Speech by Diann Rodgers-Healey at 2014 SWECO Awards Ceremony

on Thursday, 06 March 2014. Posted in Sustaining Women's Empowerment in Communities and Organisations

I would like to pay my respect, and acknowledge the traditional Owners of the land on which we are now gathered, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation. I also pay my respects to Aboriginal Elders, past and present, and extend my respects to Aboriginal people here today.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and a very warm welcome to all of you. I appreciate your presence here today in support of ACLW and the extraordinary individuals and organsiations being recognised today. I recognise the ground breaking and tireless work you do to assist women through the organisations you are involved in.

I would like to particularly thank and acknowledge the support of the Honorable Gareth Ward, my Local Member in hosting this event and contributing his time and expertise to support ACLW in its aim to value women and diminish gender inequality.

Thank you Minister Goward; Honourable Shelley Hancock and Minister Dominello for supporting and recognising the outstanding work women are doing across our communities and organisations. Can I also acknowledge the wonderful support of ACLW’s Patrons who are here today, Sue Conde, Lorraine Denny and Prof Shirley Randell.

One of the cornerstornes of ACLW’s vision is to recognise and reward women and men who catalyse their sensemaking of the barriers women face, into concrete action to address these barriers or change the contexts which give rise to them. Since 2006, ACLW has recognised and awarded 45 winners through its national leadership awards.

In 2013 ACLW’s Sustaining Women's Empowerment in Organsiations and Communities Award acronymed as SWECO was awarded to an organisation that sought to tangibly eradicate gender inequality before it took hold. The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples impressively established gender EQUITY as a founding principle in its Constitution and governance such that representation on the Congress Board and Ethics Council is equally divided between men and women.

Kat Armstrong who was SWECO’s winner in 2012 exemplified incredible personal leadership to give back to women prisoners.  Her Women in Prison Mentoring Program has an 80% success rate in keeping women out of prison. But, Kat’s journey reflects the struggle community organisations have in delivering against a shrinking public purse, finding ways to keep afloat whilst keenly aware of the reality of what is at stake if they cease to operate.

Kat informed me that her Mentoring Program will be closing due to no further funding after June 14, even though it stops 3 women from returning to prison each year, saving the tax payer $330,000.

SWECO Applications are rated against 5 criteria: Leadership, Sustainability, Impact on women’s empowerment, Capacity to collaborate with others and qualitative and quantitative Results.

A panel of 11 leading women and men joined me to judge SWECO: Sue Conde, Dr Richard Denniss. Maria Dimopoulos . Terese Edwards. Susan Ferrier. Eddy De Gabriele, Katy McDonald, Associate Professor Lindsay Oades, The Honorable Graham West, Nareen Young and Mike Zissler.

Five of SWECO’s Judges are here today: Sue Conde, Maria Dimopoulos, Katy McDonald, Associate Professor Lindsay Oades, The Honorable Graham West, I would like to sincerely thank each of them for their expert involvement, time and effort.

I would especially like to thank Katy McDonald who judged SWECO and has been doing this for 3 years for ACLW. Katy is a lawyer who has worked as a commercial litigator, as the Director of Equal Opportunity in the University of Sydney and in Westpac as the Head of Employee Relations.  She is currently the National Director of People and Development in Minter Ellison.

It is through KATY’S efforts that we secured the 2014 sponsorship of Minter Ellison for which I am very grateful. It is great to have partnered with Minter Ellison as its community investment focuses on areas of disadvantage and access to justice.

In conclusion I would like to say to each of the selected nominees for SWECO 2014, that

we recognise you with much pride and appreciation for the profound connection you have made with women to assist them in the best way you can with the limited resources available to you.

We recognise you for employing your leadership capacity to harness the hearts and minds of those around you to deliver what is life changing ASSISTANCE AND HOPE to women.

The light that shines on each of you today is yours because of what you have done and continue to do for women. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.