Oakhill College inspires students to forge a #BalanceforBetter

IWD Best Practice Winners

Gender equality is for everyone. Which is why, for their International Women's Day event, Oakhill College involved all its students in the celebrations. While the aim of the event was to inspire girls to be the best versions of themselves, male students also volunteered their time to support the event through ushering and hospitality. 

Oakhill College is an independent Catholic school for boys from Years 7-12 and girls from Years 11-12 in Castle Hill, a suburb in the Hills District of the Greater Western region of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. With an emphasis on delivering a holistic educational experience and open to all, Oakhill College encourages young women and men to aspire to greatness. It is important to the school that they provide all students with knowledge about gender-balance issues and offer opportunities to celebrate the young women of Oakhill and the positive impact that they can have in society.

The school wanted to inspire their female students who are between the ages of 16-18 years old to be the best version of themselves and to challenge what success means to them by holding a discussion panel of four prominent women and gain insight into how they have achieved their own unique successes.

Hosting a panel discussion of prominent and inspiring women

Oakhill School - women's day

For its IWD event, Oakhill invited around 200 female students in Years 11 and 12 and around 100 women staff members and parents to attend “Women of Inspiration”, a panel discussion of four prominent and inspiring women including one Oakhill College alumni.

The panel discussion, led by Oakhill's Deputy Principal (Curriculum) Rose Garofano and Deputy Principal (Pastoral Care) Deborah Gillis, offered fours diverse versions of success: Michelle Lorentzos, a Paediatric Neurology Fellow, former Oakhill College student and mother of two young children; Maddy Collier, an Elite Netball and Giants AFL sports player who competes in a male dominated industry; Rawah Arja, a western suburbs teacher who talked about her Muslim upbringing and family life and her new interest in writing; and Jo Simmons, a mother of three and Practice Principal of an architect firm that specialises in creating inspiring learning environments and educational projects.

An impressive video created internally

The panel discussion concluded with a video created by Oakhill staff and students, with music rights endorsed by musician Keith Urban. After leaving the panel discussion, students were gifted with branded Oakhill Drive lip balm and mini diffusers with a swing tag attached to celebrate the #BalanceforBetter theme. 

An enjoyable morning tea

Oakhill School - women's day

During the event the male hospitality students and leaders volunteered to usher guests, hand out the gifts and provide the hospitality for morning tea.

The morning tea for students and guests provided a  chance for everyone to network and discuss IWD and guests were invited to take a photo in the #Balanceforbetter pose as a memory of the day.

Aiming for an even bigger and better event next year

Oakhill's IWD event was engaging, professional and inclusive of all staff, students and the wider school community, and this was reiterated by brilliant feedback: “The panel was professional and engaging for everyone and would have been suitable on any paid commercial forum,” commented one parent.

Oakhill received so many compliments about the event and the debrief meeting was absolutely electric. The team is already compiling its list of inspiring women to invite for next year's panel and is committed to learning, growing and making IWD 2020 even bigger and better.


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