Sydney Women in Aid & Development Events

Upcoming Events

COVID-19 Arrangements

As we work through difficult times we have suspended our face to face networking meetings for now however we would love you to join us on our Zoom meetings - dates slightly changed - check the home page for details and we look forward to welcoming you soon!

Other Events in 2020

  • Tuesday, 28 July - Dealing with the Challenges of Remote Delivery of Health ad WASH Programs
  • Wednesday, 14 October - Working in the disability sector
  • Wednesday, 2 December - Working with Managing Contractors & Consultants

Previous Speakers & Events

ONLINE: Responding to the COVID19 Crisis In- country

Our first online session presented by speakers with personal experience and expertise in dealing with pandemics and infectious diseases who shared their insights into the approaches necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic in vulnerable countries. We heard how the sector is applying its expertise in humanitarian response, case study direct from PNG, skills & development required by staff working in the field and importantly the coping strategies required in Australia and overseas in this stressful period.

Bridi Rice is Director of Policy and Advocacy at ACFID, the Australian Council for International Development .  Prior to joining ACFID, Bridi was a Senior Manager at Ernst & Young, delivering strategy, policy and project advice for domestic and international governments on social justice matters. She also worked in Papua New Guinea for three years as the Australian Government’s Senior Legal Adviser on anti-corruption and money laundering.

Bridi has over 12 years’ experience in human rights and international development, having worked in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Vietnam, Uganda, Qatar and the Pacific.  She is currently completing postgraduate research with La Trobe University on counterpart perspectives of expatriate advisers in Papua New Guinea.  Bridi is an emerging leader in the sector who is passionate about the intersection of development and human security – putting humans at the heart Australia’s international development cooperation program.  
Rachel Donovan is working with the United Nations in PNG as Communications Specialist focused on COVID-19 response. She will speak on risk communications and the challenges in getting information to remote communities. 

Previously Rachel was the Marketing & Communications Strategist at Palms after volunteering internationally for three years as a Communications Advisor with the Press Institute of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar and with the Community Radio Association of Timor Leste in Dili. Rachel initially undertook volunteer work with community radio in western Sydney after completing a Master of Arts in International Relations and Master of International Law, she credits this volunteering as her stepping stone into the industry

Trisha Carter is an Organisational Psychologist who has been working for over fifteen years developing global skill-sets in leaders and employees. Her business, Trans Cultural Careers has delivered assessments, training and coaching in cultural intelligence for thousands of employees and their families moving to or from over 60 countries around the world or working in multicultural teams.

The Role of Sport in Development -March 2020

Our first networking session of the year brought three development professionals  to talk about sport as a successful way to develop cooperation & collaboration in every community – in those lacking health care it can also improve the quality of lives and provide an opportunity for everyone to participate in physical activity.  Sport can make a difference in health, economic development, disaster, building peace and environmental areas of development and is supported by DFAT grants recognising its power for change.

Jackie Lauff is a great supporter of Women in Aid and Development and a powerful voice in the global sport for development and peace sector. Jackie is the co-founder and CEO of Sport Matters based in Sydney, an NGO that uses sport to make a positive and long-lasting impact on development in Australia, the Pacific, Asia and Africa. Since establishing Sport Matters in 2011, Jackie has made a significant contribution to the aid and development sector particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Jackie will share her perspective on the contribution of sport to sustainable development and some of the highlights and challenges from her professional journey carving out a career path in a rapidly emerging sector.

Joanna Lester is the Media and Strategic Communications Adviser for Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP), Australia’s flagship sport for development program. PSP supports organisations to deliver activities that use sport to promote physical activity and key messages, and shape social norms, with a particular focus on women, girls and people with disability.

She is an international development communications specialist, journalist and filmmaker who focuses on the social impact of sport. She has lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the UK, and works across the Pacific.

Joanna is also the director of the award-winning documentary film, Power Meri (Powerful Women), which follows the journey of Papua New Guinea’s first national women’s rugby league team to the world cup and explores how women playing the country’s male-dominated, national sport is changing lives and attitudes. The film is screening internationally and being used as a tool to promote women’s sport, explore how sport empowers women, and encourage discussion about the treatment and status of women.

