ACLW's 2017 International Women's Day Event in the Illawarra NSW

on Sunday, 01 January 2017. Posted in Giving Back, Empowerment, Transform, Topical Issues, Press Releases

ACLW's 2017 International Women's Day Event in the Illawarra NSW
The Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (ACLW) celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) 2017 in the Illawarra with Illawarra women leaders participating in a program of reflective and explorative conversations and presentations from Illawarra High School Students on the theme, 'Gaining the Unexpected.'
Highlights of this Program included a Panel of Illawarra women leaders of ages ranging from 16 to 80 with diverse achievements and life experiences that have shaped their capacity for leadership.
Best High School Student Authors selected in the Senior and Junior ACLW Illawarra IWD Essay Writing Competition presented their essays on this theme. The Program was interspersed with Illawarra’s talented singers and drummers.
Founded in 2000, ACLW’s signature platforms to Transform; Empower; Recognise and Give Back for women’s advancement and gender equality has resulted in a range of national leadership development and recognition programs as profiled at Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey, Director of ACLW will facilitate this Program to profile and celebrate the unique leadership of women in the Illawarra. Funds raised from this Program will be used to enable ACLW advance its initiatives for women.
This event was FULLY SOLD OUT!
Videos of the Event:
Photos of ACLW’s Illawarra 2017 IWD Program 
Special Thanks to:

IWD Sound Manager: Michael Foye, Principal Kiama Forward Computers

IWD Videographers: Aaron Healey & Colin Dunn

IWD Video Compilation and Publishing: Aaron Healey

IWD Event Photographer: Georgina Summerville

IWD Essay Competition Administrator: Shiva Behdarvand

IWD Event & Marketing Assistants: Shiva Behdarvand; Monica Sharma; Abuzar Khalid; Prasad Patil; Christine Langford

IWD Essay Competition
Thank you to all the students who participated in the IWD Essay Competition and to all the teachers and schools who encouraged their students to take part. Very special thanks to Judges Sharne Sjostedt, Angela Crandell, Dr Emma Barkus and Kimberley Abbott.
Congratulations to all the students whose essays were selected for an award.
Essays read out by first and second winners of the junior and senior competition were outstanding in originality, critical thinking and clarity of ideas presentation!

IWD Junior Essay Competition Winners

Ranking Student School
1st place Winner Nacquel Knowles Holy spirit college Bellambi
2nd place Winner Megan Grew Holy spirit college Bellambi
3rd place Winner Natasha Rickard Holy spirit college Bellambi
1st Highly Commended Ella Spaleta-Green Smith’s Hill High School
2nd Highly Commended Renee Collins Holy spirit college Bellambi

IWD Senior Essay Competition Winners:

Ranking Student School
1st place Winner Caterina Loss Kiama High School
2nd place winner Amar Sultan Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts
3rd place winner Kendall Linsley Woonona High School
1st Highly Commended Rebecca Ryan-Brown Smith’s Hill High School
1st Highly Commended Faith Apps Woonona High School
2nd Highly Commended Cassandra Tsokos Smith’s Hill High School
2nd Highly Commended Jin Braicovic Smith’s Hill High School

IWD in the Illawarra Program

Deeann Green, Violinist

Illawarra Older Women’s Network Drummers

Welcome by Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey, Director, ACLW

Keynote Speech by The Hon. Jenny Macklin MP

Panel Discussion  -  ‘Gaining the Unexpected’

Panel Q & A 

Morning Tea

Performance by Taliah King

IWD High School Essay Competition Finalists & Winners

Presented by Competition Judge, Dr Emma Barkus

Awarded by The Hon. Sharon Bird MP 

Essay Presentations by Junior & Senior High School 1st & 2nd Place Winners

‘Out of The Blue’ Performance

Summation by Dr Reetu Verma

Thanks by Diann Rodgers-Healey



Jenny Macklin

The Hon. Jenny Macklin MP

Member for Jagajaga

Jenny Macklin is the Member for Jagajaga and Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services. Jenny was born is Brisbane and attended Primary School in Cohuna and High School in Wangaratta, both towns in Northern Victoria. Jenny also spent a year on exchange in Japan during her secondary school education.  Upon the election of the Rudd Labor Government in 2007, Jenny was appointed the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. In this role Jenny oversaw the historic apologies to the Stolen Generations and the Forgotten Generation. Jenny was also responsible for the most significant reforms to Australia's pension system in its 100 year history. These reforms delivered pension increases, a new pension supplement, a pension Work Bonus and a new indexation system.

