Dame Quentin Bryce is living proof to women today that you can be what you can see.
In her extraordinary life, she’s been an academic, a lawyer, a senior public officer, a university college principal, a community and human rights advocate, the Governor of Queensland and the first female Governor of Australia. We’d also add a huge inspiration to women, and our community who were lucky enough to have breakfast in her company this morning.
Quentin, 74, spoke about her book, Dear Quentin, Letters of a Governor General, and the touching correspondence she received during her time in office. She also touched on the important issues affecting women today, from sexism to childcare to domestic violence.
In her role as chair of the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence, Quentin last year delivered 140 recommendations in the report ‘Not now, Not ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence’. At a time when two women every week are killed by a partner or former partner in Australia, Quentin says more needs to be done.
“We have to all speak out and remember the most important tool is our voice.”
“Every single one of us has to ask ourselves, ‘what am I doing about domestic violence?'”
When shown an image of a Daily Mail front page that declared “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!” Referring to a photo of UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Quentin said, “There’s quite a lot of sexism again. We seem to have gone back. It takes away our dignity.”
“We all stand on the shoulders of women who worked so hard for reform.”
“When conversation turns to the denigration of women, men have to speak up and say ‘steady on mate; we don’t talk like that.’”
Another important issue Quentin continues to champion is childcare. How important it is to not only help women get back into the workforce but how important it is for children themselves. She says the conversations we have around childcare needs to change.
“Too often childcare is seen as babysitting. It’s so much more than that. Childcare workers are incredible people.”
“Early childhood education is absolutely vital. We must become better advocates for better quality childcare for everyone.”
As a mother-of-five, and grandmother to 11, Quentin is well qualified to talk about balancing career with family. She describes the time when she had five young children as “chaos.”
“It used to take me six months to just get out of my pink dressing gown after having a baby.”
“I did the superwoman thing, but it’s not sustainable. I learned to ask for and accept help.”
Quentin is a trailblazer, and one of Australia’s most powerful women. She continues to use her position to help champion causes and gives back so much to the community, but her parting advice was on the importance of self-care.
“Women need to have the discipline to look after their spiritual, mental and physical health. It’s much easier to be a workaholic.”
“Taking good care of yourself means building stores of resilience for those tough times.”
“The most important journey in life is to the centre of one’s self.”
Quentin has commenced her Business Chicks tour, but if you missed out, you can grab a copy of her book, Dear Quentin by Quentin Bryce (RRP $45.00, eBook $22.99) here. You can also read an extract of the book here.