Previously, Joanna worked as a journalist for the BBC, Associated Press, ABC, SBS and Fairfax. She has covered 10 Olympic, Commonwealth and Pacific Games, as well as other global and regional sporting events.

Assmaah Helal is the Program Community Coordinator of Football United based at the University of NSW. She was the Community Ambassador for the AFC Asian Cup 2015 and is passionate about women’s empowerment through sport.
Assmaah completed a Bachelor’s degree in Sports & Exercise Science and has over eight years experience working with youth and women from CALD (Cultural and Linguistically Diverse) communities through sports. As a committed footballer Assmaah was named the winner of the 2012 “Muslim Sportsperson of the year.

Mental wellness in the aid and development sector - October 2019

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. At this event we heard our expert speakers talk about the issues that challenge wellbeing, as well as good preventative programs, and support offered by organisations prior to assignment and on return.

Dr Heidi Spillane is a Sexual Health Physician and General Practitioner with a strong background in STIs and HIV medicine with experience in Australia, the UK and with Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) overseas in Kenya, China, Uganda and Papua New Guinea. Heidi has coordinated of medical activities of two Tuberculosis projects in Port Morseby (NCD) and Kerema (Gulf province) and led the medical team at a 10,000 patient HIV project in Arua, North West Uganda. Now settled in Sydney, Heidi’s interest is in working with patients to create physical, mental, social and spiritual well being and has also worked with the MSF peer support network program to support returned field workers.

Trisha Carter is an Organisational Psychologist who has been working for over fifteen years developing global skill-sets in leaders and employees. Her business, Trans Cultural Careers has delivered assessments, training and coaching in cultural intelligence for thousands of employees and their families moving to or from over 60 countries around the world or working in multicultural teams.

Overseas Election Monitoring - July 2019

Election Monitoring involves Australian volunteer observers, who work with the electoral body of another country to assess the conduct of an election. They record and report on any electoral fraud they might observe but are not there to intervene. Come along to hear from speakers who have been involved in election monitoring, their experience from the field and how they got involved.

We were thrilled to hear from three outstanding speakers

  • Ms Janelle Saffin NSW MP
  • Hon. Jane Prentice, former Member for Ryan Qld
  • Margie Cook AO

Each talked about the experience of being a monitor, challenges faced and how to get involved as an election monitor on an overseas mission.

Janelle Saffin MP was elected in the 2019 NSW State election as the Member for Lismore. The first Labor Member in 50 years and the first female Member for the electorate of Lismore. She has served in State and Federal Australian Parliaments, has extensive experience in parliamentary affairs, politics, governance, public policy formulation, legal development and management of change, and is Chair of the ALP’s International Party Development Committee.  She is a community development specialist, teacher, lawyer, politician and has worked in government and non-government roles, and in high level advisory roles.

The Hon Jane Prentice was honoured to be elected as the Federal Member for Ryan at the August 2010 Election. She worked to achieve a better future for her community acting as a strong voice for her constituents in Federal Parliament. Jane was appointed Leader of the Australian team that Co-led with India and Indonesia the Multinational Observer Group for the 2018 Fiji election. Jane worked on multiple committees and was appointed Assistant Minister for Disability Services in February 2016 and reappointed as Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services in July 2016. Jane retired at the 2019 election.

Prior to her election to Federal Parliament, Jane served for 10 years as Councillor for the Brisbane City Council ward of Walter Taylor. In Council Jane was a member of Civic Cabinet, with the portfolio of Public and Active Transport and Economic Development Committee (including the Asian Pacific Cities Summit).

Margie Cook has a long and distinguished career with expertise in governance, elections, political change; provision of strategic advice in challenging and dangerous contexts, high level engagement with governments, UN, ind institutions and civil society in more than two dozen countries, many undergoing rapid political change. She also provides electoral support, media development, support to political parties, civil society and civic education development, evaluations and human rights.

Margie was awarded an Order of Australia in January 2019 for service to the international community through the promotion of democratic electoral systems and to human rights.