In September 2010 Jenny was re-appointed Minister as part of the Gillard Government and oversaw the implementation of Australia's first National Paid Parental Leave Scheme.  In December 2011 Jenny was appointed the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform, reflecting Jenny's strong personal commitment to reforming the disability services sector in Australia. In this role Jenny oversaw the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2013.

Prior to entering Parliament Jenny was the Director of two major strategic reviews reporting to the then Deputy Prime Minister, Brian Howe including: the National Health Strategy (1990-1993) and the Australian Urban and Regional Development Review (1993-1995). Jenny has also worked as an adviser to the Victorian Minister for Health and as an economics research specialist.

In addition to her family and politics, Jenny's great passions in life are camping, swimming and music. Jenny also enjoys bush walking and Australian literature, She is a long-time Geelong supporter and enjoys bodysurfing. Jenny holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) from the University of Melbourne.

‘Gaining the Unexpected’ Panellists:

Sharon BirdThe Hon. Sharon Bird MP was elected as the Federal Member for Cunningham (New South Wales) in October 2004, November 2007, August 2010 and September 2013. She was appointed Shadow Minister for Vocational Education on the 18 October 2013 and served as Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Regional Communications and Minister for Road Safety from 1 July 2013 and as Minister for Higher Education and Skills from 25 March 2013 Ms Bird was born on 15 November 1962 in Wollongong, New South Wales. Ms Bird served as a Councillor on Shellharbour Council from 1991 to 1995. 


MelanieMelanie Jones is currently the Vice-President and Events Co-ordinator for the University of Wollongong (UOW)’s Debating Society. Growing up in Tamworth, NSW, Melanie spent much of her childhood honing her public speaking skills through speech, drama, and debating competitions. She went on to win the Tamworth Toastmasters Youth Leadership Course, and was invited to speak at the Toastmasters Annual Conference in Bankstown in 2012. She has participated in a number of national and international debating tournaments, often judging the competitive final rounds. Melanie also acts as a peer learning leader at the university, helping to facilitate positive learning environments outside of the classroom.


Venerable Juewei Venerable Dr. Juewei is the Director of Nan Tien Institute’s Humanistic Buddhism Centre and Lecturer of the Institute’s Applied Buddhist Studies program.  Her research interests include Humanistic Buddhism, Buddhist Economics and Buddha’s birthday parades.  Besides research, she also teaches classes such as Buddhism and Modern Society and subjects related to Chinese Buddhism.  Juewei holds a PhD in Religious Studies, a Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies, a Master of Business Administration, and a Master of Science in Computer Science and Engineering.  In her spare time, Juewei heads up a worldwide tour: ‘Buddha’s Birthday Education Project’ that connects past and present, east and west.  BBEP has now been staged in ten places around the world for five straight years, bringing research to life through art, music and technology.

barbara malcolmBarbara Malcolm was born in 1934. Of Irish-Welsh decent she is married with four daughters, has seven grandchildren, several great grandchildren and a couple of great, great grandchildren. Barbara has survived cancer and has worked and worn many hats for the Older Women’s Network since retiring in 1998 and presently is the Co-ordinator of the Illawarra OWN Wellness Centre and Drumming Teacher for the “Illawarra’s OWN Heartbeats” drumming group.


RMorrisRochelle Morris is a Gumbaynggirr woman from the North Coast of NSW. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Adult Education from the University of Technology Sydney and is currently studying Masters of Educational Leadership at the Australian Catholic University. She currently works at the Woolyungah Indigenous Centre, University of Wollongong as the Team Leader and  Student Support Advisor where she has found an interest in Indigenous leadership and hopes to further learn and work in the realm of leadership. 


Eugenia PyneEugenia Pyne is a single mother of four children, originally from Liberia, West Africa. She is an employee of Aging Disability and Home Care (ADHC), a volunteer with Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families (SCARF), and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Wollongong. Eugenia is a survivor of the Liberian civil war which took the lives of her husband, daughter, brother and many other relatives after her village was set on fire by the rebels in 1994. In 1996, she luckily escaped Liberia with her two sons to a refugee camp in Guinea where they lived for nine years before coming to Australia. In 2005, Eugenia was granted a 204 (woman at risk) visa and came to Australia after nine difficult years in the refugee camp. She is interested in sharing her story in order to help Australians understand the refugee experience. 

