08:30 - 08:40            Online Registration

08:40 - 09:00

Opening Comments

Dr Janet Smith

Director of Programs and Senior Facilitator, Women & Leadership Australia

Dr Debra Kelliher

Senior Facilitator, National Excellence in School Leadership Institute

Karen has teaching and leadership experience in both co-educational and girls’ schools spanning over 30 years. She was appointed Principal of JPC in 2018; prior to this Karen was Principal at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School, for 18 years. Karen is the current Chair of Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ), a member of Independent Schools Australia (ISA) Board, and the Board of Yalari. She is a previous National Chair of AHISA and the Alliance of Girls’ Schools. Karen is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Australian Human Resources Institute, the Australian Council for Educational Leaders, and the Australian College of Educators. Karen is also a member of the Queensland Government’s International Education and Training Advisory Group.

09:00 - 09:30

Keynote Address

Karen Spiller OAM CF

Principal, John Paul College

11:15 - 12:45

Panel Discussion

Looking back and moving forward: what did we learn from 2020?

2020 was an extraordinary year for leaders across almost every industry and sector, and Australian educators and school leaders have faced challenges and disruption like never before. The last 18 months have involved significant change in the way we teach, lead and adapt, and this has required incredible levels of resilience. This panel session will provide an opportunity to reflect and learn from the challenges of 2020, consider how these challenges are impacting 2021, and explore how to move forward as leaders in an energised and positive way.

12:45 - 13:15            Lunch

14:30 - 14:40            Break

The Australian
Schools Women's Leadership Summit


Friday 4th June, 2021

Interactive Online Event Experience 

$595 (+GST)

Further discounts available for large group bookings. Please email events@wla.edu.au for information.​

10:15 - 11:00

Development Session

Women’s Leadership in Schools: A paradoxical tale of progress, barriers and discrimination

While women have achieved modest gains in attaining more school leadership positions in Australia’s schools in recent years, they nevertheless continue to be underrepresented, disadvantaged and discriminated against. This development session will explore research on this paradoxical situation, and will provide participants with the opportunity to discuss their own experience and to gain some strategies to address the barriers they face.

10:00 - 10:15            break

11:00 - 11:15            break

13:45 - 14:30

Development Session

Personal sustainability: Put your own oxygen mask on first

In the time-poor, information-rich environment of schools, women often pick up the emotional labour of caring for staff and students. This can have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing and energy levels. How can we care for our own mental and emotional health in the busy school context? What strategies and concepts are useful for us? How can we preserve and extend our own wellbeing capacity? This development session will share research-based concepts proven to sustain our wellbeing and provide participants with the opportunity to share their own practices for personal sustainability.

15:20 - 15:30

Closing Comments

Dr Janet Smith

Director of Programs and Senior Facilitator, Women & Leadership Australia


Senior Facilitator, National Excellence in School Leadership Institute

14:40 - 15:20

Keynote Address

Gorgi Coghlan

Media Personality, Co-host of The Project, Former Secondary School Teacher

Gorgi Coghlan is a regular co-host on Network Ten’s prime time program ‘The Project’. She has a diverse background in news, current affairs, media, journalism, travel, musical theatre, science and education. Gorgi is also the proud owner of the Provincial Hotel, a landmark establishment in Ballarat.

Gorgi was a secondary college teacher from 1999 to 2003 when she taught Year 11 and 12 Biology, Year 7-10 Science and Forensic Science. She holds a Bachelor of Science (pharmacology and zoology) and a Grad Dip Ed specialising in biology and science.

Georgie has significant and broad-ranging leadership, policy and service delivery experience in the community, public and private sectors.

Georgie was appointed as the CEO of beyondblue in May 2014 where she has led a significant expansion of effort and results in service innovation, suicide prevention and digital solutions. Previously, she helped set up and was the Deputy CEO of the National Mental Health Commission, providing independent advice to government on reform. From 2006-2012, Georgie had national responsibility for mental health, suicide prevention, substance misuse, cancer and chronic disease policy and programs as a senior executive at the Commonwealth Department of Health. She led the development of a significant whole of government mental health Budget package and the strategy and development of legislation to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products in Australia – a world first.
Georgie has also led national reforms to lift Australia’s organ and tissue donation rates and worked in the HIV/AIDS sector in Australia and the UK.

