Smiling in the face of adversity, the value of hard work and ‘doing the God stuff’ - these were some of the topics that delighted, educated and had guests in fits of laughter at the biennial Leading Inspirations Dinner held on 2 August 2019, an initiative of CEDoW's Workplace Gender Equality (WGE) Committee.
Since its inception, the dinner has become a significant networking event for CEDoW employees and their external colleagues, to inspire attendees to pursue their passions while maintaining a work-life balance. This year, we were fortunate to have Robyn Moore as the evening's keynote speaker, whose motivational talks have touched hundreds of thousands across Australia and internationally.
As one of Australia’s most versatile voice actors and an inspiration to many who see her keynote presentations, Robyn's specialist subjects include how to reinvent behaviours and attitudes, realigning organisational vision and goals and restoring confidence, hope and resilience in uncertain times.
“I love to collect stories of people who shouldn’t be able to laugh but they can,” Robyn told the crowded room at the Villa D’oro Function Centre in Wollongong. “Optimists can face hardships in life and find things that they can learn from these experiences. Nobody told us that we can’t laugh in our life, but some of us haven’t found access to it. These [ordinary] people have taught me to laugh in the face of anything, live with urgency before the emergency and they have taught me to live with intentionality.”
As our lives get busier, Robyn also spoke about the importance of balance and why it’s essential to watch out for the 'four thieves' of success and satisfaction – cynicism, resignation, anger and procrastination. Her advice for disarming the power of these thieves: name them and recognise what they steal from your humanity.
“It’s only when you examine your own life and when you look at yourself that you can do something about that,” she shared. “You will just be a victim of your own life if you lay on the road and ask, ‘Why do cars keep running over me?’. Everyone is their own author and gets to choose how the world occurs to them.”
Raised in Tasmania, Robyn studied at Hobart Teacher’s College before taking up work as a voiceover artist for the ABC. Her voice has been heard in most homes in Australia and New Zealand, as well as internationally. The famous voice of Blinky Bill, various radio and television commercials and all females in the political satire 'How Green Was My Cactus' for 34 years, she is a woman of many talents. Robyn also holds ambassador roles for the Australia Day Council, Dragons Abreast Australia, the Australian Childhood Foundation and is the national patron of Make-A-Wish Australia.
During her speech, Robyn challenged guests to think about how they would like their lives to play out (“What’s your life going to look like?”; “Who are you going to be when you wake up each day”). She also shared the example of her own mum, who had Alzheimer’s Disease, and still experienced life with wonder. “If you can laugh at the ridiculousness of certain misfortunes, it's a very healthy approach. It helps remind us that we should know how blessed we are,” she said. “My mum taught me that everything in life can always be the first time.”
The gathered audience reacted to Robyn's wise words and the tools she offered with gasps, tears and laughter. She was able to really connect with people during the time she spoke, inspiring them to have extraordinary lives.
The goal of the WGE Committee is to promote fairness and equality in school communities. “[The WGE Committee] seeks to ensure that work practices and policies support all of our staff in balancing their personal responsibilities and professional careers,” said Master of Ceremonies and Good Samaritan Primary School teacher, Shirley Jancetic. “This is to promote attitudes, beliefs and practices of equality that will not only be modelled to the students in our schools, but also be the foundation for our society in the future.”
During his address, Director of Schools, Peter Turner referenced Pope Francis’ statement: the future has a name and that name is hope. “So how good is it that this year, for this dinner, the WGE Committee chose a wonderful woman of hope as our keynote speaker,” said Mr Turner, who spoke after Robyn and praised her powerful message.
“You talked about the value of hard work; you only have to look at the faces [here tonight] to know that this is a room filled with hard workers; hard workers because they believe in what they do,” Mr Turner said. “You mentioned the term ‘doing the God stuff’ - well there couldn't be a better group to do the 'God stuff'. This is done in a whole lot of ways and there is a myriad of stories here in this room about the things these people do that makes me very proud of this diocese.”
Mr Turner also thanked the members of the WGE Committee and the Human Resource Services team for their contribution towards the dinner, particularly Sandra Dreizi whose work in organisation and planning was significant in making it such a successful event. He also praised the Head of Human Resource Services, Carolyn Hadley for her leadership in this area and her advocacy for the nature of the workplace.
“I thank each of those people who do that extra work by being a member of the WGE Committee. I know the Bishop too values this advice,” Mr Turner said. “As a large employing body, we are very conscious that kids come first but it is also your workplace and that’s really important - it is important to us, it’s important in a Catholic context but it is important in a human context.”
At the end of the evening, guests left with inspired hearts. "The Leading Inspirations Dinner was an amazing experience, as they always are. The WGE Committee has gone above and beyond in providing CEDoW staff with a great opportunity to develop both personally and professionally," said Magdalene Catholic College teacher, Marco Cimino. "Robyn was an amazing speaker, and provided both opportunities for deep reflection, and deep laughter."
Robyn Moore has shared this link to her free "Re-MINDavator” video clips so that staff can use these as "Conversation Starters” at meetings, with students, friends, or with their own families.
Photographs by Wise Photography.