cycle.  And when they qualify for the World Cup there’s prize money that comes, a portion of which goes to the players.  The Matildas likewise, but the sum that the Matildas receive over that same period is far far far less.  And we’re asking the question – I was as Chairman, we’re going back 18 months ago – and our players association is still asking now and doing some wonderful work, someone needs to explain to me why that shouldn’t be the same.  So if you’re playing, it’s a great place to start for us.  And if sport can make social change our national teams are our biggest brands.  Our national teams are the most loved, two of the most loved brands in the country.  In fact I think Matildas recently on some studies have said  they are our most loved national team right now.  And why not, they’re extraordinary.  Extraordinary people.  Great performers.  And so why should they not have the same.  They all sacrifice, train every day and are professionals.  They all represent the country in roughly the same number of games.  Not that it should really matter.  They all speak to the next generation of Australians who are going to inherit all the Boards across the country.  They all are favourites of all of those millions of boys and girls across Australia who love them, love to see them play in World Cup, and five they play, they both play for us on the global stage, the biggest tournament in the world.  And that’s our showcase as a nation.  And it’s also our showcase back here to Australia.  So when the Socceroos or Matildas play this June in France all of Australia will be watching.  Those are wonderful moments to now be able to make social change. So within this environment we are talking about, and I think progress is going very well, about being two national teams who will now be on the same financial remuneration for playing for the country.  At professional level we need now to commit to parody at some point as soon as we can.  But we need to get to the table now and get enough people around that table in sport who are committed to that.  And we need to understand how we can make our women in football in Australia paid exactly the same as the males.  And through sport there where I believe that we can make huge social change.  So within our game that is a principle that we are working extremely quickly towards.  And I hope that something might happen in the near future.  By so doing there’s millions of Australians who love football and who we hope that we’re going to be able to demonstrate to them that there is a different way.  That as a sport, and the biggest in the world, we do believe that gender balance right across our Boards, right across our national teams and down through our professional game is not just important to us, but is an important principle for the country. When FIFA for instance, and this is some of the issues that we have globally, when FIFI just in 2017 were giving an uplift in prizemoney they now have a principle of gender equality they call it.  And yet at that time the male prizemoney was lifted from 358 million to 400 million and the women’s prizemoney was lifted from 15 million to 30.  So.  Exactly.  That was our response.  So the global governing body of sport – this shows the challenge that we have – the global governing body were saying we’re committed to gender equality.  But even in this moment we can’t even get parody in the uplift of the prizemoney.  Really extraordinary when you think about it.  I’m proud to say that our football association here, our players, pushed back immediately and were one of the most, one of the first and most prominent organisations in the world to say we don’t think that’s okay.  When the Matildas go this year to play in the World Cup, if they win it the Matildas would receive as a team 50% of what the Socceroos receive merely for qualifying.  And that’s in the biggest game in the world.  Which has extraordinary reserves of wealth.  But just has a cultural view that still entrenches this type of decision making.  It’s our obligation as a game, as an Australian game, and particularly as former players of the country the Socceroos to work with our Matildas together to get that to change, to work on the governance of our game, to bring our national teams in line, to have equality of remuneration across male and female, and to do what we did, I think, and I hope, in the save Hakeem campaign, is to work on a principle that we really believed in and to change the conversation in Australia. It’s been a pleasure to come and speak with you.  Thank you. MC: Wonderful Craig.  How lucky am I, I get to stand beside Craig or Foz, as he’s affectionately known.  Can I call you Foz? CRAIG FOSTER: You can, if you like. MC: We can? CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah. MC: And for those of you who aren’t aware, Foz is the father of three. CRAIG FOSTER: I am. MC: Two girls and a son. CRAIG FOSTER: Yes. MC: And wife Lara has chosen to be a homemaker.  She’s an interior designer.  And Foz tells me he lives in a very stylish, super-organised white home. Very white. CRAIG FOSTER: We have two white pets. MC: Two white pets as well. CRAIG FOSTER: In a white home.  And no sports memorabilia.  It’s just absolutely not allowed. MC: Wow.  Wow. CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah. MC: Craig, first of all I would like to congratulate you as I’m sure the rest of the room would on that extraordinary campaign to free Hakeem.  That was just sensational and so heart-warming. CRAIG FOSTER: Well I should say there was a lot of other really great people involved, right.  And I think that’s the lesson, I would think, for the room.  It was the lesson for me.  I’d never been involved in a campaign like that.  But what we were able to do was harness not just a broad cross-section of the boarder Australian community, so the public if you like, but also a huge number of organisations underneath.  And that was because we stayed just purely on principle.  That this wasn’t okay.  And that a young man needed saving.  And stayed out of what is you know still in this country now a lot of traps in these campaigns, right.  And we stayed away from all of the pushback that we get on social media, that many of you will get.  And that’s I think another really big discussion here.  As public figures we get a huge amount of, you know what happened to Lucy has happened to me multiple times, and I think to all public figures.  As soon as you want to have a view, as soon as you want to go down a certain path and advocating for social change we can expect that there is going to be a pushback.  And dealing with that and managing the messages was also critically important. MC: And you did it beautifully.  Congratulations to that.  I’m mindful of the time Foz. CRAIG FOSTER: Okay. MC: We will have time for a few questions.  Before we get to that can I just ask quickly.  You’ve mentioned Lucy, and we love you for that, how you stepped in and gave her such sensitive support.  What repercussions were there, or were there repercussions for you, particularly from other men?  What conversations did you have perhaps with other men about why you chose to step very publicly into that space and to support a female co-worker? CRAIG FOSTER: SBS is a pretty special place, so I think we’re probably a bit privileged there.  And that also came from Les who had built that culture earlier.  So I don’t need to step forward so much and support Lucy internally within our SBS environment. MC: What about outside?  Did you get criticised online? CRAIG FOSTER: Oh yes.  Yeah.  So.  But you know that’s just part of, that’s the nature of today. The skill really is in being able to shape, stay out of so many of the micro environments which are trying to pull you in different directions when you start a discussion. MC: Yeah.  And that was the advice that Annabel, well, Lee gave Annabel which she passed on to all of us is... CRAIG FOSTER: Yes.  You need to be really careful. MC: Pick your fights.  Exactly. CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah.  So look save Hakeem for instance was what happened is there were organisers who were trying to if you like pull us and me off message throughout that campaign.  And that’s their job.  They’re highly skilled. So social media’s become, it’s a really interesting place.  It can be incredibly powerful.  And it really saved Hakeem’s life.  But there’s also a lot of pitfalls.  And I think you need to understand really well, and obviously being in the media 20 year you have a fair idea about messaging, staying on, staying away, and not getting involved in all of the fights that can occur, and fracturing the message.  And I think that’s probably a good message for this room here moving forward. MC: You’ve given us some very good Tweetable quotes today Craig and I’m sure they’re going out to a bigger audience.  Let’s go to Kylie who has some audience questions to throw at you. CRAIG FOSTER: Okay. KYLIE: Good morning Craig.  Just a quick message for our audience.  When you post your questions if you would like us to attribute your question to you just add your name to the end.  Because I would love to tell Craig who actually posted this comment, which I’m going to read out verbatim.  Just need to fan girl Foz.  My husband is a much better dresser thanks to your awesome tie collection.  So thank you to whoever posted that one. CRAIG FOSTER: We have a wardrobe department.  In fact I was going to apologise for those jeans in that thing with Lucy there.  My wife just hates those jeans.  Says I’m a 50 year old dressing like an 18 year old you know. KYLIE: Would it be okay if they were white? CRAIG FOSTER: Yeah. KYLIE: Okay.  First question.  When did you have that moment where you identified that you really needed to act in an overt and public way for gender equity? CRAIG FOSTER: I’ve been a huge supporter of Matildas probably since we started, since I started when I was 26 years old playing for the national team.  And I’m a part of obviously our players association movement.  And through the history of our game we’ve had a number of iterations of our leagues and we’ve needed strong advocacy from former players and current at that time.  And I got involved in that to advocate for better conditions for, better medical conditions for players, for standard contracts, all of these things I was involved in mid-20’s.  And I could see at that time the problems that the Matildas were facing.  Matildas were completely amateur then.  Matildas had no medical support.  You know incredible names, Julie Murray, Cheryl Sainsbury, all of these incredible Australian icons of our game just were doing it horribly.  And the disparity and the difference was extraordinary. And so I’ve been a supportive, in many ways including going back to the PFA and helping in some respects, over quite a long period of time.  I think though the older I’m getting now I’m kind of shifting my focus also to broader Australia.  I think a lot of us are disappointed at where we’ve ended up. And we as footballers, this is what happened in save Hakeem, as a footballer I was privileged and very proud to wear the shirt of the country.  But we weren’t fighting, we weren’t playing for the shirt or even the flag we were playing for who we are.  And I think we’ve lost some sense of that.  So I’m very interested in where we’re heading as a country now.  And one of those areas I think many of the problems that we have as a country is because we lack gender balance.  So I believe in it from that perspective. And so I think the time I hope is right for a broader campaign.  And coming off the back of what happened with Hakeem I understand now the power of getting people on board with a particular message.  And I think whilst it might not happen in the next week I think one of the things I wanted to achieve today was just to connect what we are trying to achieve together.  And it’s not you.  And I don’t think you should leave this room and go back into your employment and start talking about us, or you know us as women, I think it’s got to be the country needs this, our government needs this.  And I think Australians will agree with that.  So it’s been a long campaign.  It’s been a long association.  But now I hit the point where I go okay, we really need to make this happen.  We need it in our sport.  I’ve seen the powerful benefit of it.  We need to help our professional players.  We need to help our Matildas.  And through sport, which I really advocate for strongly, I believe that can connect in to what we are trying to achieve here today. MC: Wonderful vision Craig.  I think we’ve got time for one more question Kylie. KYLIE: Okay. MC: Time is our enemy. KYLIE: It is always.  Craig, in the Department of Health we have a Director-General who unfortunately couldn’t be here with us today, but if you’re lucky enough to hear him speak he will often talk about being brave, and wanting that for all of us.  And I think that’s something that we see in you.  We’re interested in I guess your values and beliefs and principles come from.  Because they’re obviously strongly held, you’re very confident and overt in talking about those.  So can you tell us a little bit about where they come from for you. CRAIG FOSTER: Oh gee.  Look, I’m in, can I put it this way.  I’m in a public position and I work only as hard as any of you to play for the country.  And that gave me not just a position to then go to work on air and try to help our game and the broader country, which I feel strongly about, but also gave me an obligation.  And I believe in fairness.  I believe in, I believe that we are all exactly equal in terms of our rights.  And those fundamental beliefs I think have been lost a lot in the country.  But the reason I say that is because you all work equally as hard as me.  Just because I have a public position, you all can do the same thing.  I can do it in a different way.  But there’s different forms of bravery.  It’s not courageous to step forward to try and save a 25 year old kid’s life.  But people seem to think it is.  I don’t understand how it can be courageous.  It’s not courageous to talk about gender balance.  I mean that’s, it’s ridiculous to think anything otherwise.  So I think you know just because I’m in the public domain you know I don’t want you to look at me and say well you know, we need, you know that I can’t do it.  You can.  In fact the real success of the save Hakeem campaign was that thousands of rooms like this across the country got involved.  And that’s what needs to happen.  And within your own environment you can step forward.  That’s why I think next year, and maybe I’ll send a letter out to everyone next year for this conference, and I’ll send a message out to all of the males in your environment and say you need to get yourself there.  Maybe we need twice the hall.  But you need to be in that environment ‘cause we need to have a discussion here about all working together, ‘cause this is just not right you know.  And forget politics.  We know that you know that’s going to, we’re just principle focused here.  We believe this is necessary for the country.  It’s necessary for our governments, political parties and public service, both, and we think it’s worth fighting for.  I certainly do.  I’m happy to help.  Or I’d like you to help me actually.  And together we can do it.  High profile people are great.  It’s important.  But don’t place all of your trust in them or us.  You also have immense power.  And if we use this platform properly to fight for the right principle, and that is making Australia something special, then, and what we should be, then you can all do it. MC: And we are so lucky and grateful to have you as such a strong, courageous champion Craig that in closing I’m sure everybody in the room would be aware that as the save Hakeem campaign was unfolding there were very loud calls for Craig Foz Foster to be named as our next Australian of the Year.  But even better still as Prime Minister.  My question in closing Craig is are you contemplating that future role? CRAIG FOSTER:  Oh, look, I’m really committed to trying to help now. MC: I want a yes or a no.  Come on.  Is it Foz for PM? CRAIG FOSTER: If I was going to that’s exactly the type of language.   Look, I will get involved in politics as some point.  I’m just not quite clear at the moment when that is.  But I think we need a bit change.  We need to get back to some values and understanding what our country wants to be, and who we are as a people.  Particularly I must say around multiculturalism.  Because that’s what we are.  That’s where I’ve worked for 20 years and I believe in it very deeply.  We look around this room, it’s part of the beautiful mix that we have here.  And I think that all of those things we can become a much better global citizen and treat everyone much better here in Australia as well.  So at some point I will.  It’s a long answer. MC: You have my vote.  Ladies and gentlemen Craig Foster.  Thank you so much Craig.  That was fantastic.

Keynote Suzie Lightfoot

Personal brand expert.

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Audio transcript

SUZIE LIGHTFOOT:  Thank you for that very warm resounding welcome.  I just wanted to warm you up just a little bit, just to get you ready to push you outside your comfort zones and get ready to raise your voices as women in business today, because we are all part of a bigger picture.  I want you to change your energy, shift your mindset and push yourself outside your comfort zones just a little bit today.

Now, today we are here to raise our voices as women in business.  Hands up the men in the room.  Have we got any male champions in the room?  Come on, put your hands up.  Give them a round of applause, ladies, for being here.  Guys, you have a voice in this conversation too.  Because today we are all here to learn to share, be inspired, and, do you know what, to burst those bubbles of preconceived ideas that we may be holding about ourselves or even those people sitting at the table around you.  We are all here to learn to share and be inspired and we are all here to better be valued for who we are and all that we bring to the table, right.  That's why we're here.  And my voice at that table today is to help you to craft a powerful and memorable personal brand that will help you stand up, stand out and step into your confidence as women in today's new world.

But do you know what?  As a coach and mentor of personal branding, I meet and touch hundreds of women every day, and yet one of the most fundamental questions that I get asked is, "But, Suzie, like, who am I?  Who am I?  Who am I? Who am I to put myself out there? Who am I to stand up?  What's my voice?  Do I even have anything to say?  Like, what do I have to say?  I don't have anything to bloody say."  And they say, "Suzie, I'm nobody special.  In fact, I'm nobody."  And those are the questions that actually really do resonate with me and touch my heart the most, and do you know why?  Because I've felt like that, too, and I've felt like I haven't had a voice.  Yet our basic human desire as human beings is to want to be seen for who we are, be heard and understood, right ‑ yeah, thank you ‑ and be noticed and respected. But, God, like, how difficult is it to get that right?  How difficult is it to get what we feel on the inside and project that confidently on the outside?  Who feels like that?  Give me some hands.  Come on, I know you do.  There's a few like this, "Don't pick me."  Don't worry, I'll get it out of you later.

So it's really difficult being vulnerable. It's not easy, right.  Putting yourself out there sucks sometimes.  In fact, we've had some amazing speakers on the stage today, and we've listened and we've learned and we've listened to their conversations and we've heard their stories and we've shared their experiences.  How did you feel when they left the stage?  Did you feel like you knew them?  Simone is amazing.  She was on before me.  And she was really nervous about coming up on stage.  We hugged it out off stage a little bit earlier.  But how did you feel when she walked off the stage and she shared her story and I heard you all laughing and, like, really connecting? Did you feel like you knew her? Who felt like they knew her a little bit?  Nice and high.  Let's ‑ come on.  Haven't got you on stage.  Oh, look at that.  There's hundreds of hands up.  Who felt like, you know, you knew what she stood for as a human being?  Yeah.  Exactly.

But doing that is not easy.  Making yourself vulnerable is not easy.  In fact, let's see in the room today ‑ and I can see everyone going, "Don't pick me" ‑ hands up those in the room who feel that they would be confident enough to get up to a roomful of strangers today and tell them who they are.  Let's see who is in the room with me today.  Fantastic.  What's your name?  Alfia. Thank you.  Anybody else?  Hands up nice and high so I can see because it's hard to see out the back there.  Not our professional speakers.  Amanda.  Give it up for Amanda.  We'll be seeing her later perhaps.

So there's a thousand people in this room. Like, there's, like ‑ it's doing my head in ‑ there's a thousand people in this room and I've got two people, yeah, that are confident enough to get up on stage and share with people who they are. Like, that's the most fundamental thing. We ask that in, like, most networking events.  That's the number one question on the minds of every single person who meets you for the first time, is, "Hey, how are you going?  Who are you?"

So I'm going to give you an opportunity today, an opportunity for a few people to come up on stage with me right now, five people in the audience who feel like they just want to take that step where they know they want to break through in their confidence and step up with me. I'll be here.  I'm not intimidating at all.  And I can see, like, some people going, "I ain't getting up there with that shiny red suit.  I haven't touched up my lipstick yet.  I wore the wrong shoes."  Forget about all that.  This is your opportunity.  This is my Oprah moment, too, by the way.  I'm going to dig it.  I want five people to step up today to the challenge of pushing themselves outside their comfort zone.  I'm going to put a bit of music on.  And if you don't put your hands up, I'm going to choose five people.  I will choose.  I'm coming down there.  I'm coming to get you.  Five people. Come on.  Five people who feel they want to break through today, just to do something new.

Fantastic.  What's your name?  Bella. Bella, wait one minute.  Who's going to join Bella?  I want someone up the back.  Right up the back.  I can see someone.  Awesome. You're coming up, right up the back there.  Yeah, thank you for standing up in the white jacket.  How about ‑ I want ‑ where's Penelope?  Penelope, I met you earlier.  Where's Penelope?  Put your hand up.  Penelope, I know you're out there.  Where did you go?  She's all of a sudden under the table.  "I ain't met you, Suz."  Oh, there she is, my darling.  Fantastic. So that's three.  Two more.  Come on, two more, two more people.  Right up the back there, fantastic, with the waving.  Yay.  And one more person.  One more person.  And we've got one person at this table.  What's your name?  Julia. Julia, fantastic.

Okay.  I want some music.  We're going to get these people up and I want you scaredy cats to give them everything you've got.  Come on. Come on.  Whoo.  Oh, come on, you can all stand up actually and come on, get them up.  Come on.

(Music playing)

Come on, girls.  High five.  High five. Okay.  Thank you.  What's your name?  What's your name?  Carolyn. Welcome.  Thank you.  These are my brave five brand ambassadors today.  They are amazing.  Thank you so much for putting yourself outside your comfort zone today.  I'm just going to quickly ask you who you are, and I was going to ask you one thing, but I might be putting you on the spot, ask you one thing that maybe somebody doesn't know about you, like that you work with or something.  It might be that you speak a different language or you were, like, a champion athlete or you're on the committee for the school soccer team, something like that.

CAROLYN:  I'm Carolyn Topping.  I'm a Star Trek nerd.

SUZIE LIGHTFOOT:  Whoo.  Thank you so much, Carolyn.

VALERIE:  My name is Valerie Fonseca and I am one of Australia's newest citizens.

