Melbourne Women in Aid and Development Events

Upcoming Event

The role of sport in development - Tuesday 3 March

Stay tuned for more information about this event.

Cost: $20 at the door.
This entitles you to venue entry, drinks and snacks.
Students, interns and unwaged - $10 at the door only.

Other Events in 2019

  • Tuesday, 19 May - Working for managing contractors
  • Tuesday, 21 July - Working in the disability sector
  • Tuesday, 13 October - New technologies in the aid sector
  • Tuesday, 1 December - Working in a humanitarian role in a conflict zone

Previous Speakers & Events

Mental wellness in the aid sector - October 2019

Coinciding with Mental Health Month, in October we hosted a discussion which focused on challenges faced in the field.

As we know, aid and humanitarian work is often done in environments of crisis, violence, high workloads, limited resources and critical incidents which create high stress. Aid workers may experience anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression and burnout which is exacerbated when working away from family and support networks. Aid and humanitarian workers may also experience depression, anxiety and other mental wellness challenges so preparation, organisational support and self-care in the field is essential. In this event we talked about the issues that challenge wellbeing, as well as good preventative programs, and support offered by organisations prior to assignment and on return.

Kate Minto is the Director & Senior Psychologist at Mandala Staff Support who worked in various roles with Mandala Foundation from 2008 to 2017. She commenced in a regional staff support role based in the Pacific, and lead the organisation from 2014. She also played a key role in co-developing Mandala’s psychosocial risk management resources and guidelines for the aid sector. Her current role incorporates leadership and advocacy, strategy, HR, and organisational consultancies. With fourteen years’ experience in the humanitarian sector, Kate is specialised in applying psychosocial principles of support to humanitarian and development contexts. Her field experience includes work for Oxfam International and the Mandala Foundation in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

Natasha Freeman is the Head of International Operational Support at Australian Red Cross, responsible for leading all aspects of international corporate services, departmental financial stewardship, human resources for the international workforce, information management, dynamic risk management, health safety and security, and compliance. She has demonstrated her leadership capabilities and capacity throughout a career that spans across the corporate manufacturing sector as well as the non-profit, humanitarian sector.

With over 12 years in the sector Natasha has worked in the Philippines, Fiji Vanuatu and Indonesia, and has a wealth of personal experience in managing humanitarian programmes across the Asia Pacific Region and other areas globally.  Her current responsibilities include the duty of care and provision of support to an average of 40 personnel at any point in time working in a broad range of complex environments across the globe. Natasha is a highly developed operations management, humanitarian services, and supply chain professional with a Masters of Business Administration from Victoria University and a BSc (hons) focused in Management Science from University of Canterbury.

Gaining Board Roles - July 2019

Chris FranksChris Franks has been a Commercial, Not for Profit and Public Sector director for over twenty years and has lots of experience to share and encouragement to give. A board role may feel a long way ahead of you - if ever but everyone has the skills and capabilities if they have the passion. Chris talked about being a director, what it takes to be a director, the types of boards you can work on, how boards recruit and where to start your journey.

Working in Sexual and Reproductive Health - May 2019

Dr Alison Morgan has over 25 years’ experience in global health research and practice with a focus on maternal and newborn health and currently heads up the Maternal, Sexual and Reproductive Health Unit at the Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne. Alison has a PhD in health systems planning for maternal and newborn care. She has undertaken consultancies for WHO, UNICEF, DFAT (AusAID), and many international non-government organisations and private foundations and currently co-chairs the WHO advisory group Mother and Newborn Information for Tracking Outcomes and Results (MoNITOR). Alison has worked in Bangladesh, Nepal, China (Tibet Autonomous Region), India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, DPRK, Kenya, Tonga, UK and Ethiopia. Alison is also Dr Catherine Hamlin’s niece. She first visited the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital as a medical student in 1982, and her career has been significantly influenced by the example of her aunt.

International Womens Day – #BalanceforBetter - March 2019

We were delighted to have Susan Pascoe AM, President of ACFID and inaugural Commissioner of the ACNC speak at our first meeting aligned with IWD on building a better gender balanced world and what that means for the clients and staff of the Aid, Development & Humanitarian Sector in Australia, Susan also shared the steps that took her into the sector, what helped her career prospects, what challenges she faced on the journey.  