International Womens Day - #BalanceforBetter -  March 2019

We were delighted to welcome Carol Sherman, Head of International Programs at Caritas, who has spent the last 18 years in many conflict and war torn counties as a Country Director for Plan, Care and others and was a co-founder of AidWatch 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, Carol also shared the steps that took her into the sector, what helped her career prospects, and what challenges she faced on the journey.

Carol Sherman is Head of International programs at Caritas and for 25 years has served as Country/Managing Director for large scale programmes and operations in a number of international NGOs including Plan and Care. She has extensive experience in Asia, Africa, Australia / the Pacific and the Balkans, including working in fragile and sensitive environments. She has demonstrated inspiring leadership in various settings and developed growth strategies relevant to changing contexts.


Carol has strong communication skills and well developed abilities to design and promote targeted programmes drawing on knowledge and best practices. Initiatives include supporting education, health, water and sanitation, gender equity, entrepreneurship activities and CSR. She is experienced in fund management and development of partnerships. Her expertise includes participatory rights based and empowerment approaches to development, women and child development, learning and knowledge management, gender sensitive analysis, grant-making and capacity building.

Human Rights and your career - November 2018

In our final event for 2018, we welcomed Emma Bull from Amnesty International to tell us how to turn your passion for human rights into a career.

 Emma Bull is Amnesty International's Advocacy Manager. Emma is committed to defending those who are denied justice or freedom. At Amnesty she is responsible for the development and strengthening of Amnesty's relations with key stakeholders, including Federal and State governments and their agencies, intergovernmental organisations, key opinion leaders and NGOs.


Volunteers & Interns - 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.

Rachel Donovan is the Marketing & Communications Strategist at Palms which she joined in May 2018, after volunteering internationally for three years as a Communications Advisor with the Press Institute of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar and with the Community Radio Association of Timor Leste in Dili. Rachel initially undertook volunteer work with community radio in western Sydney after completing a Master of Arts in International Relations and Master of International Law, she credits this volunteering as her stepping stone into the industry.
Palms has been connecting skilled Australian professionals with communities in low income countries for over 50 years and specialises in developing long-standing relationships with community organisations in remote areas where opportunities are limited. Palms placements offer mutual professional and personal development for volunteers and partner organisations through long-term volunteering.

Leanne Elliott has undertaken three volunteer assignments over the years, firstly in the Kingdom of Tonga working across a range of development projects including waste management, women’s development, youth and environmental issues and in Botswana with cheetah on human-wildlife conflict mitigation.

She held a previous career in food and wine media before actively pursuing a change to work in the development sector, with a particular interest in environment and wildlife. She undertook a Masters of Environment at Macquarie University while working full time and is now working with Taronga Conservation Society Australia. She is now working as a Wildlife Conservation Officer, focused on the delivery of wildlife conservation programs in Australia and abroad in addition to being responsible for population management of exotic species at both Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Managing Finances in the Aid Sector - May 2018

A topic that can put some to sleep but our excellent speakers 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 what's involved in looking after it?
  • How do they work with other Aid & Development roles to make an organisation sustainable?

Melanie Champion Chief Operating Officer Adara Group

Melanie is the Chief Operating Officer of the Adara Group which consists of two Australian corporate advisory businesses, Adara Advisors and Adara Partners, whose sole purpose is to support a non-profit international development organisation, Adara Development. Adara Development is focussed on improving health and education for women, children and communities living in poverty.

Melanie joined Adara in late 2014 as a volunteer working on a technology platform used by Adara Partners and then held various roles before being taking on the COO role in 2016.

Prior to working with Adara, Melanie worked as a Group Finance Director in the Marketing & Communications sector.  Following her degree, Melanie worked with PwC in the Corporate Finance division.  She has a Bachelor of Economics degree, majoring in Finance and Accounting and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia.

Government Relations and Advocacy in the Development Sector
February 2018

Our panellists Maree Nutt, CEO of RESULTS and Flynn McDermott, Head of Electorate Office for Trent Zimmerman MP discussed government relations, advocacy and public affairs roles and answered questions including how to influence policy, work effectively with government and, ensure your organisation has a voice in the debate.