SUZIE LIGHTFOOT:  Oh, wow, give it up.  How cool is that?  Welcome.

JULIA:  My name is Julia and I speak French poorly.

SUZIE LIGHTFOOT:  How do you say ‑ bon jour, merci.

JULIA:  Yeah, I'm good.

SUZIE LIGHTFOOT:  Thank you.

ISABELLA:  My name is Isabella and I have twin boys.

SUZIE LIGHTFOOT:  Oh, how lovely.  Give it up for Isabella.  And Penelope, I'm going to come around this way so I don't block everyone.

PENELOPE:  So I'm Penny and I went to school for five years with Suzie.

SUZIE LIGHTFOOT:  Whoo.  How cool is that?  I have, I've got heels on.  We used to do gymnastics together.  We haven't seen each other since then probably, right?

PENELOPE:  One school reunion.

SUZIE LIGHTFOOT:  Oh, I try to miss those.  Anyway, give it up for our five brand ambassadors.  Thank you so much for joining us.  Hug it out, girls.  Meet each other.

I'll just pop this mic down.  So getting up and being vulnerable like that, well, thank you so much for doing that because, as I said earlier, being vulnerable is not easy.  In fact, there's a vast confidence gap between men and women, and statistics show this.  There's research done by Cornell University in the States ‑ I love this dude ‑ isn't it a great photo ‑ I know that smoking is politically incorrect, but I love this photo ‑ men overestimate their abilities and performance while as women, like, we underestimate both.  Have you ever noticed how we apologise for ourselves all the time?

As women, we more often lack the self‑belief and confidence to speak up or dare to offer new ideas.  We suffer from imposter syndrome, like I was talking about before, like who am I?  Women don't feel like they deserve their job and we're imposters that could be found out at any moment.  And, finally, as women, we worry more about being disliked and appearing unattractive and actually, like, standing out and outshining others and grabbing too much attention.

So the answer to that today is not the answer to everything, but one of the things that I would like to help you to do is the answer is to raise your level of confidence, to build your connections and networks so that you have friends and you have people that you can collaborate and connect that know, like and trust you.  Building a personal brand will help you to be highly respected and valued and just simply, man, own your personal power.

So today is about just that, and I want you to have three take‑aways today.  The first one is my goal today is to give you some confidence to really step out and own your voice as women in business, to take ownership of your image and create an executive presence that you're proud of, that's authentic to who you are.  You don't have to be somebody else but just make yourself feel good.  And then how to then project that in this new age digital economy where being online and having an online presence just seems to be where things are headed or where they're already headed.

But rather than me just talk at you, what I would like to do is actually give you real life strategies that you can take away to actually grow and start to craft your personal brand for yourself today. But first I want to start with a little story.  So I'm going to tell you a short story about how I first realised at a very young age why a personal brand was important.

So my journey started at the Australian Institute of Sport as a high diver, and around about that time, I met this dynamic young man called Daniel Lightfoot.  Some of you might know Daniel or have heard of Daniel.  And I was thrown into this world of glamour and fashion, and he used to drag me ‑ I was a bit of a tomboy ‑ I grew up with four brothers ‑ and so he used to drag me to ‑ he used to make me up, throw a frock on me, put a pair of heels on and he'd drag me to these amazing functions, and I was a bit out of my depth, to be honest.  You know, I was just used to being in the pool every day, training every day.  And when I used to get introduced to people, I'd go, "Hi, I'm Suzie."  And they'd go, "Oh, what do you do?" And I'd go, "Oh, I'm diver." And they'd go, "Wow, that's so cool, tell me about that."  And I thought oh, great, talking point, I'm a diver, you know, that would get me through that. What happened was after a while I kept going to these glamorous events and meeting new people, and someone that I kind of knew introduced me to another group of people, and they said, "Oh, I'd like to introduce you to Suzie Diver."  And I'm like wait what.  They would go, "This is Suzie Diver and she's a diver."  And I'm like no words, like, are you serious.  I said, "You know my name is not Suzie Diver, right, it's Suzie Bendeich", which was my name back then, before I married Daniel.  "Oh, my God, I thought that was such a coincidence that your name was Suzie Diver and you were a diver."  I'm like, oh.  But you know what?  That was a light bulb moment.

Finance session

Effie Zahos, Editor, Money Magazine

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Video transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

EFFIE ZAHOS: Thank you very much.  Good afternoon everyone.  Thank you, thank you very much for having me today.  I do apologise for putting a finance segment last, come on, that’s like putting maths last at school isn’t it and we know what you’re like by the end of the day, the heavy core subjects is like no.  But I promise to make this as entertaining as I can because I do love finance.  I love financial literature, I love giving information out and helping people and it’s what I’ve been doing for over 20 years.

I know the theme today is all about powerful partnerships, powerful conversations, gender balance achieved through productive conversations.  I think that productive conversation has to start with yourself.  I think that conversation has to happen with yourself first and I’m opening with that because a lot of the themes today, if I can get that up will be, oh there’s my family, I will focus on that in a second.  Will be focused on a book that I have written that’s just come out, it’s called a Real Girls Guide to Money from Converse to Louboutins and it’s basically about those conversations that you have in your head.  Now I would like to think I write a book every month, I publish a magazine, it comes out every month so why a woman’s book.  Well after 21 years of talking to women, I am a woman, those voices have always been in my head and I know when I get together with my girlfriends after a couple of wines or so we’re very honest with one another. How the hell can you afford that? I earn 150K, I earn 60K, I earn 80K. Why do I still feel broke?  Do you know with money, money is not about dollars and cents, money is a lot to do with the mind.  I mean until to get those conversations, until you really are honest with yourself it’s sometimes really hard to let go of that monkey on your back. So I’m hoping to push through some of that today.

But first a little bit about me, oh that’s the book.  A little bit about me.  I am a mother, I’m a wife I’m an editor, I’m an author, I am a financial commentator. I juggle a lot of balls and I can tell you this.  Anyone that says there is balance out there and they’re doing it well I think bullshit. I honestly do.

(Applause)

There are lots of women out there and I’m not the only one that balances all those balls and it’s hard, it’s hard but obviously I hope you are doing it because you enjoy it and not because you have to, very different things there.  I really do enjoy what I do, I really do love what I do but on any given day if you went into my house right now it would look like it had been broken into.  And I have a cleaner.  I have sent my child to school on holidays.  Kicking, screaming, mum, mum it’s school holidays, I don’t want to listen, get out, got out.  So I’m not perfect at everything, not everything.  But that’s okay as long as I know that things aren’t going to be perfect everywhere I accept it.  Then for me that’s as balanced as I can get.

I do want to address this straight away.  Yes I am putting that up there because I know there is Q&A’s at the end and I always get this question. Effie, Effie how did you jump from being a comedian to be a financial commentator.  I am the real Effie, I just want to put that out there. Mary Coustas that’s lovely, I’ve had the opportunity to work with her and I get it, we do look strikingly similar but I am not a comedian although I will try and make this as funny as I can.

My background is I actually lived in Brisbane although I’m going to say I’m a Gold Coast girl, grew up at Broadbeach, I did a Bachelor of Economics at UQ and lived at Taringa so it’s always nice coming home to Brisbane.  I worked in banking for quite a while.  It was with Westpac.  Back then you would finish uni, no debt you know didn’t have to pay debt then, education was free.  They would come to you at uni and snap you up and I was lucky enough to get an amazing gig with Westpac.  I moved from here to Sydney and thought that was natural you know living near the harbour, they paid three months accommodation and so on until I realised what Sydney property prices were I was in a shock.  I then met Paul Clitheroe, who is familiar with Paul Clitheroe? Great guy, has been a brilliant mentor for me and I have had conversations with him over this 20 year period.  When I went for that job interview I was so wet behind the years, serious though I had pigtails in the interview and I remember Paul saying to me, mind you I had read all his books, I was briefed up for this interview, I was going to get this job.  And Paul said to me hey Effie, I’m going to give you the best tip you have ever heard and I’m sitting there going gosh, this is the money guru himself, tell me what is this tip.  He said Effie it’s not what you earn that counts but what you spend.  And I’m thinking god it’s not what you earn that counts, of course it’s what you spend, that makes so much sense yes.  And then he goes it’s for that reason I’m going to give you this job at half your salary.

Now mind you I was a graduate trainee, living in Sydney, I had views of the harbour bridge, I was on a damn good salary.  I did take that job on virtually half my salary, I took it.  Why I’m not too sure then I thought it was the biggest mistake I ever made.  I remember my first day was going to the Whitsunday Islands and all I had to do was hold the flicky for Paul to make sure he looked good sailing around there and the story was how to retire rich.  I remember my mother calling me going how is Sydney going, oh yeah really good mum, really good.  But it was the best move I made.  Not just financially later on but also mentally.  Because of those conversations and what I have learnt it has put me in a much, much better situation than I believe I would have been if I stayed where I was.

So why did I, sorry going back to that why did I move from TV to a magazine.  TV is relentless.  And as a woman I learned quite a lot about TV so a typical day for me would be getting up at five o’clock and if I’m covering like back then with Ross’s segment was called Money Minute, get up, sometimes I wouldn’t even know what the story is.  I would have to prep myself from 5 to 5:30.  As a woman you have good days, you have bad days.  Dress myself, I just can’t rock on TV like a male and have no make-up and wear whatever.  There was a lot of prepping that goes into looking this natural believe me.  So it takes an hour to get prepped so all up from five o’clock until you get on air for seven o’clock for how long, one minute. One minute.  By the time I am finished I have done three hours already. Sometimes the subject would change in your ear as you’re going on, something is happening in the markets, bang, this has happened.  I would then go to my normal job, the magazine back then, still is.  It’s, that’s hard, that is hard.  I find also when you have only got three minutes to get across the message it’s not as great as thousands of words.  So I moved from TV to magazine, I’ve been editing something I’m very, very proud of since 1999.  It still is the most sold and read personal finance magazine in Australia, it helps when your competitors close up so I can say that’s good but it’s been an honour to get this information out there and an honour to also talk to women.

I just wanted to show you these covers because it’s important to understand where the market is now and I think you can relate to this.  Five years ago I wouldn’t be able to go out with a superannuation cover, there is no way that would sell.  It would put people to, to bore them to death.  When you look at my top covers now 3 out of 5 of those are superannuation covers.  People are concerned about their financial well-being.  I can tell you this, my greatest fear is retiring in a polyester outfit and drinking cask wine.  It really is. I mean I don’t mind cask wine if that’s all there is in my fridge, and sometimes there has been things like that too. But that is my greatest fear.  And I think a lot more people are cottoning onto the idea that you know what, everybody is a salesperson out there.  If I don’t get savvy about my money no one is going to come along and sweep me up.  And that’s why the conversations with yourself or with your partner is very, very important.

Moving on this, I’m not going to, how is this, a test.  I know you didn’t have this as homework last night but I’m going to give you a test right now.  I won’t pull you up, this can all be in your head.  I’ll just read the question and see if you can answer this.  Now this is a Hilda money test that was done and the results are actually quite surprising, five simple questions.  Suppose you put $100 in a no fee savings account with a guaranteed interest rate of two percent per year.  You don’t make any further payments into this account and you don’t withdraw.  How much would be in your account at the end of the first year?  Okay locked in, the answer, 102.  I won’t pull you up, just keep it noted.  Now imagine that interest rate on your savings account was one percent per year and inflation was two percent so you are earning one, inflation two. After one year would you be able to buy more than today, exactly the same as today or less than today? Locked-in?  Less than today.  Do you think the following statement is true or false.  Buying shares in a single company usually provides a safer return than buying shares in a number of different companies, true or false? False.  Now tell me whether you think the following is true or false.  An investment with a high return is likely to be a high risk?  True or false?  How did you go? Five out of five?  Brilliant. Unfortunately it wasn’t five out of five for most people.  In fact women scored worse than men.

Now without insulting anyone’s intelligence these were basic financial questions on inflation, risk versus return and diversification.  Yet more men pass this test than women.  In fact if you look at the results there, 49.9 percent of men answered all five questions correctly compared to 35.4.  And only 24 respondents aged between 15 and 24 answered all the five questions correctly.  Who has got a daughter out there, a son out there?  Their financial well-being, it is up to us to get them savvy. I was quite shocked by this and it’s not the only report that shows the difference between men and women.  If you look at the financial wellness survey that ANZ had done as well, women didn’t score as well as men.  Now why is it in today’s world, when we are engaged, women are engaged, why are we not scoring as well and more importantly what needs to be done to get that better.  Because I may have joked about polyester and cask wine but right now 40 percent of older single women are living in poverty, they are living below the aged pension, that could be my mother, that could be your grandmother.  You don’t want to be living that lifestyle so what do we need to do?

I think the biggest issues facing women, I don’t need to tell you this, it’s well documented but I’m hoping through this book too I have touched on all these and hopefully given some strategies.  Income inequality, still today women earn about 14.6 less, less time in the workforce. More than likely we’re the ones that are either going to care for children, care for our parents, that career break is costing us about $160,000 in our super.  Divorce hits harder, usually we’re the carer on a single income earner.  We are time poor.  You saw all those balls we’re juggling.  Usually we’re damn good at doing budgets, we’re damn good at paying our bills, tick, tick, tick, tick, yes I can do that, that’s simple, that’s quick, instant gratification.  Oh doing a wealth planning, that’s going to take a bit of time now, I haven’t got time for that but it’s that wealth planning, it’s that strategy that creates wealth and that’s where we’re kind of lacking or falling behind.  We live longer, bugger, that’s a real problem isn’t it? I always hear that and I think oh that’s not too bad living longer.  Who has actually done a longevity calculator to find out exactly what day they’re going to die on?  I have done it, I like to be prepared.  There are lots of calculators on there, I really do urge you to give it a go.  It’s interesting, I did one and it was said I would live to 96, 92, 96.  I wasn’t happy with that so then I lied.  Apparently if you have never had a speeding ticket in the last 12 months which I have you live longer and if you don’t stress which I do you live longer.  So that moved me to I think 102 and then I panicked, I’m thinking I don’t have that money to live to 102.  It is a question you need to ask, is your money going to outlast you or are you going to outlast your money.

So with this in mind I just wanted to go through a few of my favourite chapters in the book.  Now I love super, if you do know me I am a big advocate of it.  I get bagged a lot by my co-workers because some people hate it. I get it, I really do get it.  I bought together the Super Booster Day campaign with Aspin, I am very proud of that achievement, to actually raise awareness of super and the lack of engagement that we do have.  I am always dumbfounded by people that do not open their statements.  Would you not open your bank statement?  I bet you know how much is in your bank statement, I bet you have gone online today to check your balance of your bank account.  Do you do that with your super?  I get so excited opening my super, I got online and check how is it going and so on, I get so excited.  It’s my money, I have worked hard for it, it will be my biggest asset, could do.  So I think with super whether you love it or hate it it’s still one of the best wealth creating strategies we’ve got.  I mean you’ve got all those things that work for you, dollar cost averaging, compound interest, lower tax, less fees. I get why people don’t like it. If you’re not earning 37,000 at least it doesn’t work for you.  If you’re a woman that has several jobs and you miss that $450 threshold, it’s not working for you.  Even if you’re in the gig economy it’s not working for you, they are ripping us off with fees, I get super.  You can’t touch it until you’re 67, your preservation age.  But so long as if you do have super I really do urge you to at least make the most of it and all that guff there is just if you’re not quite sure super, when you get taxed with super it’s only at 15 percent instead of your marginal tax rate.  So why give that extra money to the tax man, why do it?

I do want to say something about a sweet spot, I get pulled up a bit saying, especially in Sydney, if you don’t own your home in Sydney you need $1 million ASFA says, whether it’s in super or outside super.  And personally I don’t mind where you build your wealth, super do it up, do the maximum contributions of 25 K and then build wealth outside super, as long as you are building assets.  Now when I said $1 million I had this person call me and I felt so bad because he said Effie I am about to retire and I’m sick of hearing you saying I need $1 million to retire, I don’t have that so what’s in it for me.  This is where you need to get expert advice and this is where I should say I’m not a financial advisor by the way, anything I do say can and work against you maybe.  No, I do want to say that I am a journalist, I am not a financial advisor so please, any kind of ideas you get and you’re not sure do seek professional advice. But there is a sweet spot and in some cases I hate to say this, if you are not earning a lot super doesn’t work for you then you are better not pushing over that threshold because you lose three bucks for every thousand dollars you go over the asset test and that means there’s a big gap for you to then catch that up.  You are better off staying under that asset threshold and using the pension and getting a combined income, it’s using the system I get it but it gives people hope that are about to retire.  That’s where I really do urge you if you have got a family member that’s about to retire and doesn’t have that to get some advice and see how that works. And that’s that threshold I was talking about.

If I can give any tip with super, keep it simple.  Know where your super is, there are about $18 billion lost in super funds. Productivity commission said lost super and multiple accounts were the two biggest things that are going to kill your super.  So know where it is and find it.  Give it a health check.  How much are you paying in fees, what asset class are you in, what insurance do you have. You know you have got insurance in there, is it too much, is it too little, check that out.  And maybe get your spouse to cough up too if you’re not working on your low income because there are lots of government perks, there is money up for grabs.  Simple website to go into is moneysmart.gov.au.

I just wanted to show you this, if you can’t see it, these are the top 10 super funds over the past 10 years.  I get a little bit of flak showing this, a) they’re all industry funds okay.  I only get this data from selecting super.  Some of these funds may not be true balanced funds, they are a little bit more aggressive, I was talking about asset classes, this is something you need to look at.  But the return is there if you can’t see it at 8.6 over the past 10 years. What has your fund returned?  If it has returned really low and it’s apples for apples, please, please get some help and see where your money can work harder for you.  The difference between a dud fund and the top fund in there I think was around $60,000 in returns.

Okay the next one, moving on from super.  How the hell can she afford that?  Who has ever said that?  Yeah, I’ve got some friends like that, I just don’t understand, they are coming in the latest designer gear, they are always going on holidays.  How do they afford that?  Let me tell you, the grass may look greener on the other side but half the time it’s fake.

Okay this is, so why is it that people can afford things or do things.  Who reckons they are pretty good at budgeting?  Yeah budgeting seems to be a real buzz word at the moment, everyone seems to be on it.  I think the most popular option that I have found and I’ve been doing this for a long time is a bucket option.  So is it Marie Condo, the woman on Netflix that is so amazing that makes us feel all inadequate?  I bet you she never puts her underwear and socks in the same drawer.  No way because what happens after the first week?  It’s a mess.  Same goes with your bank account.  You throw all your money in one bank account, what do you think is going to happen?  It’s going to be a mess.  I operate under a bucket system so everything, these days bank accounts are free so I have several buckets.  I have a bucket for school fees, I have a bucket for IT, I’ve got a bucket for mortgage, investments, I’ve got a bucket, I have got a splurge bucket, 150 per fortnight goes in there.  If there is no money in that bucket I can’t splurge.  Organise your accounts and that will get you a little bit better.

