The conference attracted student leaders from St Joseph’s Primary School, Bulahdelah, Holy Name Primary School, Forster, St Joseph’s Primary School, Gloucester, St Joseph’s Primary School, Taree and St Joseph’s Primary School, Wingham.
This year’s theme, Women in Leadership, welcomed the keynote speakers, Sister Libbey Byrne, Rebecca McKenna, Olivia Middlebrook and Bec Willis from the community to share their stories and inspire and motivate students to change the world.
It was a wonderful opportunity for students to listen to inspirational speakers from various fields, interact with other students from the region and engage in interactive workshops focused on spirituality, leadership in school, leadership in community and music.
The first keynote speaker was Sister Libbey Byrne, who is currently the Parish Pastoral Coordinator in the Myall Lakes Parish. Her message to the students was that: ‘Just because it has never been done before, does not mean it can’t be done now’.
Rebecca McKenna, an Accredited Practising Dietitian and counsellor, addressed the students about confidence and body positivity. She provided research that showed that ‘90% of girls want to change one aspect of their body’, ‘72% of girls feel immense pressure to be “beautiful”’ and ‘60% of girls skip activities because of how they feel about their body’.
From these statistics, Rebecca provided the students with strategies to think positively about their bodies and feel empowered and blessed to have bodies that are capable of performing unbelievable things.
Bec Willis, a local musician based in Gloucester, spoke to the students about the role music has played in her life and the opportunities that have come from this. She spoke about how amazing the gift of music has been in her life and the significance of being a creative leader.
The final keynote speaker was Olivia Middlebrook, who is a young dairy farmer based in Gloucester. Over the past 5 years, Olivia has been working on the farm and her main roles are herd management and calf rearing. She spoke to the students about her occupation, breaking down the barriers of gender and being successful in a male dominated field.
Throughout the afternoon, students participated in workshops that focused on spirituality, youth, community and creative leadership. These were led by Father Greg Barker from the Forster-Tuncurry Parish, the female members of the Student Representative Council at St Clare’s High School, Deb Tuckerman from Mid Coast Council and Bec Willis from St Joseph’s Gloucester.
The day was a great success, with all the activities aimed at building team skills, confidence, facing challenges, decision-making and self-esteem. These activities provided the Year 6 students with an insight into the qualities that make people successful leaders and the need to have good leaders in the community.