Five quick questions with Leah House

23 February 2021

Rae Knopik

Rae is the Events and Marketing Officer at YWCA Canberra

The She Leads College Conference taking place on Friday 26 March, is a one-day leadership event for young women and non-binary students in years 11 and 12. This year’s theme ‘Wild’, is about harnessing personal adversity and using it to thrive as leaders in our personal and professional capacities.  

We caught up with our panel facilitator and Ngambri woman, Leah House, to discuss her leadership journey, the importance of strong role models, and the impact of culture on her leadership style.  

Leah is a Case Manager at the Women’s Legal Centre who works to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women by using her knowledge of the legal system to secure stronger outcomes for these women, their families and their communities. She provides strong cultural knowledge and leadership to support cultural safety and self-determination for Aboriginal women at the Centre and across the Canberra community.  

Leah is also a massive advocate for equal and accessible education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and dismantling racism in the education system. In 2018, Leah was named ACT Public Education Volunteer of the year for her work in ACT public schools. 

Currently, Leah sits on the ACT Domestic Violence Prevention Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group, where she works closely with the community and government to address domestic and family violence in the Canberra community. When she is not fighting against racial inequality in her workplace and schools, Leah assists in running the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. 

Describe yourself in 30 words or less. 

My name is Leah, I am a Ngambri woman and mum of four beautiful children. 

Tell us about a moment in your life that kick-started your leadership journey. 

I was raised in a household exposed to substance abuse. When I found out I was pregnant at 17, I was scared and had no idea what I was doing.  

Shortly after, I experienced a relationship where I was abused physically, mentally and financially. My experiences throughout my life have made me who I am today and how I show up today. 

My passion for my community started at a young age, largely due to my Nan, but was later strengthened through education around my culture and my cultural identity which I began exploring after I left my abusive relationship. 

What are the questions you’re tired of hearing about gender equality? 

I am tired of hearing, ‘does it still exists?’, when we know it does. We know that intersections exist where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and non-binary people are being let down by systems that perpetuate trauma of the patriarchy. 

What is a personal challenge you have had to overcome for your leadership goals? 

I feel like all of my experiences so far could have stopped me, and to be honest, some of them almost did. Stopped me for a little bit, made me take a step back. But then I have pulled myself together and kept moving forward. My biggest challenge is my self-doubt and my mental health. 

Imagine yourself in your 40s. What leadership advice would your 40-year-old self give to you right now? 

Believe in yourself. You’re breaking generational trauma every day you show up and believe in yourself. No one is expecting you to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, you will make mistakes, and that’s okay.  

Watch this space to keep up with Leah’s leadership journey. If you are a young woman or nonbinary person in years 11 or 12, ask your school to register you for the She Leads College Conference on Friday 26 March – visit the event page for more information. 


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