The other thing, what’s stopping us. Delete at least one app on your phone, and what I say by that is, and this is more for the millennial’s, behavioural economics is quite interesting, it can work for you, it can work against you.  Some good examples of behavioural economics.  I love those roundup accounts.  So when you spend automatically the money goes into exchange traded fund.  You don’t even know you’re investing and it’s happening.  So I have got my 18 year old on that because I don’t think she is going to save whereby this way she will.  What is some bad examples of behavioural ones.  I am not a big fan of buy now, pay later.  Why?  Because, not because, they’re cheaper than credit cards, most people pay them off, there are late fees but it makes you spend.  I was actually researching this for a story and I almost bought a, what was it, a 4-800 whatever jacket online, researching, signed up and I almost jumped into it because the temptation was there.  So have a look and see what is coming out of your budget and actually try and put a leak on it.

Just want to make you realise the power of compound interest and I find this very interesting.  If you save just $5000 from the age of 25 to 35 and stopped, assuming a seven percent return, that’s quite high I know, you would still have more money in that account than if you were 35 and saving to 67.  Because the magic of compound interest, interest on interest.  I will repeat that because it’s amazing.  25 to 35 you save 5K a year, you stop.  You will have more money than someone 35 to 67 that continues to save.  Now when the return is lower the other person gets more but it just shows you how strong compound interest is.

I earn 150 K, why am I still broke, who feels like that sometimes?  Be honest?  Thank you for your honesty.  I feel like that sometimes too.  I think in this day and age whether you’re earning 50 K, 60 K, whatever, there is so much financial pressure on us.  We have record debt, for every one dollar in the bank we owe two dollars.  And this chapter was inspired by a lady that I went to, I was at a soccer match with my son and I always feel like I’m the poorest mum at my school functions and driving in there and all these flash cars and she came up to me and she goes oh Effie, I just bought, and I’ll be honest, I was writing my book then so it wasn’t out.  She goes I just bought Scott Pape’s book, I went oh Scott Pape’s book hey, brilliant book.  And I said why did you, why did you buy that?  I said aren’t you a lawyer and isn’t your husband some kind of fund manager? Yeah, yeah.  So you must be earning a lot, a lot of money.  Yeah but I just don’t know where it all goes. When I had a good look at her head to toe Chanel and she drove out in a Porsche SUV.  Oh now I know where your money goes.

So it doesn’t matter what you earn, you can feel these pressures.  And in the book I actually talk to a behavioural economist and this is where the conversations have to happen with you.  What do you do when you have a shitty day?  What do you do when you have a great day?  You just got a pay rise, you just got some great news, what was that, you all sound good.

AUDIENCE: Drink wine.

EFFIE ZAHOS: I say that in the book, I drink Bellini, there you go.  Good or bad. We do something.  And so when I was talking to this behavioural economist we looked at what are the triggers, I had a shitty day, I had a good day.  I am nowhere near my credit limit.  It surprises me people who spend so long and so hard to get their credit cards down and they should get rid of them, instead they go on a spending binge and spend up again because they see that credit limit as their money, not as lent money.

I live through social media, Pinterest is number one platform that causes people to spend.  I mean think about it, it’s Friday night, you have had a glass of wine, you are going through all these beautiful home pictures, how many cushions can your bed have? Spending.  Remove yourself from it.  But it’s on sale, it’s on sale, there is only one left.  Fear of missing out, we have that don’t we.  Again, Friday night drinking a glass of wine, are you one Neta Porta, I don’t know where you are.  Again this happens.  Instead of thinking fear of missing out, instead of thinking it’s 70 percent off, flip it around.  Have a look and see is this the real recommended retail price, chances are it’s cheaper elsewhere so it’s not an urgent sale.  And I still have to spend money, I have got to take that out so you’re not saving, you’re spending.  There are things you can do with your mind to actually get better.

Keeping up with the Joneses, get rid of those friends, we don’t need friends like that. I think the most important tip I learnt in that chapter was to own your financial status.  Never be embarrassed of how much money you do have and never be embarrassed of how little money you may have.  Never try and keep up because the more you have a persona then you have to fill that gap with reality and fantasy and that costs money.  So never be embarrassed of who you are.  And there’s a whole lot of tricks there that you can come up with what to do.

I am so in love.  That can do havoc on your finances.  It really can because all those endorphins just make you do stupid things.  And look, in my experience I had this one lady who was in love and she wasn’t, and it wasn’t in good love actually, this is a good example of when it works against you.  She racked up $60,000 on her credit cards and she said it’s going to a private PO box.  Will my partner find out about this, we’re getting a home loan.  And I thought well yeah, they are going to find out, they are going to do a credit check, they’re going to see a credit limit of 60 K you’ve got, they’re going to find out.  So she was spending because she was not happy in that relationship when I dug down into it. So look being in love is great but the conversations have to happen.  You don’t just get there.

And it’s interesting in my relationship and I’ll be honest here, sometimes embarrassed by it but I’m not, my husband doesn’t know what I earn, I don’t know what he earns.  We have two kids, I’m responsible for one and he is responsible for the other.  One goes to a private school, one doesn’t. One is in designer gear, no, no. They’re both treated the same fortunately.  But we do have one child each that we look after.  And the reason being is that we are fine like that, we argue too much, we are very different in how we spend and how we invest and so on but we have the same goals.  So I don’t care what he does as long as he gets his goals, he doesn’t care what I do as long as I reach my goals.  Is it perfect?  Not always, no.  Do we argue? Yes we do but we have the conversations. I don’t know if you have ever had a fiscal date night with your partner but I suggest you maybe do that this Saturday night and there is lots of tools there that I give also what you can do. Confession night.  I’m not talking about confessing to how many sexual partners you have had but confessing maybe how much debt you really do have. Especially if it’s a new relationship. Is it good debt, is it bad debt. You can pick whatever conversation you want but I just want you to have that.  Apple pie night is all about how do you split your income.  A lot of people in my case you know I’ll look after that, you look after this.  Other people, what is mine is mine and yours is yours, similar or, how do you split your income?  And you need to talk about that.

It’s interesting, money is, there was a survey that came out and said one in four of us have a conflict in our relationship about money.  So 1, 2, 3, 4, you’ve got a problem at home.  1, 2, 3, 4, you have got a problem at home.  Do you want to know what the dirty money secret women have according to this St George research.  Anyone want to take a stab at what this money secret women have?

AUDIENCE: (ui).

EFFIE ZAHOS: No that’s men.  Okay men have a secret bank account and women have a huge debt. I thought that was quite interesting. So I think it’s very important to actually have these conversations, set goals.  It’s okay to be different but you’ve just got to be on the same path and start the conversations.

I am ready to start investing.  Now I know I am probably running out of time and I’m short-sighted so that sign is going to do nothing for me, is that one?  Two minutes okay let’s get 101 on investing pretty fast.  All I’d like you to do here is understand this.  We have record low interest rates, the RBA is probably going to cut rates two times more.  Now you think woohoo that’s great because I have a mortgage and I’m not paying. Let me tell you when you cut interest rates it means the economy is not doing too well.  I don’t want to scare the bejeevers out of you but it is time to get serious about your finances, good times may be here, bad times may be coming or vice versa.  Money in the bank is going backwards so do get some good advice about where to invest. I will keep it on the last slide here.

Investing is not that hard.  I do urge you to get on the government site moneysmart.gov.au, get excited about the products out there.  There are some great products, exchange traded funds, diversification, cheap to get in. Just have a look and get a feel. Never invest in anything you’re not sure of and I know the Royal Commission has unearthed a whole lot of terrible things. At the end of the day though get some research yourself and get some professional advice, even I need professional advice. Recommendations, maybe check how they are paid, I won’t bore you through all that.  But I do urge you to start looking and investing further than just maybe if it’s just property or shares.  I think the secret to wealth is if you have got some good property and I know property is getting bad in headlines, but in the long-term with growing population and so on, property, check your super, invest whether if you can afford an investment property great, exchange traded funds, something like that, have that nice little portfolio and let’s not see ourselves in retirement with polyester and cask wine.  Not knocking cask wine if you drink it.  Yeah thank you.

(Applause)

MC: I have to be really honest with you, so at one point during the presentation I was sitting over at the table with Michelle and I found myself with my arms crossed and my legs crossed.  My body language having to face some of the questions that you asked meant that I obviously needed to hear a lot of that presentation and I am promising I’m going to buy the book and put some things into action Effie.

EFFIE ZAHOS: Oh thank you.

MC: I might have to call you and ask for some personal guidance.  Now we have got some questions that have come in from the app, we’re going to try and get through as many of these as you possibly can and of course any of the questions that are left over, I’m sure that if they get sent through to Effie she will do her best to answer them for you.  Go ahead please Kylie.

KYLIE: This first one Effie is more a note of gratitude rather than a question.  So someone from our audience has said that they share your greatest fear of polyester and cask wine and because of that they have subscribed to your magazine for years and thank you.

EFFIE ZAHOS: Thank you very very much, thank you.  Support like that that keeps a magazine out like this and look, you can get information anywhere, I’ll be honest, you can get some information free online or you can go to the library as well.

KYLIE: But your contribution will help Effie stay away from polyester and cask wine so thank you.  Okay the first question.  How do I prove my financial literacy and how will that help me and without pre-empting your answer we’d just like to let everyone know that Effie’s book is available in the bookstore outside.  Can somebody put one aside for me please.

EFFIE ZAHOS: I forgot about that, see I’m not a very good salesperson.  It’s interesting because that research I came out, you can have great financial literacy but does that equate to being good with money.  You need both, you seriously do.  You can get a lot of good information online and I keep going to that moneysmart.gov.au website because it’s government, it’s not there to sell anything and it’s a really good basic building block.  And in a lot of cases it’s just jumping in.  I mean my first investment was shares and I knew nothing about it, I was 18, I bought a whole lot of the bank shares. I mean that was when CBA was what, three, four bucks or something like that, who knows.  Sometimes it is jumping in but I did say you know understand what you’re doing.  I’m not saying jumping into Bitcoins or something like that.  Nothing wrong with them, I don’t understand them.  So look read up as much as you can and there are so many great websites.  Start with that because that’s pretty comprehensive.  Pick up some books, get Scott Pape’s, get Paul’s, maybe mine. The library has them.  Just read, read and get passionate about it because it’s so much easier for your money to work for you rather than you have to work for your money.

KYLIE: Thank you.  This is a good one.  How can we bring financial education into schools so our kids understand from a much earlier age?

EFFIE ZAHOS: Yeah Paul Clitheroe has done some great work with financial literacy in schools and it is but I believe it’s quite different across all schools and in different subjects as well.  Really it should be in every subject, it shouldn’t be just like you know a maths class because if anything people in the arts or music may need it even more so because their income is so irregular.  I know there are some great commentators in there, Nicole is based in Brisbane I think, she goes around to schools and so on but I know the push is in there, I would like to see it across more classes but I think Paul has done a brilliant job in actually putting it into the system as it is now.

KYLIE: I think I’m not alone though where when in a very short period of time we have seen almost everything got cashless.  I know that in my house I am concerned with two, nearly 19-year-olds and a 17 year old that they actually don’t use money very much so it’s difficult to teach them those lessons that you spoke about earlier when they, when money isn’t tangible.

EFFIE ZAHOS: Yep and that’s the thing you have got to get them digitally savvy which means you may have to get digitally savvy. Obviously yeah it’s great to start kids with coins.  I mean I started my kids saving with a 52 week challenge, really simple.  A jar, one jar each.  One week one, two dollars week three, four dollars and so on.  By the end of 52 weeks, 1300 odd dollars. Whichever kid made it, I doubled the money.  I knew full well that the young one wouldn’t because he doesn’t have $40 in week four.  Which suited me fine because I didn’t have that other $2000.  But that helped them get the saving habit but then that’s got to get digital.  My, and there is no right age.  I have got a 12 year old and I have got an 18 year old.  The 18 year old is savvy and all over it. She is now finished school and I got on bang about you know when will my kids ever leave home?  Well she did and I got really upset about it.  Mainly because she is not doing finance, she is doing engineering so I’m very upset about that.  But you know the younger one took a while to get financially savvy and I have got him online straightaway.  That worked brilliant, he loves his apps, he loves seeing his goal on his phone and he is tech saavy and that worked for him.

KYLIE : Great question whoever asked this one.  Is it ever too late to start investing?

EFFIE ZAHOS: Never, your kids will thank you anyway at least, you can leave an inheritance.  No, it’s never too late because put this way, I am just a journo, I am not you know a multimillionaire with all you know endless limited money so you can make the most of what you have and if you’re facing retirement right now, and that’s why I spent a bit of time on that sweet spot, there are some strategies to make the best of what you have.  And it may not be living like a king but it’s better than living like a pauper because you just haven’t got some help to get the best of what you’ve got.

KYLIE: Effie thank you so much, please put your hands together for Effie, sharing all of that wisdom with us this afternoon. EFFIE ZAHOS: Thank you.

Listen to the audio

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Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

EFFIE ZAHOS: Thank you very much.  Good afternoon everyone.  Thank you, thank you very much for having me today.  I do apologise for putting a finance segment last, come on, that’s like putting maths last at school isn’t it and we know what you’re like by the end of the day, the heavy core subjects is like no.  But I promise to make this as entertaining as I can because I do love finance.  I love financial literature, I love giving information out and helping people and it’s what I’ve been doing for over 20 years.

I know the theme today is all about powerful partnerships, powerful conversations, gender balance achieved through productive conversations.  I think that productive conversation has to start with yourself.  I think that conversation has to happen with yourself first and I’m opening with that because a lot of the themes today, if I can get that up will be, oh there’s my family, I will focus on that in a second.  Will be focused on a book that I have written that’s just come out, it’s called a Real Girls Guide to Money from Converse to Louboutins and it’s basically about those conversations that you have in your head.  Now I would like to think I write a book every month, I publish a magazine, it comes out every month so why a woman’s book.  Well after 21 years of talking to women, I am a woman, those voices have always been in my head and I know when I get together with my girlfriends after a couple of wines or so we’re very honest with one another. How the hell can you afford that? I earn 150K, I earn 60K, I earn 80K. Why do I still feel broke?  Do you know with money, money is not about dollars and cents, money is a lot to do with the mind.  I mean until to get those conversations, until you really are honest with yourself it’s sometimes really hard to let go of that monkey on your back. So I’m hoping to push through some of that today.

But first a little bit about me, oh that’s the book.  A little bit about me.  I am a mother, I’m a wife I’m an editor, I’m an author, I am a financial commentator. I juggle a lot of balls and I can tell you this.  Anyone that says there is balance out there and they’re doing it well I think bullshit. I honestly do.

(Applause)

There are lots of women out there and I’m not the only one that balances all those balls and it’s hard, it’s hard but obviously I hope you are doing it because you enjoy it and not because you have to, very different things there.  I really do enjoy what I do, I really do love what I do but on any given day if you went into my house right now it would look like it had been broken into.  And I have a cleaner.  I have sent my child to school on holidays.  Kicking, screaming, mum, mum it’s school holidays, I don’t want to listen, get out, got out.  So I’m not perfect at everything, not everything.  But that’s okay as long as I know that things aren’t going to be perfect everywhere I accept it.  Then for me that’s as balanced as I can get.

I do want to address this straight away.  Yes I am putting that up there because I know there is Q&A’s at the end and I always get this question. Effie, Effie how did you jump from being a comedian to be a financial commentator.  I am the real Effie, I just want to put that out there. Mary Coustas that’s lovely, I’ve had the opportunity to work with her and I get it, we do look strikingly similar but I am not a comedian although I will try and make this as funny as I can.

My background is I actually lived in Brisbane although I’m going to say I’m a Gold Coast girl, grew up at Broadbeach, I did a Bachelor of Economics at UQ and lived at Taringa so it’s always nice coming home to Brisbane.  I worked in banking for quite a while.  It was with Westpac.  Back then you would finish uni, no debt you know didn’t have to pay debt then, education was free.  They would come to you at uni and snap you up and I was lucky enough to get an amazing gig with Westpac.  I moved from here to Sydney and thought that was natural you know living near the harbour, they paid three months accommodation and so on until I realised what Sydney property prices were I was in a shock.  I then met Paul Clitheroe, who is familiar with Paul Clitheroe? Great guy, has been a brilliant mentor for me and I have had conversations with him over this 20 year period.  When I went for that job interview I was so wet behind the years, serious though I had pigtails in the interview and I remember Paul saying to me, mind you I had read all his books, I was briefed up for this interview, I was going to get this job.  And Paul said to me hey Effie, I’m going to give you the best tip you have ever heard and I’m sitting there going gosh, this is the money guru himself, tell me what is this tip.  He said Effie it’s not what you earn that counts but what you spend.  And I’m thinking god it’s not what you earn that counts, of course it’s what you spend, that makes so much sense yes.  And then he goes it’s for that reason I’m going to give you this job at half your salary.

Now mind you I was a graduate trainee, living in Sydney, I had views of the harbour bridge, I was on a damn good salary.  I did take that job on virtually half my salary, I took it.  Why I’m not too sure then I thought it was the biggest mistake I ever made.  I remember my first day was going to the Whitsunday Islands and all I had to do was hold the flicky for Paul to make sure he looked good sailing around there and the story was how to retire rich.  I remember my mother calling me going how is Sydney going, oh yeah really good mum, really good.  But it was the best move I made.  Not just financially later on but also mentally.  Because of those conversations and what I have learnt it has put me in a much, much better situation than I believe I would have been if I stayed where I was.

So why did I, sorry going back to that why did I move from TV to a magazine.  TV is relentless.  And as a woman I learned quite a lot about TV so a typical day for me would be getting up at five o’clock and if I’m covering like back then with Ross’s segment was called Money Minute, get up, sometimes I wouldn’t even know what the story is.  I would have to prep myself from 5 to 5:30.  As a woman you have good days, you have bad days.  Dress myself, I just can’t rock on TV like a male and have no make-up and wear whatever.  There was a lot of prepping that goes into looking this natural believe me.  So it takes an hour to get prepped so all up from five o’clock until you get on air for seven o’clock for how long, one minute. One minute.  By the time I am finished I have done three hours already. Sometimes the subject would change in your ear as you’re going on, something is happening in the markets, bang, this has happened.  I would then go to my normal job, the magazine back then, still is.  It’s, that’s hard, that is hard.  I find also when you have only got three minutes to get across the message it’s not as great as thousands of words.  So I moved from TV to magazine, I’ve been editing something I’m very, very proud of since 1999.  It still is the most sold and read personal finance magazine in Australia, it helps when your competitors close up so I can say that’s good but it’s been an honour to get this information out there and an honour to also talk to women.

I just wanted to show you these covers because it’s important to understand where the market is now and I think you can relate to this.  Five years ago I wouldn’t be able to go out with a superannuation cover, there is no way that would sell.  It would put people to, to bore them to death.  When you look at my top covers now 3 out of 5 of those are superannuation covers.  People are concerned about their financial well-being.  I can tell you this, my greatest fear is retiring in a polyester outfit and drinking cask wine.  It really is. I mean I don’t mind cask wine if that’s all there is in my fridge, and sometimes there has been things like that too. But that is my greatest fear.  And I think a lot more people are cottoning onto the idea that you know what, everybody is a salesperson out there.  If I don’t get savvy about my money no one is going to come along and sweep me up.  And that’s why the conversations with yourself or with your partner is very, very important.

