Speakers Bios and Abstracts
Host of ABC Radio National's Breakfast program
Fran Kelly is a respected radio presenter, current affairs journalist and political correspondent. Her career has included roles as singer for several bands and university activities director before she moved into radio in the 1980s. Fran has also worked on Melbourne RRR's Backchat program, on triple j and on ABC Radio's current affairs programs AM and PM. In 2001 she became political editor for ABC TV's 7.30 Report, and spent time as the ABC's Europe correspondent based in London before moving into her current role in 2005.
VERITY FIRTH MP
NSW Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Women
Verity Firth has been a councillor on the City of Sydney Council since March 2004, where she has also served as Deputy Mayor. She previously worked as a lawyer for the national firm Slater & Gordon, and has practiced in asbestos litigation, workers compensation and industrial law. She has also served on the boards of both the Law and Justice Foundation and Aidwatch. As NSW Minister for Women, she has sought to bring an increased focus on policy affecting the lives and status of women. She has also overseen a landmark restructure of domestic violence services in NSW.
DR CARMEN LAWRENCE
Former Premier of Western Australia; Professorial Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Western Australia
If there is a female leader in Australia who knows about coping with change, it is Carmen Lawrence. She won the State seat of Subiaco in Western Australia in 1986, and quickly built a strong resume as a political leader. Becoming Australia’s first female premier in 1990, she moved to federal politics in 1994 and held portfolios including Minister for Human Services and Health, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women. She retired from politics last year.
Carmen will provide an insight into her life as a politician, and how she rode the dramatic changes it delivered. She will speak about how she kept motivated; the challenges of leadership and being a woman at the top end of politics; and how she remained (and remains) committed to her passions, including democratic reform.
Deputy editor AFRBOSS magazine; columnist, ‘Corporate Woman’, Australian Financial Review
As a regular commentator and speaker on women and work, Catherine will outline the broad trends she believes are having an impact on women in the paid workforce and why progress in many areas has stalled, along with some myth-busting about gender and power. She will also examine some of the key factors likely to affect women in the public sector and politics over the next few years, and why it's time for a circuit breaker to get some more action.
Executive Director, Australian Government Office for Women
What is it that you are striving for in your career? How do you get there? Julia Burns has held many senior roles in the public sector, and has established and led women’s networks in several government departments. She will draw on her vast experience of mentoring and supporting women into senior executive roles to discuss women’s advancement in the public sector. Julia will provide plenty of useful advice on bringing balance and clarity to your work and career; the importance of networking; and how women can use special strengths to achieve powerful results in workforces often dominated by men.
Deputy Director General, Public Sector Workforce Office, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet
A healthy, engaged workforce can drive a powerful public sector. Leanne Wallace's role includes responsibility for employee and industrial relations and workforce strategy and reform across the NSW public sector – with a workforce of more than 350,000 employees. She will talk about her experiences in running such a workforce, and touch upon some very topical issues including managing part-time work, returning to work after maternity leave and work-life balance. Leanne has worked for more than 30 years in the NSW public sector with executive and senior management experience in health policy, corporate services, workforce reform, information management, nature conservation and natural resource management.
Founder, Third Sigma International
Liz began her career as a chemical engineer and has in-depth experience of being a woman in a male-dominated sector. She now runs Third Sigma, a national executive coaching firm that works with the public and private sectors, and she is passionate about helping women succeed. Liz will provide insight on how women in the public sector can improve performance and increase their confidence and networking skills.
Federal Senator for NSW
Marise Payne has devoted her professional life to politics, working in executive roles for her party and as a political advisor before entering the Australian Senate in 1997. After more than a decade in this role (and a move to Opposition last year) she will talk about the ups and downs of political life and examine the representation of women in such roles in Australia.
Mayor, Kiama Municipal Council
Now in her ninth year as Mayor of Kiama Municipal Council just south of Sydney, Sandra McCarthy has a wealth of experience in the world of local government. Sandra first entered politics in 1995 as the deputy mayor of Kiama. She is also a member of the Australian Mayors Council for Climate Protection Advisory Group, Healthy Cities Illawarra, the International Healthy Cities Alliance and Rotary. She will share with delegates the challenges and joys of working in the sphere of government closest to the people, discuss the importance of getting more women on councils and outline how this can be achieved.
