2012 SWECO Winners

on Monday, 21 May 2012. Posted in Sustaining Women's Empowerment in Communities and Organisations

Gold SWECO Award Winner:



In recognition of her sustainable community initiative, Women in Prison Advocacy Network (WIPAN)

Inspiration to form WIPAN came following Kat Armstrong’s attendance at a Sister’s Inside (http://www.sistersinside.com.au) Conference in Darwin in 2007. The goal was to service the service gap for services advocating for women prisoners and ex-prisoners in NSW. Kat had been helped by women in the community to finish her education, get re-established and find work after a period in prison and wanted to give back the benefits she had received. 

Kat had found that the evidence showed that in terms of the prison population, women are a small percentage, and often overlooked or have rules and programs provided that are based on the dominant male population with little or no consideration of the specific needs of women prisoners. Women in prison are generally regarded as ‘low risk – high need’ due their mental and physical health conditions and histories of abuse. They typically have short sentences interspersed with short periods of release. In one year, 1200 women cycle in and out of NSW prisons, at any one time about half are on remand. Their prison terms are often directly related to their health issues and to the high level of drug and alcohol dependence among female offenders and the cumulative effects of long standing domestic and sexual violence and the statistical profile of women prisoners in NSW indicated that:

  • 91% have a serious drug addiction and as many were convicted of a crime committed as a direct result of drug addiction;
  • 92% have one or more long term health conditions;
  • 13% have an intellectual disability;
  • 49% have children – they have usually been removed as children themselves or had children removed;
  • 85% had been subjected to sexual abuse, while the number of women physically and emotionally abused is thought to be higher.

Kat convinced individuals from community organisations to join with her to form WIPAN. She recruited Carol Berry (then at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre), Marissa Sandler (IDRS), & Nicki Petrou (then Redfern Legal Centre) and together they formed an Executive Management Committee that registered as an Association and as a charity. Kat also worked to attract suitable women with ‘lived experience’ of the prison system. As soon as WIPAN was established Kat was able to attract small grants from charity foundations, this helped the organisation gain experience and record in managing funds and proof that Kat and her supporters could deliver on their plans. This led to a two year funding grant from the NSW Government, Office of Women to establish the mentoring program. With assistance from the Community Restorative Centre and NSW TAFE they have trained 50 volunteers from the community to train as mentors and promoting the program to referral agencies. 

Kat set up a Mentoring Program because she wants to set women on a lifelong path to form new relationships and have the courage to see some good in themselves and strength to change what have usually been very tragic lives.  

The WIPAN Mentoring Program does this by providing women with:

  • Face-to-face weekly meetings
  • Assistance to locate necessary services
  • Enjoying activities together
  • Encouraging confidence and self-esteem
  • Talking confidentially about lifeʼs challenges
  • Creating mutual trust and respect
  • A positive role model and developing  life skills

In summary WIPAN results have been: 

  • 50 women trained as mentors
  • 35 women mentees matched
  • 82 % remain out of prison
  • Community attitudes start to change as women from the general community learn about the justice system and take back informed ideas to their family and community.
  • Publication of a self-help book to be used in prisons by women making post release arrangements. It helps prisoners who have no or limited access to electronic information or stretched prison resources to help themselves arrange housing, have their health needs met and manage legal matters.
  • Release of Policy Discussion Paper on post release housing for women prisoners – No exit into homelessness – still a dream? Consultations with the community sector and consumers are complete. A draft of report that will include recommendations for the community and government sectors will be released in March 2012.
  • Submissions to several government inquiries about the NSW justice system.

WIPAN has a strategic plan that aims to:

  • Expand the mentoring program
  • Establish new support services that women can be referred to for matters that arise through the mentoring relationship and are not met by existing services
  • The credibility of WIPAN is maintained by ensuring the skills of the Board are maintained and expanded. This includes ongoing recruitment of members.
  • Increasing collaborative work on systemic policy issues so that WIPAN becomes the most significant body for representing and engaging women in prison and ex-prisoners.


Silver SWECO Award Winner:



In recognition of her sustainable community initiative for the introduction of domestic violence entitlements to periods of paid leave and other rights in industrial instruments

Having worked in the field of domestic violence prevention since 1978, Ludo McFerran was instrumental in the development of new policies in the 1990s to protect women experiencing domestic violence to stay safely in their homes. Ludo had found that the evidence showed that most women who experienced domestic violence were in employment and that it was essential that they remain economically independent to avoid poverty for themselves and any children when leaving their partner. However, the negative impacts on their work performance and safety put their job at risk.  

Ludo approached the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse with her proposed initiative and was employed on contract to initiate discussions with unions, working women's services and the domestic violence sector. With the Women's Officer at the NSW Public Services Association, she developed a model domestic violence clause for inclusion in enterprise agreements. This was first logged as part of the collective bargaining process at the University of NSW in April 2010 by Minister Plibersek, Commissioner Broderick and ACTU President GED Kearney.  She was subsequently successful in securing Commonwealth funding from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to build partnerships with unions and employer groups nationally. 