Moving on this, I’m not going to, how is this, a test.  I know you didn’t have this as homework last night but I’m going to give you a test right now.  I won’t pull you up, this can all be in your head.  I’ll just read the question and see if you can answer this.  Now this is a Hilda money test that was done and the results are actually quite surprising, five simple questions.  Suppose you put $100 in a no fee savings account with a guaranteed interest rate of two percent per year.  You don’t make any further payments into this account and you don’t withdraw.  How much would be in your account at the end of the first year?  Okay locked in, the answer, 102.  I won’t pull you up, just keep it noted.  Now imagine that interest rate on your savings account was one percent per year and inflation was two percent so you are earning one, inflation two. After one year would you be able to buy more than today, exactly the same as today or less than today? Locked-in?  Less than today.  Do you think the following statement is true or false.  Buying shares in a single company usually provides a safer return than buying shares in a number of different companies, true or false? False.  Now tell me whether you think the following is true or false.  An investment with a high return is likely to be a high risk?  True or false?  How did you go? Five out of five?  Brilliant. Unfortunately it wasn’t five out of five for most people.  In fact women scored worse than men.

Now without insulting anyone’s intelligence these were basic financial questions on inflation, risk versus return and diversification.  Yet more men pass this test than women.  In fact if you look at the results there, 49.9 percent of men answered all five questions correctly compared to 35.4.  And only 24 respondents aged between 15 and 24 answered all the five questions correctly.  Who has got a daughter out there, a son out there?  Their financial well-being, it is up to us to get them savvy. I was quite shocked by this and it’s not the only report that shows the difference between men and women.  If you look at the financial wellness survey that ANZ had done as well, women didn’t score as well as men.  Now why is it in today’s world, when we are engaged, women are engaged, why are we not scoring as well and more importantly what needs to be done to get that better.  Because I may have joked about polyester and cask wine but right now 40 percent of older single women are living in poverty, they are living below the aged pension, that could be my mother, that could be your grandmother.  You don’t want to be living that lifestyle so what do we need to do?

I think the biggest issues facing women, I don’t need to tell you this, it’s well documented but I’m hoping through this book too I have touched on all these and hopefully given some strategies.  Income inequality, still today women earn about 14.6 less, less time in the workforce. More than likely we’re the ones that are either going to care for children, care for our parents, that career break is costing us about $160,000 in our super.  Divorce hits harder, usually we’re the carer on a single income earner.  We are time poor.  You saw all those balls we’re juggling.  Usually we’re damn good at doing budgets, we’re damn good at paying our bills, tick, tick, tick, tick, yes I can do that, that’s simple, that’s quick, instant gratification.  Oh doing a wealth planning, that’s going to take a bit of time now, I haven’t got time for that but it’s that wealth planning, it’s that strategy that creates wealth and that’s where we’re kind of lacking or falling behind.  We live longer, bugger, that’s a real problem isn’t it? I always hear that and I think oh that’s not too bad living longer.  Who has actually done a longevity calculator to find out exactly what day they’re going to die on?  I have done it, I like to be prepared.  There are lots of calculators on there, I really do urge you to give it a go.  It’s interesting, I did one and it was said I would live to 96, 92, 96.  I wasn’t happy with that so then I lied.  Apparently if you have never had a speeding ticket in the last 12 months which I have you live longer and if you don’t stress which I do you live longer.  So that moved me to I think 102 and then I panicked, I’m thinking I don’t have that money to live to 102.  It is a question you need to ask, is your money going to outlast you or are you going to outlast your money.

So with this in mind I just wanted to go through a few of my favourite chapters in the book.  Now I love super, if you do know me I am a big advocate of it.  I get bagged a lot by my co-workers because some people hate it. I get it, I really do get it.  I bought together the Super Booster Day campaign with Aspin, I am very proud of that achievement, to actually raise awareness of super and the lack of engagement that we do have.  I am always dumbfounded by people that do not open their statements.  Would you not open your bank statement?  I bet you know how much is in your bank statement, I bet you have gone online today to check your balance of your bank account.  Do you do that with your super?  I get so excited opening my super, I got online and check how is it going and so on, I get so excited.  It’s my money, I have worked hard for it, it will be my biggest asset, could do.  So I think with super whether you love it or hate it it’s still one of the best wealth creating strategies we’ve got.  I mean you’ve got all those things that work for you, dollar cost averaging, compound interest, lower tax, less fees. I get why people don’t like it. If you’re not earning 37,000 at least it doesn’t work for you.  If you’re a woman that has several jobs and you miss that $450 threshold, it’s not working for you.  Even if you’re in the gig economy it’s not working for you, they are ripping us off with fees, I get super.  You can’t touch it until you’re 67, your preservation age.  But so long as if you do have super I really do urge you to at least make the most of it and all that guff there is just if you’re not quite sure super, when you get taxed with super it’s only at 15 percent instead of your marginal tax rate.  So why give that extra money to the tax man, why do it?

I do want to say something about a sweet spot, I get pulled up a bit saying, especially in Sydney, if you don’t own your home in Sydney you need $1 million ASFA says, whether it’s in super or outside super.  And personally I don’t mind where you build your wealth, super do it up, do the maximum contributions of 25 K and then build wealth outside super, as long as you are building assets.  Now when I said $1 million I had this person call me and I felt so bad because he said Effie I am about to retire and I’m sick of hearing you saying I need $1 million to retire, I don’t have that so what’s in it for me.  This is where you need to get expert advice and this is where I should say I’m not a financial advisor by the way, anything I do say can and work against you maybe.  No, I do want to say that I am a journalist, I am not a financial advisor so please, any kind of ideas you get and you’re not sure do seek professional advice. But there is a sweet spot and in some cases I hate to say this, if you are not earning a lot super doesn’t work for you then you are better not pushing over that threshold because you lose three bucks for every thousand dollars you go over the asset test and that means there’s a big gap for you to then catch that up.  You are better off staying under that asset threshold and using the pension and getting a combined income, it’s using the system I get it but it gives people hope that are about to retire.  That’s where I really do urge you if you have got a family member that’s about to retire and doesn’t have that to get some advice and see how that works. And that’s that threshold I was talking about.

If I can give any tip with super, keep it simple.  Know where your super is, there are about $18 billion lost in super funds. Productivity commission said lost super and multiple accounts were the two biggest things that are going to kill your super.  So know where it is and find it.  Give it a health check.  How much are you paying in fees, what asset class are you in, what insurance do you have. You know you have got insurance in there, is it too much, is it too little, check that out.  And maybe get your spouse to cough up too if you’re not working on your low income because there are lots of government perks, there is money up for grabs.  Simple website to go into is moneysmart.gov.au.

I just wanted to show you this, if you can’t see it, these are the top 10 super funds over the past 10 years.  I get a little bit of flak showing this, a) they’re all industry funds okay.  I only get this data from selecting super.  Some of these funds may not be true balanced funds, they are a little bit more aggressive, I was talking about asset classes, this is something you need to look at.  But the return is there if you can’t see it at 8.6 over the past 10 years. What has your fund returned?  If it has returned really low and it’s apples for apples, please, please get some help and see where your money can work harder for you.  The difference between a dud fund and the top fund in there I think was around $60,000 in returns.

Okay the next one, moving on from super.  How the hell can she afford that?  Who has ever said that?  Yeah, I’ve got some friends like that, I just don’t understand, they are coming in the latest designer gear, they are always going on holidays.  How do they afford that?  Let me tell you, the grass may look greener on the other side but half the time it’s fake.

Okay this is, so why is it that people can afford things or do things.  Who reckons they are pretty good at budgeting?  Yeah budgeting seems to be a real buzz word at the moment, everyone seems to be on it.  I think the most popular option that I have found and I’ve been doing this for a long time is a bucket option.  So is it Marie Condo, the woman on Netflix that is so amazing that makes us feel all inadequate?  I bet you she never puts her underwear and socks in the same drawer.  No way because what happens after the first week?  It’s a mess.  Same goes with your bank account.  You throw all your money in one bank account, what do you think is going to happen?  It’s going to be a mess.  I operate under a bucket system so everything, these days bank accounts are free so I have several buckets.  I have a bucket for school fees, I have a bucket for IT, I’ve got a bucket for mortgage, investments, I’ve got a bucket, I have got a splurge bucket, 150 per fortnight goes in there.  If there is no money in that bucket I can’t splurge.  Organise your accounts and that will get you a little bit better.

The other thing, what’s stopping us. Delete at least one app on your phone, and what I say by that is, and this is more for the millennial’s, behavioural economics is quite interesting, it can work for you, it can work against you.  Some good examples of behavioural economics.  I love those roundup accounts.  So when you spend automatically the money goes into exchange traded fund.  You don’t even know you’re investing and it’s happening.  So I have got my 18 year old on that because I don’t think she is going to save whereby this way she will.  What is some bad examples of behavioural ones.  I am not a big fan of buy now, pay later.  Why?  Because, not because, they’re cheaper than credit cards, most people pay them off, there are late fees but it makes you spend.  I was actually researching this for a story and I almost bought a, what was it, a 4-800 whatever jacket online, researching, signed up and I almost jumped into it because the temptation was there.  So have a look and see what is coming out of your budget and actually try and put a leak on it.

Just want to make you realise the power of compound interest and I find this very interesting.  If you save just $5000 from the age of 25 to 35 and stopped, assuming a seven percent return, that’s quite high I know, you would still have more money in that account than if you were 35 and saving to 67.  Because the magic of compound interest, interest on interest.  I will repeat that because it’s amazing.  25 to 35 you save 5K a year, you stop.  You will have more money than someone 35 to 67 that continues to save.  Now when the return is lower the other person gets more but it just shows you how strong compound interest is.

I earn 150 K, why am I still broke, who feels like that sometimes?  Be honest?  Thank you for your honesty.  I feel like that sometimes too.  I think in this day and age whether you’re earning 50 K, 60 K, whatever, there is so much financial pressure on us.  We have record debt, for every one dollar in the bank we owe two dollars.  And this chapter was inspired by a lady that I went to, I was at a soccer match with my son and I always feel like I’m the poorest mum at my school functions and driving in there and all these flash cars and she came up to me and she goes oh Effie, I just bought, and I’ll be honest, I was writing my book then so it wasn’t out.  She goes I just bought Scott Pape’s book, I went oh Scott Pape’s book hey, brilliant book.  And I said why did you, why did you buy that?  I said aren’t you a lawyer and isn’t your husband some kind of fund manager? Yeah, yeah.  So you must be earning a lot, a lot of money.  Yeah but I just don’t know where it all goes. When I had a good look at her head to toe Chanel and she drove out in a Porsche SUV.  Oh now I know where your money goes.

So it doesn’t matter what you earn, you can feel these pressures.  And in the book I actually talk to a behavioural economist and this is where the conversations have to happen with you.  What do you do when you have a shitty day?  What do you do when you have a great day?  You just got a pay rise, you just got some great news, what was that, you all sound good.

AUDIENCE: Drink wine.

EFFIE ZAHOS: I say that in the book, I drink Bellini, there you go.  Good or bad. We do something.  And so when I was talking to this behavioural economist we looked at what are the triggers, I had a shitty day, I had a good day.  I am nowhere near my credit limit.  It surprises me people who spend so long and so hard to get their credit cards down and they should get rid of them, instead they go on a spending binge and spend up again because they see that credit limit as their money, not as lent money.

I live through social media, Pinterest is number one platform that causes people to spend.  I mean think about it, it’s Friday night, you have had a glass of wine, you are going through all these beautiful home pictures, how many cushions can your bed have? Spending.  Remove yourself from it.  But it’s on sale, it’s on sale, there is only one left.  Fear of missing out, we have that don’t we.  Again, Friday night drinking a glass of wine, are you one Neta Porta, I don’t know where you are.  Again this happens.  Instead of thinking fear of missing out, instead of thinking it’s 70 percent off, flip it around.  Have a look and see is this the real recommended retail price, chances are it’s cheaper elsewhere so it’s not an urgent sale.  And I still have to spend money, I have got to take that out so you’re not saving, you’re spending.  There are things you can do with your mind to actually get better.

Keeping up with the Joneses, get rid of those friends, we don’t need friends like that. I think the most important tip I learnt in that chapter was to own your financial status.  Never be embarrassed of how much money you do have and never be embarrassed of how little money you may have.  Never try and keep up because the more you have a persona then you have to fill that gap with reality and fantasy and that costs money.  So never be embarrassed of who you are.  And there’s a whole lot of tricks there that you can come up with what to do.

I am so in love.  That can do havoc on your finances.  It really can because all those endorphins just make you do stupid things.  And look, in my experience I had this one lady who was in love and she wasn’t, and it wasn’t in good love actually, this is a good example of when it works against you.  She racked up $60,000 on her credit cards and she said it’s going to a private PO box.  Will my partner find out about this, we’re getting a home loan.  And I thought well yeah, they are going to find out, they are going to do a credit check, they’re going to see a credit limit of 60 K you’ve got, they’re going to find out.  So she was spending because she was not happy in that relationship when I dug down into it. So look being in love is great but the conversations have to happen.  You don’t just get there.

And it’s interesting in my relationship and I’ll be honest here, sometimes embarrassed by it but I’m not, my husband doesn’t know what I earn, I don’t know what he earns.  We have two kids, I’m responsible for one and he is responsible for the other.  One goes to a private school, one doesn’t. One is in designer gear, no, no. They’re both treated the same fortunately.  But we do have one child each that we look after.  And the reason being is that we are fine like that, we argue too much, we are very different in how we spend and how we invest and so on but we have the same goals.  So I don’t care what he does as long as he gets his goals, he doesn’t care what I do as long as I reach my goals.  Is it perfect?  Not always, no.  Do we argue? Yes we do but we have the conversations. I don’t know if you have ever had a fiscal date night with your partner but I suggest you maybe do that this Saturday night and there is lots of tools there that I give also what you can do. Confession night.  I’m not talking about confessing to how many sexual partners you have had but confessing maybe how much debt you really do have. Especially if it’s a new relationship. Is it good debt, is it bad debt. You can pick whatever conversation you want but I just want you to have that.  Apple pie night is all about how do you split your income.  A lot of people in my case you know I’ll look after that, you look after this.  Other people, what is mine is mine and yours is yours, similar or, how do you split your income?  And you need to talk about that.

It’s interesting, money is, there was a survey that came out and said one in four of us have a conflict in our relationship about money.  So 1, 2, 3, 4, you’ve got a problem at home.  1, 2, 3, 4, you have got a problem at home.  Do you want to know what the dirty money secret women have according to this St George research.  Anyone want to take a stab at what this money secret women have?

AUDIENCE: (ui).

EFFIE ZAHOS: No that’s men.  Okay men have a secret bank account and women have a huge debt. I thought that was quite interesting. So I think it’s very important to actually have these conversations, set goals.  It’s okay to be different but you’ve just got to be on the same path and start the conversations.

I am ready to start investing.  Now I know I am probably running out of time and I’m short-sighted so that sign is going to do nothing for me, is that one?  Two minutes okay let’s get 101 on investing pretty fast.  All I’d like you to do here is understand this.  We have record low interest rates, the RBA is probably going to cut rates two times more.  Now you think woohoo that’s great because I have a mortgage and I’m not paying. Let me tell you when you cut interest rates it means the economy is not doing too well.  I don’t want to scare the bejeevers out of you but it is time to get serious about your finances, good times may be here, bad times may be coming or vice versa.  Money in the bank is going backwards so do get some good advice about where to invest. I will keep it on the last slide here.

Investing is not that hard.  I do urge you to get on the government site moneysmart.gov.au, get excited about the products out there.  There are some great products, exchange traded funds, diversification, cheap to get in. Just have a look and get a feel. Never invest in anything you’re not sure of and I know the Royal Commission has unearthed a whole lot of terrible things. At the end of the day though get some research yourself and get some professional advice, even I need professional advice. Recommendations, maybe check how they are paid, I won’t bore you through all that.  But I do urge you to start looking and investing further than just maybe if it’s just property or shares.  I think the secret to wealth is if you have got some good property and I know property is getting bad in headlines, but in the long-term with growing population and so on, property, check your super, invest whether if you can afford an investment property great, exchange traded funds, something like that, have that nice little portfolio and let’s not see ourselves in retirement with polyester and cask wine.  Not knocking cask wine if you drink it.  Yeah thank you.

(Applause)

MC: I have to be really honest with you, so at one point during the presentation I was sitting over at the table with Michelle and I found myself with my arms crossed and my legs crossed.  My body language having to face some of the questions that you asked meant that I obviously needed to hear a lot of that presentation and I am promising I’m going to buy the book and put some things into action Effie.

EFFIE ZAHOS: Oh thank you.

MC: I might have to call you and ask for some personal guidance.  Now we have got some questions that have come in from the app, we’re going to try and get through as many of these as you possibly can and of course any of the questions that are left over, I’m sure that if they get sent through to Effie she will do her best to answer them for you.  Go ahead please Kylie.

KYLIE: This first one Effie is more a note of gratitude rather than a question.  So someone from our audience has said that they share your greatest fear of polyester and cask wine and because of that they have subscribed to your magazine for years and thank you.

EFFIE ZAHOS: Thank you very very much, thank you.  Support like that that keeps a magazine out like this and look, you can get information anywhere, I’ll be honest, you can get some information free online or you can go to the library as well.

KYLIE: But your contribution will help Effie stay away from polyester and cask wine so thank you.  Okay the first question.  How do I prove my financial literacy and how will that help me and without pre-empting your answer we’d just like to let everyone know that Effie’s book is available in the bookstore outside.  Can somebody put one aside for me please.

EFFIE ZAHOS: I forgot about that, see I’m not a very good salesperson.  It’s interesting because that research I came out, you can have great financial literacy but does that equate to being good with money.  You need both, you seriously do.  You can get a lot of good information online and I keep going to that moneysmart.gov.au website because it’s government, it’s not there to sell anything and it’s a really good basic building block.  And in a lot of cases it’s just jumping in.  I mean my first investment was shares and I knew nothing about it, I was 18, I bought a whole lot of the bank shares. I mean that was when CBA was what, three, four bucks or something like that, who knows.  Sometimes it is jumping in but I did say you know understand what you’re doing.  I’m not saying jumping into Bitcoins or something like that.  Nothing wrong with them, I don’t understand them.  So look read up as much as you can and there are so many great websites.  Start with that because that’s pretty comprehensive.  Pick up some books, get Scott Pape’s, get Paul’s, maybe mine. The library has them.  Just read, read and get passionate about it because it’s so much easier for your money to work for you rather than you have to work for your money.

KYLIE: Thank you.  This is a good one.  How can we bring financial education into schools so our kids understand from a much earlier age?

EFFIE ZAHOS: Yeah Paul Clitheroe has done some great work with financial literacy in schools and it is but I believe it’s quite different across all schools and in different subjects as well.  Really it should be in every subject, it shouldn’t be just like you know a maths class because if anything people in the arts or music may need it even more so because their income is so irregular.  I know there are some great commentators in there, Nicole is based in Brisbane I think, she goes around to schools and so on but I know the push is in there, I would like to see it across more classes but I think Paul has done a brilliant job in actually putting it into the system as it is now.

KYLIE: I think I’m not alone though where when in a very short period of time we have seen almost everything got cashless.  I know that in my house I am concerned with two, nearly 19-year-olds and a 17 year old that they actually don’t use money very much so it’s difficult to teach them those lessons that you spoke about earlier when they, when money isn’t tangible.

