WLA announces the Excellence in Women’s Leadership award winners

Karen Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of WLA

Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) announced Karen Mundine, CEO of Reconciliation Australia as the 2023 National Award recipient of the Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership. This award celebrates exceptional Aussie women who pioneer change and make important contributions to advancing equity across all facets of our society.

What is the mission behind the awards?

Nominated by members of the public, the annual Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership highlights the successes of Australian women leaders across various industries and their achievements. The Awards are an initiative of Women & Leadership Australia, one of the largest gender equity initiatives in Australia and globally, having directly supported more than 60,000 women through professional development programs, events and advocacy.

“Ms Mundine has shown exceptional leadership and advocacy as the CEO of Reconciliation Australia. As Australia further continues down the path of treaty, truth telling and establishing a voice for our First Nations community, her ongoing leadership will be an example for us all. We are honoured that Ms Mundine is accepting this award,” says Karen Taylor, CEO of WLA.

Who were the 2023 winners of the awards?

The 2023 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership will be presented at various leadership events. Previous recipients of the National Award include Christine Holgate, Natasha Stott Despoja AO, Nova Peris OAM OLY, Tracey Spicer AM, The Hon. Julia Gillard, Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, Elizabeth Broderick AO, Ann Sherry AO, and Gail Kelly. WLA announced a range of inspiring women as state and territory award recipients including:

NATIONAL – Karen Mundine – CEO, Reconciliation Australia

Karen Mundine has been a vital part in some of Australia’s watershed national events including the Apology to the Stolen Generations, Centenary of Federation commemorations, Corroboree 2000, and the 1997 and 2021 Australian Reconciliation Conventions.

Karen Mundine, Chief Executive Officer at Reconciliation Australia

Commenting on her recognition, Karen said, “I carry in me my family history and the history of the Bundjalung Nation. My grandmother, mother and aunties – role models to me and others – set standards and expectations through their resilience and their achievements. My life experiences might be a bit different to them but I share their resourcefulness and resilience, their determination to live their lives on their own terms and with purpose.”

“To achieve real, meaningful change – to our systems, to the way things have been done in the past – we need to have a diversity of people at the table. I remind all women, don’t underestimate what you might bring to the table – own it, everything you know you are, and all the things that you’re not – your perspective is unique,” Karen further commented.

As the CEO of Reconciliation Australia, Karen brings more than 25 years of expertise in leading community engagement, public advocacy, communications, and social marketing campaigns. She also works with govts, the business sector, and civil society to advocate for change and is a member of the Australian Government’s Referendum Engagement Group.

Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Technology Sydney and was the winner of the 2021 Indigenous Australian UTS Alumni Award. She also sits on numerous boards and has always had an innate passion for instigating change. Karen will accept her award at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium in Brisbane on May 12.

QLD – Rochelle Courtenay – Founder & MD, Share the Dignity

Rochelle Courtenay is the Founder and Managing Director of Share the Dignity. Share the Dignity is a national charity founded in 2015 with the mission to ensure that everyone is afforded the dignity of having access to period products that so many of us take for granted.

Rochelle Courtenay, Founder and Managing Director at Share the Dignity

Her contagious spirit has led to the donation of over 3.8+ million period products through multiple initiatives across Australia. She has won accolades such as being a finalist for Australian of the Year, Cosmopolitan Humanitarian of the Year, and Pride of Australia recipient.

She is passionate about advocating for change and creating long-term solutions to issues specifically affecting women in need. Rochelle Courtenay will accept her award at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium in Brisbane on May 12, 2023.

ACT – Natasha Bullock – Ass. Director, National Gallery of Australia

Natasha Bullock is an award-winning arts leader, curator, and art historian with more than 25 years’ experience working in the arts and culture industry. Natasha Bullock joined the National Gallery of Australia as Assistant Director, Curatorial and Programs back in 2019.

She is widely published and has won numerous accolades including awards from The Art Association of Australia and New Zealand, Museums and Galleries National Awards, American Institute of Graphics Arts and Museums Australasia Multimedia & Publication Design Awards.

Natasha Bullock, Assistant Director, Collections and Exhibitions at National Gallery of Australia

She was instrumental in the development of the National Gallery’s gender equity initiative, Know My Name, a program of exhibitions, commissions, education programs, partnerships and creative collaborations that celebrate the diversity and creativity of women artists.

Natasha Bullock also led the conception and co-design of the Gallery’s sector leading Gender Equity Action Plan, which aims to embed gender equity throughout the National Gallery from collection development and the artistic program through to everyday operational activities and, aspiringly, across arts and culture nationally. Natasha Bullock will accept her award at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium in Canberra on June 23, 2023.

NSW – Tu Le – Lawyer, Marrickville Legal

Tu Le is a Vietnamese who advocates for neglected communities in South West Sydney where she grew up. She works in the community legal sector assisting victim-survivors of domestic violence and manages capacity-building and community legal education programs.

She is the co-founder of Ycollab, the Vietnamese Australian Forum, and sits on the board of Addison Road Community Organisation — a charity focusing on social justice, arts and culture, and community sustainability. Tu also serves as the Deputy Chair of Asian Women at Work – a firm that empowers migrant women in low-paid and precarious employment.

