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Women In Public Sector Leadership Summit 2019

The Women in Public Sector Leadership Summit 2019 provides inspiring stories and practical lessons of female empowerment, inclusion, and promotion in the public sector and government. The themes of Women in Public Sector Leadership 2019 are empowerment, opportunity and self-determination. Domestic and international speakers will share their lessons in promoting female leadership and equity throughout the Federal and State public sector, and in local government. You will also hear stories from successful public sector female leaders and politicians in how they came to and maintained success in traditionally male dominated environments. Act now to enhance your journey to public sector leadership and ensure greater female leadership representation in your organisation.

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  28 - 31 May 2019
National Convention Centre


We are bringing together domestic and international public sector speakers to discuss their inspirational stories and learn specific techniques for the promotion of female leadership in the public sector.


Over four action-packed days you will learn methods to empower female leaders and promote female leadership in the public sector.


Attend out pre and post-conference workshops to learn practical tools to enhance female opportunity in the public sector and make the most of your public sector career. Topics include emotional intelligence, resilience, effective negotiation skills and effective communication.



  • Enhance your leadership effectiveness and readiness for leadership
  • Identify and take opportunities now and in future employment
  • Empower yourself and your female employees
  • Ensure respect for female leaders
  • Become an employer of choice for the best candidates
  • Drive inclusion in your organisation and meet female employee and leadership targets
  • Take concrete steps to gender equality and sustain success
  • Drive holistic gender equality through the public service

Who should attend this conference

100%Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries

98%Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner

96%CEOs and Executives

96%Diversity and People and Culture Directors and Managers

96%Aspiring female public sector and government leaders

Get Ready To Be Inspired!

Scroll down for more info and the agenda
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Key Speakers

We are bringing together expert domestic and international speakers to share their inspirational stories and practical lessons in female leadership, opportunity and empowerment.


Georgie Gardner




Julie Bishop


Member for Cowan


Nova Peris

Olympic Gold Medallist and Former Australian Senator

Olympic Gold Medallist and Former Australian Senator


Wilma Robinson

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Deputy Executive


Deborah Richardson

Deputy Minister

Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Affairs


Emma Rossi


Australia Communications and Media Authority


Liz Cosson


Department of Veterans' Affairs


John Bradley


Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning


Ginna Webster


Department of Communities, Tasmania


Dr. Anne Aly

Member for Cowan

Member of Parliament


Catherine Rule

Department of Human Services

Deputy Secretary


Trish Bergin

First Assistant Secretary

Office for Women, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet


Elizabeth McPherson

Futre Fund

Chief Culture Fund


Rose Webb

NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation

Deputy Secretary


Rebecca Falkingham

Deputy Secretary

Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victoria


Trudy Pearce

Deputy Secretary

Department of Education, Tasmania


Jody Broun

Director NSW/ACT

Australian Red Cross


Dai Le

Founder and Advisory Board Member

DAWN and Multicultural NSW


Kerryn Gamble

High Performance Trainer and Author

Culture, Change and Communications

  • Day One - Pre-Conference Workshops - 29th May 2019

    8:30 Registration, morning coffee and tea

    9 am Workshop A: Emotional Intelligence tools for women in the Public Sector

    Mastering emotional intelligence is of vital importance for the improvement of outcomes for women in the Public Service. Women with high levels of emotional intelligence are particularly adept leaders, with a superior likelihood of promotion.

    This workshop will provide delegates with the knowledge and skills to enhance their emotional intelligence, adapt to different environments, and enhance decision-making.

    Delegates will learn:

    • Understand the importance of emotional intelligence to individual and female empowerment
    • How to assess your own emotional intelligence
    • Techniques to improve your emotional intelligence
    • Assessing the emotional intelligence of others
    • How to use emotional intelligence to improve your strategic decision-making
    • Overriding emotional responses to stressful situations

    12:30 pm Lunch

    1:30 pm Workshop B: Cultivating resilience to drive female empowerment in the Public Sector

    Resilience is a critical skill for female Public Sector leaders, and aspiring female leaders in the Public Service. Resilience is critical in advancing the position of women in the public service from the top to the bottom of organisations.

    Delegates that attend this workshop will learn how to overcome unconscious bias and advance their careers through effective use of resilience techniques and skills.