EFFIE ZAHOS: Yep and that’s the thing you have got to get them digitally savvy which means you may have to get digitally savvy. Obviously yeah it’s great to start kids with coins.  I mean I started my kids saving with a 52 week challenge, really simple.  A jar, one jar each.  One week one, two dollars week three, four dollars and so on.  By the end of 52 weeks, 1300 odd dollars. Whichever kid made it, I doubled the money.  I knew full well that the young one wouldn’t because he doesn’t have $40 in week four.  Which suited me fine because I didn’t have that other $2000.  But that helped them get the saving habit but then that’s got to get digital.  My, and there is no right age.  I have got a 12 year old and I have got an 18 year old.  The 18 year old is savvy and all over it. She is now finished school and I got on bang about you know when will my kids ever leave home?  Well she did and I got really upset about it.  Mainly because she is not doing finance, she is doing engineering so I’m very upset about that.  But you know the younger one took a while to get financially savvy and I have got him online straightaway.  That worked brilliant, he loves his apps, he loves seeing his goal on his phone and he is tech saavy and that worked for him.

KYLIE : Great question whoever asked this one.  Is it ever too late to start investing?

EFFIE ZAHOS: Never, your kids will thank you anyway at least, you can leave an inheritance.  No, it’s never too late because put this way, I am just a journo, I am not you know a multimillionaire with all you know endless limited money so you can make the most of what you have and if you’re facing retirement right now, and that’s why I spent a bit of time on that sweet spot, there are some strategies to make the best of what you have.  And it may not be living like a king but it’s better than living like a pauper because you just haven’t got some help to get the best of what you’ve got.

KYLIE: Effie thank you so much, please put your hands together for Effie, sharing all of that wisdom with us this afternoon. EFFIE ZAHOS: Thank you.

Keynote Dr Mellissa Naidoo

Director of Medical Services, Greenslopes Private Hospital

View the video

Video transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Next up is a woman who is set to leave her mark on this world.  Having started her working life as a paediatrician, Dr Mellissa Naidoo has forged a career in medical administration.  Not content with excelling just within her job description, Mellissa has put an enormous amount of energy into challenging the status quo around women in medicine.  Mellissa has a passion for celebrating the whole woman, complete with vulnerabilities, strengths and vitality.  And when I say that she is limping up the stairs because she has only just recently had knee surgery so we will make her, as she makes her way over to us to share with us her inspirational view of a world that is rich and inclusive.  Please make her welcome.

MELLISSA: I wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Turruwul and Jagera people and pay my respects to their elders past, present, emerging and future.  I pay respects to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who may be present today.  And I also specifically acknowledge the role of indigenous women and the important role that they play in country, community and culture.  I do so because as a doctor I believe it’s important.  We know that recognition of person and place is very closely linked with health and we can’t ignore the disparity in health outcomes for indigenous Australians.

I am humbled to be invited to speak today.  I remember attending one of the very first Aspiring Women’s Leader Summits and the impact that it had on me.  I would like to thank Barb Phillips for this initiative in bringing women and men together to advance the role of women as leaders in health, something that I’m absolutely passionate about.

Five years ago I would not have imagined that I would be speaking today.  I find myself where I am more through serendipity than through planning.  The things that I have chosen and the things that have happened to me are what has brought me here.  So I am a doctor and a medical administrator but like many of you in the room I hold a number of roles and only some of those are listed here. I am a mother to two little girls who are aspiring medical administrators.  I think I have created a problem there.  Despite my youthful looks I am also grandmother to 9ninebabies who I am regularly asked to babysit whilst my daughters got two important meetings all the time.

I grew up with the slogan girls can do anything.  I even remember the bumper stickers we got handed out at school.  Us girls really believed it, we studied hard and inspired high but no one told my girlfriends and I about the but.  Girls can do anything but for women doing it will be harder.  Girls can do anything but you will have to make choices.  Girls can do anything but you will be judged for it. And girls can do anything until you hit a glass ceiling.  I wish I had known this not because I think that they can’t do it but because I would have spent less time feeling like I wasn’t good enough or I was doing something wrong to not be achieving the way that I should.  Most girls are raised on fairy-tales and Hollywood endings, our young impressionable minds repeatedly hear that we will find our Prince, rule the world by his side and then live happily ever after.  There is no mention of forgetting to pick up your toddler from day care yes, I’ve done that, sorry Mya, let alone any hint of structural barriers. Allusive work life balance, division of domestic labour or the ever present mental load which we’ve spoken about today.

I was fairly oblivious to all of this in my earlier career.  When there were more women alongside me and the playing field was more even.  But as I have moved into more senior roles I have encountered barriers and bias that have made me acutely aware of the inequity we face as women in progressing our careers.  And as a female medical leader I am certainly in the minority.

As women we tend to respond to these career blockages by just working harder thinking it is us and starting a downward spiral of ever decreasing confidence in ourselves and our ability.  A few years ago I had the amazing opportunity to go to Harvard and undertake the women executives in health care program.  For the first time I learnt about gender barriers, to career development and progression and the impact that implicit or unconscious bias has on organisations.  It felt a little bit like a weight had been lifted because all of a sudden it changed the way I felt about myself and the way I saw myself.  I felt less helpless and less frustrated although a little bit more frustrated at the same time.  And stopped thinking that I just had to keep leaning in harder and harder. It changed the way that I approached things.  But gender balance will continue to allude us until outdated workplace structures and systems allow both women and men to contribute effectively.  To work flexibly and to integrate their work and life responsibilities.  Workplace culture still needs to change to make it sustainable for women to maintain and progress their careers but we are the ones to change it and we do that by lifting each other up and creating more space for women.  As women we can support other women, we can support other men and we can support under-represented groups to increase diversity and by increasing that diversity we make it a better place and a more inclusive workplace for all of us.

When I started in medical administration I didn’t have any female role models and in fact I almost didn’t progress with my training because I doubted in my ability to be a leader.  When I looked around me I saw mostly much older, mostly white men in leadership positions.  They all had commanding presence and authoritative styles and I wondered how I would ever emulate them.  It wasn’t until I met a wee Scottish woman with a thick accent who loved pink and would bring home baked treats in for the team that I started to think differently. She was good at her job, liked and not feared and so unapologetically herself in her leadership style, and unapologetically female in a male dominated environment.  But I thought just maybe, just maybe there might be space for leaders who look and act different.  And it really taught me the importance of role models.

I think it was really wonderful that Kirsten Ferguson was here today because I have got a link with her, I had the wonderful experience of being a part of celebrating women which is a social media campaign that she started to empower women as visible role models.  And that was in response to the online denigration of women. It was mindset changing for me because I was invited or encouraged by some friends to put a profile in.  It took a whole heap of courage to put it in. I worried about how I would be perceived, that I wouldn’t stack up to other people that would be profiled and I didn’t deserve to be featured.  It’s not unusual for women to find themselves in this situation and it’s what’s known as a double bind where you’re perceived differently for the same behaviours that men may have or you suffer backlash for being visible.

But as a mother of daughters I wanted them to grow up confident and in their ability and, confident in their ability sorry and know their worth.  To have their achievements and contributions to the world recognised and I realised that started with me in acknowledging myself as a role model and unlearning behaviours of achievement, minimisation and negativity and negative self-talk and contributing to a changing culture to one where women would be valued for everything that they do.

So that’s how I sort of started my journey to where I am here.  I have to admit I am a bit intimidated standing up at the front of the room in such a big room in front of so many people and being asked to speak on a topic of important things I would tell my younger self as this might mean firstly that I am now seen as belonging to the older category, hopefully it just means I’m in the wiser category.  I am still learning and I am still muddling my way through but what I would tell my younger self and what I would tell my daughters are a few things.

It’s build your tribe but don’t be tribal.  Surround yourself with people who share your values, they will keep you on track when you are in uncertain territory.  But by doing so be inclusive.  Challenge yourself with people around you aren’t just like you. Diversify your network, it will broaden your horizons.  In health we tend to be very insular and stick to our own.  I have had the opportunity through my various roles to build networks outside of medicine and health and it’s taught me so much so I implore you to take the opportunity to do so.  Find your voice and use it.  What you have to say is important.  Speak up more, use your voice to advocate for those who don’t have a voice and to amplify the voices of those who are less heard.  Know your worth and don’t sell yourself short.  Stand up for yourself and ask for what you want and negotiate your terms.  Women are increasingly recognised as being underpaid and undervalued in their roles as a result of the choices they make, well perhaps it’s the lack of choices that they have to choose from.  In trying to juggle the various demands placed on them they choose what seems like the easier option.

I spent years working full-time for part-time pay in attempts to meet others expectations and counter perceptions but I have learnt now to try and negotiate flexibility rather than lesser payment. I have been the only woman on, or the only minority woman on a number of boards and committees and found myself having to speak up for others who weren’t there or didn’t have a voice and to lend my limited experience.  I have learnt to try and find my voice and to speak up.

Find your sweet spot.  For those of you who haven’t seen the (ui) diagram, it’s a lovely description of how you can combine all the things to find your career sweet spot. If you can do what you love, so you can find what you love so you can do more of it.  Find what you’re good at so you can make a difference.  Find what you can get paid for because that’s practical and find what the world needs so that you can actually make a change.

And find joy, how you get from here to there ought to be a joyful journey.  Develop a strategy for your life to help guide you, where to put your attention, to help move your arrow from less hassle to more joy and to help you make the decisions on whether activities are fulfilling or detracting from that mission. It keeps you energised for the hard and challenging work you do and it’s soul satisfying.

Learn to say no.  Saying no creates a space for you to say yes to the things that matter to you and don’t be afraid to say yes.  Take opportunities that come your way, don’t worry about failure, don’t give into impostor syndrome.  Breathe through the discomfort and don’t let fear rob you of your opportunity.  At worst you will end up standing in front of a thousand people and at best you might surprise yourself and might inspire someone else to do something that they think that they can’t.

Know when to walk away.  Not everything can be fixed and not everything is for you. There will be times in your career where you have gone as far as you can go knowing when to walk away from the things that no longer serve you, your purposes or your values is incredibly important.  The key to each of these things is knowing yourself and knowing your values. Holding true to your values will help you determine when to say no, what you should say yes to and the right time to walkway.

Be brave, be kind, stay true to your values and when you are compromised, when they are compromised stand up and speak out, be brave about it.  Be kind to others but most importantly be kind to yourself.  Be yourself, be okay with less than perfect and trust yourself. Listen to your gut and listen to your body, take care of your health, you have only got that.

And use your super powers, and by superpowers I mean find that thing that you’re really good at and it’s often not the thing that we think, it’s actually the thing that we do really easily that most people know us for but we wouldn’t give a second thought to.  It’s something you wouldn’t pay heed to, it might be about connecting people, it might be about making people feel at ease, it might be, whatever it is, find that thing and use it to change the world.  Finally when you have privilege use it to create change for others.  Be more strategic in creating opportunities, sponsoring others who have less visibility and acknowledging others especially women’s actions and achievements and advocating against gender bias.  I felt a responsibility to take greater personal action to change the culture within medicine and my college towards women in medicine.  And I have encouraged efforts to develop medical women into leadership and decision-making.  This led me to start the women in medicine symposium last year.  I had had the opportunity through my leadership sort of development to experience what has happened in lots of other industries and it became apparent to me that not everyone has access to that and particularly a lot of women in medicine didn’t.  It has been great to see increasing numbers of medical women attending this forum as well.  I also started celebrating women docs project which is, we are launching on International Women’s Day on Friday which will have a balance for (ui) and has been inspired by Kirsten’s campaign celebrating women.  It’s really around just raising the profile and the visibility of the work that women do in medicine particularly as women in medicine tend to drop out as the career progresses.  And amplify others.  Both women and men, the people who are going to be the change makers, who are going to change the culture and allow things to be different so that it would be easier for all.

Take time to reflect.  In 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had a three and a four year old.  I had just started in what was my dream job and I grieved what I thought then was going to be the loss of my career which I had worked so hard for and completely defined me.  Since then I have had chemo and radiotherapy and I have had multiple surgeries.  I have had multiple career breaks for my illness but also for both my children, long maternity breaks.  Returning to work after each one was incredibly daunting and I know a lot of women in this room will probably, will probably be able to sympathise with that.  Each time I have had to reassess my goals and my directions but that’s life.  And as Annabel Crabb said this morning as women, when life circumstances change we revise ourselves and we adapt and I think that’s one of the wonderful things about being a woman.  So I say take time, time to reflect on your journey and what you have achieved because chances are you have done a lot more than you think.

And when in doubt if all else fails bring along your own cheer squad.  I just like to say thank you very much to the women and men who have inspired and supported me throughout my career, there has been lots of them but I would also really like to thank my family, particularly my husband and my mum whose support I could not have achieved what I have without.  And I would really like to thank my daughters because they’re the ones who inspire me every day and they teach me every day about myself and about what is important.  So thank you.

Listen to the audio

Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Next up is a woman who is set to leave her mark on this world.  Having started her working life as a paediatrician, Dr Mellissa Naidoo has forged a career in medical administration.  Not content with excelling just within her job description, Mellissa has put an enormous amount of energy into challenging the status quo around women in medicine.  Mellissa has a passion for celebrating the whole woman, complete with vulnerabilities, strengths and vitality.  And when I say that she is limping up the stairs because she has only just recently had knee surgery so we will make her, as she makes her way over to us to share with us her inspirational view of a world that is rich and inclusive.  Please make her welcome.

MELLISSA: I wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Turruwul and Jagera people and pay my respects to their elders past, present, emerging and future.  I pay respects to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who may be present today.  And I also specifically acknowledge the role of indigenous women and the important role that they play in country, community and culture.  I do so because as a doctor I believe it’s important.  We know that recognition of person and place is very closely linked with health and we can’t ignore the disparity in health outcomes for indigenous Australians.

I am humbled to be invited to speak today.  I remember attending one of the very first Aspiring Women’s Leader Summits and the impact that it had on me.  I would like to thank Barb Phillips for this initiative in bringing women and men together to advance the role of women as leaders in health, something that I’m absolutely passionate about.

Five years ago I would not have imagined that I would be speaking today.  I find myself where I am more through serendipity than through planning.  The things that I have chosen and the things that have happened to me are what has brought me here.  So I am a doctor and a medical administrator but like many of you in the room I hold a number of roles and only some of those are listed here. I am a mother to two little girls who are aspiring medical administrators.  I think I have created a problem there.  Despite my youthful looks I am also grandmother to 9ninebabies who I am regularly asked to babysit whilst my daughters got two important meetings all the time.

I grew up with the slogan girls can do anything.  I even remember the bumper stickers we got handed out at school.  Us girls really believed it, we studied hard and inspired high but no one told my girlfriends and I about the but.  Girls can do anything but for women doing it will be harder.  Girls can do anything but you will have to make choices.  Girls can do anything but you will be judged for it. And girls can do anything until you hit a glass ceiling.  I wish I had known this not because I think that they can’t do it but because I would have spent less time feeling like I wasn’t good enough or I was doing something wrong to not be achieving the way that I should.  Most girls are raised on fairy-tales and Hollywood endings, our young impressionable minds repeatedly hear that we will find our Prince, rule the world by his side and then live happily ever after.  There is no mention of forgetting to pick up your toddler from day care yes, I’ve done that, sorry Mya, let alone any hint of structural barriers. Allusive work life balance, division of domestic labour or the ever present mental load which we’ve spoken about today.

I was fairly oblivious to all of this in my earlier career.  When there were more women alongside me and the playing field was more even.  But as I have moved into more senior roles I have encountered barriers and bias that have made me acutely aware of the inequity we face as women in progressing our careers.  And as a female medical leader I am certainly in the minority.

As women we tend to respond to these career blockages by just working harder thinking it is us and starting a downward spiral of ever decreasing confidence in ourselves and our ability.  A few years ago I had the amazing opportunity to go to Harvard and undertake the women executives in health care program.  For the first time I learnt about gender barriers, to career development and progression and the impact that implicit or unconscious bias has on organisations.  It felt a little bit like a weight had been lifted because all of a sudden it changed the way I felt about myself and the way I saw myself.  I felt less helpless and less frustrated although a little bit more frustrated at the same time.  And stopped thinking that I just had to keep leaning in harder and harder. It changed the way that I approached things.  But gender balance will continue to allude us until outdated workplace structures and systems allow both women and men to contribute effectively.  To work flexibly and to integrate their work and life responsibilities.  Workplace culture still needs to change to make it sustainable for women to maintain and progress their careers but we are the ones to change it and we do that by lifting each other up and creating more space for women.  As women we can support other women, we can support other men and we can support under-represented groups to increase diversity and by increasing that diversity we make it a better place and a more inclusive workplace for all of us.

When I started in medical administration I didn’t have any female role models and in fact I almost didn’t progress with my training because I doubted in my ability to be a leader.  When I looked around me I saw mostly much older, mostly white men in leadership positions.  They all had commanding presence and authoritative styles and I wondered how I would ever emulate them.  It wasn’t until I met a wee Scottish woman with a thick accent who loved pink and would bring home baked treats in for the team that I started to think differently. She was good at her job, liked and not feared and so unapologetically herself in her leadership style, and unapologetically female in a male dominated environment.  But I thought just maybe, just maybe there might be space for leaders who look and act different.  And it really taught me the importance of role models.

I think it was really wonderful that Kirsten Ferguson was here today because I have got a link with her, I had the wonderful experience of being a part of celebrating women which is a social media campaign that she started to empower women as visible role models.  And that was in response to the online denigration of women. It was mindset changing for me because I was invited or encouraged by some friends to put a profile in.  It took a whole heap of courage to put it in. I worried about how I would be perceived, that I wouldn’t stack up to other people that would be profiled and I didn’t deserve to be featured.  It’s not unusual for women to find themselves in this situation and it’s what’s known as a double bind where you’re perceived differently for the same behaviours that men may have or you suffer backlash for being visible.

But as a mother of daughters I wanted them to grow up confident and in their ability and, confident in their ability sorry and know their worth.  To have their achievements and contributions to the world recognised and I realised that started with me in acknowledging myself as a role model and unlearning behaviours of achievement, minimisation and negativity and negative self-talk and contributing to a changing culture to one where women would be valued for everything that they do.

So that’s how I sort of started my journey to where I am here.  I have to admit I am a bit intimidated standing up at the front of the room in such a big room in front of so many people and being asked to speak on a topic of important things I would tell my younger self as this might mean firstly that I am now seen as belonging to the older category, hopefully it just means I’m in the wiser category.  I am still learning and I am still muddling my way through but what I would tell my younger self and what I would tell my daughters are a few things.

It’s build your tribe but don’t be tribal.  Surround yourself with people who share your values, they will keep you on track when you are in uncertain territory.  But by doing so be inclusive.  Challenge yourself with people around you aren’t just like you. Diversify your network, it will broaden your horizons.  In health we tend to be very insular and stick to our own.  I have had the opportunity through my various roles to build networks outside of medicine and health and it’s taught me so much so I implore you to take the opportunity to do so.  Find your voice and use it.  What you have to say is important.  Speak up more, use your voice to advocate for those who don’t have a voice and to amplify the voices of those who are less heard.  Know your worth and don’t sell yourself short.  Stand up for yourself and ask for what you want and negotiate your terms.  Women are increasingly recognised as being underpaid and undervalued in their roles as a result of the choices they make, well perhaps it’s the lack of choices that they have to choose from.  In trying to juggle the various demands placed on them they choose what seems like the easier option.