Maree Nutt has been RESULTS Australia’s CEO since 2007. She has held many positions within the organisation since first starting as a grassroots volunteer with RESULTS in 1989.

Maree works to empower everyday citizens to take actions outside their comfort zones and succeed. She has built strong connections and relationships within government, bureaucracy, the media and the international development community to help RESULTS achieve its advocacy objectives.

Maree has represented RESULTS at international forums, spoken on radio, been quoted in various national newspapers and presented to Parliamentary and Department briefings.

Maree is also a qualified physiotherapist who worked in the area of rehabilitation therapy for over 20 years.

Flynn McDermott is Head of Electorate Office for Trent Zimmerman MP and an experienced Chief of Staff and political adviser who has worked for a number of MPs both in State and Federal offices. Her roles have included responsibility for portfolios of transport, education and health and the management of some of the most marginal seats in the country.

An experienced and tough campaigner with a passion for local issues and the welfare of constituents. Flynn has provided high-level advice to MP’s and Minister’s offices on a range of policy and political issues.

Flynn has also served as the Faculty Manager of Health Sciences at the Australian Catholic University and directed the significant expansion of the faculty and the introduction of new courses including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and public health. Flynn had oversight of course accreditation and supported the introduction of a Bachelor of Midwifery for Indigenous women.

Before pursuing a career in politics Flynn was a high school teacher and worked in a tough South London school where she learnt the importance of kindness, compassion and humour.

Flynn has a Masters Degree in Public Policy and Politics and a Bachelors Degree in Education and was awarded a Certificate of Commendation for the Order of Australia for Community Service. She is married to Tony and proud Mummy to Audrey (7), Eleanor (4) and Charlie

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. Our panel of four excellent speakers told us about their experience working and living overseas, and answered many questions such as:

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

...we heard it's definitely worth working in the field and there were plenty of questions from the floor!

Our panel:
  • Olive Orate, currently program administrator at CUFA. Olive has two decades of experience running development programs in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.
  • Krissie Hayes, Protection IPC and Trainer at Act for Peace. Krissie is the International Program Coordinator (IPC) for Thailand and Myanmar-based programming and also a Protection specialist and trainer very experienced in protection and refugee programming in diverse contexts including Cambodia, the Pacific, Gaza, South Sudan and others.
  • Grechen Carrigan. Gretchen is a statistician and agricultural economist who works on projects in science, agriculture health and finance which create change for communities. She has worked in remote communities in Kenya, Indonesia, and Vietnam, as well as rural Australia and with researchers from Harvard University to design and administer monitoring and evaluation surveys.
  • Trisha Carter. Trisha is an organisational psychologist and intercultural specialist who briefs and prepares people about to move to a new country. She has herself lived and worked in a number of countries and will talk about her experience which took her into supporting others.

June 2017 - Digital careers in the development sector

In the second event in Women in Aid and Development's 2017 series, we focused on working digitally.  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.

Our panel:

  • Jessica Carter, Programs Manager at Opportunity International. Jessica Carter is a media and international development professional with a passion for storytelling that strengthens community outreach and impact. She has worked with communities in Bangladesh, China, India, South Korea, Canada and Australia for a range of development, media and research organisations. She is currently Programs Manager for Opportunity International, where she focuses on health, gender and financial inclusion in the Asia region. She is also a Member of the Executive Council of the Sydney Peace Foundation and co-host/producer of the Freethinking Conversations podcast.
  • Anna Lazarakis, Digital Consultant at Parachute Digital. Working for the last decade in fundraising and digital marketing roles, Anne has a genuine passion for charities that better the world through social equality, human rights and healthcare. Anne began her career just as digital began to reshape the world of marketing. Entering the industry at this time of rapid change opened up Anne’s world to inspiring and highly opinionated mentors, instilling in Anne the drive to keep learning about the way digital can change the way we operate everyday.

Initial questions 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!

February 2017 - Is Graduate Study for you?

A fascinating three speaker panel on Post & Advanced Graduate Study Chaired by Dr Michelle Imison from RESULTS.

​Penny Farrell is a PhD candidate at the Sydney School of Public Health. Her research focuses on access to healthy food for obesity prevention in the Pacific. Penny has previously worked in global health research in the not for profit sector and in health research with the state government.

