2019 marked the 5th year yLead has partnered alongside the Alliance of Girls Schools Australasia to run the Student Leadership Conference. This year the conference made a new home at the Women’s College of Sydney – the first college for female students to attend in Australia. With the history and location set, 170 Year 12 girls from across Australia, New Zealand, America, the Philippines and Zimbabwe came together to celebrate leadership, diversity, and action to make their schools and communities better.
The first day began by recognising figures who have paved the way for female leadership throughout our time, identifying their unique strengths that have enabled them to make a positive impact. The theme of the conference was ‘Take Flight’, so we heard the story of one such woman Hayley Talbot, who reflected on her challenging journey solo kayaking the 400km Clarence River. The students were able to form strong connections with those in their chosen ‘squads’, creating a war cry to represent the uniqueness of each group.
The second day began with a visit from activist Annabelle Chauncy, who has built three schools in rural Uganda to support the education of underprivileged youth. The girls then worked their way through three workshops, identifying the insecurities holding them back, what kind of habits would help them create an ‘average perfect day’ and how their mindset dictates their level of success. Day two ended with a special evening where every girl had the opportunity to share their story with two new friends, and show gratitude for those in the room who they had the pleasure of getting to know.
Day three was all about putting a desired legacy into action – how the students as leaders can create change in their school communities. The morning began practising public speaking skills, followed by two team-building rotations, one led by international affairs guru Emily Rice. Goal setting was the final highlight of this day, where leaders reunited with those from their school and mapped out the steps they will take in order to make their mark as a leadership team. The conference celebrated the hard work put in over the few days with a beautiful meal shared with staff from schools in attendance, alongside ASGA and Women’s College alumni. To get an idea of what the night looked like, check out our talented photographer Josie Neeve’s video here.
The final day started by hearing from Christy Hildyard, founder of Grace Pads, followed by the conference’s closing ceremony. This presentation involved all squads sharing the product of the secret mission which they had worked on throughout week. From elaborate musical productions, to witty, insightful videos, the ceremony was a fantastic representation of the conference itself – how the united power of motivated young women can allow them to achieve remarkable things.
When we asked some of our mentors from the conference to explain their experience, this is what they had to say…
“It struck me, the power of womankind. When we empower ourselves by uniting with like-minded women to form a tribe, it is nothing short of magic.” Anjana Prabu, St Margaret’s School graduate 2018
“There’s nothing quite like SLC. It’s so magical watching hundreds of strangers becoming best friends in just a few days. The conference is proof that when you bring like-minded leaders together, anything can happen! It reminded me more than ever of how lucky I am to be a part of something bigger than myself, and to witness the beginning of many extraordinary things to come.” Alisha McMullen, Penhros College graduate 2016
“SLC is a conference like no other; it truly instills a sense of passion, purpose and empowerment in each participant and mentor. I loved building connections, sharing vulnerabilities and learning from the incredible girls around me. It was amazing to watch how the girls developed over the conference and how they left feeling a sense of empowerment to make a difference, now that’s something special.” Ash Tsui-Po, St Margaret’s School graduate 2017
“A moment that stood out was something a girl in my squad said. She said even though we’ve all only known each other for a few days I know I can look around the room and call these girls family. I thought it really captured the essence of SLC and the amazing connections made.” Kiara Davies, Pymble Ladies College graduate 2018
“My number one highlight was being able to hear the inspiring ambitions of such courageous girls as they planned, talked and pitched their ideas for the future ahead. It was great to hear the potential change about to occur across the nation.” Amy Aroney, Danebank Anglican School for Girls graduate 2017