Susan Pascoe AO was elected as ACFID’s President on 1 November 2017 at ACFID's annual general meeting at the start of its annual conference in Melbourne. Prior to her appointment, Susan Pascoe AM was the inaugural Commissioner for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). Ms Pascoe was previously the Commissioner of the State Services Authority in Victoria. In this role she chaired or co-chaired reviews into the regulation of the not-for-profit sector (2007-08) and the design and governance of regulatory bodies in Victoria (2008-09). In 2009, Susan was appointed as one of three Commissioners for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Black Saturday Bushfires. Ms Pascoe has been recognised for her public service. In 2007, she was appointed Member of the Order of Australia for service to education. At the end of 2016 Susan was awarded the prestigious Outstanding Contribution in Public Administration Award and in 2017 was awarded Influencer of the Year at the Third Sector awards.

Jo Hayter AO - Previous CEO IWDA

Jo Hayter AO spoke to the group about working in Human Rights and telling us about her career.

Joanna Hayter AO, was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in January 2018, formally recognised by her country for ‘Distinguished service to women in the areas of gender equality and individual rights through leadership and policy development roles, and to the promotion of global health, peace and security.’

Joanna was the CEO of International Women’s Development Agency from 2010-2017. Jo’s experience in the international development, foreign affairs, human rights, peace and security and economic empowerment ranges across 4 continents and 31 countries including long term residencies in Myanmar, Vietnam and Japan and nearly a decade across African nations. She is a former Board Director for the Australian Council for International Development and currently sits on the Ministerial Advisory Council on Women’s Equality in Victoria. In 2013, Joanna was named as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence. In 2016, she was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll for Women.

To give you a picture of Jo’s life, she has worked in capitalist, communist, socialist and militarist systems or regimes, she has experienced and survived sexual violence, war, floods, famines, fires, cyclones and bomb blasts. She’s also worked in villages, desert and island communities, refugee camps, palaces, parliaments, condos and leaf houses.

Championing Women in Leadership - Claire Rogers CEO World Vision Australia - October 2018

Claire Rogers shared her inspiring journey from the corporate world to CEO of World Vision, the choices she’s made along the way, her successes and difficulties, and her great passion – championing women in leadership.

Claire is a social innovator with a track record of strategising and delivering major change initiatives, helping organisations adapt to the tech-disrupted economy, and aligning physical and digital execution to maximise opportunities. In her previous role as head of ANZ Australia’s digital banking, Claire spearheaded the bank's digital channels transformation, and is recognised for her capacity to grow customer facing business across both physical and digital channels.

Claire sees the digital revolution as an exciting opportunity to reach new generations who want to fight global poverty as well as lifting the experience for existing donors. She is a member of the ACFID Board and volunteered as a mentor for women entrepreneurs in the technology and digital sectors.

Volunteering & Internships - The Inside Story - August 2018

It’s tough to find a role in the international development and humanitarian sectors. This makes volunteering and internships increasingly popular and competitive ways to get a foot in the door. At this session we heard great advice for those looking to volunteer on what to look for in a voluntary role, what you can expect to do and value others discovered about its value in getting a permanent role.

Chelsey Parish - Returned Australian Volunteer Network Manager for the Australian Volunteers Program

Chelsey Parish is a communications for development and project management professional with a passion for communications for social change and volunteer-driven sustainable development.

Originally from Cairns and now based in Melbourne, Chelsey is managing the Returned Australian Volunteers Network, the alumni group of the Australian Government’s long-running Australian Volunteers Program. Chelsey most recently worked with United Nations Volunteers and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Laos, where she coordinated the UN’s volunteer program in-country, while also driving volunteer advocacy and the UNDP’s communications campaigns. She returned to Australia late year to complete her Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development with Australian National University, and also holds an Honours Degree in International Business with the University of Sunshine Coast. Chelsey strongly links the skills gained and contacts made though her international volunteer and internship experiences to her career progression in the development sector.

Tess Farmer is an intern at TEAR. After completing her undergraduate degree in Psychology, Tess is now in her final year of a Masters of International and Community Development at Deakin University. As part of this course she is undertaking a three-month internship with TEAR Australia. Based on the Mornington Peninsula, Tess is in TEAR’s national office three days a week, whilst doing another half day from home. Working with the Effectiveness branch of the International Programs Team, Tess is working with her supervisor in the hopes of creating a tool that will measure TEAR’s progress, at an organizational level, towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She is working to design a framework that will enable TEAR to look specifically at Sustainable Development Goals 1, 3 and 5 and assess the impact that their current projects are having on progress towards these goals. It is hoped that this will serve as an internal learning tool that will facilitate an improvement in TEAR’s project design and effectiveness alongside their partners.