Tu Le, Lawyer at Marrickville Legal

Also, Tu was featured as one of 21 inspirational women of 2021 in Vogue Australia and in 2022 won the 40 Under 40 most influential Asian-Australians award. Tu Le will accept her award at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium in Sydney on August 25, 2023.

VIC – Georgie Harman – CEO, Beyond Blue

Georgie Harman is one of Australia’s most influential and trusted figures in the mental health sector. Since being appointed CEO of Beyond Blue in 2014, Georgie has steered the organisation through significant growth and transformation – expanding its services and supports, strengthening its connection to the community, and harnessing digital innovation.

Georgie Harman, Chief Executive Officer at Beyond Blue

Georgie is also the Deputy Chair of the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs and serves on the Boards of Mental Health Australia, Kilfinan Australia, and is a Patron of Out for Australia. Georgie is driven by a determination to do better for people and their families using a community heart and a business head. Georgie Harman will accept her award at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium in Melbourne on August 4, 2023.

TAS – Donna Adams – Dept of Police and Emergency Management

In 2022 Donna Adams was appointed Commissioner of Police and Secretary of the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management in Tasmania. She is the first female Commissioner in Tasmania. Donna has been in the police service for 35 years and has received awards, like a Public Service Medal for outstanding leadership during the pandemic.

Donna Adams, Commissioner Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management Tasmania

In addition to this, Donna Adams was also recognised with an Australian Police Medal for Distinguished Service and the Tasmania Police Service Medal for diligent and ethical service.

She also received a Commissioner’s Commendation for her work in the aftermath of the devastating 1996 Port Arthur massacre and has been recognised by the Australasian Council of Women in Policing as an outstanding investigator. Commissioner Donna Adams will accept her award at the online Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium on September 1, 2023.

NT – Pat Anderson AO – Chair, Batchelor Institute

Pat Anderson is a proud Alyawarre woman known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples. Pat Anderson has published numerous essays, papers, and articles, including co-authoring with Rex Wild QC of Little Children Are Sacred, a report on the abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.

Pat Anderson has extensive expertise in Aboriginal health, including community development, policy formation, and research ethics. She has spoken before the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous People, has been the CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, and is the Chair of numerous Australian Indigenous health organisations. Pat Anderson also led the regional dialogues around Australia that led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Pat Anderson AO, Chair of Batchelor Institute

Pat was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2014 for distinguished service to the Indigenous community as a social justice advocate, through promoting improved health, and educational and protection outcomes for children. In 2018, the national NAIDOC Committee recognised her life-long contribution with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2021 she was awarded the ACT Senior Australian of the Year. Ms Anderson is the Chair of the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education Council, Co-Chair, Uluru Dialogues, Chair, Remote Area Health Corporation, and a Member of the Literacy for Life Foundation.

Her work in advocacy for Indigenous rights and health has had profound impacts on Australia and will continue to do so in years to come. Pat Anderson AO will accept her award at the online Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium on September 1, 2023.

WA – Zahra Al Hilaly – Youth Activist, Speaker and Author

Zahra is a recognised leader for her work in gender equality and youth governance. She is the Co-Founder of the Christmas Island Youth Leadership Project, Chair of the WA Government Youth Council representing 600,000 young people in policymaking, and a Duke University-Faith for Our Planet Fellow working on the intersection of Islam and climate justice strategies.

Zahra Al Hilaly, Chair of the WA Government Youth Council

In addition to the remarkable record at home, Zahra’s work in gender equality has extended globally where she is currently part of the UN Women 30 for 2030 cohort and has previously sat on the board group representing global youth at the Generational Equality Youth Forum.

Zahra’s work has been published by Vogue, Gucci, and Al Jazeera for being a visionary in peace and security. In 2021 she was named the inaugural Under 25 Asian Australian of the Year and in 2022 the Western Australia Young Person of the Year. Zahra Al Hilaly will accept her award at the online Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium on September 1, 2023.

SA – Moya Dodd – Partner, Gilbert + Tobin

Moya Dodd is a former vice-captain of the Matildas, and a respected partner at law firm Gilbert + Tobin. Moya was one of the first few women appointed to the FIFA Executive Committee (2013–16), and also served on the governing bodies of the Asian Football Confederation (2007–19) and Football Federation Australia (2007–17).

Moya Dodd, Partner at Gilbert + Tobin

In FIFA, she advocated for equality, human rights and integrity reforms amid the FIFAGate corruption crisis, leading to governance reforms that compelled the inclusion of women, and greater priority and resourcing for women’s football. She also worked extensively on the successful campaign to overturn FIFA’s ban on women players wearing the hijab.

Moya also advises the World Leagues Forum on women’s football matters, and serves from time to time on sports governance and culture reviews. In 2016, she was named the winner of the AFR – Women of Influence awards, and in 2018, she was listed as the 7th most powerful woman in international sport (outside the US) by Fortune magazine. Moya Dodd will accept her award at the online Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium on September 1.