Rebecca Schmidt Small SizeRebecca Schmidt lived a full and energetic lifestyle working as an Administration Officer at BlueScope Steel. Her love of sport seen her playing in a lot of teams and Coaching Netball. Suddenly in March 2008, Rebecca’s life changed after a blood clot to the Brain Stem resulting in a Stroke. When awaking, movement of the eyes was all that would respond. Rebecca spent the next 7 ½ months in hospital and following 2½ years, rehabilitating.  Today, Rebecca is a StrokeSafe Ambassador for the Stroke Foundation Australia and is also a Board Member of the StrokeSafe Consumer Council and assists with Stroke Week and Stride4Stroke. She also advocates for Unanderra Access Group about the Unanderra Train Station.  


ellieElinor Stephenson is the School Captain at Smith’s Hill High School in Wollongong. A keen debater, both in debating competitions and on issues of social equity more broadly, Elinor has a love/hate relationship with Twitter and compulsively checks the Guardian. She likes to swim, hike, and paint.

ACLW’s 2017 Illawarra High School IWD
Essay Competition for Young Women
Essay Competition Judges:

KimMediaKimberley Abbott a passionate young leader, engineer, problem solver, entrepreneur, and change-maker. She is an Engineer at Thales, a multi-national company, where she has been recognised as an emerging leader in a male-dominated environment. She is Founder of social enterprise, Roka, which aims to break the cycle of poverty in rural India through economic empowerment of women & education. She has also founded GenBuild & SheBuild, social enterprises focused on providing the resources & knowledge to young people and women on how to solve social problems through an entrepreneurial lens. In 2015 she was selected as a civil advisor on the Australian Government delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, was a finalist in the Commonwealth Youth of the Year Awards, and was UOW Young Alumni of the Year. She has been recognised in the 2014 NSW Young Woman of the Year, and in 2013 named by the Financial Review and Westpac as one of Australia’s top 100 Women of Influence.

EmmaDr Emma Barkus completed her BSC (Hons) Psychology and PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK. Her PhD investigated otherwise healthy people who are prone to hallucinations. We demonstrated that those who are prone to hallucinations were more likely to report false perceptions in an ambiguous auditory task, and, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, these false perceptions activated similar areas to those reported during clinical auditory hallucinations in patients with schizophrenia. These studies began Emma’s interest in risk factors for serious mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. Emma completed post doctoral research positions at the University of Manchester, UK, and the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, UK, before coming to Australia in 2010 to take up a lectureship position at the University of Wollongong. Emma has research interests in the factors which increase or protect against risk for schizophrenia, this encompasses factors such as cognition, substance use, metacognitions, common mental health symptoms and emotional regulation. In addition, Emma is investigating the experience of post traumatic stress, a disorder which is found to be common to many mental health problems. She is also involved in work to develop a tool to capture fear and anxiety in dementia. In addition to this, Emma contributes to teaching in the School of Psychology, teaching personality and individual differences as well as other lectures in abnormal psychology, neuropsychology and statistics. Emma is also the Deputy Chair of the Social Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee at the University of Wollongong. ​

CrandellAngela Crandell has enjoyed a career in education that has, thus far, spanned thirty years within a diverse range of schools in the Catholic sector. She is currently Assistant Principal in Saints Peter and Paul Primary School, Kiama and holds a Diploma of Teaching from the Australian Catholic University, a Bachelor of Education from Deakin University and, as a result of her most recent studies, a Master of Theology from the University of Newcastle. Angela’s capacity for leadership, whilst accompanied by such roles as Middle Leader, Assistant Principal and Acting Principal, is best defined by her commitment to Indigenous Education; curricular initiatives - with a particular focus on English and Mathematics; behaviour management; and the mentoring of students and colleagues. Across 2011-2012, Angela was seconded to the Catholic Education Office, Wollongong, as a Teacher Educator under the National Partnership Agreement. This saw her appointed to two schools, working closely with staff, students, the Leadership teams and CEO executives, providing all with a framework for Professional Development and support in order to improve teaching practice and in turn, student outcomes. Angela’s dedication to her career is steadfast. She embraces change and possesses a keen and lifelong interest in contemporary research around effective pedagogies that contribute to best practice and enhance student learning. Leadership to Angela, is not a position that is allocated, but the daily demonstration of engagement, service and inquiry as the lived experience of any member of the organisation. In education, this extends to students, parents and colleagues who, through ongoing collaboration, must work towards creating and living a shared vision that fosters community.

Sharne SjostedtSharne Sjostedt is an experienced High School teacher who retired in 2014 after 42 years of teaching. During her long career, she was involved in a range of Drama and Welfare initiatives at a regional and state level. Sharne has been a HSC senior Marker, a Part-time Lecturer at UOW in Teaching Methods and a Student Advisor Girls. Sharne is currently working as a Support teacher. Besides a wealth of experience, she brings a passion and belief in the individual to achieve their goals and dreams.
Essay Question:

For Juniors (Years 9 and 10)

Young girls can overcome challenges which they might encounter and become the person they want to be. Discuss the challenges you have overcome and your aspirations for the future.