I spent years working full-time for part-time pay in attempts to meet others expectations and counter perceptions but I have learnt now to try and negotiate flexibility rather than lesser payment. I have been the only woman on, or the only minority woman on a number of boards and committees and found myself having to speak up for others who weren’t there or didn’t have a voice and to lend my limited experience.  I have learnt to try and find my voice and to speak up.

Find your sweet spot.  For those of you who haven’t seen the (ui) diagram, it’s a lovely description of how you can combine all the things to find your career sweet spot. If you can do what you love, so you can find what you love so you can do more of it.  Find what you’re good at so you can make a difference.  Find what you can get paid for because that’s practical and find what the world needs so that you can actually make a change.

And find joy, how you get from here to there ought to be a joyful journey.  Develop a strategy for your life to help guide you, where to put your attention, to help move your arrow from less hassle to more joy and to help you make the decisions on whether activities are fulfilling or detracting from that mission. It keeps you energised for the hard and challenging work you do and it’s soul satisfying.

Learn to say no.  Saying no creates a space for you to say yes to the things that matter to you and don’t be afraid to say yes.  Take opportunities that come your way, don’t worry about failure, don’t give into impostor syndrome.  Breathe through the discomfort and don’t let fear rob you of your opportunity.  At worst you will end up standing in front of a thousand people and at best you might surprise yourself and might inspire someone else to do something that they think that they can’t.

Know when to walk away.  Not everything can be fixed and not everything is for you. There will be times in your career where you have gone as far as you can go knowing when to walk away from the things that no longer serve you, your purposes or your values is incredibly important.  The key to each of these things is knowing yourself and knowing your values. Holding true to your values will help you determine when to say no, what you should say yes to and the right time to walkway.

Be brave, be kind, stay true to your values and when you are compromised, when they are compromised stand up and speak out, be brave about it.  Be kind to others but most importantly be kind to yourself.  Be yourself, be okay with less than perfect and trust yourself. Listen to your gut and listen to your body, take care of your health, you have only got that.

And use your super powers, and by superpowers I mean find that thing that you’re really good at and it’s often not the thing that we think, it’s actually the thing that we do really easily that most people know us for but we wouldn’t give a second thought to.  It’s something you wouldn’t pay heed to, it might be about connecting people, it might be about making people feel at ease, it might be, whatever it is, find that thing and use it to change the world.  Finally when you have privilege use it to create change for others.  Be more strategic in creating opportunities, sponsoring others who have less visibility and acknowledging others especially women’s actions and achievements and advocating against gender bias.  I felt a responsibility to take greater personal action to change the culture within medicine and my college towards women in medicine.  And I have encouraged efforts to develop medical women into leadership and decision-making.  This led me to start the women in medicine symposium last year.  I had had the opportunity through my leadership sort of development to experience what has happened in lots of other industries and it became apparent to me that not everyone has access to that and particularly a lot of women in medicine didn’t.  It has been great to see increasing numbers of medical women attending this forum as well.  I also started celebrating women docs project which is, we are launching on International Women’s Day on Friday which will have a balance for (ui) and has been inspired by Kirsten’s campaign celebrating women.  It’s really around just raising the profile and the visibility of the work that women do in medicine particularly as women in medicine tend to drop out as the career progresses.  And amplify others.  Both women and men, the people who are going to be the change makers, who are going to change the culture and allow things to be different so that it would be easier for all.

Take time to reflect.  In 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had a three and a four year old.  I had just started in what was my dream job and I grieved what I thought then was going to be the loss of my career which I had worked so hard for and completely defined me.  Since then I have had chemo and radiotherapy and I have had multiple surgeries.  I have had multiple career breaks for my illness but also for both my children, long maternity breaks.  Returning to work after each one was incredibly daunting and I know a lot of women in this room will probably, will probably be able to sympathise with that.  Each time I have had to reassess my goals and my directions but that’s life.  And as Annabel Crabb said this morning as women, when life circumstances change we revise ourselves and we adapt and I think that’s one of the wonderful things about being a woman.  So I say take time, time to reflect on your journey and what you have achieved because chances are you have done a lot more than you think.

And when in doubt if all else fails bring along your own cheer squad.  I just like to say thank you very much to the women and men who have inspired and supported me throughout my career, there has been lots of them but I would also really like to thank my family, particularly my husband and my mum whose support I could not have achieved what I have without.  And I would really like to thank my daughters because they’re the ones who inspire me every day and they teach me every day about myself and about what is important.  So thank you.

Closing address

The Hon Di Farmer, Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minster for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence.

View the video

Video transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: It’s been an absolutely stunning day I’m sure that you will all agree and before we head off to network and drinks that I’m sure many of you are going to enjoy which the crew from On Talent have sponsored today, we are going to be joined by the Honourable Di Farmer.  Minister Farmer is responsible for Child Safety, Youth and Women and she is also the Minister for the prevention of domestic and family violence and we welcome her now to cap off today.

(Applause)

HON DI FARMER: Good afternoon everyone, that’s a long way to go with clunky heels making a noise.  I was really conscious of that.  I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we’re gathering and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.  I grew up on Biley(?) country.  I want to, I want to thank Barb Phillips for organising this.  Do you all know Barb, she is the lady who makes this happen.  Can we give her a big clap because she is actually really amazing.

(Applause)

This is the fifth one of these summits but Barb regularly stages breakfasts for people who are working in the public service and others and they’re just wonderful events to go to.  I really love the theme for this Summit, the powerful partnerships and powerful conversations and it sounds like there have been some amazing ones. At the Summit I was so pleased I was here to hear Effie and Melissa, a bit daunting actually following them but I understand you know Annabel Crab and Craig Foster and Simone Jackson and Suzie Lightfoot, just how amazing to actually come to an event where you can hear those people speak.  But I also think it’s the conversations you have with each other that are also really, really powerful at a summit like this.  People you know and people you don’t know, the things that have inspired you about the presentations and how you can really work off one another with how you can actually make those work for your own life so just well done to all of you.  And in fact I think women in particular are just really good at that thing about sharing stories and actually encouraging each other by doing so.

I am really proud to be the Minister for Women, in fact I can’t believe that I am so lucky to be the Minister for Women and I love this week because there is so many, I’m just hearing so many great stories and as most of you will know it’s International Women’s Day on Friday and is a lot of people have been saying to me oh you know what are you doing on International Women’s Day and I say day, try week.  Because in Queensland we have Queensland Women’s Week because there are just so many amazing things happening for women right across Queensland.  And a lot of them have been funded.  We do Queensland Women’s Week grants and a lot of things have been funded.  Neighbourhood by neighbourhood, community by community, business by business right across the state and every one of those people actually encouraging one another. And it just strikes me when I have, because I’ve actually visited a number of those events already this week that all the work we need to do around achieving gender equality it actually can’t be done by government alone or business alone or by anyone on their own, it’s actually by everyone working in partnership.  And I mean people right on the ground, it’s big organisations, it’s little organisations, it’s individuals, that’s actually what is going to, going to make a difference and in fact I was yesterday in a very small town actually and it was only seven and a half thousand people and quite a lot of people turned up for this, for this women’s week high tea.  And I was a bit worried before I spoke because there was some blokes in the audience who looked a bit crotchety and they were you know older gentlemen and looked like you know they had been you know hard workers all their life and I thought oh you know sometimes it can get a bit  touchy talking about gender equality and people feel like they’re you know sort of out on a limb.  And so I thought oh well they knew what they were going to listen to by having the Minister for Women and so I talked about gender inequality and how important it was so many different areas and I saw them they were still looking pretty crotchety, I’m thinking oh.  And when you’re a politician you’re like hypersensitive about people you know thinking that you know what you’re saying is no good.  Anyway questions at the end and the most crotchety of these gentlemen actually got up and I thought okay this is it and he just said I loved that, oh that was so good.  And then he told me how he is president of the Lions and he just said to everyone we’ve got to get more women in and you know they have got 50 percent women in their Lions now because he just said this is what we’ve got to do you know, we have got to get women and they’ve got to be in charge.  And I thought that is happening all over this state this week and it’s happening all year and that is why we need Queensland Women’s Week but that’s why Queensland is a, is, I like to think we’re really into women here.

But there is a reason, another reason that Queensland Women’s Week is so important, it’s to highlight the achievements of women and girls but it’s because we have to have the conversation, we need to have it all the time but it is a time when we must have the conversation about gender equality.  And there was some really worrying research that was released at the end of last year and it said on the one-hand, and this is the good bit that more and more Australians are aware of, they think that gender equality is actually really important and but worryingly a really significant portion of the population think we’re done and dusted.  They actually think that reports about gender and equality are exaggerated and in fact you know we’ve pretty much made it now.  And that’s actually quite scary and it’s why we must have conversations like you’ve been having the last couple of days but we must be having them in whatever way we possibly can across the state.  And I think none of us would disagree we must have a conversation about why the average gender pay gap is 18 percent.  And we must have a conversation about why superannuation, women retire on 37 percent less superannuation than men and we must have a conversation about why more women work in those low-paid jobs and we must have a conversation about why there is a gross over-representation of women who have been sexually assaulted or who have been a victim of domestic and family violence.  And those things, all of them are about gender equality, that is the fundamental basis of all of those things.  In Queensland as I said like I like to think we are really into women here and there is a government policy and we, we got together a women’s strategy a couple of years ago and if you get a chance to google it please do so but we consulted thousands of women across the state and they actually told us there are four main themes that they are concerned about.  Health and well-being, safety, economic security and leadership and participation and I’m sure you can imagine what sorts of concerns actually come under those headings but have a look at the women’s strategy anyway if you would like to find out more.

But we basically say in government that we actually have to set the role models for the way, the way women can participate and the way women need to lead.  And we know if there is gender parity in leadership, in whatever organisation, whether it’s a public sector or otherwise then there is actually better decision-making and a lot of those things flow on.  So in Queensland we have got a female Premier, female Deputy Premier, we have 50 percent of our cabinet are women, 50 percent of our caucus are women. If you have got a barrier to entering politics, and I like to think that this is not just about politics but you can apply to it yourselves, you can apply it to the public service, you can apply it to businesses.  If you have someone in front of you who has climbed over the barrier that is stopping you from reaching your goal then that is going to make it so much easier, you can’t be what you can’t see.  So in the government you know if you are worried that you’re too old to actually reach the position you want we have got a couple of, we have got a couple of older MPs. If you’re worried that you’re too young, we have got a couple of younger MPs.  If you’re worried that you have got small children, we have got some of them as well.  If you’re worried that you, that it’s going to be too hard and it’s a bit of a boys club, and oh not very nice, well there is Annastacia Palaszczuk as a Premier standing in front of you as a woman and she hasn’t been done over by any boys club. If you’re worried about that you’re breastfeeding well we do that in the Queensland Parliament as well and in fact I often tell the story about we, we introduced it just last year and there’s actually two women who were breastfeeding and I’m not certain, all the boys were you know entirely comfortable with it. And sometimes you can be you know debating you know the tow truck amendment bill or something like that and there’s a bit of a gurgle from Adett who’s the little bubby of the member for Keppel and she must like the tow truck amendment bill but she, and you sort of sit and you just think that is so surreal but it’s wonderful because it means that with all of those things if you’re a woman you don’t need to miss out because you have got that person in front of you and there’s a reason I’m telling you that story.  We have also got, we’ve said must have 50 percent women on all government boards by 2020. And in 2015 when we were elected there was 31 percent, we are now on 47 and so we are nearly there.

(Applause)

And I am so proud of that because it just, it makes women see themselves differently as well.  You know it just, it says to the men you know because I would get this thing of, and you watch, I’ll put this on Facebook tonight and I’ll get it, they will say wow.  As long as they get there on merit and you know, as if it’s been on merit right up to this point basically with all those blokes there but… But it’s fantastic and we’ve got more, and believe me if you’re interested in being on a Queensland government board we would love to have you so please Google Queensland register of nominees.  But what we know about that is that it’s not only a good thing, it’s about equality absolutely but even if you’re not interested in that argument there is so much evidence to show that if you’ve got gender parity on a board or in your leadership you are going to make better decisions, you are an organisation of choice, an employer of choice and economically you are also going to have better outcomes.  So there are just, it’s almost irrefutable that that is the way that everyone should be going. In fact I would like to think that we look on anybody who doesn’t have that aspiration as being a bit of a troglodyte.

Now there are so many, there are so many other, there are great stories and I bet if I had the chance to talk to each one of you from each of the government departments you could tell me some fantastic things that are happening in your department and I’d love to hear those stories, and you must tell them to each other please to encourage each other. But I’m conscious you’ve had a really big couple of days and you want to get talking to each other now so there’s just one thing I want to say to you that, and this goes back to the thing about conversations that if you are here, if you are fortunate enough to be here at this summit it means someone has supported you to be here, someone actually wants you to be here.  It means you have had the privilege of actually hearing some amazing people and of learning some things about yourselves and opportunities and you know I just heard the words Melissa said to everybody, enormously encouraging things.  It also means that you’ve been willing to put your hand up and say yes.  But there are actually women out there who actually haven’t had that opportunity and I was talking before about you can’t be what you can’t see.  You are actually, every single one of you is that woman, that someone else is seeing, you are that woman who someone else is seeing has achieved some of your goals and, and you have a huge responsibility to actually go back and have those conversations with those women that you know because, because we are all along that sort of continuum.  And so I like to say to people all of those encouraging things and we’ve all got great things to share about well you need to do this, you need to do that but I say do that and then do it for at least one other woman because that’s how it happens and there are huge systemic issues for us to address as women, huge.  But the strength that we have is amongst ourselves and about that thing that we do so well.  So I want to say thank you, thank you for doing this, this is just so important and it’s so advances the cause but thank you in advance for the influence that you can have over so many other people as well.

(Applause)

Listen to the audio

Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: It’s been an absolutely stunning day I’m sure that you will all agree and before we head off to network and drinks that I’m sure many of you are going to enjoy which the crew from On Talent have sponsored today, we are going to be joined by the Honourable Di Farmer.  Minister Farmer is responsible for Child Safety, Youth and Women and she is also the Minister for the prevention of domestic and family violence and we welcome her now to cap off today.

(Applause)

HON DI FARMER: Good afternoon everyone, that’s a long way to go with clunky heels making a noise.  I was really conscious of that.  I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we’re gathering and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.  I grew up on Biley(?) country.  I want to, I want to thank Barb Phillips for organising this.  Do you all know Barb, she is the lady who makes this happen.  Can we give her a big clap because she is actually really amazing.

(Applause)

This is the fifth one of these summits but Barb regularly stages breakfasts for people who are working in the public service and others and they’re just wonderful events to go to.  I really love the theme for this Summit, the powerful partnerships and powerful conversations and it sounds like there have been some amazing ones. At the Summit I was so pleased I was here to hear Effie and Melissa, a bit daunting actually following them but I understand you know Annabel Crab and Craig Foster and Simone Jackson and Suzie Lightfoot, just how amazing to actually come to an event where you can hear those people speak.  But I also think it’s the conversations you have with each other that are also really, really powerful at a summit like this.  People you know and people you don’t know, the things that have inspired you about the presentations and how you can really work off one another with how you can actually make those work for your own life so just well done to all of you.  And in fact I think women in particular are just really good at that thing about sharing stories and actually encouraging each other by doing so.

I am really proud to be the Minister for Women, in fact I can’t believe that I am so lucky to be the Minister for Women and I love this week because there is so many, I’m just hearing so many great stories and as most of you will know it’s International Women’s Day on Friday and is a lot of people have been saying to me oh you know what are you doing on International Women’s Day and I say day, try week.  Because in Queensland we have Queensland Women’s Week because there are just so many amazing things happening for women right across Queensland.  And a lot of them have been funded.  We do Queensland Women’s Week grants and a lot of things have been funded.  Neighbourhood by neighbourhood, community by community, business by business right across the state and every one of those people actually encouraging one another. And it just strikes me when I have, because I’ve actually visited a number of those events already this week that all the work we need to do around achieving gender equality it actually can’t be done by government alone or business alone or by anyone on their own, it’s actually by everyone working in partnership.  And I mean people right on the ground, it’s big organisations, it’s little organisations, it’s individuals, that’s actually what is going to, going to make a difference and in fact I was yesterday in a very small town actually and it was only seven and a half thousand people and quite a lot of people turned up for this, for this women’s week high tea.  And I was a bit worried before I spoke because there was some blokes in the audience who looked a bit crotchety and they were you know older gentlemen and looked like you know they had been you know hard workers all their life and I thought oh you know sometimes it can get a bit  touchy talking about gender equality and people feel like they’re you know sort of out on a limb.  And so I thought oh well they knew what they were going to listen to by having the Minister for Women and so I talked about gender inequality and how important it was so many different areas and I saw them they were still looking pretty crotchety, I’m thinking oh.  And when you’re a politician you’re like hypersensitive about people you know thinking that you know what you’re saying is no good.  Anyway questions at the end and the most crotchety of these gentlemen actually got up and I thought okay this is it and he just said I loved that, oh that was so good.  And then he told me how he is president of the Lions and he just said to everyone we’ve got to get more women in and you know they have got 50 percent women in their Lions now because he just said this is what we’ve got to do you know, we have got to get women and they’ve got to be in charge.  And I thought that is happening all over this state this week and it’s happening all year and that is why we need Queensland Women’s Week but that’s why Queensland is a, is, I like to think we’re really into women here.

But there is a reason, another reason that Queensland Women’s Week is so important, it’s to highlight the achievements of women and girls but it’s because we have to have the conversation, we need to have it all the time but it is a time when we must have the conversation about gender equality.  And there was some really worrying research that was released at the end of last year and it said on the one-hand, and this is the good bit that more and more Australians are aware of, they think that gender equality is actually really important and but worryingly a really significant portion of the population think we’re done and dusted.  They actually think that reports about gender and equality are exaggerated and in fact you know we’ve pretty much made it now.  And that’s actually quite scary and it’s why we must have conversations like you’ve been having the last couple of days but we must be having them in whatever way we possibly can across the state.  And I think none of us would disagree we must have a conversation about why the average gender pay gap is 18 percent.  And we must have a conversation about why superannuation, women retire on 37 percent less superannuation than men and we must have a conversation about why more women work in those low-paid jobs and we must have a conversation about why there is a gross over-representation of women who have been sexually assaulted or who have been a victim of domestic and family violence.  And those things, all of them are about gender equality, that is the fundamental basis of all of those things.  In Queensland as I said like I like to think we are really into women here and there is a government policy and we, we got together a women’s strategy a couple of years ago and if you get a chance to google it please do so but we consulted thousands of women across the state and they actually told us there are four main themes that they are concerned about.  Health and well-being, safety, economic security and leadership and participation and I’m sure you can imagine what sorts of concerns actually come under those headings but have a look at the women’s strategy anyway if you would like to find out more.

