2019 She Leads High Conference

YWCA Canberra’s She Leads High Conference is for girls, including female-identifying and non-binary students, living in Canberra and the surrounding regions aged 14 to 16, in years 9 and 10.

The She Leads High Conference is an enriching experience that educates and activates the potential of young leaders. Through exposure to a diverse range of young women leaders in the community, students will be inspired to start defining and developing their own leadership pathways.

The theme, Speak up, demonstrates to students that leadership comes in many different forms, and that anyone can become a leader. The theme equips students with the fundamental skills necessary to be a leader, including self-confidence, social and emotional development, peer relationships, active listening and key communications techniques.

By the end of the day students will:

  • know that it’s okay to Speak up about who they are and what they want for themselves, their peers, and their communities
  • be shown that anyone can be a leader, and that leadership requires people with all kinds of skills, interests, and backgrounds
  • gain crucial skills to begin or strengthen their leadership journey
  • be given a safe space to share ideas and stories with like-minded people
  • have knowledge of the impact of gender and social bias that impact women’s leadership
  • be empowered and inspired to set goals and develop the skills to reach them

The day will include interactive workshops, a keynote speech and a panel session all featuring innovative young women-leaders under the age of 25, as well as an interactive activity that boosts student’s ability to think creatively and communicate effectively.

By encouraging student’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.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a school excursion, and all students must attend with their teachers/school supervisors.

The registration deadline is Monday 28 October 2019.

Key event details:

  • When: Friday 1 November 2019 8:45am – 3:30pm,
  • Where: Ann Harding Conference Centre, University of Canberra
  • Cost and inclusions: $40 per student. Registration includes a full day program of talks and workshops, morning tea and lunch, activity booklet and pen

Other important information:

  • this is a school excursion, and all students must attend with their teachers/school supervisors
  • schools must return photography consent forms to She Leads for each registered student
  • transport needs to be organised independently by schools
  • students are to wear comfortable clothing, no uniforms


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


The event program is available to download here



Ciára Duggan

Ciára has worked in the Youth and Community Sector for the last 9 years in a number of roles and is currently the Youth Program Team Leader for YWCA Canberra. Ciára is passionate about working with young people in leadership and education settings and looking for alternative pathways as well as celebrating the LGBTQIA+ Allies community. Ciára leads the YWCA Canberra LGBTQIA+ Allies Prom for the last 4 years and it is the highlight of their working year. In their spare time they enjoy hanging out with family, their pupper Rafferty (pictures on request), going to gigs, knitting up a storm and exploring the National Gallery of Australia. Ciára is well rehearsed in lame jokes and is sure to keep students entertained with several puns throughout the day.

Keynote Speaker

Melissa Breen

Melissa Breen is the current record holder for the Australian Women’s 100m sprint. She took the title from her idol Melinda Gainsford-Taylor in 2014 with a time of 11.11 seconds. She is a two times Olympic sprinter competing in London and Rio and six times Australian National Champion. Melissa is a champion athlete and a remarkable person. Her experiences of doing her best and being the best but not quite internationally the very best has meant success and anguish in fair measure. Australian sport warmly embraces those on the podium, especially on the international stage. Not quite making this platform can be experienced as failure. Melissa’s long-spanning career has seen her battle with mental health both on and off the track, an experience that has formed Melissa into a powerful advocate for mental health. She is passionate about reaching out and making a difference on resilience and wellbeing within the Canberra community.

Panel Faciltator

Mina Khoshnevisan

Mina Khoshnevisan is a 24-year-old criminology student at the ANU, and the Vice President of The STOP Campaign, a student-run not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to end sexual violence on Australian university campuses. She has been a member of this organisation since its founding in 2018 and assisted in creating the structure and the implementation of its governing document. As a survivor of sexual violence, she is passionate about using her voice and her platform within the campaign to spread awareness, educate, empower and advocate for other survivors. Mina’s ongoing advocacy in the sector has allowed her the opportunity engage in various speaking and media opportunities on topics surrounding ending sexual violence.

Panellists – Finding your voice

Sandra Elhelw Wright

Sandra Elhelw Wright is the Deputy Chair of the ACT Multicultural Advisory Council, and has previously sat on the Advisory Committee for the Inquiry into Australia’s Family Law System, the Advisory Group for the National Strategic Approach to Maternity Services, and the Multicultural SA Youth Advisory Committee. She has worked across the government and non-government sectors in the areas of public policy, law reform, and migrant and refugee settlement. Sandra is currently pursuing a PhD on the topic of domestic and family violence in Australian Muslim communities, and has qualifications in law, international relations, public policy, and Middle Eastern studies. Sandra is a regular commentator and speaker on issues affecting migrant communities, CALD women, and Muslim communities. In 2019, she was shortlisted as a finalist for the ACT Woman of the Year Award for her advocacy on issues affecting CALD women.

Asha Clementi

Asha Clementi is an International Security student at the ANU with a passion for gender equality, diversity, and leadership. In 2017, she co-founded The Girls Leadership Network (TGLN), a leadership initiative for girls in Years 11/12 across the ACT. At 18, Asha attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, representing the National Council of Women Australia. Last October, she co-chaired a program called Girls Run the World, empowering young women to connect with the diplomatic community, placing 22 young women in 11 embassies for a day.

Nicola Louise Barker

Nicola Louise Barker is a proud Murawarii Aboriginal woman from Brewarrina, far west New South Wales. Nicola is the second eldest of eight and an aunty to five. Nic completed her social work degree in 2018 at the Australian Catholic University. Now studying her Post Grad in Indigenous Health Promotion at the University of Sydney, Nic works full time in Community Services supporting children and families. Nicola is a strong advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Education and she is a co-founder of the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition, who are a collective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth fighting to revolutionise our education system. Nicola`s passions are culture, country, community, family and sports. Nicola lives with Chronic Heart disease and manages this with the help of her community which has allowed her to return to playing Rugby League this year and formally played basketball at local and national level.

Interactive Activity:

Prepare to be unprepared: communicating effectively on the spot

Lightbulb Improv are specialists in the unpredictable nature of communication. Amy Crawford and Lou Maconachie, founders of Lightbulb Improv, will provide students with some of the secrets used to create improvised theatre. In this hands-on session they will share how they create theatre on stage without a script, just like in real life.

The exercises will help students learn how to respond under pressure, think creatively and communicate effectively. These very same skills develop better conversations, faster thinking, unlocked creativity and confidence; all the skills that a good leader is prepared to use at any time.

School Requirements :

It is vital 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 (if required).

Schools are responsible for managing the allocation of places to interested students; there are 10 available places for each school. The day will feature a full program of speakers, including workshops, a panel, and individual and group discussion and reflection. It is an interactive event and students will be asked to engage and reflect on the content they are being presented with.

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 sheleads@ywca-canberra.org.au.

The Complete Information Pack is available to download here.

Are you a girl, female-identifying or non-binary person?

If you are a girl, female-identifying or non-binary person interested in attending the She Leads High 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.

The Student Information Pack is available to download here.

Further information

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