For Seniors (Years 11 and 12)

Young women tend to believe that there are certain ways to be that equates to empowerment. Evaluate a few examples and outline what you believe equates to empowerment and how one can become empowered.

Essay Competition Deadline: This Competition closed on SATURDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2017.

Submission Guidelines:
You must be a current female High School student in a school in the Illawarra.
You must be in the relevant years to enter the Junior (Years 9 and 10) and Senior (Years 11 and 12) category.
Only one entry will be accepted per student. Once submitted, you cannot change your submission.
Illawarra female High School Students in years 9 to 12 can enter the 2017 IWD Essay Competition by directly emailing their 800 word essays with the Entry Form.Submissions must be made via email to both email addresses: and  with the relevant related subject line: “ACLW’s 2017 IWD Essay Writing Competition - Junior Entry” or “ACLW’s 2017 IWD Essay Writing Competition - Senior Entry”

You must submit 2 attachments: Your essay on a separate document and the ACLW 2017 IWD Essay Competition Entry Form as a separate document
Your essay must not have any personal information as the author’s anonymity and privacy will be strictly maintained throughout the judging process.

Word Limit: no longer than 800 words; Format: Times New Roman with double-spacing; Only Word documents will be accepted.

Writers must write essays in English. The submitted essay should be original and have not appeared before in any offline or online medium.

By entering this essay competition, you agree with its Submission Guidelines and policies. Please note that the decision made by the Judges will be final and no correspondence or discussion will be entered into.

Prizes in Junior and Senior Categories:
Ist place Winners receive $200
2nd place winners receive $150
3rd place winners receive $100
Highly recommended receive Book Shop Vouchers

Best first, second, third place and highly recommended Junior and Senior IWD Essay Competition winners will be presented with an ACLW 2017 IWD Certificate.

Only first and second place winners for both categories will be required to read their Essay to the audience for ACLW’s 2017 International Women’s Day Event at the Nan Tien Temple's Auditorium during the IWD Program on 8 March 2017.  A Runner-up will be selected if the selected Finalist is unable to present at the event.

Student Finalists and their school will be notified in the week leading up to the event in February 2017 and must at their own expense attend the public event with one adult. 

To attend the event, Finalists must register and only pay the subsidised fee to attend the event; Accompanying teachers and students will need to register and only pay the subsidised fee upon registration. 

Finalists and Winners will be photographed during the event and their name and photo will be promoted online in connection with the Essay Competition.

Each essay will be judged individually by Judges. Judges’ decision is final and no correspondence or discussion will be entered into.
The judging will be based on 3 criteria: original voice; critical thinking skills and clarity of ideas presentation
Good Luck!


Proud Sponsors of the Essay Competition 

Silver Sponsor: Catholic Education Office Wollongong

Bronze Sponsors: Kiama Community College; The Bookshop Kiama


ACLW 2017 IWD Performers:

OWN 300x192 1Illawarra Older Women's Network (OWN) Drumming Group, Heartbeats is led by Barbara Malcolm. A cancer fight that knocked Malcolm about for 15 months wasn't going to stop her from getting back to her OWN group. She searched far and wide for someone to teach Argentinian drumming to the Picton group, with a teacher eventually travelling from Campbelltown for the sessions. When the teacher was no longer able to attend, Malcolm fine-tuned what she had learned and took over the teaching role, something she says is highly unusual for a woman with an Irish-Welsh background to be playing Argentinian beats.

2016 ensemble pose‘Out Of The Blue’ is a unique group of women singers and performers. Formed in 2001, the group has grown from 22 to 35 members and has won local and national medals for its special brand of entertainment. The chorus performs a variety of musical styles including gospel, blues, traditional melodies and swing. Women of all ages and backgrounds come together in harmony to bring joy and enjoyment to audiences wherever they perform.​

Taliah2Taliah King attends Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts. Taliah is an excellent student and represents her school with pride and has proven herself to be a role model and true leader within the school and outside in the wider community where she mentors other children. Taliah has represented the local Aboriginal Community on behalf of Boolarng Nangamai as a Cultural Ambassador.  She was selected to go and work with 120 students over a 5 hour period to teach students Dharawal Language and traditional and modern music themes in 2013 when she was in Year 8.  A leader in the making, Taliah has received a regional award in November 2016 to recognise the culture, leadership and courage she shows with school life and in the community. She was recently acknowledged by Shellharbour Council with an appointment on their Youth Council. At the Reconciliation ceremony in Shellharbour City in 2013, Taliah sang the Australian National Anthem in the native language of Aboriginal people from the Dharawal area. An international star, Taliah sang in language at the International Indigenous Solidarity symposium and presented at the Youth Leadership Symposium at The State University of New York at Albany, USA.