But we basically say in government that we actually have to set the role models for the way, the way women can participate and the way women need to lead.  And we know if there is gender parity in leadership, in whatever organisation, whether it’s a public sector or otherwise then there is actually better decision-making and a lot of those things flow on.  So in Queensland we have got a female Premier, female Deputy Premier, we have 50 percent of our cabinet are women, 50 percent of our caucus are women. If you have got a barrier to entering politics, and I like to think that this is not just about politics but you can apply to it yourselves, you can apply it to the public service, you can apply it to businesses.  If you have someone in front of you who has climbed over the barrier that is stopping you from reaching your goal then that is going to make it so much easier, you can’t be what you can’t see.  So in the government you know if you are worried that you’re too old to actually reach the position you want we have got a couple of, we have got a couple of older MPs. If you’re worried that you’re too young, we have got a couple of younger MPs.  If you’re worried that you have got small children, we have got some of them as well.  If you’re worried that you, that it’s going to be too hard and it’s a bit of a boys club, and oh not very nice, well there is Annastacia Palaszczuk as a Premier standing in front of you as a woman and she hasn’t been done over by any boys club. If you’re worried about that you’re breastfeeding well we do that in the Queensland Parliament as well and in fact I often tell the story about we, we introduced it just last year and there’s actually two women who were breastfeeding and I’m not certain, all the boys were you know entirely comfortable with it. And sometimes you can be you know debating you know the tow truck amendment bill or something like that and there’s a bit of a gurgle from Adett who’s the little bubby of the member for Keppel and she must like the tow truck amendment bill but she, and you sort of sit and you just think that is so surreal but it’s wonderful because it means that with all of those things if you’re a woman you don’t need to miss out because you have got that person in front of you and there’s a reason I’m telling you that story.  We have also got, we’ve said must have 50 percent women on all government boards by 2020. And in 2015 when we were elected there was 31 percent, we are now on 47 and so we are nearly there.

(Applause)

And I am so proud of that because it just, it makes women see themselves differently as well.  You know it just, it says to the men you know because I would get this thing of, and you watch, I’ll put this on Facebook tonight and I’ll get it, they will say wow.  As long as they get there on merit and you know, as if it’s been on merit right up to this point basically with all those blokes there but… But it’s fantastic and we’ve got more, and believe me if you’re interested in being on a Queensland government board we would love to have you so please Google Queensland register of nominees.  But what we know about that is that it’s not only a good thing, it’s about equality absolutely but even if you’re not interested in that argument there is so much evidence to show that if you’ve got gender parity on a board or in your leadership you are going to make better decisions, you are an organisation of choice, an employer of choice and economically you are also going to have better outcomes.  So there are just, it’s almost irrefutable that that is the way that everyone should be going. In fact I would like to think that we look on anybody who doesn’t have that aspiration as being a bit of a troglodyte.

Now there are so many, there are so many other, there are great stories and I bet if I had the chance to talk to each one of you from each of the government departments you could tell me some fantastic things that are happening in your department and I’d love to hear those stories, and you must tell them to each other please to encourage each other. But I’m conscious you’ve had a really big couple of days and you want to get talking to each other now so there’s just one thing I want to say to you that, and this goes back to the thing about conversations that if you are here, if you are fortunate enough to be here at this summit it means someone has supported you to be here, someone actually wants you to be here.  It means you have had the privilege of actually hearing some amazing people and of learning some things about yourselves and opportunities and you know I just heard the words Melissa said to everybody, enormously encouraging things.  It also means that you’ve been willing to put your hand up and say yes.  But there are actually women out there who actually haven’t had that opportunity and I was talking before about you can’t be what you can’t see.  You are actually, every single one of you is that woman, that someone else is seeing, you are that woman who someone else is seeing has achieved some of your goals and, and you have a huge responsibility to actually go back and have those conversations with those women that you know because, because we are all along that sort of continuum.  And so I like to say to people all of those encouraging things and we’ve all got great things to share about well you need to do this, you need to do that but I say do that and then do it for at least one other woman because that’s how it happens and there are huge systemic issues for us to address as women, huge.  But the strength that we have is amongst ourselves and about that thing that we do so well.  So I want to say thank you, thank you for doing this, this is just so important and it’s so advances the cause but thank you in advance for the influence that you can have over so many other people as well.

(Applause)

One on one interviews with attendees

Simone Jackson

Executive Director, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships

Listen to the audio

Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Simone Jackson is the Executive Director of DATSIP, one of the keynote speakers at the 2019 Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit, hello Simone.

SIMONE: Hi, how are you?

MC: Very well thanks.  Queensland Health as we know recognises International Women’s Day and Queensland Women’s Week each year.  What do both mean to you?

SIMONE: So I think it’s an opportunity to bring a broad cross-section of women together to hear stories or tales of leadership or aspiration or incredible stories of resilience from women so that we can all learn and grow together and keep on the pathway of really what we are all aiming for which is equity.

MC: You told some extraordinary stories in your presentation today.  Many of which are very personal to you.  That journey that you have taken, do you believe that you are who you are because of those junctures in your life?

SIMONE: I certainly think they helped shape me, I think primarily I am who I am from my family, particularly my father who was a great inspiration to me and very supportive of all of his children and very clear that we could jump those barriers and expand on the footprints that may have been set for us.

MC: The Summit this year is focusing on powerful partnerships and powerful conversations, you being one of those. How do you gain your inspiration to succeed in life?

SIMONE: So I think working in Human Services I am primarily inspired to deliver an outcome that betters people’s lives.  I get inspiration from lots of places like every other person.  But I am also clear on truth telling for myself and others.  So I think age is a wonderful thing, young women don’t know that yet but when they get over 40 it will be a wonderful thing because it allows you to be more courageous and have those conversations and champion yourself.

MC: What changes have you seen when it comes to gender equality in the workplace?

SIMONE: So I have certainly seen a rise in efforts to make sure that we have an increase of women both on Boards and in executive leadership positions.  I don’t think we are there yet but where we are is open to that conversation and recognising those barriers and challenges that need to be rectified so that we can really have diversity in the leadership space.  After all if you don’t reflect the communities you live in then you’re never going to deliver the service that they need.

MC: For those who listened to your presentation today what have they been telling you?

SIMONE: So primarily it was about being authentic which I don’t mean to giggle at but I don’t know how to be anything else.  I was petrified of speaking in front of that crowd.  But I think if that’s what inspires them that’s terrific because I do believe in my message which is if you don’t back yourself you can’t ask other people to back you so you have got to believe in your brand and the commodity that you are.

MC: And how do you believe in your, how did you create your own brand?

SIMONE: I think you watch successful people, you pick up on what makes them successful, who gravitates towards them, what are those skills, abilities or attributes.  I learnt very quickly that the technical stuff was not the key, it was more about attributes, it was your workplace behaviours, your work performance, your willingness you know your leadership style so it was those other factors that were more important and that’s what I honed in on.

MC: I wonder whether a lot of us don’t recognise those as core to the work that we do?

SIMONE: I don’t think people do and actually technical or other skills can be learnt and taught, you know you can send people off to get training.  You often can’t change people’s personal positions or, or personal attributes and if they’re not right it is a problem and they are not going to succeed.

MC: What are you hoping the delegates will take away from the Summit this year?

SIMONE: So I had two things, I think being aboriginal I really wanted the humanity point to come across so I want people to really see us, not see us with their lens of what they think indigenous or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is so to be open and willing to look a little deeper and see how we could contribute.  After all we did contribute to this country for a very long time.  Also in that humanity was talking about coming, also having a big chunk of my family come from another country and being a first generation Australian.  So recognising that the contribution needs to be broad and we need to recognise what different people, the lenses that they bring and the information they bring and how that will in turn deliver better services.

MC: Would you like to see more indigenous leaders in the community?

SIMONE: Yeah I would, it has been a tough 20 plus years. Yeah there was a wonderful, well he’s still there(??) Ron Weatherall, I’m going to say his name was for every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person in the Queensland public service someone we all looked up to and inspired, were inspired by but that’s very few and far between when I am naming one.  You know so there is quite a few of us now but it’s still nowhere near where it could be.

MC: Thank you for being part of a very successful Leader’s Summit this year and congratulations on the work that you’re doing in your department and every success with it. SIMONE: Thank you very much.

Dr Jane Brazier

BreastScreen Queensland

Listen to the audio

Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Dr Jane Brazier is the Director of BreastScreen Queensland, hello Dr Jane.

JANE: Hello Anthony, thank you for giving me time.

MC: We are here at the BreastScreen Queensland stand, one of many that are on show here at the Summit.  BreastScreen Queensland has been well I guess the program has been part of, part of Queensland Health for some time now hasn’t it?

JANE: It certainly has, we recently celebrated Brisbane Northside service where I am based, our 21st birthday of being located at Chermside but the program actually started up in Queensland in the early 90s if I remember my facts correctly.  And it’s part of the national screening program BreastScreen Australia so it’s been around a long time and something that we would really like is women to actually embrace the program and come along if they are 50 to 74 because there is a lot of women out there who either aren’t screening at all or don’t really know or understand what we do.

MC: How much of a difference has the program made to women and I guess to the community in general?

JANE: I think BreastScreen has made a huge difference for women in that if we can find breast cancer at an early stage before a woman isn’t even aware that there is a problem it potentially means she is going to need less treatment, is unlikely to die of breast cancer, is unlikely to lose her breasts and she can get on with her life and do all the things that women are juggling and balancing and trying to do as has been discussed at this conference so far.

MC: Should women be tested only if they know there is a family history?

JANE: No, absolutely not.  All women potentially are at risk as they age for getting breast cancer, the target age group that we want to come along is women aged 50 to 74 years of age, every two years for a free high-quality mammogram and basically that’s where the international evidence shows the benefits of regular screening. It’s a free test so why wouldn’t you do it.

MC: What if a woman in her 40s approaches you and says well I’m not 50 yet, I am not over 50, should I be screened now or should I wait?

JANE: That is a personal choice for women and their GP’s. Certainly the BreastScreen Australia program allows women from aged 40 onwards to access regular screening on a two yearly basis and whilst the evidence shows the maximal benefit for women 50 to 74 certainly women in their 40s sooner or later will turn 50.  So you know if a woman wants to come along that’s great.  Bearing in mind that the particular age group where we will probably find the most benefit is 50 to 74 but 40-year-olds are certainly welcome.  And any age you know in that span providing women don’t have any lumps or symptoms because we are a well-woman screening program.

MC: You talk about lumps and symptoms, we know so common, commonly about checking for lumps regularly, but what are the other symptoms?

JANE: Well the buzzword is really breast awareness so for women to know what their breasts, breasts look and feel like so when they’re soapy and wet in the shower, just checking, you know is that texture or difference different from before, is my nipple pointing in, in there any nipple discharge, having a look at the mirror to see if there is any pulling of the skin or any significant changes that they think hmm, not sure it was there.  And some women have generally lumpy breasts so go and see the GP if they’re not sure. But certainly if something is new or different a woman or a man for that fact, because men can get breast cancer should be going straight away to see their GP.

MC: So a man, so I should be checking for those symptoms as well?

JANE: Breast cancer is much less common in men.  For every 100 women who get breast cancer there is one man diagnosed but men certainly, if they feel something is different should always see their GP as well.

MC: When you talk about self-diagnosis, a breast screen I guess allows very early detection?

JANE: Very early detection.

MC: And that is the key isn’t it?

JANE: That certainly is the key but what we want to do is find breast cancer extremely early before a woman actually notices a change in their breasts at all.  And breast cancer doesn’t make you feel sick, it’s just something that if you’re woman 50 to 74 that you should do is routine body maintenance like servicing your car.

MC: This might be a difficult question to answer but if breast cancer or a stage of breast cancer is detected in a woman what is the success rate?

JANE: That’s something that the surgeons and the actual people who deal with the treatment of breast cancer could answer better than me because my area of expertise is leading up to diagnosis from screening. However, the vast majority of women these days who have breast cancer picked up at an early stage certainly the five and 10 year survival rates keep going up and up.  And that’s a combination of not only screening, improved surgical techniques, improved radiotherapy techniques and improved chemotherapy drugs.  So it’s the whole gamut of cancer investigations and treatment, everything keeps improving all the time.

MC: All right and for those listening to this pod cast and feel that it’s time or they would like to share the information with those that they, that they love or friends or family how best to find out more about BreastScreen Queensland?

JANE: It is very easy, just phone up the national number, 13 20 50 or you can book online at the government website which is breast screen.qld.gov.au and given that one in eight women in Australia develop breast cancer in their lifetime there is a lot of it about, that’s where you hear a lot about it and it’s important to look after yourself and those you love.

MC: Do we know what causes breast cancer?

JANE: Good question Anthony.  It’s a multifactorial disease of which there are many causes, age and being a female being the greatest risks.  And as it occurs predominantly in women over 50, something to do with hormonal changes around menopause would appear to be implicated, obesity as a growing, no pun intended problem in the western world is certainly a risk factor and all those things like you know eating healthy foods, keeping your weight down. Plenty of fruit and veg and fibre, minimising your alcohol intake.  They are all potential things that you can modify as lifestyle factors that may reduce your risk.

MC: Dr Jane Brazier thank you so much for joining us.

JANE: Thank you very much Anthony and I hope we get a flood of bookings for BreastScreen, thank you.

Barbara Phillips

Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services, Queensland Health

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From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Barbara Phillips is the Deputy Director General for Corporate Services Division of Queensland Health and officially opened the 2019 Aspiring Women’s Leader Summit here at the Convention Centre.  Welcome Barbara and congratulations on a wonderful Summit.

BARBARA: Thank you.  Always awesome, it’s just such an awesome opportunity.  I was reflecting today, this is my second, the first day I ever came to Queensland Health was Aspiring Women’s Leader Day and then I had one, that was the first real experience I had one last year and so this is the one that I have really been able to enjoy so I have been really grateful, it’s been a great day.

MC: Any highlights for you?

BARBARA: There have been several actually.  I always feel in awe of 1000 women in the room, and men, women and men but we’re gradually getting the increasing male attendance but it’s just such a real energy and when you look across 1000 people you suddenly realise what that is like.  So the highlights I guess of Annabel Crab, look, inspirational.  Just amazing. Dr Kirsten Ferguson just spoke so relevantly about what we could do in terms of how we can build gender balance and what that means and equality.  And of course we had Craig Foster who is just inspiring and awesome really.  So really good, great line up of speakers.  We have had people that have been so generous in their time.

MC: Queensland Health as we know recognises International Women’s Day and Queensland Women’s Week each year.  What do both mean to you?

BARBARA: For me they’re opportunities and they’re challenges so it’s a time when we actually get a really, a concentrated focus on what that means.  And I think it’s an opportunity for us to shape what that means for us and we should be doing that, we shouldn’t just be trying to do a blanket approach.  So every year I think what is it we can do differently, what is it we need to build on, how can we make it better.  So an opportunity and the challenges to actually get it off the ground and keep it going because it’s a big week, it is a really big week.

MC: It is indeed.  And through the work that you do what changes have you seen over the years for women to reach their full career potential?

BARBARA: I have been really fortunate, I have worked in health for all my career.  In the last seven years I have done mainly in corporate work but before that I have done lots of front-line work and public health and screening programs but what I can see is there is a better, I wouldn’t say a better cohort.  I would say that there is more confidence in women coming up that are actually saying it’s not about can I do this, it’s about just let me do it, I can get on and do it.  And people are more willing to do that.  I think there is a real openness to that.  But I think it’s because women are able to actually say not only can I do it but I am doing it and as you progress that more women will do that. So we are getting a lot more of the younger, the people coming through the organisation who are actually saying I can see things that I want to go better.  The first time I came to the Aspiring Women’s Leader they asked me what was it like to be in Queensland.  I said well this is my first day but I have made the right decision.

MC: How have you gained inspiration?  I mean who, are there people or are there parts in your life that you look back and think well that has helped me reach where I am today.

BARBARA: Well firstly I probably should say I had no idea that I would be where I am today, I have an absolutely appalling career pathway planning.  I have no idea from one career role to another why I do it except that I do it because I want to do it and I really love the work I do.  And every role has been exciting, every role I have badly wanted to do it.  Perhaps some of the reasons why I have been able to do well in what I have done, you know I always go back to people that make an influence, you know obviously my mother.  We have got a strong matriarchal line in my family.  I would hesitate to say bossy but I would say that we’re strong women. And I have been very fortunate in that and my mother was one of those women who didn’t have the opportunities I had but always had the mindset of you can do whatever you want as long as you earn it and you work hard and you’re honest, things will come.  So I was really fortunate in that.  I guess the other part is that when I look around me, people inspire me.  People are important to me so if I can continue to make a difference then that makes a difference.

MC: We are just hearing some lovely music in the background as the delegates make their way after a very successful day so it’s kind of, it is kind of nice to have that live music isn’t it.

BARBARA: It is, it’s a very nice backdrop Anthony.  I thought you had organised it all, it’s lovely.

MC: Yes I did.

BARBARA: Very good.

MC: What are you hoping delegates will take away from the Summit as they depart now, as they stream out?

BARBARA: Well unfortunately the listeners don’t have the opportunities that we have Anthony  to be watching a whole raft of 1000 people emptying out through doors, looking for canapés and wine to actually stop and talk to each other.  So what I am hoping that they will take away from today is inspiration, I hope they take away a sense of confidence and I hope they are curious, I hope they want to think about what is it that I can do?  I see these speakers and I hear the conversations that inspire me but what is it that I can do.  So if we have done that today I’ll be happy.

MC: And as we look to 2020 inspiring women, are there aspirations that you have at all for the next 12 months?

BARBARA: I think I have lots of aspirations, I am not quite sure that they are all going to come true but if we can get to a position where we can start talking about more about how we can bring inclusion and diversity into the workplace and less about women and less about men, as separate streams of work that would be a huge change for me.  I think that’s where we need to be, it’s about all of us, it’s not about any particular sexual preference.

MC: It’s a nice note to end on as we enjoy music and now allow you to go and mingle with your team.

BARBARA: Thank you, thank you, I will.  My team have been absolutely outstanding, they are just awesome.  And every day when I look at the amount of work they have had to do, as you know it always looks very seamless on the top if you’re lucky but underneath people have worked tirelessly and so I am really proud of them.  So I want to be able to go and just have a quick chat and say thank you so thank you very much.

Kylie Ramsden and Simone Ryder

Business Partnerships and Improvement Branch, Corporate Services Division, Queensland Health

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From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: As I mentioned earlier there is a lot of noise here because there are 1000 people present today at the Convention Centre and Kylie Ramstat who we spoke to earlier, her team pretty much put this Summit together has come back.  Kylie, how would you describe the morning session?

KYLIE: How great is Annabel for a start, isn’t she fantastic.  I hope everyone is buying her cookbook, I can attest to those recipes being fantastic. But also more importantly her advice and her really practical insight into the questions that she was asked.  I love how pragmatic she is and how fair and just her answers are and thoughtful so.

MC: Yeah, this is the fifth year that the…

KYLIE: It is.

MC: … Summit is out.  Now when you look out and you, we can hear the noise of course and there are thousands, well it seems like thousands but there are up to 1000 here. How proud do you and your team feel when you look at them?

KYLIE: Extremely, I think, Simone and I are here because I think we are among the few who have been fortunate enough to be part of this since the very first Summit you know five years ago.  And when I think back, I don’t know about you Simone but I think about it was, this room we were cramped into only a few hundred people.

SIMONE: At the Sofitel I think it was, at the Sofitel yeah.

KYLIE: Yes.

SIMONE: It’s amazing to see the progression from say 400 women I think back then Kylie to now having a room of 1000 women, a bit overwhelming but it’s been amazing.  The energy that you can feel, the inspiration it sort of pours out of us when we bring these women to talk to us is amazing so.

