From the CEO, April 2019

International Women’s Day on 8 March is a day to celebrate women and their achievements. In reality it is at least a weeklong festival with a large number of events held. For many of us it becomes a task of managing the diary carefully in order to attend as many functions as possible. The noticeable shift this year is that women and men took to the stage showing that women are no longer talking to each other and that the audience and support base is growing with men in larger numbers joining the conversation.

On the eve of IWD I was honoured to be inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame, joining just under 200 women who have advanced the State in a notable way. My induction was in recognition of our gender equality project Filling the Pool and in my acceptance speech, I thanked the 150 women who shared their stories that were backed by the evidence that found there are structural as well as cultural reasons why Perth’s women were not participating or progressing in corporate life in Perth. Pleasingly, the roadmap of 31 recommendations provided a practical guide as to what needed to be done.

My two speeches given on 8 March reflected on the progress since the launch of the report in 2015 including:

  • more women are visible in senior and executive leadership roles on the Terrace;
  • listed entities are reporting on and working to address the like-for-like pay gap;
  • flexible work has moved from a ‘chicks’ policy to one that men are using in greater numbers;
  • return to work processes have shifted to remaining connected during leave so that coming back is a smoother process; and
  • there are more childcare facilities especially in the city.

A lot has happened in the almost four years since the report was launched yet, as the Minister laments below, more needs to be done.

On that front, we were very pleased to welcome back to Perth lead researcher of the project, Dr Terry Fitzsimmons who released our latest FACTBase Bulletin: Filling the Pool Starts Early, Lessons from Queensland. A deep and intensive study of 13 to 17 year olds at the top matriculating schools in our sister state has clues for us in the west that influencing girls career choices needs to be done early and both at home and at school.

During Terry’s visit, we met with Minister McGurk because with government and industry support, the study can be repeated in Western Australia. This would provide the evidence base for meaningful policy changes, help to shift parental attitudes and target industry support in order to make a real difference to girl’s futures. I will keep you updated as discussions progress in the coming months.

On the subject of making a profound difference, Reconciliation WA has partnered with a number of organisations including the Committee for Perth for this year's annual breakfast. Knowing how important reconciliation is to many of our members, I hope that there is strong attendance at ‘Ground in truth, walk together with courage’ to be held on 31 May.

This month we welcomed a new member to our team, Abi Smalley who has joined us as Marketing and Communications Officer. This is the first time we have had in-house skills in these areas and addresses direct feedback from our members that we need to make more of the great work that we do.

In mid-April, our Research Officer, Georgie Harford-Mills will leave us to travel to South America for a few months and then ultimately settle in The Netherlands to work. Georgie joined us on a part-time basis whilst doing Honours in Urban and Regional Planning at UWA. Upon graduating she started on a full-time basis and it has been a joy to watch her grow and develop. Over the past 4.5 years, Georgie has become a well-established researcher with a number of publications co-authored or written in her own right.

One of the things about having a young team is watching their personal and professional development by giving opportunities for growth. Last year, Georgie did her first public speaking engagement when she presented the case study she wrote on the Kwinana Industrial Area. Resistant to the idea at first, Georgie reflected that it was a career highlight once she overcame the nerves.

We will miss Georgie but those of you who know her well, you will no doubt join with me in wishing her safe travels and all the best for the future. Recruitment is well advanced and next month I look forward to introducing you to new members of our research team.

During March, our next major project Hashtag Perth kicked off. A ground breaking project to reposition Perth by enhancing its reputation, I can’t wait to share the project in detail with you in the next edition.

The analysis of the future of ports in WA’s south west is well advanced. Independent Chair of the Westport Taskforce, Nicole Lockwood shared the complexity involved in examining all of the options for the ports of Fremantle, Kwinana and Bunbury. The first of a new standard in collaboration across government and widespread community consultation, Westport is paving the way for greater engagement in shaping the future.

Learning from the past, this week we will launch a new report in the What We Thought Would Kill Us series which examines the macro learnings from the seven case studies to date and makes recommendations for earlier, better and more genuine consultation with the community as Perth grows and adapts to change.

It is a frantically busy time in the office as I leave for Seattle and Vancouver on Saturday to attend meetings, conferences and make presentations. I will be posting to LinkedIn daily for those interested in day by day insights. For those of you who would prefer the more condensed version, I will be doing presentations to members and government in June and July in order to share my learnings widely.

Marion Fulker


Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.