    Delegates will learn:

    • To use resilience to overcome the pecking order and unconscious bias
    • Understand the basic ingredients of resilience and how to use them
    • How to effectively manage difficult people and situations
    • Performing under pressure to enhance outcomes
    • Working through difficult situations and in difficult environments
    • Manage the challenges in work-life balance through resilience
    • Harness resilience to speak with influence and authority

    5:00 End of day one

    Expert facilitator: Nicole Plotkin, Director and Principal Psychologist, Emotional Health Centre

  • Day Two - Speaker Sessions - 30th May 2019

    8:30 Registration, morning coffee and tea

    9:00 Opening remarks from chair:

     9:05am Empowering female leaders in the Public Sector: the glass ceiling and beyond

    As first Assistant Secretary of the Office for Women, Trish Bergin plays a vital role in working across government to deliver policies and programmes to advance gender equality and improve the lives of Australian women, including in strengthening women’s economic security including workshop participation; supporting more women into leadership positions and ensuring that women and their children are safe from violence. Trish is a vocal champion of women’s leadership and, with significant experience as a senior executive leader and management consultant across the public, private and community sectors.


    Trish Bergin, First Assistant Secretary, Office for Women, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet


    9:45am Overcoming the challenges of female employment to reach the pinnacle and maintain success

    Georgie Gardner is a much-loved Australian television personality and journalist. Returning to screens after a break to look after her young family, Georgie is currently the co-host of Today on the Nine Network. Throughout her extensive career Georgie has also anchored Nine News, been host of Sunrise on the Seven Network and read the Late News. Georgie will focus on how she has overcome challenges as a female in the media environment to reach the pinnacle of her career.

    Georgie Gardner, Host, TODAY

    10:20am How female leaders can empower themselves and other female employees

    Trudy Pearce has significant leadership experience in the Tasmanian Public Service. Trudy will be discussing the barriers that females face in the public service, and how female leaders can empower other female employees within their organization and the public service.

    Trudy Pearce, Deputy Secretary, Department of Education Tasmania

    11:00am Morning tea


    11:15am Overcoming a male dominated environment to achieve and sustain success

    Layne Beachley is widely regarded as the most successful female surfer in history, being the only surfer to claim six consecutive world titles and winning 7 titles overall. Layne achieved another first by becoming Chairperson of Surfing Australia, making her the first female World Champion of any sport to take on the role in a national sporting organisation. Layne is also the Founder and Director of Aim For the Stars Foundation, enabling and empowering young Australian women to fulfil their potential through scholarships. Layne will discuss how she overcame the challenges of a male dominated sport and peak sporting body to become one of the most successful athletes in history, and break through barriers to females in sports administration.

    Pending speaker: Layne Beachley, Chairperson, Surfing Australia & the Layne Beachley Foundation, & Social Entrepreneur (pending)


    11:55am How to seize opportunities as a female employee

    Rose Webb has significant domestic and international public sector experience, including as Deputy Secretary of the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, Senior Executive Director and CEO of the Competition Commission in Hong Kong, as an Executive General Manager at the ACCC and Assistant Secretary at the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

    Rose Webb, Deputy Secretary, NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation

    12:35pm Breaking the glass ceiling and beyond: the importance of going further

    Monica Barone has over 20 yeas’ experience in local government and, as CEO of City of Sydney where she has been employed for 10 years, is a devoted female leader managing approximately 3000 staff and contractors. Monica will be discussing breaking the glass ceiling for female employees and beyond.

    Monica Barone, CEO, City of Sydney (pending)

    1:15pm Lunch

    2:15pm Sustaining holistic organisational change from top to bottom of your organisaiton

    Catherine Rule has over 20 years’ experience in the Australian government sector at the Department of Human Services and ASADA. Catherine will discuss concrete steps that organisations and leaders can take to ensure more equitable and equal workforce and leadership representation. Catherine will also share her own personal experiences from her journey to leadership.

    Catherine Rule, Deputy Secretary, Department of Human Services


    2:55pm: Lessons in leadership for aspiring female Public Service leaders

    Wilma Robinson has extensive experience in the Public Service in the United States, having joined as a health policy analyst in 1998. Wilma has gone on to several senior leadership positions. Since 2016 Wilma has been the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Wilma will be sharing lessons for aspiring leaders from her experiences in the United States public service.

    Wilma Robinson, Deputy Executive Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (pending Departmental approval)

    3:35 Afternoon tea

    3:50pm: Embedding respect for female leaders and colleagues


    Rebecca Falkingham is Deputy Secretary at the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, and has held various leadership positions in the Victorian and New South Wales public services, including having been Deputy Secretary at the NSW Departmentment of Premier and Cabinet. Rebecca will be discussing her journey in public sector leadership through senior leadership roles in the Victorian and New South Wales public service. Rebecca will be discussing how to embed respect for female leaders and colleagues in an organization and holistically throughout government and the public service.


