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Business Women’s Conference Reinforces Positive Change

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Business Women’s Conference Reinforces Positive Change

Delegates at today’s (May 16) Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Business Women’s Conference were reminded of the privileges of middle class and asked to refrain from judging others less fortunate than themselves by high profile keynote speaker Celia Lashlie who was part of an eight-strong panel focusing on the theme of Catalyst for Change.

Lashlie, who as a social justice advocate is widely recognised for her work in prisons in New Zealand, both as the first woman to hold a custodial role in a men’s prison and as manager of the Christchurch Women’s Prison.

She delivered a sobering message to the 235 women, who were drawn from across the region, for the third annual conference. “We don’t have to apologise for being who we are but we have to realise it is not as it is for everybody. All I am asking is that people suspend judgement and pause occasionally to consider what the situation of a woman connected with violence might be.”

She also warned that no community was immune and there would be women in the Queenstown and Southern Lakes region who were “leading lives of desperation” just as there are elsewhere.

Media personality Alison Mau was MC for the event and the Catalyst for Change theme was reinforced by Andrea Thompson who is co-founder of the Catapult leadership performance company. She encouraged women to design their own lives and surround themselves with positive, passionate and inspired people.

The CEO of KidsCan Julie Chapman highlighted the plight of many young New Zealanders who are supported by the charity which provides them with food and clothing.

“We are now working in 40 schools which equates to 32,000 meals a week, 50,000 raincoats and 20,000 pairs of shoes. We have a no blame philosophy. We are not concerned about blaming parents, these are five and six-year-olds who just need to be cared for.”

New Zealand shoe designer Kathryn Wilson provided a fascinating insight into taking a fresh and innovative approach to building an international brand while Queenstown life coach Amanda Mortimer shared tools and techniques to empower women to achieve their goals.

The founder of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust, Lindy Nelson, believed there was a positive future for rural women who had a lot to contribute and many were taking advantage of the First Steps programme set up by the Trust to take their skills to a new level.

Style guru Lisa O’Neill, appearing for the third consecutive year as a presenter, considered the Queenstown conference is one of the most stimulating she has attended due to calibre of the speakers.

“I always leave so much more inspired than when I arrived.”

Chamber CEO Ann Lockhart is upbeat about the success of the conference.

“Every year we raise the bar and the range of speakers we have presented this year will be a hard act to follow. There are so many women in New Zealand who have such an important contribution to make and it is a bonus for Queenstown and Southern Lakes women to have the opportunity to hear such an outstanding panel without having to travel further afield to the cities. We hope the conference has been a catalyst for positive change for many of the delegates.”

The Business Women’s Conference is sponsored by Westpac in conjunction with the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce with the Hilton, Jetstar and Vodafone supporting the event as silver sponsors.


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