Somerville House Student Assembly Celebrating International Women’s Day 2022
Principal, Mrs Kim Kiepe; staff, students and all supporters of Somerville House. Thank you for your warm welcome.
I begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, and extend greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
Before I continue, I would like to thank the members of the Somerville House six-string consort, who performed beautifully last night at the Government House International Women’s Day reception. You are a great credit to your school!
As you may know, my youngest daughter, Jane, attended Somerville House, and so my husband Professor Nimmo and I have a special connection to the Somerville community.
It is therefore a delight to speak to you this afternoon, as we honour International Women’s Day 2022 and reflect on this year’s theme, “Break The Bias”.
This theme encourages us to consider what we can each do to strive for a world where all girls and women have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams—whatever they may be—and where our differences are truly valued and celebrated.
What particularly resonates with me is the IWD philosophy that “individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions—all day, every day”.
In other words, by staying true to your values, and maintaining your sense of purpose—even in the face of challenges—you will be well on the way to achieving your own ambitions.
Yet, as you travel your individual paths, I believe one of the most powerful things you can also do is to draw on the support, wisdom and guidance of other girls and women, who can be your mentors—inspiring you to see what is possible, and offering their advice and encouragement.
Then, in turn, I urge you to offer that same assistance and leadership to others, as this will make their way easier and smoother.
In my own career, these special relationships have served me well, and given me the confidence required to make some pretty tough decisions, such as switching from medicine to medical management early in my working life, and moving up to a new job in Rockhampton from Sydney, as a single mother, with a toddler in tow.
I could never have made such big shifts—in my career and my life—without focusing on my personal goals, but at the same time respectfully listening to others and gathering the information required to take measured risks.
Mentorship truly has a beneficial domino effect.
In the 120 years or so since the first girls walked through the doors of Somerville House, we have made significant advancements, and these seeds of change were sown by trail-blazers like your own Founding Principal, Eliza Fewings.
To stand up for what you believe in, takes courage and determination, and requires continuously weighing up how your decisions will impact others.
We therefore share the responsibility to make the lives of other girls and women better, because everyone deserves the right to be able to follow their dreams.
I thank the entire Sommerville House community for welcoming me so warmly today, and for taking time to celebrate International Women’s Day in such a memorable manner. I wish you all every success as you continue your formal education here at Somerville House. Thank you.