    Rebecca Falkingham, Deputy Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet Victoria


    4:30pm NFP Session: Inspiring stories of success through adversity


    Jody Broun is currently a Director at the Australian Red Cross, having joined the NFP sector after a successful public sector career. Jody began her career as a teacher at Clontarf Aboriginal College in WA and subsequently held the position of Executive Director Aboriginal Housing and Infrastructure within the Government of Western Australia. She was later appointed Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment for Western Australia and then moved to New South Wales to take up the position of Deputy Director General of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (NSW), and nine months later was appointed as Director General. She worked at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for a 7-year period ending in 2010. Jody has also been the co-chairperson of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Jody will be providing inspiring lessons of success through adversity from the Not-For-Profit sector and her broader career.

     Jody Broun, Director NSW/ACT, Australian Red Cross

     5:10pm End of two

  • Day Three - Speaker Sessions - 31 May 2019

    8:30 Registration, morning coffee and tea

    9:00 Opening remarks from chair:

     9:05am Embedding organisational respect for female leaders and colleagues in male dominated organisations & gaining personal respect as a female

     Liz Cosson is currently Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affair and has 8 years’ experience in leadership roles in the Australian Public Service. Previously, Liz served in the Australian Army with distinguish for 31 years, becoming the first female to attain the rank of Major General in 2007. Focusing on her experience in delivering profound organizational reform, Liz will provide lessons from in embedding respect for female leaders and methods to gain personal respect in male dominated industries and workplaces.

    Liz Cosson, Secretary, Department of Veterans’ Affairs

     9:45am Harnessing champions of change to improve female representation

    John Bradley is Secretary of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and has CEO of energy networks Australia and 3 Queensland government agencies. As a member of Male Champions of Change, John will discuss the role of the champion of change in promoting female leadership and how prospective female leaders can harness champions of change internal to their organisations.

    John Bradley, Secretary, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

    10:20am Lessons from a pathbreaking female Australian politician

    Pending speaker

    11:00am Morning tea

    11:15am Building resilience in response to adversity

    Deborah Richardson is a seasoned intergovernmental affairs executive and Aboriginal relationships expert in Canada. A business-savvy lawyer with two decades of private, for-profit and public sector experience, Deborah is presently the head of the Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Affairs. Deborah also has significant experience in leadership at the Canadian Public Service at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and the Ontario Ministry of Northern development and Mines. Deborah is also a Mi’gmaq woman and will deliver lessons in ensuring resilience in response to adversity.

    Deborah Richardson, Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Affairs

    11:55am Empowering change through representation: valuing diversity and women in senior leadership

    Anne is Australia’s first female Muslim Member of Parliament and has been widely praised for her work with the Muslim community. Having moved to Australia from Egypt at a young age, Dr. Anne Aly has a diverse background that spans education and training, public policy and community work. Anne was the only Australian invited to President Obama’s White House conference on violent extremism in 2015 and has worked with the UN on developing programs and policies on national security and counter-terrorism. Anne will deliver lessons from her career in how to empower positive change through presentation, with a focus on women in leadership.

    Dr. Anne Aly, Member for Cowan

    12:35pm Media, #metoo women in public life: Lessons for Australia and the public service

    Emma Rossi is a highly respected broadcaster and an authority on the media, having worked as a journalist and newsreader at Nine and Seven. Since 2011 Emma has been the media and strategic communications executive at the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Emma is a passionate women’s rights campaigner and is the founder of a refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Emma will be presenting vital lessons from her career in the media, the public sector and beyond.

    Emma Rossi, Executive, Australian Communications and Media Authority

     1:15pm Lunch

    2:15pm Driving cross-cultural female empowerment

    Nova Peris was Australia’s first indigenous woman elected to Federal parliament and the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal. Having broken down barriers previously seen as unbreakable to Aboriginal women, or any woman, Nova Peris has been a formidable leader all her life. In 2018, Nova was awarded the Northern Territory Award for Excellent in Women’s Leadership, recognizing her contribution to the advancement of gender equality across all of Australia. Nova will draw on her unique experiences in sport, government and as an indigenous leader to deliver lessons for Public Sector women.

