We were honoured to welcome Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young PSM Governor of Queensland to our annual International Women’s Day (IWD) assembly.

Her uplifting address encouraged our girls in green to realise the strength of their potential and heed the 2022 IWD theme, #BreakTheBias, in their own lives.

“As you may know, my youngest daughter, Jane, attended Somerville House, and so my husband Professor Nimmo and I have a special connection to the Somerville community.

It is therefore a delight to speak to you this afternoon, as we honour International Women’s Day 2022 and reflect on this year’s theme, “Break The Bias”.

This theme encourages us to consider what we can each do to strive for a world where all girls and women have the opportunity to fulfil their dreams—whatever they may be—and where our differences are truly valued and celebrated.

What particularly resonates with me is the IWD philosophy that “individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions—all day, every day”.

In other words, by staying true to your values, and maintaining your sense of purpose—even in the face of challenges—you will be well on the way to achieving your own ambitions.

Pictured left: School Vice Captains Geena Pathirana and Mary-Elise Hii, School Captain Odevnie Perera and Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young PSM Governor of Queensland

Yet, as you travel your individual paths, I believe one of the most powerful things you can also do is to draw on the support, wisdom and guidance of other girls and women, who can be your mentors—inspiring you to see what is possible, and offering their advice and encouragement.

Then, in turn, I urge you to offer that same assistance and leadership to others, as this will make their way easier and smoother.

In my own career, these special relationships have served me well, and given me the confidence required to make some pretty tough decisions, such as switching from medicine to medical management early in my working life, and moving up to a new job in Rockhampton from Sydney, as a single mother, with a toddler in tow.

I could never have made such big shifts—in my career and my life—without focusing on my personal goals, but at the same time respectfully listening to others and gathering the information required to take measured risks.

Mentorship truly has a beneficial domino effect.

Pictured right: Somerville House Six String Consort at the International Women's Day reception hosted by the Governor and Professor Nimmo at Government House

In the 120 years or so since the first girls walked through the doors of Somerville House, we have made significant advancements, and these seeds of change were sown by trail-blazers like your own Founding Principal, Eliza Fewings.

To stand up for what you believe in, takes courage and determination, and requires continuously weighing up how your decisions will impact others.

We therefore share the responsibility to make the lives of other girls and women better, because everyone deserves the right to be able to follow their dreams.

I thank the entire Somerville House community for welcoming me so warmly today, and for taking time to celebrate International Women’s Day in such a memorable manner. I wish you all every success as you continue your formal education here at Somerville House.”

We are proud to have a community where girls are empowered to challenge gender stereotypes and celebrate each other’s achievements – helping to pave the way for a gender-equal world.