The project’s first major achievement followed discussions in Victoria which led to the Australian Services Union logging a domestic violence clause in the local government sector. This resulted in the adoption of Australia's first industrial protection for domestic violence in the Spring of 2010. This clause included up to twenty days paid leave for matters arising from domestic violence such as the need to attend court to obtain a protection order.  Further achievements followed. For example in February 2011, the NSW Labour Government agreed to vary the public service award to provide paid leave and other protections for employees experiencing domestic violence. This flowed on to a further twenty NSW awards, most recently the nurses and the police. A large number of other unions are negotiating similar clauses.   

At a conservative estimate, over 300,000 workers are now protected by enforceable and non- discretionary rights to domestic violence paid leave, confidentiality and safety planning at work. Reports from unions who have negotiated domestic violence clauses in agreements and awards are that workers are accessing short periods of paid leave to carry out essential tasks such as obtain protection orders, which also protect their workplace and co-workers. 

Ludo is in the process of ensuring that domestic violence leave should be included in the Fair Work Act 2009’s National Employment Standards (NES). She is also working on a proposal to include domestic violence as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the consolidation of anti-discrimination legislation by the Australian Government (currently being consulted on by the Federal Attorney General). This is being discussed with the Australian Human Rights Commission and I am confident of their support on this matter.  


Bronze SWECO Award Winner:      



In recognition of her sustainable organisational initiative to achieve gender diversity at the executive level in Cisco Technical Services Team across Asia Pacific, Japan, and Greater China

Karen McFadzen acted as a catalyst for change to achieve gender diversity at the executive level for the Cisco Technical Services Team across Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China (APJC). 

Under Karen’s executive sponsorship and leadership over the past 11 years, Cisco has put in place a number of specific initiatives including: 

  • Attracting Talent into the ICT Industry
  • Changing hiring practices
  • Pipeline development to bring more women and girls into the IT industry
  1. oMaking Inclusion and Diversity part of the DNA of the company through workshops and face to face meetings with managers to discuss ideal behaviours and Cisco values and perceptions regarding inclusion and diversity.
  2. oCisco Connected Women Resource Groups with a mission to hire and develop women, with the aim of achieving a more diverse, globally competitive workforce capable of producing higher levels of technology innovation and better financial performance.
  3. oCiscoNetworkingAcademy for innovation in information and communication technology (ICT) education and best practices in teaching and learning. It has reached 4 million students in 165 countries, with 1 million students engaged in learning this year.
  4. oCisco Girls in IT Initiative - to encourage high school female students to take up technical tertiaryCISCO has reached over 900 female students and over 120 educators and career advisors
  5. oFlexibility Programs such as Work from home and Part time work
  6. oStay in Touch Program to provide ongoing support during maternity leave
  7. oNetworking within and across organisations - CISCO actively participate with our customers, partners and ecosystem partners in supporting their initiatives to attract and retain women in specifically in the ICT industry. All team members are encouraged to participate in external events such as the recent International CEO Forum, Women in Multinationals (MNCs).  Cisco has actively supported FITT (Females in Information Technology and Telecommunications) at a number of events such as International Women’s Day and encourages it’s women employees to attend FITT sponsored events.

Karen McFadzen believes that there is a strong business case for an inclusive and diverse organisation.   

  • Inclusive and diverse teams are more innovative and understand our customers better
  • An inclusive culture harnesses ALL resources, talents and skills of our employees and partners
  • Companies that have solid diversity practices, policies, hiring practices & education have, on average, 12.8% higher financial results than companies that do not
  • Employees who feel valued and included have higher productivity, higher morale, lower turnover rates and less absenteeism
  • Our customers and employee candidates often look to see if their values and culture are reflected in our workplace and corporate culture

As Karen McFadzen has guided and led her team to become more diverse in both gender and cultural mix, by virtue of these changes, the overall make-up of the team changed significantly over the past 11 years.  This is evidenced by the change in the team where in 2000 it was estimated that 20 percent of the Cisco Asia Pacific Technical Services team were from non-English speaking backgrounds with six percent being women.  Today, Karen leads a team that is highly diverse, located in approximately 14 countries across the region, with approximately 50 percent of executives being female.    As a result of Changing Hiring Practices CISCO has seen an increase of the number of female external hires up by 13 percent, from 25 percent to 38 percent.   

From Karen McFadzen’s perspective, her biggest learning on change management since joining Cisco has been that to make significant change stick you need to engage heads, hearts and hands.  Bringing a vision to reality is all about engaging people’s heads, but to motivate people you need to engage people’s hearts.


Highly Commended SWECO Award Winner:



In recognition of her sustainable community initiative for establishing the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI)

Yolanda founded the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI) on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2011. Yolanda had to get Federal Government approval to register the not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and obtain permission to use the words ‘Chamber of Commerce.’ This was a very long and expensive process as the first application was rejected. Yolanda then had to obtain a lawyer, which she obtain pro-bono after many calls and email and the AWCCI constitution was rewritten and a new application was launched. Yolanda had to put together an eclectic group of powerful women for the AWCCI advisory committee, which took a lot of cold calling and selling of the vision and the mission. From concept to launch Yolanda spent approx 2 years almost full time and carrying all of the expenses associated with the lengthy process.  