Deeann Green2Deeann Green is studying a Bachelor of Science (Neuroscience and Physiology) and a Bachelor of Arts (Music and Indigenous Studies) at the University of New England. She has been playing the violin for 12 years. Deeann teaches the Violin and Music Theory to students of all ages and abilities in the Illawarra Region. She has received awards in many competitions around NSW and the ACT including at the Canberra String Festival. Deeann has performed in many productions such as Miss Saigon, The Messiah, Jesus Christ Superstar and the King and I. Deeann also plays the French Horn, Cello and Piano. She has a special interest in portraits, dance, expressive photography and events.


DiannRH 1Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey is the Director of the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (ACLW) ( which she founded in 2000 to assist women leaders and emerging leaders and achieve systemic change for women’s valuing and leadership.
Diann has created ACLW’s distinctive identity from researching and publishing on pertinent national issues which concern women; contributing to national policy reform for women’s equality; developing the capacity of leaders and emerging leaders through leadership programs, and recognising and rewarding through ACLW's national Awards Program, individuals and organisations who advocate for women. 2016 is ACLW's 10th Anniversary of its Awards Program with over 80 recipients being recognised.
Diann is Adjunct Professor in The Cairns Institute of James Cook University and Notre Dame University Australia and Fellow of the Wollongong Academy of Tertiary Teaching and Learning Excellence at the University of Wollongong. She has held positions of leadership and management in Sydney and London in education, business and the not-for-profit sector. She is also an Executive Business coach, Mentor and Facilitator as well as a Sessional Lecturer in the School of Management, Operations and Marketing in the Faculty of Business, University of Wollongong.

In 2015, Diann was awarded the UOW Alumni Award for Social Impact.. In 2014, Diann was recognised as one of Australia’s ‘100 Women of Influence’ by The Australian Financial Review and Westpac. In 2009 she received The World of Difference 100 Award from The International Alliance of Women. In 2015, ACLW was recognised by Business Review Weekly as one of 10 Organisations Encouraging Female Professionals in Australia.

Diann’s PhD thesis led to the development of a co-existential leadership model for workplaces for men and women. Her publications include “Abandoning Leadership for a better way of being for women and men” and “Women’s Activism - insights for empowering women from global women activists,” Considerations for Australia’s next woman Prime Minister,” and “Pathways to Gender Equality in Australia: the role of Merit and Quotas”
Event Sponsors


68 Shoalhaven St, Kiama NSW 2533. Tel: 02 42323429


Silver Sponsor: KI PRINT, KIAMA



Essay Competition Sponsors

Silver Sponsor: 

Catholic Education Office Wollongong

Bronze Sponsor

Kiama Community College

The Bookshop Kiama


Supporting Organisations & Individuals

 The Hon Gareth Ward MP

The Hon Sharon Bird MP

RDA Illawarra

Destination Wollongong

Kiama Independent

The Advertiser

The Mercury

Smiths Hill High School Wollongong


Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra

Anthony Skapetis from


Media Publicity:


ACLW’s Illawarra IWD EVENT Details

When:  8 March 2017
Registration 8.40am to 9am. Concludes 12.45pm

Nan Tien Temple Conference Room 180 Berkeley Road, Berkeley NSW (See no. 7 on diagram below). It is located on the Right hand side of the Main Shrine (no 1 on diagram). 
The Nan Tien Temple is the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere. 
For more information on how to get to the Nan Tien Temple see:
Disability Access:
Please email  once you have registered as access to the venue for people with a disability is limited and a space will needed to be reserved for you. The Conference Room can be accessed through a lift and a ramp. The Temple does not have a Disabled Access Toilet. 
Registration Bookings:
Registrations have now closed.
Seating is on a first come first served basis. Ticket registration includes light vegetarian catering. 
Ticket Prices: 
Secondary School Students: $12
Secondary School Teachers only if accompanying students: $12
People with a Disability: $12
Carer of a Person with a Permanent Disability; $12
Seniors: $20
University & TAFE Students: $20
SCARF Volunteers and Members: $20
Minority Groups (CALD; Indigenous; LGBTIQ): $20
iAccelerate Centre Members: $40
Adult Standard Entry: $45