She Leads College Conference

The She Leads College Conference features inspiring talks and interactive workshops to equip young women, including female-identifying and non-binary people, in years 11 and 12 with the practical skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders. Participants also have the opportunity to connect with inspiring women who share their leadership journeys throughout the day.

The She Leads College Conference was developed in response to demand from educators following the success of our She Leads Conference and the results of the 2014 YWCA She Speaks survey. This survey of 1600 young women, aged 15-30, found that while 70 per cent of participants want to be leaders in the future, they also say that negative gender-based stereotypes damage their working lives, their sense of self, their safety in relationships, and their leadership capacity.

Tickets for the 2018 She Leads College are now available!

Information about the program and speakers can be located below.

The fourth She Leads College Conference is happening 22 March 2018, at the Ann Harding Centre. Tickets are available now!

The theme, Trailblazer, drives the design and outcomes of the event, with students being exposed to a deeper understanding of leadership that extends to the change leaders have the potential to make in their homes, schools, communities, and workplaces.

Students will leave with a greater understanding of leadership, how to effect change, how to identify positive and negative situations in their homes and communities, and gain new skills and tools to manage the myriad of issues that they face each day. Students will also be exposed to a range of post-school career options, providing them with an opportunity to explore their future options, and define their interests and aspirations.

The event will include interactive workshops, keynote speeches, a panel, and speed networking with young women who are leading in their communities.

By encouraging young women’s attendance, you will provide them with the opportunity to develop their leadership potential, and increase their capacity to take on leadership roles within their school environment and beyond.

The registration deadline is Thursday 1 March 2018.

Key event details

  • When: 8:45am – 4pm, Thursday 22 March 2018
  • Where: Ann Harding Conference Centre, University of Canberra
  • We recommend that this event is treated as a school excursion, and all students attend with their teachers/school supervisors
  • Schools or individuals must return photography consent forms to She Leads for each registered student
  • Transport needs to be organised independently by schools
  • Cost and inclusions: $44 per student. Registration includes a full day program of talks and workshops, morning tea and lunch, and a pen and activity booklet
  • Scholarship places may be available for students who are unable to self-fund. Please contact the She Leads team for more information.


View the program.



  • Codie Bell – Codie bell is a local comedian, women’s march organiser, sexual assault survivor, current disability policy officer, and works with the group Restorative ANU, an innovative approach to resolving the hurt when a university refuses to take sexual assault and harassment seriously.

Keynote Speakers

  • Hani Abdile – Hani is a published poet (I Will Rise), a Somali refugee, a lead member of Writing Through Fences, an honorary member of PEN international, and has been published in Mascara.
  • Karlie Noon – Karlie was the first Indigenous Australian in NSW to obtain a Bachelor of Mathematics, and Bachelor of Science. Since graduating from the University of Newcastle, Karlie has undertaken a Masters of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University and the CSIRO. In addition to her master’s research, Karlie researches and is an advocate for Indigenous scientific knowledge.

Panellists – Being a Trailblazer

  • Hannah Gissane – Hannah is a 2017 ACT Woman of the Year Finalist, a Project Coordinator for Equality Rights Alliance, the co-founder of Young Women Speak Out, and an advocate for young LGBTQI people. Hannah was also an instrumental member on the Fearless Initiative Committee, uniting comedians against family violence and raising $30,000 for the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) of the ACT.
  • Hannah Mouncey – Hannah is a successful international athlete and footballer, and a transgender advocate. In 2017, she established Transform Coaching and Speaking, which provides support for those affirming their gender as well as those supporting them by offering one on one and group sessions to help work through the issues that arise with such a big change.
  • Laura Piscopo – Laura is a Board Members for Advocacy for Inclusion, a charity that provide advocacy services to people with disabilities living in the ACT and region, to enable individuals to overcome discrimination, and empower them to control their lives and participate in the community. Laura is also a young carer and a disability advocate.
  • Fourth Panellist – to be announced (Defence Force employee)

