Women to connect

A regional conference to inspire, empower and celebrate Gippsland women aims to provide an opportunity to form connections and develop leadership skills.

The inaugural Connecting Women Across Gippsland conference is being held at Lardner Park on Wednesday, 25 November to coincide with national White Ribbon Day and raise awareness of the campaign to end men’s violence against women.

It will feature a day of workshops, presentations and networking opportunities, followed by an evening dinner.

Journalist Tracey Spicer is the conference MC and will give a keynote speech titled ‘Claiming our share of the sandpit’.

Women In Gippsland co-founder Kerry Irwin said the idea for the event came about through her involvement with three separate groups that were working on either empowering women, equality or the prevention of violence against women and all were interested in running a conference.

“I said ‘what if we do it together?’,” Ms Irwin said.

“Ultimately, we want to connect women so they feel they have a strong network of like-minded women they can call on or help support their ideas.”

Ms Irwin said the conference aimed to celebrate and connect women from across the region, as studies showed an inherent link between empowering women through social connection and reducing the prevalence of violence in the community.

“We want to bring a diverse range of women together to inspire, educate, nourish and empower them, challenge them, build their capacity, provide them with a place to laugh, and create opportunities to form new connections and friendships.

“It’s for all types of women – whether you’re working, not working; have children or don’t have children; are young, or older; well-connected, or not connected at all.”

Local women from a range of backgrounds and professions will also share their stories of budding business brilliance, determination, community commitment, social justice, creativity, and environmental passion throughout the day in short and powerful visual presentations.

Keynote speaker at the dinner portion of the event is Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Lucinda Nolan, who will talk about gender inequality in the police force.

She will be followed by comedian, presenter and author Gretel Killeen.

Ms Irwin said the conference would be made up of streams, with participants able to move around to various sections.

“There’ll be plenty of opportunity for people to go to something that hits the mark for them,” she said.

A range of agencies and community groups have come together for the first time to stage the conference, including Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault, Relationships Australia Victoria, Gippsland Women’s Health, Traralgon Neighbourhood Learning House, Rural Access Gippsland, Department of Health and Human Services, Gippsland Community Legal Service, Women in Gippsland and Latrobe Women in Business.

“The event is costing more than $150,000 to stage, most of which has been donated through in-kind support and corporate sponsorship. It’s going to be amazing,” Ms Irwin said.

It is hoped the conference, which will also feature a community market, will sell out its 480 tickets and go on to become an annual event.

Tickets for the Connecting Women Across Gippsland conference and dinner can be purchased at www.connectingwomenacrossgippsland.com.au.

For more information about the event or being a stallholder on the day, visit the website or go to the Connecting Women Across Gippsland Facebook page.