Earlier this month we, along with many others, celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD). Adopted by the United Nations in 1975 as a formal day of recognition, it is a now global event used to reflect on the progress of women and act as a focal point to advance women’s rights and gender equality.

This year’s theme was Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World. It is a poignant reminder that the pandemic has amplified the inequities for some within our communities.  However, it also signals that diversity in leadership and having diverse voices and experiences are central to national and global recovery plans.

In this edition of HGinSIGHT, we highlight some of the outstanding contributions women in leadership roles make and the importance of gender equity and leadership diversity. It is our great privilege to share with you the reflections and insights of some incredibly inspirational women who are leading with clarity and conviction through this globally challenging period.

I encourage you to listen to Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward, the CEO of the Australia College of Nurses as she champions the value of our nursing fraternity and shares her view on nursing leadership. Challenging the narrative, she advocates for the need for nurses to have a seat and a voice ‘at the table’ whenever decisions are being made that impact the healthcare sector and the people they serve.

Do not miss Leading Women, a priceless insight by eight inspirational women into leadership across the community, public and private sectors. Can I personally thank:

– Learne Durrington. Chief Executive, Western Australia Primary Health Network
– Susan Gannon. Chief Executive, Hospitals, Tasmanian Health Service
– Jacqui Graham. Chief Executive, Wise Group New Zealand
– Rachel Hunter. Under Treasurer, Queensland Treasury
– Peta Jamieson. Chair, Wide Bay Burnett Hospital and Health Service Queensland
– Michelle McKay. Acting Chief Executive, Department of Health Northern Territory
– Prof. Alison McMillan. Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, Australian Department of Health
– Kimberley Pierce. Chief Executive, Healthscope Gold Coast Private Hospital Queensland

It is an honour for HG to be able to provide a platform to acknowledge them and share their insights and advice on leadership, as well as their reflections on leading during COVID-19.

Anne Skipper AM officially discusses the value of HG’s Board Chair Learning Sets. Anne has led boards for over 35 years and shares her personal insights into the challenges of governing bodies and the importance of thought and leadership diversity. We could not be happier that Anne has agreed to be our inaugural lead facilitator for HG Board Chair Learning Sets.

We also welcome the appointment of Ms Sandy Gillies and congratulate her as the first Indigenous CEO of a Public Health Network in Australia. She is part of a powerful group of female leaders in Western Queensland championing rural medicine in outback communities.

Take a look also at the new Blackhall Hospital recently opened in the Central West Hospital and Health Service spearheaded by two formidable women in Jane Williams (Chair) and Jane Hancock (CEO).  HG is determined to work with these leaders to ensure they have access to the widest talent pool as we highlight the wonderful opportunities that exist for those interested in being part of these rural communities.

All of these diverse leaders, all of these women, are making a difference. All are directly and indirectly changing the game, as leaders in government and private sectors, across economic, healthcare and community portfolios, but more importantly through their actions. Through their generous contribution to this newsletter they teach us all about the importance of leading with purpose, authenticity, determination and kindness. Perhaps too their reflections also provide a beacon for future female leaders?

On a very personal note I would like to pay tribute to two inspiring women who have generously guided me along the way.

The first, Jacqui Graham who set me on the right pathway in my early twenties and from that moment forward has always been a mentor to me and in my corner. She is truly inspiring, and I love what she has to say in this newsletter about leadership being all around us in the community, if we look.

The second was my grandmother. Within our Iwi (tribe) my grandmother held great sway. Not in a forceful or overt way, rather in a steady, enduring and reassuring way, with flashes of irreverence and lightness throw in. That is the way of Kuia, elderly Maori women. They are simply magical to be around. They firmly believe they are the Kaitiaki (guardians) of knowledge passed down to them that they in turn must grow and then pass on to the next generation.

I have always loved and been guided by this cultural belief and interpretation of leadership.

Wherever you may draw inspiration from I am quite sure you will also find it in the stories and reflections that follow.

Paul Ingle
Chief Executive