    Nova Peris, First Aboriginal Australian to Win an Olympic Gold Medal, former Australian Senator

    2:55 pm Panel discussion: Understanding the specific requirements of encouraging culturally diverse female leadership

    Panel facilitator: Dai Le, Founder, DAWN (Developing Culturally Diverse Leadership and Advisory Board Member, Multicultural NSW

    Dai Le serves as an advisory board member to Multicultural NSW and founded SAWN to develop culturally diverse leadership. Dai grew up with a dual identity in Australia, having been born in Vietnam and spent many years in refugee camps in South East Asia. Dai was name one of AFRs Top 100 influential women in Australia in 2014 and is a former award-winning journalist, filmmaker and broadcaster with the ABC. Dai has also been an adviser to Federal and NSW MPs, and her mission is to build an inclusive society where mainstream institutions and organisations reflect the diversity of our community. Dai is well placed to facilitate the following panelists in a panel discussion on encouraging culturally diverse public sector leadership.

    Panelist: Wilma Robinson, Deputy Executive Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    Panelist: Nova Peris, Olympic Gold Medalist and Former Australian Senator

    Panelist: Deborah Richardson, Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Affairs

    Panelist: Dr. Anne Aly, Member for Cowan

    3:35pm Afternoon Tea

     3:50pm: Lessons in leadership for aspiring female public service leaders

    Elizabeth McPherson has been a leader at the Future Fund since 2010 following a highly successful private sector career. Elizabeth also had broad international experience in Hong Kong, South Africa and New Zealand. Elizabeth will be delivering lessons for aspiring female public sector leaders in how to

    Elizabeth McPherson, Chief Culture Officer, Future Fund

    4:30pm: Overcoming and eliminating barriers to female promotion and leadership

    Ginna Webster is the inaugural Secretary of the Department of Communities Tasmania. Ginna has wide public service experience including as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Justice and Inspector of the NSW Dog Unit. Ginna is passionate about leadership and is Chair of Tasmania Leader Inc. Ginna will be discussing how individual female employees can overcome barriers to their promotion and leadership and how public sector organisations can eliminate barriers to female promotion and leadership to create flourishing organisations.

    Ginna Webster, Secretary, Department of Communities Tasmania

    5:10pm End of day three

  • Day Four - Post-Conference Workshops - 1 June 2019

    9.00 am Workshop A: Effective negotiation for personal and female empowerment

    Effective negotiation skills are particularly important for female members of the Public Service in accessing and managing part-time senior roles, flexible working arrangements and negotiating employment contracts. Delegates will learn how to identify optimal negotiation results and gain tools to ensure best results in internal and external negotiations.

    This workshop provides delegates with the knowledge, skills and experience to enhance outcomes for themselves and other women in the Public Sector.

    Delegates will learn:

    • Learn the importance of personal negotiation for empowerment
    • Improve your negotiation results and processes
    • Improve female outcomes in work, contract or enterprise agreements
    • Represent your organisational values in negotiations
    • Effectively negotiate for improved conditions for female employees
    • Test and improve your negotiation skills through simulated negotiations

    Improve holistic outcomes for women in your organization and the broad Public Service

    12:30 pm Lunch

    1:30 pm Workshop B: Effective communication skills to advance the position of women in leadership

    Effective communication skills are vital to leadership and promotion in the Pubic Sector. Members of the Public Sector need to have strong communication skills to ensure their voices are heard and respected by a variety of stakeholders and decision-makers. This is of particular importance to female employees, who can be unfairly overlooked for responsibility and promotion.

    Delegates for this workshop will learn the skills to further their Public Service careers and ensure effective communication with decision-makers and stakeholders.

    Delegates will learn:

    • Understand the language of exclusion and how to overcome it
    • The language of leadership
    • Communication techniques for different audiences
    • Identifying and changing dysfunctional communication patterns
    • How to respond to communication subtexts to advance careers
    • Ensuring you are heard by decision-makers and considered fairly for promotion

    5:00 pm End of Workshops

    Expert facilitator: Kerryn Gamble, High Performance Culture, Change and Communication Trainer and Author

    Kerryn Gamble is the Founder of Woman of Worth and author of ‘UNSTOPPABLE – the professional woman’s guide to purpose, power & prosperity’.  On a mission to close the confidence and achievement gap, Kerryn applies her expertise in verbal and nonverbal communication skills to transform high-performing women, from invisible to influential. Kerryn is also Vice President of Professional Speakers Australia – VIC/ TAS. A person who can influence conversation and outcomes by the way they communicate both on stage and off, is invaluable to any organsiations. People buy you – your value, your conviction and your confidence in deliverables. Others can’t see your value if you don’t show it.


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