Megan Krolik is the Regional Program Manager for Asia Pacific and Emergencies at Habitat for Humanity Australia. Megan has 13 years of international development experience, working primarily in Asia and the Pacific. Megan specialises in Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Response and is a self-proclaimed earth sciences geek. She has previously held roles with Caritas Australia, Emergency Management Queensland, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SOPAC).

​Dr Archana Voola is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Uni of Sydney. Archana is the Ewing Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Sydney. Her primary research interests are in the area of gender based inequalities, social policy, social innovation and critical comparative research. Her current research project explores food wellbeing and social inclusion in ultra-poverty programs in rural South India. Her work on the ‘field’ and in the ‘ivory towers’ of academe has helped her identify that the real experts on the issues of gender equality and poverty are those that are most impacted by it. Hence, she is committed to giving voice to the marginalised.

Session covered the questions:

  • How do you choose a course and where could they take you?
  • Why you should or shouldn’t do them?
  • Should you really go for a PhD?
  • Will a degree improve your employment options in the sector?
  • What are the challenges and the upsides?
  • How can you secure your organisations support?

December 2016 Drinks & Discussion

We celebrated the end of year with colleagues and stories from our experience - funny, compelling, unusual, exciting, moving and challenging that had us reflecting on the reasons we work in this amazing sector and the lives we touch and change.

Working in a Faith Based Agency - What's the Difference? - September 2016

A three speaker panel from faith based agencies addressed some common questions - Are there differences in working for a faith based agency? Do you have to be of that faith? Does a faith base help or hinder when working with some communities?  Does faith shape donations and programming?

Anna Robinson - Islamic Relief Australia
Jackie Perkins - Quaker Service Australia
Zoe Nelson-Carey - Habitat for Humanity Australia

JACKIE PERKINS is the Executive Administrator of Quaker Service Australia. She has a Masters of Social Science (International Development) and has a background in managing a community centre, a women’s health centre, and as medical herbalist. Jackie was part time QSA office volunteer from 1999 to 2004 then became employed full time as administrator and project manager. (Jackie something more on your work with QSA and ACFID would be good.)
Quaker Service Australia (known as QSA) is the service and overseas aid organisation of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia. Its role is to channel the concern of Australian Quakers for building a more peaceful, equitable, just and compassionate world.

ZOE NELSON CAREY is National Partnerships Manager at Habitat for Humanity Australia – Zoë is responsible for developing and strengthening relationships with new and existing partners. She previously held roles in corporate fundraising with the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and in publishing sales with Hardie Grant Media.

Habitat for Humanity is a faith based organisation that works to demonstrate God’s love in action by mobilising partner families, volunteers and corporate partners to provide appropriate housing solutions in sustainable communities. We serve and work with people of all faiths and beliefs in a spirit of justice and compassion.

ANNA ROBINSON is working in International Programs at Islamic Relief Australia, working mainly on programs focusing on disaster response in the Middle East and disaster risk reduction and resilience in South East Asia from a faith literate perspective.

Islamic Relief Australia is the Australian chapter of the world’s largest Muslim humanitarian relief and international development agency. A community of humanitarians working together for a better world by raising awareness and funds to respond to humanitarian disasters and communities in poverty around the world.

Are there differences in working for a faith-based agency? Do you have to be of that faith? How are programs implemented? Does a faith base help or hinder when working with some communities?  Does faith shape donations and programming?

The similarities – all agencies:

  • Serve those most in need regardless of faith
  • Do not proselytise or evangelise
  • All have similar Values
  • Maintaining the Faith base by focus of board and staff on Vision and Values in every program & activity
  • No institutional barrier to women moving into leadership but challenging as in any area of society today.
  • Have limits on where they accept donations e.g. not arms trade, tobacco, gambling, etc.