Managing Finances in the Aid Sector - May 2018

A topic that can put some to sleep but our excellent panelists provided an interesting insight to working in the finance side of development.  We addressed the big and small questions of finance in the sector:

  • How do you carve out a career as an economist, accountant or CFO in the sector, and what do you need to know to be successful?
  • Challenges and opportunities they have encountered
  • Where does the money for the sector come from and whats involved in looking after it?
  • How do they work with other Aid & Development roles to make an organisation sustainable?

Tracey Bannan, Chief Financial Officer, World Vision

Tracey Bannan is an experienced senior executive with expertise in risk management, financial management, developing and managing people, and client relations.

Tracey has extensive experience in the professional services industry, with a focus on private businesses, high net worth individuals and the mid-market. This experience includes the not-for-profit sector, operating across disciplines including consulting, risk services and audit. As Chief Financial Officer at World Vision Tracey is filling a contract maternity leave role, and oversees financial strategies, reporting, budgeting, business planning, legal and risk management activities to achieve the organisation’s goals.

Tracey brings experience in audit, business advisory, business management and Quality & Risk areas gained over 28 years at Deloitte Australia and governance skills gained as a Director at the Victorian Aboriginal Childcare Agency and Carinya Society.  She is a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand and has three times been a Victorian Finalist in the Deloitte Businesswoman of the Year awards.

Michelle Pearce, Principal Social Business Consulting

Michelle is a finance professional who has worked for many years in the international development and broader charity sector. Michelle currently works with the Global Innovations Team at Movember, and is the Principal of Social Business Consulting where she provides finance consulting to charities.  Her experience has included senior finance roles at Movember (Chief Financial Officer), Oxfam Australia (Chief Financial Officer), Marie Stopes International (Australian Operations Finance Director) and Australian Red Cross (International Operations Commercial Manager).  Michelle is the appointed accounting specialist on the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee and is a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand’s NFP Advisory Committee. Michelle is a Fellow Chartered Accountant and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Michelle is enjoying a new role as Chief Motherhood Officer to her young baby and is a volunteer foster carer with Anglicare.

Government Relations & Advocacy in the Development Sector - February 2018

Our speakers discussed government relations, advocacy and public affairs answering questions including how to influence policy, work effectively with government and ensure your organisation has a voice in the debate.

Marion Stanton has been Head of Government Relations at Save the Children since March 2015.

Having grown up in Armidale, NSW, Marion graduated with a BA(Honours) from the Australian National University and initially took up a role with the Federal Department of Transport in Canberra.  An interest in politics and public policy development saw her spend five years working as an adviser to members of the Federal Parliament.  From 1993 – 1998, Marion worked on the staff of then Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, and learned a great deal particularly from her close involvement with the Premier’s Drug Advisory Council and Youth Suicide Prevention Committee.

Since leaving the world of politics to start a family, Marion has worked as a government relations adviser for a major airline; as a senior adviser to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England and as the Head of Bruce Hall, the ANU’s oldest undergraduate residential college.  Together with former Federal Minister, Rod Kemp, she published Speaking for Australia: Parliamentary speeches that shaped the nation (Allen & Unwin, 2004).

Rachel Wallbridge Policy & Advocacy Manager at CBM Australia. Rachel has a passion for seeking justice and advocating for the human rights of the most marginalised. This passion has seen Rachel develop more than seven years' experience in the international peace and security and development sector. She joined CBM Australia in 2014 and has led the Policy and advocacy team since 2017.

Prior to CBM Australia, Rachel worked for a Pan-African NGO in Ghana, undertaking a gender mainstreaming assessment of the Ghanaian Armed Forces. Rachel also worked for two years at Australian Civil-Military Centre in Canberra where she focused on building the capacity of the Australian Government to re-establish the rule of law after conflict.

Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours in Political Science) and Law from the Australian National University. She also holds a Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Sydney.

Working & Living Overseas - Does it Improve your Career Prospects?
October 2017

​The Aid & Development sector is interesting and exciting and promises assignments for some to overseas posts for short or long period. it also offers volunteering and intern opportunities which can be a first step to a career. Jess Lees told us about her experience and answered questions such as:

  • Is it good for your career?
  • How do you find a job overseas?
  • What are the risks and challenges?

...the answer was a resounding yes and she answered plenty of questions from the floor!


