Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (right) with Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture: Adam Head
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (right) with Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture: Adam Head

The women who are running our state

WHEN it comes to real girl power, Queensland leads the nation.

And to celebrate today's International Womens Day, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington have crossed the political divide to show their bipartisan support for women everywhere.

"When I was a little girl growing up in Queensland, the thought of a female Premier didn't even enter my mind, there simply weren't the role models in my profession for young women," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Now little girls come up to me all the time, and say they want to be Premier one day - or Prime Minister - and I think that is just wonderful."

Ms Frecklington agrees.

"I think when young women look at Queensland Parliament and see two women leading their parties, it says a lot to them about what's achievable," she said.

It also is one for the history books. In Australian political history no other state has boasted a female premier and female opposition leader at the same time - just another example, Palaszczuk says, of Queensland leading the way.

This year's International Women's Day theme is "Balance for Better" supporting gender representation across all fields and professions.

Today we celebrate, and meet some of Queensland's leading women doing just that, holding some of the highest offices and positions in the state.

 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

 

 

ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, 49

QUEENSLAND PREMIER

LEADER OF THE QUEENSLAND LABOR PARTY

FIRST WOMAN IN AUSTRALIA TO BECOME PREMIER OF A STATE FROM OPPOSITION

WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY MEAN TO YOU?

It's a chance to reflect on the status of women around the world. Internationally, there is still horrible inequality, women dying in childbirth, women being denied rights, and I think for those of us who are more fortunate, it's important to find ways to help those women. Closer to home, for me, for me it starts with women having roles in the decision making process. We currently have 47 per cent of women on Boards, I'd like to see it at 50 per cent by 2020.

WHO IS A WOMAN - APART FROM YOUR MOTHER - WHO HAS INFLUENCED OR INSPIRED YOU?

Well, the most influential woman in my life IS my mother and my Nana and three sisters. But as for inspiration, it's the unsung heroes who I admire most.

It's women like Katrina and Debbie who I met in the aftermath of the floods in Townsville, the breast cancer care nurses, the doctors, the paramedics and the women who stop for a chat at the shops.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR 15-YEAR-OLD SELF?

Although I would say I never settled for what other people told me I could and couldn't do, I would tell myself to be strong and be confident in my own choices.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE #METOO MOVEMENT?

It's certainly very powerful, and I think it has encouraged women to say things about experiences they have kept hidden for many years. It is always better for women - and men - to come forward.

WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHER FEMALES TO ENTER YOUR PROFESSION?

Oh yes, absolutely. This year's theme for IWD is "Balance for Better", but I would add that "Balance IS better". We currently have 50 per cent women in cabinet, and it changes the way decisions are made. This is not tokenism. I've experienced cabinet where there has not been that balance and this way is so much more productive, especially in the decision making process.

WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUNG QUEENSLAND WOMEN?

I tell my nieces to be strong and be confident. I tell them to surround themselves with good people, and don't bother with those who try to put you down. I still have the same group of girlfriends from my high school debating team, and they lift me up always. I would like to tell young women, especially in this digital age, not to allow themselves to be defined by image. You know, when Julie Bishop left parliament after all her years of service and they spoke about her shoes _ well that was very wrong. I would tell young girls it's not the shoes you stand in, it's what you as a woman stand for. Forget about the shoes!

 

 

 

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington

 

 

DEB FRECKLINGTON, 47

QUEENSLAND OPPOSITION LEADER

FIRST WOMAN TO LEAD QUEENSLAND'S LIBERAL NATIONAL PARTY.

WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY MEAN TO YOU?

We highlight how far we've come, and also how far we have to go. Quite often on IWD you hear stories about women working day and night to provide water to their village, as well as women in extraordinary positions of power and influence. So I think it's a broad stroke, it's for and about all women.

WHO IS A WOMAN - APART FROM YOUR MOTHER - WHO HAS INFLUENCED OR INSPIRED YOU?

Cathy Reid is a Brisbane woman who started as a pharmacist, and built her business from the ground up to become Australasia's largest cancer care provider. I've known her for about seven years. She runs a multinational company, she has a young family, and she's a philanthropist. A powerhouse woman who has never let her gender define or limit her.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR 15-YEAR-OLD SELF?

No challenge is too great or too far away, it really isn't, and you should take every opportunity as it presents itself.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE #METOO MOVEMENT?

It is vitally important that no workplace allows inappropriate behaviour. It is vitally important that both women and men feel secure and supported when speaking out.

WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHER FEMALES TO ENTER YOUR PROFESSION?

Yes, not only do we need more woman in politics, I would encourage any one of any gender into politics. You can whinge from the sidelines for so long, or you can jump in and do something about it. Being a local member of parliament allows you to get things for your local area, it is extremely satisfactory. If you want to change something, get in there and be the change.

WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUNG QUEENSLAND WOMEN?

Be fierce and strong but also kind and compassionate. I tell my daughters that they can do anything and I mean it. They can do anything, and so can you. Also I would say honest. It will get you far, and the better your life will be. Be careful on and about social media. Don't take on board all the images and all the mixed messages.

 

 

 

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll

 

 

KATERINA CARROLL, 55

COMMISSIONER OF QUEENSLAND FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES

WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY MEAN TO YOU?

It's always been an important day on the calendar for me to reflect on women's milestones, firsts, and achievements. And for me personally I also reflect on the good men I have around me who encourage and support me always.

WHO IS A WOMAN - APART FROM YOUR MOTHER - WHO HAS INFLUENCED OR INSPIRED YOU?

I grew up in a very small town just off the Atherton Tablelands called Innot Hot Springs, and I was sent to a boarding school in Herberton run by the Mercy Sister nuns. They were young women in their twenties and thirties and they were so committed and educated, so hardworking and independent. They were out there on their own helping their community, and they just set such an example for me.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR 15-YEAR-OLD SELF?

When you are younger less sure of yourself, so I would now tell myself to believe in yourself and back yourself. I'd also tell myself to treat others with respect and empathy

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE #METOO MOVEMENT?

It's extraordinarily important to call out unacceptable and bad behaviour across the board. In any organisation inappropriate behaviour cannot be tolerated and I think for young women in particular, #MeToo has probably given them courage to speak when otherwise they may not have.

WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHER FEMALES TO ENTER YOUR PROFESSION?

Oh yes! I try to recruit women into my organisation wherever I go. Every day is different, it feels wonderful to help people, it is diverse, rewarding and challenging all at once. We would love to see more women in Emergency Services, and we are seeing more, which is very encouraging.

WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUNG QUEENSLAND WOMEN?

Be confident in your abilities, welcome the opportunities you are presented with, and never let an opportunity pass you by.

 

 

 

Queensland Bar Association president Rebecca Treston QC
Queensland Bar Association president Rebecca Treston QC

 

 

 

REBECCA TRESTON, 52

QUEEN'S COUNSEL

FIRST WOMAN ELECTED TO PRESIDENT OF THE QUEENSLAND BAR IN ITS 115 HISTORY

WHAT DOES IWD MEAN TO YOU?

It's a day to celebrate the role of women all over the world, to value their achievements in sometimes difficult circumstances and to look to those areas where improvements can still be made, like pay equality and freedom from domestic violence.

WHO APART FROM YOUR MOTHER IS A WOMAN WHO HAS INFLUENCED OR INSPIRED YOU?

While there are many fabulous women role models, Gail Kelly (former CEO of Westpac), Rosie Batty (domestic violence campaigner), I take daily inspiration from the women closest to me. My friends in the law, old school friends, and my sister, who remind me of the value of hard work, a great book and a good laugh.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR 15-YEAR-OLD SELF?

A career is a marathon, not a sprint. Relax, settle into your own rhythm, and don't be put off track by other people's plans.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE #METOO MOVEMENT?

A lot of social media around the movement has scope for unfairness for the accused wrongdoer, with people being named and shamed without anything approaching a fair assessment of the facts. So I think we need to be careful to balance fairness considerations as part of this discussion.

WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHER FEMALES TO ENTER YOUR PROFESSION?

I absolutely would encourage people to be a barrister. It's an enormous responsibility to present arguments in court in a disciplined way that requires intellectual rigour, integrity and commitment to the rule of law, but it's also a privilege to give voice to an argument for those who might otherwise not be heard. It's also a profession that allows for creative problem solving outside of court which is itself satisfying.

WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUNG QUEENSLAND WOMEN?

Feminism is not something to be feared. It is merely a belief that there should be educational, professional, social and economic equality for men and women. When seen in this positive light, it's a concept easy to embrace for men and women.

 

 

 

QUT vice-chancellor Margaret Sheil
QUT vice-chancellor Margaret Sheil

 

 

PROFESSOR MARGARET SHEIL, 57

VICE CHANCELLOR QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY MEAN TO YOU?

It provides an opportunity to both focus on the many achievements of women and a reminder there is still much to be done, especially for women with another barrier besides gender such as race, disability and economic disadvantage.

WHO IS A WOMAN - APART FROM YOUR MOTHER - WHO HAS INFLUENCED OR INSPIRED YOU?

I am usually influenced most by those who challenge me to look at an issue from a different perspective. Distinguished indigenous academics Marcia Langton and Aileen Moreton-Robinson would be examples. Businesswoman and former Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Elizabeth Alexander would be another.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR 15-YEAR-OLD SELF?