Yolanda implemented this initiative because she is passionate about making sure women in business have a voice. The 800 000 women in Australia currently trading have no voice at the tables where the decisions are being made about their business. The ACCI has no women on their board and therefore does not represent women. There are currently no women CEO on any of the state chambers in Australia; not in NSW, VIC, SA, TAS nor the ACT, QLD, WA nor the NT (The NT Chamber has recently appointed a female chair for the first time in their history)  

The AWCCI has launched the first National Women Business Owners research project. The data collected from the first national research project will provide the evidence needed to advocate for change in order to assist women in business across the country.  

In 2012 AWCCI will be holding free forums in all states and territories in Australia in both regional and metro areas and provide women business owners with the information they need to further grow their businesses now and in the future.  

Yolanda also represented Australia at the first Women’ Economic Summit at APEC.

Women business owners now have a voice and both Government and industry are learning that women business owners are in fact a big part of the SME world which is the backbone to our economy.


Highly Commended SWECO Award Winner:

Transport and Logistics Workforce Advisory Group (TLWAG-Q) & the Transform Team in the Department of   Transport and Main Roads Queensland


In recognition of their sustainable organisational initiative, Women Take the Wheel to encourage women to pursue a career in the Transport and Supply Chain industry

TLWAG -Q team: Bill Potter, Sal Petroccitto (Chair), Roz Shaw, Peter Garske, Skye Naismith, Louise Perram-Fisk, Peter Biagini, Rick Ralph, Vince Aisthorpe, Tom Wiltshire, Greg Muscat, Michael Thirgood, Jo Hammond, Tim Maloney, Hal Morris, Col McKenzie


Transform team: Louise Perram-Fisk (Director), Monique Ricci, Callum Fraser, Nicole Holyer, Megan Kelly, Robyn Francis, Siobhán McCarville, Tess Baxter, Kathryne Phillis, Ally Reilly, James Southwood, Kylie Fennell, Linda MacDonald, Cara FitzGerald, Sara Kursius

The Department of Transport and Main Roads under the leadership of the Transport and Logistics Workforce Advisory Group (TLWAG-Q) has developed and  implemented an Australian-first initiative, Women Take the Wheel, which encourages women to pursue a career in the predominately male transport, logistics and supply chain industry.  

Women are significantly underrepresented in the transport, logistics and supply chain industry, making up 23% of the industry workforce with many of these roles being non-operational such as administration (Australian Logistics Council, 2008, 'Who Moves Australia' report). Dissecting the evidence further reveals the job role of ‘machinery operators and drivers’ to have the lowest female participation rate (8%) across all occupation classifications – highlighting the need for a new and innovative way of attracting and retaining a diverse workforce for this sector. 

Women Take the Wheel concentrates on the removal of barriers and creation of new pathways for women into the transport, logistics and supply chain industry. A number of programs and services have been successfully delivered under this initiative such as: 

Mentoring: Mentored 250 Queensland women in the transport, logistics and supply chain industry.

Women Moving Forward: This 10-week program supported women from road, rail, sea, air, logistics, distribution and government in developing critical career-advancing skills.

Up Skilling: Up skilled 40 Queensland women with an AQF qualification of Certificate IV or higher.

Skilling Solutions Queensland: Established transport and logistics-specific Skilling Solutions Queensland service centres in south-east Queensland resulting in more than 40 qualifications.

Training: Provided training and pathways into industry for 60 unemployed and underemployed Queensland women.

Skilling Queenslanders for Work: This free employment and training program assists unemployed and underemployed people gain skills to work within the industry.

Youth Engagement: Engaged 500 young women in industry awareness and school-to-work programs

Girls Day Out: This activity promoted women in Transport and logistics to more than400 female students in regional areas.

Resources: Developed a number of resources for industry to promote diversity and gender-friendly programs.

Women Take the Wheel was created in partnership with the TLWAG-Q, and its members were some of the first to step forward and advocate gender diversity within their own organisations: 

  • Roz Shaw (Chief Executive Officer), Hawkins Road Transport showcases gender-friendly employment of women in the male dominated heavy vehicle and dangerous goods driving.
  • Skye Naismith, General Manager, Mt Gravatt Coach & Travel has structured her business to best cater for flexible employment options and subsequently appeal to the female labour market.
  • Peter Garske, CEO of the Queensland Trucking Association partnered with the Office for Women to create the first state-based award for industry women in Queensland.

These industry leaders have been able to clearly demonstrate the business advantages gained through gender-friendly practices. With increased applicant pools and a more flexible and engaged workforce, they have been able to promote these benefits through industry forums, media and speaking engagements. This combined industry-government leadership model is backed by practical programs that have led the way to a more gender-friendly and diverse industry.