AfREC celebrates International Women’s Day 2019 with launch of A-LEAD program

At a Gala Dinner on Saturday 9 March 2019, members of AfREC joined with the Organisation of African Communities in WA (OAC) and the WA Minister for Women’s Interests, Hon. Simone McGurk, MLA, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019.

With a theme of Together we Influence and Empower, the IWD celebration also served to mark the inauguration of the new OAC Women’s Department, led by Director Marie-Claire Evenor, and the launch of the joint AfREC-OAC WA African Women’s Leadership, Empowerment and Development Program (A-LEAD).

The lively celebration (with food and performances from diverse African cultures, and several participatory dancing interludes) involved 200 people—mostly African-Australian women—along with the Minister, President of the WA Legislative Council Hon. Kate Doust, MLC, City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts, as well as the OAC Executive and community leaders.

AfREC was represented by Industry Coordinator Dr Muza Gondwe, Community Coordinator Dr Dominic Dagbanja, Research Fellow A/Prof. Farida Fozdar, along with Members Kwanele Ndlovu, Liliosa Chambwera and Daj Janneh. AfREC Director Dr David Mickler spoke during the event on behalf of UWA and Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dawn Freshwater (see remarks below).

The A-LEAD program is co-designed by AfREC and OAC and, following the launch and a further period of consultation and participant recruitment, will be delivered over six-months at UWA between July-December 2019. There was indeed strong interest in participating among attendees at the event. Selected UWA students and staff will also be invited to participate in aspects of the program. The A-LEAD program is co-sponsored by OAC and UWA via the UWA Public Policy Institute (PPI) and the Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education (Community & Engagement portfolio).


Full text of remarks by AfREC Director at International Women’s Day 2019 celebration, 9 March 2019, The RISE, Maylands

Thank you

  • Acknowledgment of Country

  • Minister for Women’s Interests, Hon. Simone McGurk MLA

  • President of the Legislative Council, Hon. Kate Doust MLC

  • Mayor of City of Wanneroo, Tracy Roberts

  • President of OAC, Joe Tuazama and Vice-Presidents, Dr Casty Nyaga and Elizabeth Lang

  • Director, OAC Women’s Department, Marie-Claire Evenor

  • Distinguished guests, community leaders, ladies and gentlemen

My name is David Mickler and I am the Director of the Africa Research & Engagement Centre (AfREC), at the University of Western Australia (UWA). AfREC’s launch last year reflected a desire by the University to promote strong engagement—on issues relevant to the African continent and Australia-Africa relations—between the university and a range of key stakeholders, including in government, industry and, importantly, African-Australian communities here in WA.

In doing so, I’m pleased that we have forged a very strong and deep partnership with OAC over several years, with Joe Tuazama and Dr Casta Tungaraza now serving on AfREC’s Advisory Board, and in turn a number of AfREC members serving on OAC Committees.

Indeed, UWA AfREC is a proud partner with OAC on the conception, design and delivery of the WA African Women’s Leadership, Empowerment and Development (A-LEAD) program, which we are very excited to be launching here tonight as we mark and celebrate International Women’s Day 2019.

I would like to pass on the best wishes from University of Western Australia Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater, who had wanted to attend tonight but unfortunately has a clashing prior university commitment. As an embodiment of, and strong advocate for, women’s leadership, the Vice-Chancellor sends her apologies and reiterates the deep support by UWA for the A-LEAD program. Indeed, with OAC, the program is co-funded by UWA via our Public Policy Institute and Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education.

UWA AfREC has an ongoing commitment to supporting African Women’s Leadership, in partnership with OAC. For example, we celebrated Africa Day 2017 with a co-convened public engagement forum on the theme of ‘African Women and Leadership’. And, in 2018, we sponsored the Women in Leadership Award at the Inaugural WA African Community Awards, convened by OAC at the brilliant Gala Awards Night last September.

We were delighted that Bouah Kardio won that Award last year and we have continued to work with Bouah, including by hosting her and her colleagues from Courageous Women Multicultural Network at the University. Indeed, we were proud to witness Bouah recently inaugurated as the first woman Chairperson of the Association of Liberian Community in WA.

On behalf of the UWA AfREC Industry Coordinator, Dr Muza Gondwe, I’m very pleased to announce here tonight that UWA will again sponsor the Women in Leadership Award as part of the 2019 WA African Community Awards and we are greatly looking forward to another fantastic Gala Awards Event by OAC to conclude Australia-Africa Week this September.

We are very excited to launch the A-LEAD program here tonight and to work with the OAC’s new Women’s Department to deliver it. We would like to congratulate OAC and Coordinator Marie-Claire Evenor on the launch of their new Women’s Department, which we believe is a very important development.

The A-LEAD program has emerged from the stated desire of African communities in WA to create further professional development, mentoring and networking opportunities for African-Australian women.

The A-LEAD program builds on the success of the African Leadership Development Program (ALDP), convened for over 10 years in Victoria by our colleagues in the African Think Tank, as well as a number of other successful program run in WA by OAC, such as the Stop the Violence Youth Mentoring Program. The A-LEAD program will specifically target African-Australian women community leaders in WA—and we hope a number of the people in the room here tonight will nominate to participate—and I’m pleased to say we will also involve African women students at UWA—as emerging leaders—in aspects of the program.

Indeed, we hope the A-LEAD program enhances the leadership capacities of African-Australian women within their communities. But not only that. We need more African-Australian women in senior leadership positions in wider Australian society—in politics, in business, in universities and beyond—and we hope A-LEAD will facilitate these important contributions.

Following the launch tonight, there will be a three-month period of detailed further consultations with stakeholders on A-LEAD program design, sponsorship and participant recruitment, before the six-month program is rolled out at UWA from July to December 2019. The program will then be formally evaluated during early 2020, and the first cohort of participants will graduate at a ceremony on International Women’s Day in March 2020, which we hope will also serve to kick of the second iteration of the A-LEAD program next year.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the distinguished guests, community leaders and all participants for their presence and support here tonight, and I would also like thank the hard-working and committed teams at both OAC and UWA for the deep collaboration they have undertaken to create the exciting and important African Women’s Leadership, Empowerment and Development (A-LEAD) program.

We look forward to the successful delivery of the first iteration of the program later this year.

Thank you.

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