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Women – the guardians of the house of humanity

Boardroom Series Lunch, Sydney, 4 September 2019

Words: Kerry-Anne Johnston. Photos: Robin Walton.

On Wednesday 4 September the NSW Chapter of the Society of Women Leaders held their second Boardroom series luncheon generously hosted by Macquarie Bank. A special thank you goes to one of our Founding Members Anne Pike who made the connection with Macquarie Bank and lead this event.

Guests mingled and networked over a glass of champagne before being seated across seven tables all named after the Red Cross Seven Fundamental principles: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity, Universality.

We firstly heard from Lisa George, Global Head of the Macquarie Group Foundation. She outlined the history of the Foundation, which has gifted over $360M to community organisations since its inception in 1985.  The staff alone have donated over $12M in 2019, which has been matched dollar to dollar by the bank.  And to mark the 50th anniversary of Macquarie Bank, the Foundation has recently gifted $50m to 5 charities.

Whilst a beautiful meal was served Anita Pahor our Chair was invited to the lectern where she acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and outlined the following:

  • Who SWL is and our support of the Australian Red Cross
  • The membership and how we now have 70 members nationally who have raised more than $2.5 million
  • The importance and meaning of the Red Cross emblem which we wear with pride
  • The programs we have supported, the voting process and the differences we have made.

Anita also invited Joanne Byrne, Kathryn Mee and Suz Zekulich, our 3 new NSW members, to come forward where they were welcomed to SWL and presented with their SWL membership bracelets. 

After this our guest speakers Pauly and Bronwyn from Youth and Family Support, Kwinana Western Australia were invited to give their presentation. SWL has funded one year of their program, which has four parts:

  1. Healing Fire”- a place for people to reconnect and discuss values, family, old connections, spirits and healing.
  2. Red Dust Healing” - 15 practitioners have been trained to help the Indigenous community to make empowered choices. It deals with neglect, abuse, rejection and suicide, how there are always options in life and the best choices to make
  3. The Nans House” - where the mantra is ‘women are the guardians of the house of humanity’. Through collaboration with “Second Bite” food is delivered from a variety of sources to feed hundreds of kids.
  4. The “Healing House” – this is a rented property where workshops are held to help with loss and to deliver a strong message to the community: Reflect. Power. Self-Belief. Break the cycle.

The projects deal with Intergenerational Trauma which has been brought about by several factors including the effects, both past and present, of the stolen generation.

The audience that was made up of Macquarie senior staff, SWL members and their guests were very moved and many were brought to tears from the inspiring change experienced by the community. The social prejudices and feelings of abandonment through the stolen generation and the loss of a new generation through drugs, and the rise of suicide were fully highlighted as the serious issues faced by the Indigenous population in this area.

At the conclusion all guests were invited to meet the speakers for an informal conversation around the successes and issues faced within the programs they run. The conversation around the room was certainly inspired.

Thank you again to Macquarie Bank and Anne Pike for an emotional and uplifting boardroom luncheon.