Speed Networkers

  • Engy Salah – Engy migrated from Egypt to Australia 4 years ago, and now volunteers for the Muslim Collective and Canberra Multicultural Women’s Forum. She currently works as the Cultural Liaison officer at Legal Aid ACT, assisting women from CALD background experiencing family violence and migration related issues.
  • Tahlia-Rose Vanissum – Tahlia-Rose is a 2018 YWCA Canberra Board Trainee, a member of Headspace Canberra’s Youth Reference Group, and an Adviser for the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council Secretariat within the Indigenous Affairs Group at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • Ashleigh Streeter – Ashleigh is the co-founder of Gender Chat, a new Q&A forum hosted by young leaders where they discuss all things gender, social equality, youth issues, and solutions. She is also a member of The Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security, and an ambassador for Postcards for Peace.
  • Lavanya Kala – Lavanya is the Policy Manager at Volunteering Australia and a Board Director for Beryl Women’s Inc, an ACT-based organisation that works to empower women and children to live a life free from violence and abuse.
  • Ashley St George – Ashley is a local Canberra freelance writer, having been published in Her Canberra and Out In Canberra, and is also an accomplished photographer.
  • Tomasina Purcell – Tomasina is a Canberra mental health nurse who splits her time between the Paediatrics within the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children and he Adult Mental Health Day Service. She also volunteers for MIEACT as an educator, and as an advocate for people living with mental illness drawing on her personal experience of depression, anxiety, and a long-term eating disorder.
  • Joanna Richards – Joanna is a PhD candidate at the University of Canberra through the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, where she is researching the relationship between Political Women, Corruption, and Catastrophe. Her honours thesis, Let Her Finish, drew public acclaim for its focus on how often female politicians are interrupted in parliament, and in 2015 she was the winner of the ACT Telstra’s Young Business Woman of the Year for her work in a start-up company.
  • Eighth speed networker – to be announced

Event objectives

The She Leads College Conference will provide the following key outcomes:

  • Students have a greater understanding of leadership
  • Students feel better equipped to lead authentically and effectively
  • Students feel better equipped to challenge barriers to achieving their leadership potential
  • Students feel inspired and empowered to pursue their leadership goals.

School Requirements

It is suggested that teachers attend the event and provide appropriate supervision and care, and ensure that each student arrives and departs safely. YWCA Canberra staff will not provide supervision of students, and will not be responsible for the arrival or departure of students, or for their behaviour on the day.

Schools should treat this event as an excursion, and will need to independently organise all necessary permission slips and transportation.

Schools are responsible for managing the allocation of places to interested students; there are 12 available places for each school. It is important that all students want to be there. The day will feature a full program of speakers, workshops, a panel, and individual and group discussion and reflection. Students will get the most value from the day when they come prepared to engage with the topics, speakers, and fellow students.

For each registered student, a photography consent form will need to be completed and returned to the She Leads team. This is not the permission slip that should be used by teachers to gain guardian permission to take students to the event. Teachers should have access to their own school-specific permission slips and use those to gain guardian permission.

Please email all the photography consent forms to

Download the Complete Information Pack.

Are you a young woman?

If you are a young woman interested in attending the She Leads College Conference, you will need to let your teacher or principal know that you want to come along to the event as soon as you can. Your school may be sending other students too, or they may not yet know about this event.

You will need to treat this event like any other school excursion, which means having your guardians sign your school permission slip, and organising transportation to and from the event through your school.

You and your guardian will also need to complete the photography consent form, which needs to be returned to the She Leads team prior to the event. Please give the photography consent form to your teacher, who will then provide the forms to us.

Download the Student Information Pack.


If a student wishes to attend but feels as though the price may be a barrier, please advise the She Leads team at We have allocated a small pool of scholarships that we may be able to allocate to eligible students. We are committed to assisting as many young women as possible attend this event.

Further information

For further details relating to the event, or for any queries please contact the She Leads team at or call YWCA Canberra on (02) 6175 9900.

The third annual She Leads College Conference was held at the University of Canberra on Tuesday 21 March 2017. High schools and colleges from across the ACT and Queanbeyan were represented by more than 80 young women in Years 11 and 12.

The event was designed to provide a safe space for girls in year 11 and 12 to be inspired by young women leaders and gain the confidence, knowledge and practical skills to kick-start their leadership journeys.

As well as providing an engaging, interesting experience, our objectives were that as a result of the Conference, young women would walk away with:

  • a greater understanding of leadership
  • practical tools that they could apply to accelerate their leadership journey
  • greater awareness of the impact of gender bias on women’s leadership opportunities
  • more confidence to be a leader.

Building on the success of the 2016 program, our program for 2017 included plenary sessions (including keynote presentation), two workshops, and an afternoon networking session. The Conference was emceed by yLead’s Bel Yorston, was opened by Madalein Tier, and included a keynote presentation by Sarah Moran. The networking session included eight young inspiring women from a range of sectors that discussed their leadership journey with attendees, and included Sarah Moran, Alice Workman, Alex Schumann-Gillet, Ciara Duggan, Codie Bell, Elise Pirotta, Sally Moylan, Cathy Pecotz, and Esther Suh. Workshops were facilitated by Bel Yorston and Esther Suh, and focused on leadership, confidence, and communication skills.

Feedback about the Conference was overwhelmingly positive, with 98 per cent strongly agreeing or agreeing that they would recommend the Conference to other young women, and 98 per cent of respondents rating the College Conference as excellent or good.

Of the Conference, attendees stated:

  • I feel a bit more motivated to make a difference following today. Advice/possible pathways – having some greater direction on ways in which I could be more effective.
  • That fellowship is also a type of leadership. To not be scared to take all the chances
  • Taking the opportunity/ the initiative highly essential. Say NO TO FEARS!
  • That mistakes are normal and natural. It is a way to improve and strengthen your weaknesses next time you partake in a challenging situation. There are opportunities everywhere and to be able to participate in this conference, the motivation and inspiration will always lead me to the path that I would love in terms of future career and goals.
  • Take every opportunity that you can. Be open-minded and confident within yourself. Make social connections.

