YWCA Canberra’s 2018 She Leads College Conference is for young women, including female-identifying and non-binary people, living in Canberra aged 16 to 18, in years 11 and 12.

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 NoonKarlie 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.

Laura Piscopo – Laura is a Board Member for Advocacy for Inclusion, a not for profit organisation that provides 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.

FLTLT Esther Suh – FLTLT Suh is currently posted to the Specialist Recruitment Team – Women (Air Force) at Defence Force Recruiting, and is an avid supporter and managers of both the Air Force and Australian Defence Force Women’s Rugby Union squad. She completed her officer training at the Australian Defence Force Academy in 2010 as a Personnel Capability Officer and graduated with a Bachelor of Business, and successfully completed her Masters of Business. She worked as an ADF recognised Korean Linguist, and was awarded a Letter of Commendation from Commander Air Group 61 CAPT Lee Jin-Hyung.

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.

Elizabeth Bowler – Elizabeth is a member of the RocoCup Junior OnStage World Championship Technical Committee, after actively leading all-female teams to compete and win the World Championships. She volunteers with RoboCup globally, working to engage your women in STEM. She currently works for Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics in Management.

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 sheleads@ywca-canberra.org.au.

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 sheleads@ywca-canberra.org.au. 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 sheleads@ywca-canberra.org.au or call YWCA Canberra on (02) 6185 2000.

To purchase a ticket, please head to our Eventbrite page.