Women in leadership is a matter we must all take increasingly seriously, as we all are aware of how important it is and how much it matters. We’ve come a long way in terms of women’s rights and the progression of feminism, but we can also recognise there’s a lot more work to be done. For example, did you know that in Australia only 34.5% of women occupy key management positions? Or, only 19.4% of CEOs are women, according to the government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s most recent scorecard. It’s statistics such as these that make the work and progress that women such as Rochelle Courtenay make, and awards such as the 2023 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership at Women & Leadership Australia’s (WLA) Brisbane Symposium grant so significant, as they give recognition to this cause.
Rochelle is the Founder and Managing Director of Share the Dignity. Share the Dignity is a national charity founded in 2015 with the mission to ensure that everyone is afforded the dignity of having access to period products that so many of us take for granted. Rochelle’s contagious spirit has led to the donation of over 3.8+ million period products through multiple initiatives across Australia. Rochelle has won recognition and accolades for her work including being a finalist for Australian of the Year, Cosmopolitan Humanitarian of the Year, and Pride of Australia recipient. She is passionate about advocating for change and creating long-term solutions to issues specifically affecting women in need.
When beginning her story with Share the Dignity, Rochelle asked herself why she had never thought of this before? And, instead of asking “why is nobody doing anything?”, she instead asked herself, “what’s stopping me from doing something?”, demonstrating true leadership qualities of initiative, proactiveness, and empathy towards Australia’s women. What began as a local initiative in Rochelle’s community of Sandgate working with 5 charities to fight period poverty has grown and expanded to involve 2, 000 collection points, 6, 000 volunteers and 3, 200 charities; a true inspirational example of leadership.
Rochelle will be recognised alongside National award recipient Karen Mundine, CEO of Reconciliation Australia. Karen Mundine over the course of her career has been an instrumental part in some of Australia’s watershed national events including the Apology to the Stolen Generations, Centenary of Federation commemorations, Corroboree 2000, and the 1997 and 2021 Australian Reconciliation Conventions. As the CEO of Reconciliation Australia, Karen brings to the role more than 25 years of experience in leading community engagement, public advocacy, communications, and social marketing campaigns. She also continues to work with governments, the business sector, and civil society to advocate for change and is currently a member of the Australian Government’s Referendum Engagement Group. Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Technology Sydney and was the winner of the 2021 Indigenous Australian UTS Alumni Award. She also sits on numerous boards and has always had an innate passion for instigating meaningful change.
As mentioned, both women will be awarded Friday the 12th of May at the 2023 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership at Women & Leadership Australia’s (WLA) Brisbane Symposium. The Australian Women’s Leadership Symposiums are a national series of events, and one of the largest gatherings of professional women in Australia. More than 1,000 women are expected to attend the symposiums, with leadership, gender equity, diversity and inclusion and this year’s UN International Women’s Day Theme ‘Cracking the Code’ just some of the items on the agenda.
Please see below for a list of facilitators and speakers who will be presenting at the Brisbane Symposium throughout the day and HERE for an outline.
- Em Rusciano: Comedian; Writer; Singer; Radio, Television, and Podcast Presenter
- Tiarne Shutt: Associate Director – Business Advisory, First Australians Capital
- Breeanna Brock: Chief Executive Officer, Brisbane Lions Women’s Team
- Candice (Yeong) Lam: Associate Director, Aurecon; Director, Change & Advisory, Engineering New Worlds
- Alina Dini PH.D.: Founder, Whirl; Director, Energy, Climate & Circular Economy, Deloitte
- Dr Mellissa Naidoo: Chief Health Officer, Viridis Consultants; Non-Executive Director and Board Member
- Astrid Jorgensen: Founding Director of Pub Choir™ and Couch Choir; Finalist, QLD Young Australian of The Year 2020
- Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM: Award-winning Doctor; Co-founder, Doctors with Disabilities Australia; Disability Advocate; Researcher; Lawyer
SheSociety is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.