Some differences between agencies:

  • Faith based organisations attract some people who are motivated to serve others due to their faith
  • Donors may be more motivated by religious obligations and more likely to remain loyal givers
  • Fundraising & Marketing materials may have more focus on religion than program materials.
  • May be support from a faith-based diaspora
  • Some organisations send missionaries
  • Major value in faith leaders ability to influence community behaviour positively and support programs e.g. FGM campaign
  • Some faith based partner organisations in country can be more observant and create issues due to local religious requirements

Some observations

  • On the ground the work is very similar between agencies and faith has little role whereas in Head Office there may be a higher focus on faith role in activities
  • Agencies work together productively and in partnership regardless of faith
  • Currently corporatization of Not for profits in Oz driven by DFAT agenda in part and desire for corporate partnerships. See ‘Value for Money’ vs. broader Values offensive in evaluation programs and erodes what we do
  • In country partners may not be as strong in complying with policies regarding not impacting cultural norms – e.g. asking a child to change their name to something more acceptable to supporters; holding a prayer meeting on site with local community present.
  • May be an issue in some communities that the organisation does not have a faith base especially in areas, which are developing and have strong faith ties.
  • Children who are orphaned or abandoned need role models and sometimes these are religious leaders.
  • Non-Faith based organisations sometimes brought in to build capacity of faith-based partners.


  • In general, little difference between faith based and non-faith based agencies
  • No institutional barrier to women moving into leadership but challenging as in any area of society today.
  • Most employ staff no matter the candidates' faith but there are some positions where faith literacy is essential especially supporter facing roles.

Great Fundraisers Session - May 2016

Two great women working in the Fundraising & Philanthropy sector with varied backgrounds see themselves as in early stages of this part of their careers. They gave us a picture of the path they have taken, opportunities they have had and challenges they have faced.

Rebecca is Deputy CEO and Head of Fundraising for CUFA, an economic aid agency which works to combat poverty in the Asia-Pacific region. Rebecca has spent the last two decades working in fundraising, sponsorship, marketing, digital strategy and customer loyalty across the not-for-profit and corporate sectors. Prior to joining CUFA, she held senior roles in the performing arts. She is currently chair of the National Young Writers' Festival.

Pauline is a Philanthropy & Bequest Manger with UNICEF Australia where she has worked for nine years, moving from Supporter Relations Manager to her current role as Philanthropy Manager 18 months ago. She has had a varied career path to get to this point working in Journalism in New Zealand and England; Public Relations in England and Australia and along the way training as a Librarian working in school and law libraries.

Jackie Lauff - CEO Sport Matters

Jackie Lauff who is a great supporter of Women in Development talked about her career and how she established an NGO. Jackie is the co-founder and CEO of Sport Matters, an Australian NGO that uses sport to make a positive and long-lasting impact on development in Australia, the Pacific, Asia and Africa. She has developed a very diverse skill-set from living and working in Fiji, Belgium, Norway, Germany and China. Jackie will share her professional journey with a focus on governance and leadership and touch on some of the highs and lows of starting an international NGO in Australia.

December 2015 Drinks

Chris Franks Chair Habitat for Humanity Australia; RESULTS Australia & Director Family Planning NSW

Chris Franks is a company director with over 15 years' governance experience; currently serving as Chair of Habitat for Humanity Australia, Chair of RESULTS International Australia, director of NSW Kids & Families, and director of Family Planning NSW. She is also a member of several audit & risk, governance and international advisory committees. Chris has worked as a director and Chair of a number of financial services, personal insurance and health insurance boards including CUA, CUA Health, and Credicorp Insurance.
Chris has extensive executive experience in sales, marketing, consumer research and customer service in both commercial and not-for-profit sectors. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and recipient of the ACFID Award for Outstanding Service to the Aid and Development Sector in 2006.