MC: And what is the reason for that growth do you think?

SIMONE: I think that it’s a universal problem and we are all keen to find a way that we can in our own way find those solutions. So what might work for me will be very different to someone who is a mother with a couple of children.  And I think that we are all looking for that inspiration where we spend so much time at work, we want to enjoy what we do, enjoy the people that we are around and I think that we are very keen to make sure that we like what we do and who we do it with.

MC: And when you’re putting the program together each year, what do you factor in?  I mean it’s an excellent line-up, people have come to us saying you know they are so looking forward to hearing Craig, they are delighted that Annabel is part of the program, what you look for?

KYLIE: Three, it’s a combination of things.  We keep an eye on what is going on through media and other networks but we also really, really pour over feedback.  Our participants at these Summits are never backward in telling us what they think or their ideas for what we might do next year and I think, I think we can, the team has been amazing at responding to that feedback.  Each year we do something more and more and better and different and like pop-up radio, that was a suggestion out of, that came up for this year’s event and we are really proud to be able to deliver that.  So I think feedback is really important and we keep our ear to the ground very much.

MC: When you look at the audience here it’s not just made up of women.  There are men here as well Simone.

SIMONE: Absolutely and we need more than 50 percent of people to be part of this conversation.  So when we think about the change that we’re looking for as women we need to make sure men are included in that conversation otherwise who really don’t get the change that we’re looking for.  And we need to make sure that men are also, some of these issues are now very much relatable to men.  They have been part of the household, very different types of relationships that are coming about and we see that even with the legislation with the same-sex marriage.  You know we need to be more inclusive, this is about more than just women sometimes and we need that, their presence in the room.

MC: A question for both of you, what are you hoping delegates will take away from the Summit this year?

KYLIE: For me inspiration.  Sometimes like you know we work for a very long time.  Sometimes if we’re lucky enough we might win lotto. It doesn’t happen very often.

MC: No it doesn’t.

KYLIE: But for me it’s that inspiration about how you keep on going, how you, the change that you would like to effect, the change that you would like to see for the next generation, it’s those sort of things for me is that inspiration about just wanting to do things better, a little bit differently so that we can suit everybody’s needs.

MC: And every year is different…

SIMONE: Yes.

MC: … in terms of, I mean obviously themed but do you notice a significant change I would think for the better every year?

KYLIE:  I do, I think that, just the sheer growth of this.  So this year we had 1000 seats and over 2000 people wanted to be part of this day. And every year that just gets bigger and better and it happens faster.  So the first day of registrations I think were around about 1500 weren’t we?  Which is just extraordinary, to be released in a couple of hours and already meet and exceed what we were expecting.  So I think that’s a true testament of an event that is working and every year we bring something a little bit different and inspire women and to do things at it differently.

MC: And in terms, I would think that you are starting to plan 2020.

KYLIE: Oh yes.

MC: Are you, for those listening who are inspired and may want to come along what advice would you give them if they physically wanted to be here next year?

KYLIE: It’s a hard, it’s a little bit hard because we always are limited by room size.  There isn’t somewhere where we can hold 3000 people unless we open up a stadium.

MC: Well that’s an option isn’t it?

KYLIE:  Maybe that’s an option, that’s true.  We will head to Suncorp or the Gabba and sort of hold this event there.  So for me it’s the options that we apply so that you can participate in this.  And that’s why pop-up radio for us this year was so important because we can reach now women across the state.  It’s not just about being here in Brisbane.  And so it’s things like that, how do we get people involved.  Because even if you are in Brisbane you just might not be able to attend either.

MC: Yeah, yeah.

KYLIE: And so for us it’s just about how do we get more inclusive, how do we branch out to more people, inspire more women and men by this event yeah.

MC: Yeah well you’re both very busy, thank you for making the time to come back this morning Kylie and Simone.  Go and mingle, enjoy and we will continue to share the love across the morning and the afternoon. KYLIE: Yeah definitely, definitely it’s a great room, thank you very much.

Travis Burge

Relationship Manager, LinkedIn

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Natasha Olsson-Seeto

Chief Executive, OnTalent

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From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Joining me now is Natasha Olsson-Seeto, she is the chief executive of On Talent, one of the exhibitors and great supporters of the summit.  Hello Natasha, welcome.

NATASHA: Hi Anthony, thanks for having me.

MC: Thank you for coming along.  Tell us about On Talent.  What is the story behind On Talent?

NATASHA: I established On Talent nine years ago with an old boss of mine and our strapline is connecting people and purpose so that’s one of the reasons why we were so excited to get involved with this summit. So our business works in the talent and careers advisory space and that spans from leadership and team development to individual coaching, career transition for people who are in a redundancy process and also executive and professional recruitment.

MC: So you’re like a matchmaking service?

NATASHA: We are a bit of a matchmaking service.  I don’t get involved in it on the dating site because I failed terribly at that.  But we, we definitely are, and it’s all about the right person doing the right thing at the right time.  So I was, people say you should have a good pitch for a barbecue and I say our job is to protect partners, kids and dogs because if you’re in a great place in your career you go home, you hug your partner, you pat your dog and you love your kids.

MC: Yeah and if you’re happy at work, you’re happy at home.

NATASHA: Absolutely 100 percent.

MC: Yes so you make people happy is a proper, another description?

NATASHA: Try to.  People are, we help people make themselves happy.

MC: And those that you have met today as part of the summit have come up to you, what sort of questions are they asking?

NATASHA: Well they’re asking us what a coach does because we’re giving away some coaching sessions and what would you expect from a coach.  And had one young lady say to me you know I hate my job, what do I do.  And when we got into it she doesn’t actually hate her job, she loves her job, she is just not doing it at the right place at the right time.  So, and there is some environmental issues so how do we help her work through how she reacts to that.  There has been a number of people asking about some of the development services so how do I get better at the job that I’m doing and how do I develop my career. So we’ve had, and then can I have a bag of jellybeans, that’s been a big question as well so.

MC: Well I have been, I have been eyeing that big bowl of jellybeans thinking I wonder how much longer they are going to last because there are 1000 people here.

NATASHA: We have a lot of jellybeans.

Yeah well it’s a wonderful service and you have got to you know, this time of the day we need MC: a sugar fix, has always been my…

NATASHA: Yes, 100 percent.

MC: … my belief.  You touched on the topic of what does a coach do.  What does a coach do in 2019?

NATASHA: A coach needs to be purpose fit to where you are at in your life at that time and a coach isn’t there is a counsellor, we shouldn’t get the two things mixed up.  And a coach is there to help you do the work, for you to be in the best place possible in your career.  So you might be saying how do I get that promotion.  How do I deal with a difficult boss.  How do I completely change my career because I want to do something differently so they’re there to help you along the pathway but to help you to do the work.

MC: But if you don’t have a coach and you decide to make those changes, what are some of the mistakes that people can make?  What are some of the traps that we can fall, we can all fall into I guess?

NATASHA: I think the biggest trap is people make a whole lot of assumptions and they set limitations on themselves and I think that’s such a theme for this conference and women in particular are very good at setting themselves limitations that potentially aren’t there so being close minded and not thinking about possibilities is a massive trap.  The other trap is to ask advice of the wrong people whose agendas may not be in your best interests.

MC: And listening to Suzie Lightfoot about personal ground, being on networks like LinkedIn, is all of that just as important as, as is the job itself?

NATASHA: Oh my gosh, yeah, your personal brand is everything and we talk about career as currency.  And so if you’re not investing in what you have got to trade in terms of experience and style then you will get left behind in the pack.  So brand is absolutely everything and it’s about your brand, not trying to be what you think your brand should be.  So authenticity to me is the key to personal brand.

MC: That’s a really interesting point because you, we sort of see ourselves the way we want to be seen but if we stepped out of our skin it may be quite different to how others perceive us.

NATASHA: 100 percent and that’s where coaching can help as well because you can have somebody who has broad experience around a range of industries and job types who can look at you and help bring out something you don’t know you have.

MC: Yeah.  Through your own work, what changes have you seen over the years for women to reach their full career potential?

NATASHA: I think we have an enormous way to go. What I have seen is organisations being more affirmative around asking, and I work largely on the executive recruitment side of our business.  So making sure that when we have a short list of candidates it’s balanced and I think we have recently seen a very public poor example of that.  Also I am always passionate about it being the right candidate for the job no matter gender, and ethnicity.  I talk about privilege diversity as well because I think we have got some privilege inequality in this country.  But I think women getting a little bolder and more ambitious about the jobs.

MC: Is that a good thing though?

NATASHA: Great, it’s awesome.

MC: I would think so.  Bolder in what way though?

NATASHA: Applying for jobs that would appear above their current employment status.  So going, being a little bit more self-promotional in their job applications which is great.

MC: Ambitious, more ambitious.

NATASHA: Because…

MC: And there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious.

NATASHA: No, classically and I hate standardising but a man will sit you down and tell you how he can do everything he’s never done before but a woman will actually tell you all the things they have never done before and why they haven’t done them.  So we are seeing more women talking about their strategies for getting more skills and getting more experience and being braver because they are being supported more in organisations to step up and step out.

MC: Is there still a lot of talk today in the, I guess the professional development about generation differences, millennial’s verses, I mean are we tired of hearing about that today?

NATASHA: Well personally I am.  Look there is definitely generational differences which are caused by the environment that we grew up in and the environment we find ourselves in.  You know you can’t argue that technology hasn’t changed our lives.  I prefer to look at each individual as their own, as their own space and you know a market of one and try and forget all of that.  Because I think we look for reasons why people are a certain way or behave a certain way or make certain decisions.  It’s a factor but I don’t think it’s quite as, you know when the, you know the Gen Y stuff all came out, it was massive.  It’s not quite as prevalent now.

MC: Yeah well that’s good to hear.  What are you hoping delegates will take away from the summit this year?

NATASHA: Attended the boardroom lunch with Kirsten Ferguson and I hope the delegates take away from this that aspiring needs to be a group effort, that it’s not just about women, it’s about everybody pitching in together and creating opportunities for people no matter where they have come from, what gender they are.  Where they are at in their life and I think diversity should be a much broader conversation than gender.

MC: Yeah, good point.  And for those listening to our live stream in the pod casts because we have listeners all over Queensland which is great to hear.  What, in terms of getting in touch with On Talent, how best to do so?

NATASHA: So to get in touch with On Talent you could phone our office which is 3305 5800.  You could go on our website and my email address is available on the website. Anyone can email me directly or my mobile number is on there as well, I’d be happy to talk to anybody listening who wants to explore any of the points that we’ve talked about today.

MC: Well enjoy the rest of your time here at this great venue.  Isn’t it lovely to see so many people.  See I, networking is so important.

NATASHA: Absolutely.

MC: You come to these events and it’s not just about being inspired as we all have but it’s catching up with colleagues, a day out of the office, it makes a big difference.

NATASHA: And meeting someone new, it’s always so exciting exploring a new person.

MC: I have met you, I have made another friend.

NATASHA: We have made a new friend today.

MC: Natasha thank you and all the best and keep up the great work that you’re doing.

Natalie Davidson

Fundraising Manager, Women's Legal Service Queensland

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From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

MC: Natalie Davidson is the Fundraising Manager with the Women’s Legal Service here in Queensland.  And one of the exhibitors at the Aspiring Women’s Leader Summit 2019. Hello Natalie.

NATALIE: Hello Anthony, great to be here.

MC: Tell us about the Women’s Legal Service.  It’s been, it’s an institution isn’t it, in Queensland?

NATALIE: Absolutely.  So Women’s Legal Service has actually been in Queensland for 35 years and over that time we have helped well over 100,000 women and many more thousand children. Everything that Women’s Legal Service does is free and we exist to provide legal advice and welfare support to women and their children who are experiencing domestic violence, complex family law matters, sexual assault et cetera.  35 years ago domestic violence was very much kept behind closed doors and so the service really existed to, we knew it existed but it was helping women to identify what domestic violence was.  These days I mean the positive is that it’s discussed much more out in the open but it has resulted in more and more women seeking help.  So really you know it is a very important service and honoured to be part of it.

MC: Do you find that women initially are afraid to come forward because of the uncertainty or what may result as, as the need arises?

NATALIE: Yeah absolutely.  So we know it’s incredibly brave and important for women who are seeking help.  Actually you know the statistics and research shows that separation after domestic violence can be the time of greatest risk of escalation of domestic violence and death unfortunately.  So we take it very seriously when women do reach out and we do everything absolutely possible to make sure that when that woman calls or makes contact with our service that she can be assisted.  We are also in a range of other locations, so with Queensland Health we are in hospitals providing advice to women who come through emergency and the hospital system.

MC: And how significant is that being central in those areas?

NATALIE: Yeah it is because it’s very very important because women may not have the opportunity, they might be living under surveillance or they may be so isolated from information that they may not know that this free resource exists for them so for us to be able to be there where women you know those touch points where women are accessing other services and support, it’s critical.  We also have an app as well so that you know a lot of our population is accessing information by smart phones so we have also been funded to develop some apps about how women can get help, how can they rebuild their financial security or protect their finances because after domestic violence poverty is one of the long lasting effects for many women.  So everything we can to reduce those barriers to creating a safer future, that’s what we’re dedicated to.

MC: Natalie what does it mean being represented here today as part of the Aspiring Women’s Leader Summit 2019?

NATALIE: Oh it’s a great opportunity and already we’ve had fantastic conversations with people.  There is so much happening throughout the state and so much energy and dedication to really continuing to raise awareness about preventing domestic violence in our community and willingness to get involved and stop it. So yeah very important to be here and very honoured.

MC: Are you confident that as we move forward that we are going to see a further change in attitude in society?

NATALIE: It’s, I think it’s a long-term process and I think the key is just to keep having the conversations over and over and over again. Maybe different angles to them but to keep having the conversations.  This year has actually been the busiest year in our history of the organisation. While we help over 16,000 women every year, currently we can’t answer 40 percent of the calls that come through our state-wide help line so you know for us we’ve got that reality of really striving to make sure that when a woman calls, her call is answered because we don’t know if she will have the opportunity to call back again.  So I guess we are very focused on answering the calls, making sure there is resources to assist women so.

MC: How powerful is it for women who have gone through a difficult situation and come out better at the other end in supporting others who are going through a difficult period?

NATALIE: Yeah absolutely.  I think an important premise of our work is that element of hope and change. So in everything we do it’s not about you know there’s the practical information and the legal guidelines for what women need to do to protect themselves and their children and to move forward but the more I guess role models and we certainly share the positive stories of women who had you know were living in so much fear, had no resources and you know always think knowledge is power.  And Women’s Legal Service by giving information gives power back to women in situations where they haven’t had it for a very long time, they are isolated.  Their self-esteem is eroded and we know we have helped so many women and their children to rebuild lives.  I remember last Christmas we were able to help a woman and her children who were constantly living in fear and thanks to the wonderful community that supports us in our, we’ve got social workers and lawyers who are all working on this.  The woman was rehoused with her children, community came together, furnished the house.  Christmas presents under the tree and the kids said who are these for and that moment when they were able to say this is you, this is our home it was wonderful.

MC: Your legal service is primarily aimed at women.

NATALIE: Yes.

ME: Do you involve men at any stage?

NATALIE: Look addressing domestic violence really does involve the whole community and raising awareness and working together and generational change, absolutely.  The women we help you know they often only seek help when they see their child acting out and potentially replicating the cycle of violence against them or they see their children at risk.  So it definitely does, but Women’s Legal Service because we do deal with high risk domestic violence and sexual assault it is a safe space for women so all of our volunteers and staff are women who have specialist expertise and domestic violence and sexual assault matters.

MC: All right for those who are wanting to get in touch with the Women’s Legal Service Queensland, how best to do so?

NATALIE: Absolutely thank you Anthony.  So we do operate a state-wide health line that women can call. The number is 1800 957 957, 1800 957 957.  It is a free call number and the workers on that line will take the, will hopefully be able to take the call due to demand but yeah they triage matters and really talk it through.  Everything we do is really an analysis of safety and focusing on women’s safety first, that’s the priority.

MC: Well thank you for being part of the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019, it’s good that you were here and getting a lot of very positive feedback in the work that you and your colleagues do.

NATALIE: Thank you Anthony.

Feedback from summit delegates

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Audio transcript

From the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this is the Aspiring Women Leader’s Summit 2019.

So I really enjoyed Simone, I thought she was amazing and I really identified with what Simone had to say, it was brilliant and it’s nice to see so many women getting together and learning and you know pushing forward.

MC: What are you taking away?

I need to look at my finances.

I loved Simone, she was just very real and really inspirational and Effie was really like get your stuff together because if you don’t do it now you know I’m going to be drinking cask wine and I do not want that.

Well I really liked Simone and Effie even though I do have my finances in order.  I was quite happy about that, to hear that that I am on the right track with my super as well so that is good to hear I guess.  And yes Simone was really inspirational, really loved her.

MC: Hello, can I ask you what you loved about the Summit today?

The presentations, meeting the other women, it’s been wonderful, really good day.

The inspirational women yeah.  I think Annabel spoke really well but for me Simone Jackson just stand out.

I was the same, Simone, so much of what she said just resonated with so, with everyone I think.

MC: It’s a strong, strong character, great storyteller.

Great storyteller absolutely yeah.

MC: And a takeaway for you from today?

The last line that I really took away was from Di Farmer, you can’t be what you can’t see.

I enjoyed the variety of women speakers, it was amazing, there was such brilliant highlights.  We were just talking about Simone, Simone she was so inspiring and made us just feel, I was just saying she had really practical advice and she was heart warming so we loved her.

MC: And for you?

Look I would have to reiterate the Simone Jackson speech was just absolutely incredible but I think every single woman up there had a story and it just reminded us that each of us has a story and it’s up to us now to share that with the next generation.

MC: That’s what you’re going to take away?

Absolutely.

MC: And for you, what did you love about the Summit today?

Effie was really funny and if anybody can make finances funny and inspiring that was Effie so well done to her, thanks.

MC: Thank you so much for coming along.

I loved how open and honest all the speakers were about their journey to get where they are, it was very inspiring.

Yeah, they had a very honest approach, raised some excellent issues, Simone in particular was really inspiring.

MC: She is the hit of the day.

Yes, as well as the doctor actually, she was, wonderful story.

MC: And a takeaway for you, what are you taking away from today?

I can do more with myself and I have the power to do that.

The most enjoyable section was Annabel Crabb, I really, I liked the way that there was a lovely discussion between her and Kay and she just had some brilliant things to talk about.  And I think just inspiring women to do better.

MC: And what are you taking away?

I think that Annabel actually said a couple of things that made me, and also Simone Jackson said a couple of things that made me really think about how we are in the world so I think I am taking away a little bit about thinking about how I can influence and help other people.

I really loved Simone’s chat, I thought it was really down-to-earth, it was really relatable and she was quite inspirational.

I would agree and it was really inspirational to listen to her yeah.

MC: And what about you?

I am going to be a cliché and say exactly the same thing, but she was awesome, very inspiring.

And a takeaway for you, what are you taking away from today?

That’s a very good question.  I think it’s wonderful to see such a large group of women together and just looking around, talking to each other, getting to know each other and it’s inspiring for the future for women, I’m happy to see it for this generation.  This one is going out but this generation coming through and I think it’s wonderful, just wonderful.

Last updated: 21 January 2020