Be a little less focused on academic and other achievements and use your position as a leader within your peer group to address the social and systemic injustices around you.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE #METOO MOVEMENT?

Certainly it has raised awareness of the extent of sexual harassment in workplaces so that more individuals have been empowered to report it and institutions and business must address the power imbalances that lay behind much of this.

WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHER FEMALES TO ENTER YOUR PROFESSION?

Fundamentally I am a scientist and a career in science trains you to review the data and the evidence, to question what you observe. It is also a profession where your success is largely determined by your ability and hard work.

WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUNG QUEENSLAND WOMEN?

Persist with your education to the fullest extent you can. A good education optimises your career and life choices.

 

 

 

Gold Coast Titans co-owner and chairwoman Rebecca Frizelle
Gold Coast Titans co-owner and chairwoman Rebecca Frizelle

 

 

REBECCA FRIZELLE, 47

FIRST FEMALE CHAIR OF NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE - GOLD COAST TITANS

FIRST FEMALE CO-OWNER of AN NRL CLUB - GOLD COAST TITANS

CEO FRIZELLE PRESTIGE AUTOMOTIVE GROUP

WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY MEAN TO YOU?

It's a day that recognises the importance and value of women, a day that we highlight our wonderful women and what they are achieving. However, my personal desire would be that we reach a time where we no longer need a special day dedicated to Women as it becomes the norm to be recognising great women and men every single day

WHO IS A WOMAN - APART FROM YOUR MOTHER - WHO HAS INFLUENCED OR INSPIRED YOU?

I have been incredibly fortunate to have been influenced and inspired by many women who probably don't realise the impact that they have had on me. My close girlfriends over many years have inspired me for so many different reasons. From a professional perspective, I would say that Katie Page has been a strong influence over the last 10 years.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR 15-YEAR-OLD SELF?

Don't give up, resilience is so important - you will get there. Failure is a necessary step on the journey to success. Be prepared to work hard - hard work and determination is an unbeatable combination. Two heads are better than one. Be appreciative - we are so lucky to live in this great country and have so much opportunity. Always use your manners, be respectful and stay humble. Be prepared to move out of your comfort zone and get scared - this is when you truly develop. Finally, laugh a lot and don't take yourself too seriously.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE #METOO MOVEMENT?

The #MeToo movement has made incredible change in an industry that definitely needed it. It's put men with ill intentions on notice and given thousands of women the courage to speak up. However, we need to be careful that we don't apply a broad brush across every man, as there are many wonderful men that are championing and supporting women every day, and we want to encourage more men to do the same. Everything is about balance

WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHER FEMALES TO ENTER YOUR PROFESSION?

As I enter my 30th year in the motor industry - I still love it! There are many career opportunities, particularly for women as this is an industry that has been traditionally male dominated - all of that is changing.

WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUNG QUEENSLAND WOMEN?

There is so much opportunity for you to achieve your dreams and goals. Don't give up, confront and overcome your challenges as it will only make you stronger. No matter where you are in life, you will always face challenges and obstacles but it's how you deal with them. Stay focused and treat every day as a chance to be better than the day before. Have fun - maintain a sense of humour, life is too short to not enjoy what you do. Remember to be kind to yourself - tune out from all the superficial noise around you - and recognise the wonderful talents that you have and just be you - there is no one just like you!

 

 

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young

 

 

DR JEANNETTE YOUNG

CHIEF HEALTH OFFICER OF QUEENSLAND

WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY MEAN TO YOU?

It's celebrating what women have achieved and what they will achieve in the future.

WHO IS A WOMAN - APART FROM YOUR MOTHER - WHO HAS INFLUENCED OR INSPIRED YOU?

A woman who has inspired me in my career as Chief Health Officer is the previous Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Margaret Chan. She identified the health of women as an important indicator of the impact WHO could make. She wanted to look at how to empower women to leverage their resources and creativity to become change agents. She commented that when women are appropriately motivated and given the right environment they can make changes that not only benefit themselves but also their families and their communities.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR 15 YEAR OLD SELF?

I would have told my 15-year-old self to find out what I was passionate about and make my career with that in mind. I would also have told my 15-year-old self to take advantage of every opportunity because it is impossible to know what might happen if you don't explore chances.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE #METOO MOVEMENT?

It is wonderful to see women coming together and supporting each other.

WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHER FEMALES TO ENTER YOUR PROFESSION?

Health is a fantastic profession. Without health, people's lives are immeasurably poorer. It encompasses so many different skills and attributes and there is always something new on the horizon. Anyone with a passion to improve outcomes for people should consider the profession.

WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUNG QUEENSLAND WOMEN?

Always believe in yourself and be kind to others.