To learn more about the 2017 She Leads College Conference, see the following:

The second annual She Leads College Conference was held at the University of Canberra on Tuesday 26 July 2016. High schools and colleges from across the ACT and Queanbeyan were represented by 81 young women in years 11 and 12.

The 2016 Conference was built around dismantling the traditional definition of leadership, which is one that has seeped into our collective consciousness, and contributes in making the identity of a ‘leader’ inaccessible to many young people – especially young women. To combat this idea of traditional and inaccessible leadership, the Conference included a wealth of young women leaders to discuss their leadership journey and offer advice to the next generation of young women.

The event was emceed by yLead’s Bel Yorston, opening remarks were delivered by Caitlin Sandercock, and the Keynote speaker was Amelia Telford. The networking session allowed participants the opportunity to learn the value of networking while interacting with young women from the Canberra community who are leading and creating change. The networking sessions speakers included Farz Edraki, Caitlin Figueiredo, Erica Hediger, Emma Pocock, Ange Reakes, Rachael Stevens, Annabel Szekely, and Hannah Wandel, and workshops were facilitated by Bel Yorston, Annabel Szekely, Esther Suh, Kylie McGuinness, and Kirsty Bird.

Event feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 94 per cent agreeing that as a result of attending the She Leads College Conference they now have a greater understanding of leadership, 95 per cent agreeing that the Conference provided them with practical tools that they will be able to apply, and 100 per cent rating the Conference as excellent or good overall.

Of the Conference, attendees stated:

  • I’ve been encouraged to join my school leadership team. Personal sustainability is crucial.
  • It’s okay not to know your path yet. To be an effective leader you need to love and appreciate yourself first before trying to help others do the same.
  • Learning that I need to have confidence in myself and my skills and to use them to help me to support others. Hearing ways to manage my team – goal setting, planning, and taking time out for myself.
  • I am capable of anything and everything I want to do. To do this I need goals, focus, help, ambition, passion, perseverance and self-acceptance.
  • Tell yourself you’re capable – don’t undermine your talent. A degree doesn’t end in greatness – don’t be afraid to take risks.
  • Being a leader is not about dominance, it is about listening, guiding, imparting values and inspiring. There’s nowhere you can’t get with lots of passion and determination – you are strong.
  • Don’t let being a woman disadvantage you. Being a woman doesn’t make you inferior.

To learn more about the 2016 She Leads College Conference, see the following:

The inaugural YWCA Canberra She Leads College Conference was held at the University of Canberra on Tuesday 5 May 2015. Schools and colleges from across the ACT and Queanbeyan were represented by around 100 young women in year 11 and 12.

The theme for the 2015 Conference was – Discover. Connect. Ignite. The event was designed to provide a safe space for girls in year 11 and 12 to be inspired by young women leaders, and gain the confidence, knowledge and practical skills to kick-start their leadership journeys.

The overarching theme of the Conference covered topics such as leadership myths and realities – what does is really mean to be a leader?, awareness of gender stereotypes, supporting positive body image, self-confidence, unconventional leadership/career paths, and learning to deal with failure and building resilience.

The Conference was emceed by Zoya Patel, and saw speakers and panellists from various industries including Carly Findlay, Sally Moylan, Ashleigh Grogan, Haylee Collins, Annabel Szekely, and Meredith. Workshops were run by Heather Dawson and independent magazine Young Vegabond, and focused on finding a leadership identity and identifying that there are many types of successful leadership styles, and engaging attendees to think critically about how constructs of gender affect their lives.

Of the Conference, attendees stated:

  • Today was an inspiring day there were great stories on how women achieved becoming a leader. It inspires me in to accomplishing my goals making sure to make right choices, and controlling my life and path.
  • This conference was so interesting and engaging. I walk away incredibly enlightened about all the different topics discussed here today. I would love to come again.
  • That I don’t have to jump up and yell “I’m a leader” from the rooftops – sometimes leading just means being yourself.
  • I think it helps to know that there is a big support group out there for women who want to excel in their ambitions and break down gender stereotypes.
  • That leadership is not a position it is an action, most of all its having a positive impact and being female shouldn’t hold you back. I learnt how to become a good role model and overcome obstacles such as gender stereotypes etc.
  • Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to be the boss. Leadership is something you define.
  • What’s stopping me is myself. I keep doubting myself and so don’t try so hard but I need to push past that.

To learn more about the 2015 She Leads College Conference, see the following:

Further information

To find out more about the next She Leads College Conference, to be held on Thursday 22 March 2018, subscribe to our monthly She Leads Newsletter, and email