Truth to power - how young leaders are reshaping Australia

Watch the recording of Truth to power - how young leaders are reshaping Australia on the ANU TV YouTube channel

The Global Institute for Women's Leadership is pleased to present an International Women's Day event celebrating and exploring the power of young leaders to drive change.

In 2021, Australia's national conversation was shaped by many incredibly courageous and powerful young leaders - from Australian of the Year Grace Tame, who used the role to become a fearless advocate for survivors of child sexual abuse, to Brittany Higgins who bravely spoke up about a culture of bullying and misogyny in Parliament House that shook Australian politics to its core, and Chanel Contos who uncovered the seedy underbelly of sexual assault in schools and led efforts to improve consent education in schools.

Drawing on the examples of these incredible young women, serving as lightning rods for change, this event explores the power of young people to diversify the voices and experiences that we hear through our established social and political power structures and drive genuine change.

Chair: Dr Elise Stephenson

Panel: Yasmin Poole, Latoya Rule, Varsha Yajman

About our speakers:

Dr Elise Stephenson is a multi award-winning researcher, strategist and entrepreneur, and Research Fellow at the Global Institute for Women's Leadership, Australian National University. She has travelled by road over 75,000kms over the last five years working across rural and remote Australia, plus all across the Asia Pacific, to be at the forefront of projects on gender, sexuality and leadership.

As a political scientist and international relations scholar, she focuses on research in frontier international affairs, from researching space policy, to politics and government, diplomacy, national security, intelligence, and the Asia Pacific. In addition to her research, she is the curator of multiple women's and youth leadership and entrepreneurship programs across Southeast Asia, including the Australia-ASEAN Council's flagship program, the Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Program.

Elise was recently awarded the 2022 Fulbright Scholarship funded by Monash University for her research on diversity in space, and her book The Face of the Nation: Women in International Affairs will be published with Oxford University Press later this year.

Yasmin Poole is a public speaker, board director and youth advocate. She is passionate about ensuring that young people have a place in Australia's political conversations. She is currently Plan International's National Ambassador and advocate for girls' rights to be recognised around the world.

She is the Non-Executive Board Director of OzHarvest, Australia's leading food rescue charity and YWCA, a national feminist organisation that has supported women and girls for 140 years. Her other advocacy work includes being the Chair of the Victorian Government's Youth Congress, representing over 1 million Australians, and speaking at forums like APEC and the G20. In 2021, she was awarded Youth Influencer of the Year by The Martin Luther King Jr Center. She has been named as one of the Australian Financial Review's 100 Women of Influence and 40 Under 40 Asian Australians.

She seeks to challenge policymakers to think differently. Her vision is for Australia to become a global leader in intersectional policymaking, with a Parliament that truly reflects the diversity of our communities.

Latoya Aroha Rule is an Aboriginal & Māori, Takatāpui/ queer person residing on stolen Gadigal Land/ Sydney. They identify with all pronouns. Latoya is a PhD Candidate & Research Associate at Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney. From a position of lived experience, their research raises the voices of Aboriginal women leading the movement to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody - in seeking justice for their loved ones who have passed and to identify the harms of state violence re/produced through the coronial inquest setting.

Latoya has also worked successfully toward achieving legislative change in South Australia and continues this work nationally with the campaign to #Banspithoods. They have been honoured with inclusion in Deloitte's Out50 LGBTQI+ Leaders of Australia and were selected as one of five 'Racial Justice Guardians of the Year' in Time Magazine's People of the Year 2020 edition. In their spare time Latoya enjoys producing creative works - with their words published in exhibitions from the Art Gallery of New South Wales to galleries in Brooklyn - New York, and Berlin.'

Varsha Yajman is a 19-year-old speaker, podcaster and advocate for climate justice and mental health awareness. She has been an organiser for School Strike for Climate and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Varsha is now a coordinator at SAPNA South Asian Climate Solidarity Network and a paralegal at Equity Generation Lawyers which conducts climate change ligation. Her work along with her podcast, Not to be Controversial, aim to create a community for young South Asians to feel represented and empowered.

Additional information:

Registration is required for this event.

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This is an in-person, indoor event and The Australian National University requires masks to be worn.

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Date and Times


Room: Cinema