Women in Development Speaker Notes - Chris Franks  - Aiming for the Boardroom & Director role
November 2015

Think whether governance is going to be your thing?
The Role:

  • Helicopter level guidance & monitoring
  • Strategic direction & planning
  • Business Planning approval, maintenance, monitoring
  • Policy development & oversight
  • Compliance & Risk Monitoring
  • CEO - Recruit, evaluate and when necessary terminate
  • Hands off management
  • Learning essential – AICD, ACFID, Gov Institute as well as hands on
  • Ongoing learning, education essential
  • Willing to take personal liability, large legal obligations & potential penalties

What sort of boards

  • Not For Profit – domestic & international
  • Private development consultancies
  • Volunteering orgs
  • Government committees & boards

Likelihood of corporate roles and getting paid is very low!
Be realistic about where your skills will fit and be valued

What boards look for when recruiting?
Good boards work to a skills matrix so they can balance the skills that will best support the organisation

  • Experience vs. new to governance – usually look for a balance
  • Alignment with faith, values and culture
  • Skills and expertise
  • Geographic location
  • Age – younger or bringing senior exec experience
  • Diversity - women, disability, ethnicity, etc.
  • People with experience of the cause – e.g. personal or family contact
  • Willingness to commit to more than one term
  • Ability to work well as a member of a team but also exercise independent thought
  • Evidence of learning and development in governance

Where to Start

  • Work out what skills, strengths, knowledge and interests you have programs, finance, law, fundraising, HR., etc.
  • Do you report to a board – if not that’s your first goal
  • Where do you want to go and how soon - Set an ambitious goal, write it down and then plan some interim steps
  • Evaluate your skills against your goal and work out what skill gaps need filling
  • Talk to your network – people love to help, find someone who is a director, Join women in Development!
  • Make a new network – join organisations, member organisations, ACFID, AICD, Women on Board, Aim etc. and join a committee to get experience
  • Forge relationships with other women – women are consultative, cooperative, and supportive and communicate - men compete and hoard information
  • Get training and where possible get someone else to pay e.g. work
  • Join member organisations – especially the free ones and aim to get on their board
  • Join the board of your local sporting club or kids school

Be Confident

  • Some women are made to feel not quite good enough – but only if you let them!
  • Ask for help – women usually go it alone whereas men use their contacts and people they meet who they ask to provide advice
  • Women are usually overqualified when they apply for a role (men underqualified)
  • Women too honest in an interview regarding their experience
  • Only way around it is to find a trusted mentor you can talk to and bounce ideas and who can help you prepare

Professor Shirley Randell AO (PhD, Hon.D.Litt, MEd, BEd, DipREd) August 2015

Professor Shirley Randell is an inspiring educator and a leading expert in Public Sector and Institutional Reform in Developing Countries. She began her career teaching Aboriginal and disadvantaged children in Western Australia, became a passionate educator and has degrees from Australia, London, Rwanda and PNG.

For the last 18 years, Professor Randell has been instrumental in improving gender equality and public sector services in Asia Pacific and Africa, and she was the Founding Director of the Centre for Gender, Culture and Development for the University of Rwanda. Professor Randell has helped develop several programs and educational initiatives, including designing and developing a PhD, Master and Bachelor program in Social Science (Gender and Development) for the University of Rwanda.

Claire Mallinson, National Director Amnesty International
June 2015

Claire Mallinson who joined Amnesty International Australia as National Director in October 2007. Claire has nearly 30 years' experience in rights-based work and the not for profit sector, including UK’s biggest not for profit disability organisation, Scope, the Cancer Research Campaign and Greenpeace Australia/Pacific. Claire will talk about her career steps and provide some insights into her move from UK to Oz agencies and a domestic vs an international charity and much more!

Rhonda Chapman - February 2015

Rhonda is one of the top consultants in the sector who spoke about her ongoing journey and enjoyment of consulting to the International NGO sector. An international aid and development consultant and advisor, emphasising a human-centred, participatory and culturally sensitive approach to working with people in other cultures. Her preferred areas of work are civil society organisations, participatory program monitoring and evaluation, partnership brokering, capacity development and facilitation, participatory social research and community development.

Meredith Burgmann - November 2014

Meredith Burgmann is one of the most inspirational women in the world and she joined the group on November 10th to talk about her experiences and to inspire and encourage young women to reach their potential. The Honourable Dr Meredith Burgmann was an early feminist and anti-racism activist, an academic and MP. She was President of the NSW Upper House and has written three books. She is a Consultant to the United Nations Development Program, a former President of The Australian Council for International Development and an Ambassador for the Sydney Swans. Dr Burgmann’s passion for politics is long standing. She was active in the Vietnam and apartheid protest movements at Sydney University. She spent time in prison for running onto the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1971 during the all-white, racially selected Springboks tour. Having gained her PhD at Macquarie University, she taught industrial relations and politics there for 18 year

Dr Meredith Burgmann is the longest serving female presiding officer in Australia. She entered State Parliament in 1991 and became President of the NSW Legislative Council in 1999, a position she held until retirement in 2007. In 2008, she was elected a Councillor on the City of Sydney Council.

