Over 180 senior high school girls, mostly from Melbourne’s West, will pack into the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre at Victoria University at 5pm this Thursday to quiz Dame Quentin Bryce about her time as Governor-General, female leadership, and seek her advice.
The Young Women and Leadership Q&A is part of a lecture series honouring past and current Governors-General.
Students had to qualify for the event by writing up to 150 words identifying the issues they would advocate if they were Governor-General for a week, as well as drafting a question to ask Ms Bryce. The students interests were varied – gender equality (including pay equity), other forms of inequality – Indigenous, racial, and economic – as well as same sex marriage, domestic violence and the GST on pads and tampons.
"However, students are also hot under the collar about community wide issues including the treatment of Muslims, the rights of refugees, climate change and welfare," said former Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, an adjunct professor and Chair of the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre who will chair the Q&A.
"The students plan to quiz Ms Bryce on how she got be Australia’s first female Governor-General, whether her gender held her back, how she balanced her career with her roles as wife and mother, how it changed her – and what she hated most about the position!
"One student wants to ask her what one piece of advice she’d give her younger self. Another, the only girl in her cricket team, wants to know, 'How do you think I become the cricketer, not the girl?'"
Ms Roxon said that VU was delighted to be hosting this unusual opportunity for girls in the West to meet one of Australia's most interesting public figures.
"Quentin Bryce has broken through many of the barriers for women leaders and brings her unique perspective to this interactive discussion. I am sure it will be inspirational for young women starting to think about their future place in the world.
"As VU is the 'University of Opportunity', this is exactly the sort of event we’re proud to host at the College of Law and Justice, Queen Street campus."
In 2014, the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre hosted orations by former Governors-General Right Reverend the Honourable Dr Peter Hollingworth and Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery. Later this year, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, Australia’s current Governor-General, will also present an oration.
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