Jessica Lees Response Manager ( Pacific) International Disaster & Crisis Response Unit Australian Red Cross
Jess has over 7 years of sector experience in international disaster response operations in across Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Jess has worked with a range of non for profit and multi-lateral organisations, including most recently the United Nations World Food Programme, where she led emergency food distribution teams in South Sudan. Jess joined the Australian Red Cross Disaster Crisis Response Unit in January 2016 after several years working overseas, and managed the Australian Red Cross response to Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji from February 2016 and visited drought-stricken Somaliland in 2017 as part of Australian Red Cross’ response to the Food Crisis in East Africa. Jess holds a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) and a Master of International Crisis Management from Monash University.

Digital careers in the development sector -
June 2017

An excellent session nonworking digitally as Content creators, digital campaigns, online advocacy, social media...Across the aid and development sector, digital innovation is shaping and transforming the work we do - from marketing and fundraising to programs and projects.

Holly Crockett, Campaigns Manager, Plan International. Plan International is one of the world’s oldest and largest children’s rights aid and development agencies. Holly has over six years’ experience working in campaigning, media and communications roles with NGOs in Australia, Ethiopia and India. She has a particular interest in working on gender justice campaigns. Holly has a Masters of International Crisis Management.

Natalie Sneddon, Head of Marketing and Innovation, Save the Children. Starting her career in an advertising coordinator role in Sydney, Natalie quickly identified a love of data – customer insight and return on investment. And so began many years in direct marketing agencies, first in Sydney then moving to London where she spent a further nine years at some of the top global direct marketing agencies in the business. From Tequila London, to Lowe Lintas, and onto Rapp Collins, Natalie remained dedicated to client services and crafted her direct marketing skill working on a variety of challenging yet rewarding brands including British Telecom, British Gas, Apple, Barclays Bank and NSPCC to create and deliver targeted acquisition, retention and brand solutions. Returning to Australia, she took the opportunity to refocus her marketing efforts to ‘the client side’, taking up a post at Australian Unity Health Insurance and leading marketing for nearly 6 years. During that time her remit evolved to include Customer Experience and the launch of the organisation’s Innovation Lab.
Today, she’s the Head of Marketing and Innovation at Save the Children, responsible for Digital, Content, Brand and marketing management, and Marketing Innovation.

Initial questions addressed were:

  • What are the pathways to a digital career?
  • What are the challenges of innovation in an NGO?
  • Is digital an effective tool for the work of development, both for advocacy and business efficiency?

...and there were plenty from the floor!

A few digitally educated & enhanced participants in June!

February 2017 - Is Post-Graduate Study for you?

Great insights were shared by our panel

Heidi Michael is the International Development Program Manager for Engineers Without Borders. EWB places skilled professional volunteers with partner organisations in Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Vietnam and South Asia to support and strengthen local capacity. Heidi has over nine years experience, working with national WASH NGOs and as Team Leader Water for the USAID District WASH program. Prior to this, Heidi worked in Melbourne as a civil engineer with Aurecon. She has a Masters in Water and Waste Engineering, her research focused on access of people with disabilities to WASH facilities.

​Vanessa Forrest is the Manager, Field Information and Reporting, World Vision and has been working while studying for a Masters in International Development.

Tait Brimacombe, is working as a Research Fellow, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce at Latrobe University and also studying for her PhD. Tait holds a bachelor's in Development Studies and Law from the University of Adelaide. Tait has contributed to research for AusAID (now DFAT) and the Australian Civil Military Centre (ACMC) on communication for development in fragile states, and the role of communication in complex emergencies. Tait's current research interests include women's leadership, coalitions and collective action in the Pacific.

They described their experiences and challenges on giving post or advanced graduate study a go!

  • How do you choose a course and where could it take you?
  • What are the challenges and the upsides of postgraduate study?
  • When is the right time to think about Post grad study?
  • What to consider when choosing where to study?
  • Should you really go for a PhD?
  • How do you maintain balance, well-being, relationships and a positive approach when studying?

 October 2016

​For our first Melbourne meeting Jo Hayter shared the opportunities, challenges and insights that make her one of Australia's leading CEO's.
Joanna Hayter has been the CEO of International Women’ Development Agency since 2010. Joanna has worked in the international development, human rights and social justice sector for over 30 years, with experience ranging across four continents and 25 countries including long term residencies in Myanmar, Vietnam and Japan, and nearly a decade across African nations. She is presently a member of the Australian Council for International Development Board and a founding member of the Australian NGO Coalition for Women, Peace and Security.