Meredith is a founder of the Ernie's, the premier annual awards dinner that shames men for outrageous sexism, insensitive stamens and ignorant opinions. She has co-authored two books, "Green Bans: Red Union" and "1000 Terrible Things Australian Men Have Said About Women". Her most recent book is " Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO Files".

Dr Meredith Burgmann is actively involved in the local and global community. Her current and previous involvements have been with the National Pay Equity Coalition; National Tertiary Education Union (Life member); Amnesty International; Mandela Foundation; Australian Society for the Study of Labour History; Sydney Swans; Womens International League for Peace and Freedom; Evatt Foundation; Greenpeace; Australian Conservation Foundation; Black Womens Action for Education; Zimbabwe Information Centre and The Sydney Peace Foundation.

Mieka White - September 2014

Mieka White became the CEO DotComMob, a small organisation providing computers through indigenous community centers to give people the tools to change their own lives. The program worked in partnership with communities and government to ensure the sustainability of the program, then transitioned to deliver technology training and digital storytelling workshops to stimulate interest in learning English and improve youth job opportunities.
As jack of all trades, Mieka designed and delivered training, secured financial and pro bono support from multiple organisations and established a website to provide accountability and to attract more support.

Mieka eventually left to work in a corporate relationships role at Australian Red Cross then moved to her current role at the Commonwealth Bank Foundation. She has successfully negotiated a major move from the ground level of a community development organisation to a major corporate entity, with all its complexities.
The challenges and difficulties encountered by Mieka are common for many working in Australian NFP’s with operations in Australia and overseas. Mieka will talk about the insights gained and challenges which supported her transition to her current role 'on the other side' of the funding equation as the Foundation Coordinator at the Commonwealth Bank Foundation.

Human Rights Day 2013

A different evening spent over a glass or two of wine, chatting and writing letters with Amnesty members to support people facing discrimination, violence and imprisonment around the world.

Anette Owttrim
Annette talked about her work and career in a private contractor which delivers healthcare solutions in remote, challenging, under-resourced and austere environments - you'll all recognise those!

Annette is General Manager of Business Development for Aspen Medical with high-level expertise in developing innovative health solutions for projects in remote and austere environments in Australia and overseas. She will provide an insight to her work with Aspen Medical, an Australian owned global healthcare solutions provider which contracts to governments including AusAid, Defence, private companies and more to provide expeditionary healthcare services and deliver full spectrum healthcare in any setting. Annette will also talk about her career and how she found her way into the field and the challenges she faces - often very similar to those NGO staff face in the field.

Xavier Hennekinne
Xavier spoke about the work of the Mandela Foundation which promotes the prevention, mitigation and treatment of stress in humanitarian aid and development staff following its defunding by Ausaid. Xavier, provided an insight into its work influencing and supporting systematic staff care practices at sector, organisational management, project management and individual staff member level. He highlighted his presentation with case studies and particular issues which arise for women working overseas.

Hennekinne is a member of the board of the Mandala Foundation and Director of People and Organisational Development at ChildFund Australia. French-born Xavier came to Australia as a young man in search of adventure, and began his career in human resources management in the corporate sector, moving to international aid and development in 2005. Prior to joining ChildFund Australia, Xavier served the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in various roles, notably as the head of its global HR services in the Philippines and Senior HR Advisor at Headquarters in Geneva, Haiti and South Sudan. Xavier has lectured on Forced Migration and has a Master of Arts in Peace and Conflict studies from the University of Sydney.


An informal session in which three women shared their experiences and tips for settling into an overseas posting. some surprising and interesting issues to consider

Informal sharing of experiences of several members getting onto boards, what it involves and how to aim for a role.