Wins of the Whitlam era and what still needs to change: IWD on the Border

Pediatrician Karina Chaves, Albury Community Health counsellor Taryn Russell, and Karyn O'Loughlin, Janet Chapman and Pauline Ross of Albury Wodonga Health speak on a panel for International Women's Day.
Pediatrician Karina Chaves, Albury Community Health counsellor Taryn Russell, and Karyn O'Loughlin, Janet Chapman and Pauline Ross of Albury Wodonga Health speak on a panel for International Women's Day.

All the top decisions were made by men at the beginning of Pauline Ross’ career in the health sector.

Now, as Albury Wodonga Health board director, 79 per cent of her organisation’s 2500-strong workforce is female.

“I didn’t see any women in that context,” Ms Ross said, speaking about her time as a young nurse observing leadership positions, at an Albury Community Health International Women’s Day event.

“Eventually I learned the good and bad from that and I had a fantastic mentor – he would talk me through things and it’s important to have that person,” she said.

“There were a group of young women and we started to push and it was hard.”

Albury deputy mayor Amanda Cohn also shared an experience as a young professional in the health sector on her Facebook page.

“I am a resident doctor in the emergency department – I wear scrubs embroidered with ‘doctor’ as well as my hospital ID with my title, and I introduce myself clearly to every patient,” she said.

“Patients and staff regularly assume that I'm a nurse based on my age and gender.

“One memorable morning I'd spent about half an hour with a patient … explaining their diagnosis and prognosis, answering questions from their family … I finally discharged the patient and they asked if the doctor would be seeing them before they left.

“Women of Albury – let's take today to share our stories.”

A panel of professionals at Albury Community Health discussed their achievements, negotiating careers and motherhood, the progression on women’s rights and reflecting on past wins – including reforms of the Gough Whitlam government.

AWH Regional Partnerships and Planning Director Janet Chapman shared one of her career tips, speaking about admitting imperfection and accepting support.

“I recognise what I’m good at, but recognise where there are gaps and make sure there are people around me,” she said.

They shared messages on a painting by Sigrid Van Krieken.

Among those anecdotes was an excerpt of the William Ross Wallace poem The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.