Director Community Services, Gold Coast City Council
In her senior role with the second largest council in Australia, Colette McCool has one of the most challenging roles in local government in the country. In local government Colette has found her true passion. She will speak about her 13 years in local government and of the challenges, opportunities and rewards it has presented. Colette will provide tips on managing people, major budgets and balancing this with personal time, particularly in a rapidly changing environment. Colette, a Telstra Business Women's Awards winner in 2007, will also discuss the need for more women to be employed at senior levels in local government.
National President, Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU)
Maternity leave, attracting and retaining workers, part-time work, life-long learning, gender pay gaps: these are just some of the issues CPSU is tackling head-on. Louise Persse began her public service career in the early 1980s, joining CPSU as a full-time organiser in 1993 and becoming National President in 2008. She will discuss the state of play of the hot topics most relevant to women in the public sector, and provide the CPSU vision for the future of the sector.
South Australian Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises and Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy
Gail Gago has been actively involved in the public sector for many years, having worked as a nurse and as Secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation before moving into politics in 2002 as a member of the SA Legislative Council. She will share her experiences of advocating for change as a woman in the public sector, discuss her move from the administrative to the political side of government and talk about the growing phenomenon of better relations between State and local government.
Member for Bonner
Kerry Rea is one of few women who have made the change from local government to Federal politics. A former Brisbane City councillor, Kerry was elected to the Queensland seat of Bonner at the last Federal election – and she has also worked for a State minister. In this presentation, she will discuss the differences between the political spheres for women, and how she has found the transition, as well as sharing some tips on balancing work with other life pressures and passions.
Member for North Shore; NSW Deputy Leader of the Opposition; Shadow Minister for Health; Shadow Minister for Science & Medical Research; Shadow Minister for Arts
A former journalist, Jillian Skinner was also the Director of the NSW Office of Youth Affairs before she entered politics in 1994. She will talk about her fascinating life experiences, her ongoing interest in politics, why women play a vital role in public life and our parliaments – and how she stays motivated after a significant time in opposition.
DR KAREN COATES
Medical doctor, author and international speaker
Feeling tired? Troubled by health niggles? Here’s your chance to become more informed and develop confidence in how you look after your body. International speaker and women’s health doctor, Karen Coates, will host this interactive workshop that will change your life. Karen has degrees in Medicine, Surgery and postgraduate qualifications in Obstetrics, and Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. Using the latest scientific research, she will help you understand how changing some fundamental approaches to your health can deliver you optimal wellbeing, and help you live longer and stronger.
DR MEG SMITH
Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, University of Western Sydney
According to the ABS, about one in five Australian adults experiences a mental health disorder in a 12-month period. How can you assist friends, family, members of your community or co-workers experiencing mental health problems? How do you hold a position of importance and deal with your own mental health issues at the same time? And how do you overcome the stereotyping of women as emotionally erratic? Meg Smith is a renowned expert in the mental health field, and here she will discuss these issues at a micro and community level, to help all delegates start to address one of the most significant health challenges of the modern world.
Chair, NSW Aboriginal Land Council
Bev Manton is a member of the Worimi nation and was a founding member of the Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council. A strong and respected advocate for community development, particularly in relation to employment, housing, health and education, she will speak on her experiences as a female leader and on overcoming Indigenous disadvantage. The importance of the role of women in the public sector, particularly Indigenous women, will also be addressed and she will provide an update on the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and its involvement with Aboriginal affairs.
DR SARAH MADDISON
Senior Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales
Dr Sarah Maddison is an academic and author and describes herself as a "non-party political activist". Her current research spans two key areas: Australian social movements and Australian politics and democratic assessment. Some of this work involves considering the evolution of social movements through a study of the Australian women's movement. In this closing presentation, she will discuss the future role of women in the public sector and politics, addressing the question: what now for women in the public sector?