Australia’s answer to royalty Dame Quentin Bryce entertained more than 500 women at the Westpac High Tea function today, with stories of bush kids, the third wave of feminism and her work in a remote Indigenous community.
The crowd – which included a handful of men – were enthralled with her stories of growing up in the small central Queensland town of Ilfracombe, one of three daughters to parents who “had a deep commitment to education”.
She spoke about the importance of rural leadership – “it’s very exciting to watch in 2018” – but insisted it was very important to be a good team player.
Ms Bryce said a childhood raised in the bush was the “most wonderful” thing a child could have.
“It’s all about the values that it instills in you – courtesy, kindness, hard work and perseverance but especially respect,” she said.
"People depend on each other in the bush, they are very inclusive.”
Ms Bryce spoke fondly of her work in the remote Cape York Peninsula community of Lockhart River, which she had visited in her former role as Governor-General of Australia.
“I formed friendships with some of the women elders who are doing some wonderful work to support their community,” Ms Bryce said.
“With a group of people we decided to make a contribution to the well-being of that community and we did that through the women.
“Last year some of us established an early learning childhood centre there because we have all learnt that early intervention is what matters.
“Next week in Brisbane I have a roundtable with women elders to talk with some of our research scientists about health issues.”
Tanya Dupagne, last year's AgriFutures Rural Women's Award winner, also spoke at the event about her initiative, Camp Kulin, in Western Australia, which teaches essential life skills, including leadership, respect, trust, self-confidence, perseverance, persistence, respect, anger management and communication skills.