13:15 - 13:45

Keynote Address

Georgie Harman

Chief Executive Officer, Beyond Blue


$595 (+GST)

Friday 4th June, 2021  |  Interactive Online Event Experience

The Australian Schools

Women’s Leadership summit

​Event Agenda

NESLI in partnership with WLA​

Melesha Sands

Deputy Director General Schools,
WA Dept of Education

Melesha was appointed to the position of Executive Director, Recovery Coordination in 2020 to lead the WA Department of Education COVID‑19 recovery, having led the Department’s COVID‑19 incident management team. Melesha was appointed to Corporate Executive in 2020. Her extensive educational leadership includes principalships at Swan View Senior High School and Belridge Secondary College, and leadership positions in regional and metropolitan secondary schools. Melesha is a 2017 Principal Fellow and has made significant contributions to the public school system in strategic planning, innovation, and progressing the Department’s Leadership Strategy.

Tammy Anderson

Principal, Briar Road Public School

Tammy Anderson is a Biripi woman who has grown up with her family on Dharawal country in Airds, NSW. Tammy is committed to ensuring that high expectations set the foundation for strong teacher-student relationships for all students within Briar Road Public School. The school is significant to her as she attended there as a student and led the school as the first Aboriginal school captain in 1990. In 2013, she was appointed as Principal where she strongly believes that the change in outcomes for disadvantaged children and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are possible through developing strong school culture, empowering community partnerships and the delivery of high-quality curriculum that caters to each child’s needs.

Professor Marcia Devlin

Non-Executive Director and Board Member; Education Researcher and Leader

Marcia Devlin is an internationally recognised expert in education. Formerly Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Senior Vice-President at Victoria University, Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education at RMIT, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Quality) at Federation University Australia and Executive Director at Open Universities Australia, she is significantly experienced in educational leadership in institutions offering senior secondary, vocational and higher education interstate and internationally.
A ministerial appointee on the board of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), Marica serves on the VCAA board executive, on the VCAA Audit Committee and as Chair of the VCAA Senior Secondary Reform Committee. In 2020, she served on the Project Control Board overseeing the delivery of VCE and VCAL during the pandemic. 

Dr Maree Herrett

Honorary Associate, The Sydney School of Education and Social Work, The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Sydney

Dr Maree Herrett is currently an Honorary Associate in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the University of Sydney. Her PhD (USYD) examined the development of national gender equity policy in Australia from 1975 to 2010. Through the study of policy and practice in three distinct historical periods, Maree demonstrated dramatic policy shifts, as well as the considerable debate in the public realm about the nature of gender and its development. Maree has held a range of leadership positions in schools. Most recently she was Principal of Santa Sabina College from 2013-19, and prior to that she was Head of Senior School at MLC School Burwood. 

Pip Thomas

CEO, Association of School Business Administrators

Pip Thomas has been the CEO of the Association of School Business Administrators Limited (ASBA) for almost 7 years. ASBA is the Peak Body representing approximately 1,400 Independent School Business Managers/Bursars and 200 Independent School Facilities Managers across Australia and New Zealand, and has been supporting members for almost 50 years. Pip is a Fellow of CPA Australia, with a wide and varied accounting background, including working as a Business Manager in a large private girls’ boarding school, running an accounting practice, and working as a Management and Treasury accountant in the cotton, grain and motor vehicle industries. She is a Graduate of the AICD, of Women & Leadership Australia’s Advanced Leadership Program and of Melbourne Business School’s Women in Leadership Program.

Please note: all timings are in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)​

09:30 - 10:00

Keynote Address

Dr Terrance Fitzsimmons

Managing Director, Australian Gender Equality Council

Dr Terry Fitzsimmons is a Senior Lecturer in leadership, human resource management and change management teaching into the MBA Program at the University of Queensland Business School. He is the Director of the AIBE Centre for Gender Equality in the Workplace.

Dr Fitzsimmons has led on several major reports into gender inequality in Australia including ‘Filling the Pool’, a major report into gender inequality in Western Australia with The Committee for Perth; ‘Hands Up for Gender Equality’ an examination of the origins of gender segregation in Australia’s Workforce with the Alliance of Girls Schools Australasia; and ‘Employer of Choice for Gender Equality: Leading Practices in Strategy, Policy and Implementation’, detailing leading change practices towards workplace gender equality with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.