Stewards on the Couch – International Women’s Day Event 2024

Accelerating Gender Equality through Economic Empowerment  


Following the success of our inaugural International Women’s Day event in 2023, IPAA Queensland is pleased to invite public purpose professionals to attend our 2024 International Women’s Day Event, supported by our major sponsor Luminary and delivered in collaboration with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is Count Her In: Accelerating Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment. An important and timely theme centring on the importance of facilitating women’s economic empowerment and the central role it plays to achieving gender equality. When women are given equal opportunities to earn, learn and lead – the community thrives. Goals of economic empowerment, gender equality and thriving communities are essential goals for governments at all levels and jurisdictions.  

Public policy and public administration offer key levers for promoting and achieving economic empowerment of women through education, workforce participation and breaking down barriers to professional growth. This event will explore these opportunities though an impressive panel of leaders who will draw on their diverse perspectives and wisdom to challenge thinking about what economic empowerment means and the role we all play in supporting this outcome.   

Come and soak up the wisdom from these formidable public purpose leaders as they share their journey and insights.  

In keeping with the spirit and theme of International Women’s Day in 2024, this event will put a call on all leaders and allies to “count her in” and better understanding the true benefit of equity and diversity.  


We are delighted to announce that the event will again be officially opened by Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young AC PSM, Governor of Queensland and IPAA Queensland Patron. 

Dr Linda Colley, Special Commissioner, Equity and Diversity, Public Sector Commission, and Dr Karen Hooper, Head of Productivity, Queensland Treasury will set the scene for discussion with insights from their work. 

A moderated panel discussion with three leaders from across the public purpose landscape will follow, representing a combined wealth of experience and expertise, followed by audience Q&A opportunity with the panellists.  

Finally, newly appointed Dean and CEO for ANZSOG, Professor Caron Beaton-Wells will formally close the event. 

  • Dr Karen Hooper, Head of Productivity, Queensland Treasury, and Treasury’s Executive Champion for Gender Equity 
  • Natalie Lewis, Commissioner, Queensland Family and Child Commission 
  • Fran Vicary, A/Branch Manager, Administrative Appeal Tribunal Case Management Branch, National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)

Panel discussion moderated by Dr Anneke Schmider, Director, Advisory Services with ANZSOG. 


Date: Thursday 7 March 2024
Time: Join us from 12.00pm for a networking lunch, formal proceedings commence 1pm sharp to 3pm 
Location: Level 41, 1 William Street, Brisbane
Cost: Free – IPAA Queensland individual FULL/STUDENT members
$60 – IPAA Queensland organisational members, $90 non-members (price inclusive of catering)



Luminary is proud to support IPAA Queensland as a major sponsor and Stewards on the Couch series partner

This event is also supported by event partner – the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG)


Dr Karen Hooper

Karen is the Head of Productivity in Queensland Treasury and former Chair of the Queensland Productivity Commission. 

Karen also enjoyed an extensive career at the Reserve Bank of Australia where she led the Bank’s Queensland Office and international finance function, involving engagement with multilateral institutions including the G20 and International Monetary Fund. 

Karen holds an Honours degree and Ph.D in economics from The University of Queensland and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) Executive Fellows Program. Karen is a strong advocate for the role economists can play in helping to deliver improved community outcomes through evidence-based policy advice. She is a member of CEDA’s Council on Economic Policy and was recently appointed as Queensland Treasury’s Executive Champion for Gender Equity. She is a mentor in the Women in Economics Network mentoring programme and for many years, has been active in promoting career pathways in economics and economic literacy through engagement with universities and the Queensland Economics Teachers’ Association. Karen also supports the QUT Pathways to Politics Program for Women as a guest speaker on the application of economics in policy development. 


Natalie Lewis

Natalie Lewis is a Gamilaraay woman and the Commissioner of the Queensland Family and Child Commission.

Natalie’s career spans more than 25 years across youth justice, child and family services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. She was the CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak for 8 years and has also held numerous appointments on Boards and Councils that have driven significant reform in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child protection and family services sectors. 

Natalie is fiercely committed to progressing a transformational reform agenda to ensure that children’s rights are upheld in Queensland and nationally. 


Fran Vicary 

Fran Vicary works for the National Disability Insurance Agency, an agency that implements the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and, therefore, has a disability focus. Fran has worked in roles that involve her passion for empowering people with disabilities and her skills in managing change in the National Disability Insurance Scheme and disability sector.  

As a woman with disability, Fran has a strong belief in community participation, equity and the realisation of human rights for all people. She has worked across many sectors, including vocational education, women’s health, disability, not-for-profit/advocacy, direct service provision and Government.  

Fran is now A/Branch Manager of the NDIA’s AAT Case Management Branch and holds the substantive position of Queensland Director in this branch. She was the first Queensland State Director of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission; as was a Regional Manager of the Carers Queensland Local Area Coordinator Program, supporting participants to enter the NDIS and use supports.  

She describes herself as a feminist, partner to Simon, and dog-owner, who loves the arts, shoes and literature. 


Dr Linda Colley

Dr. Linda Colley is Queensland’s first Special Commissioner, Equity and Diversity, appointed in late 2021.

Dr. Colley is a former Professor at Central Queensland University, former Chair of the Queensland Work Health and Safety Board and has worked in the public, tertiary, and finance sectors. She has completed extensive research across all Australian jurisdictions in gender, public sector management, and employment policy and practice.

As Special Commissioner, Dr. Colley’s focus has been on reducing the gender pay gap, addressing gender-based disparities, balancing merit and equity in recruitment, and supporting the Queensland Government’s commitment to providing equal access to rewarding careers in safe and supportive workplaces.


Dr Anneke Schmider

Dr Anneke Schmider is the Director, Advisory Services for the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).  An Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland Centre for Policy Futures and also an Associate Fellow at Chatham House,  Dr Schmider’s work focuses on research, evidence and innovation for government and international policy. Building on her career in Queensland and Australian governments, for more than 10 years she has worked closely with governments agencies across Africa, Asia-Pacific, and the UK; and has worked for international organisations such as UNESCO, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization. More recently, she has also.led impactful research programs for Chatham House, the Resilience Commission, and the University of Oxford Big Data Institute. A political economist by training, Anneke has received government and partnership awards.




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IPAA Queensland is the professional association for public servants and public purpose workers across Queensland. This includes State, Commonwealth and Local Government organisations and their workforces, as well as the public purpose sectors. We frequently engage with influential leaders across the public, academic, professional services and community sectors. 

We aim to advance the capability, integrity and professionalism of public administration and promote pride in service. We do this through a strategic program of thought leadership events that enable our members to build their connections, challenge their thinking and stay informed about topics and issues relevant to public purpose. 

Our values are inclusiveness, integrity, and service.  

We are a lean not-for-profit, member-based association incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (QLD). 

Find out more on our website.