On a cold winter morning in Melbourne on Wednesday, 60 people braved the weather to attend our latest Changemakers Series event. It was a morning of breakfast, networking and conversation with panel speaker guests Tessa Sullivan, former politician and sexual harassment advocate; Tanya Southey, expert in helping people and organisations realise their potential; and our very own THPA CEO, Melanie Noden. They shared their own perspective on the event’s theme ‘Finding Our Voice’, from the workplace in Australia speaking up for their rights, through to women in rural villages stepping into their leadership to end hunger.
There were so many nuggets of wisdom that we struggled to narrow it down to a few, but we have compiled some of the most inspiring lessons that you can take with you through your work and daily life.
If you’re from Melbourne, you may know Tessa from her former work as a politician or the Officer of the Supreme Court of Victoria. She has shown immense courage by surviving and blowing the whistle on sexual harassment in the workplace by a former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, and her resignation from her political role created new laws to address the lack of policies in Government regarding workplace safety.
“The reason I found my voice was because I felt like I was anonymous and voiceless, and through trauma I realised I do have a voice. There are a lot of voices and the only one that matters is your own. Everyone has experienced tragedy, and people have an innate need to act. You cannot unsee what you’ve seen. Inaction is a crime.
I was clueless and frightened. Find some courage. Hang in there. Dig deep within yourself.”
Tanya is an expert in helping people and organisations realise their potential, and women to gain financial freedom. In her last role at Carlton United Breweries, she was part of a team of executives who worked on the largest merger in the history of the London Stock Exchange. After years working in the corporate sector, Tanya now pursues her passion for reading and writing and is a children’s book author.
“Have the conversations that you would normally shy away from. Prepare to hear no. If you want to drive change, you have to start with yourself. There will be noise when a dynamic changes. You need to be prepared for the noise, and you need to stick to your conviction. When you change, the system will change.”
Melanie is the CEO of The Hunger Project Australia, part of the global THP organisation. The Hunger Project empowers women as key change agents to sustainably end chronic, persistent hunger.
“What’s important to me is holding true to my values, identifying purpose and creating possibilities for others. You have to act despite fear. Fear is healthy, and leveraging that fear is finding your voice. There will always be detractors. I’ve had my career threatened for speaking out. You are your own role model, so act with dignity and respect.
Overcoming systemic issues isn’t only about changing laws — it’s about changing people’s mindset about their rights and their capabilities.”
Special thanks to WeWork for providing a space for our event and Melissa Hobbs for photography.