3 Aussie women who are challenging the status quo

by Ophelie Lechat
March 8, 2021

At ntegrity, we’re proud to work with organisations who constantly challenge the status quo. Whether it’s advocating for more research into women's cancer or improving skills in mental health—we’re proud to be guided by a group of changemakers and disruptors.

This International Women’s Day, hear from three female leaders on how they and their organisations #ChooseToChallenge the status quo.

Lucinda Nolan, CEO of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation

What does ‘choose to challenge’ mean to you?

The theme Choose to Challenge means many things to me – many issues, many environments and many obligations.  But the underlying theme is consistent across the board: if we want real change, then we need to challenge the status quo.  If we want to be considered leaders across our fields, then we need to stand up and be counted.  Otherwise we fail the primary accountabilities of leadership. And we fail ourselves, our organisations and our communities.  I want to live in an equal and inclusive world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.  We do not have this currently, so many groups not only do not have the opportunities, and are facing insurmountable obstacles.  It needs to be called out and only then will action follow.

How are you and the OCRF challenging the status quo?

The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) challenges the status quo everyday—in our work, our communications and our commitments to women and girls everywhere.  We know that ovarian cancer is the most lethal of the gynaecological cancers yet it remains undervalued and underfunded.  The ovarian cancer five-year survival rate today is lower than that of all cancers in 1975 when the modern cancer research era actually began.  In more practical terms, we know that this year more than 1800 women and girls will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Australia alone, and that by 2026, only 830 of these females will still be alive.  They are damning statistics and they need to be changed.  We challenge the status quo in varied ways, because no one size is going to make the seismic shifts we need.

We commissioned an independent report on the past and current status of ovarian cancer research: The State of the Nation: Ovarian Cancer Research Audit, which we have used to not only raise awareness but to challenge the bias and inequality in funding of this female disease.  We also ensure that we include, represent and reflect the lived experience of women with ovarian cancer.  It is their story, not ours, but we hope that we can raise the volume of their voices to achieve real change.

Read more about the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation here.

Rebecca Chitty, GM of Commercial, Communications & Strategic Innovation at AFL Players' Association

What does ‘choose to challenge’ mean to you?

To me, Choose to Challenge means taking the time to consider what is fair and right, and using your voice often. I recognise that I am privileged to live and work in a time and environment that respects what I do and what I have to say, so it’s important to me to use my voice for others who aren’t as fortunate. Because it’s up to all of us to advocate for change.

So many organisations and individuals really miss out by not being inclusive because diversity of experience and thought adds so much to the conversation and helps shape high quality outcomes. And let’s face it, many don’t even understand their own limitations by failing to be inclusive.

How are you and the AFLPA challenging the status quo?

At the AFLPA we challenge the status quo by amplifying our players’ voices on important issues such as racism and inequality. We’ve made a strong commitment to being an agent of change by calling out inappropriate attitudes and behaviour that impacts our players and, in doing so, we are looking to set an example for the broader community that will lead to more wide reaching change on these important issues.

While on one hand it’s hard to believe that in 2021 we even have to be having these conversations, the reality is that we have to because as a society we’ve still got a long way to go.

Learn more about the AFL Players’ Association here.

Annabel O’Neill, GM of Marketing and Engagement at Greenfleet

What does ‘choose to challenge’ mean to you?

I think choice is a powerful concept, but choosing to challenge often isn’t the easy option.

I want to live in a world where poverty doesn’t disproportionately affect women, and I want my daughter to not experience wage discrimination, or any other type of gendered bias. Women’s jobs have been almost twice as vulnerable through COVID-19, and climate change disproportionately affects women. I think the convergence of health, economic, employment and climate crises has  taught us that we’re much more vulnerable and interconnected than we previously understood.

I also believe that the solutions to these crises can be interlinked. As we work to recover, there is a once in a generation moment to change what the world looks like. To reset our social contract onto a more inclusive and more sustainable path. Change comes through challenge, and I’m privileged to be in a position where I can choose to challenge. So I try to make good choices—even when it’s not easy.

How are you and Greenfleet challenging the status quo?

I’m frequently gobsmacked that anyone could oppose planting protected native forests to fight the impacts of climate change—but those people exist. In my role at Greenfleet, I observed community commentary that blamed the Black Summer fires on those seeking stronger environmental policy. I saw social media content posted without irony suggesting that Australia would be a better and safer country if we logged all our forests so that there could be no future bushfires.

As an organisation, Greenfleet has been challenging the status quo for almost a quarter of a century. I love connecting with supporters who’ve been with us since the beginning. The ones who chose to offset their carbon footprint when the majority neither knew about, believed in, nor cared about the environmental crisis we were blundering towards. Greenfleet continues to challenge the status quo by taking practical action, which empowers anyone to make a tangible impact. Our climate is changing, but Greenfleet offers a really simple and practical way for people to challenge the crisis and mitigate the impacts of a changing climate.

Learn more about Greenfleet here.