Recent Events

A week with the Yousafzai’s - By Nicole Robertson

As I write this I find myself still buzzing from an action packed first week in my new role with The Australian Women Donors Network and thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce myself to the network’s supporters and fill you all in on the exciting events.

An evening with Malala

On the evening of my first day I was fortunate to be able to see Malala Yousafzai in conversation with Annabel Crabb at The Plenary Theatre in the Melbourne Convention Centre. The Australian Women Donors Network was proud to be an alliance partner with The Growth Faculty in bringing Malala to Australia for two sold out events in December.

The effectiveness of Malala’s activism in drawing in and providing inspiration for young people everywhere was apparent as we watched the Plenary Theatre at the Melbourne Convention Centre fill to bursting with excited girls and young women and their families. 

After a wonderful introduction by Annabel Crabb, Malala walked onto the stage to a round of applause that turned into a standing ovation as we were all overwhelmed by the presence of this exceptional young woman and what she symbolised. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.

Malala’s courage is remarkable and evident in her retelling of the devastating event that occurred in October 2012 when she was shot in the head by a Taliban militant on her way home from school. This, she explained, only served to increase her determination and motivation. Now a student at Oxford University in England studying their Politics, Philosophy and Economics course, Malala is planning a number of gap years from study to pursue her activism further.

Malala recalled that when she lived in the Swat Valley in Pakistan she believed that the world ended just past the mountains she could see on the horizon. Since leaving Pakistan and continuing her education in England, Malala learned about the world beyond her mountains and expanded her mission – she is now firmly committed to improving access to education for the 130 million girls around the world who currently do not have that option.

I was delighted to hear Malala highlight the role of business as an important element in achieving her mission. This is closely aligned with the strategic goals of the Australian Women Donors Network and something we will be working towards in the future. 

A special evening with Ziauddin Yousafzai

On my second day I assisted with preparations for our annual Genderwise event on Wednesday night as 80 guests, including business leaders, philanthropists and thought leaders, were treated to Ziauddin Yousafzai in conversation at the beautiful Cranlana in Toorak. 

We were delighted to see young professional women inviting their fathers along, as well as male business leaders bringing their daughters, and it was particularly lovely to see the genuine affection between many of the father-daughter pairs. 

In Australia accompanying his daughter Malala, Ziauddin took the opportunity to speak at our event as part of the launch of his first book Let her flywhich is a memoir of his journey from the tiny village in the Pakistani mountains where he grew up, to his current role as an equality activist and father of the youngest person to ever receive a Nobel Peace Prize, his daughter Malala.

I read (and adored) his book in preparation for the event and was delighted to find that the kind, thoughtful and determined man coming through in his writing is exactly how he is in person. As Ziauddin spoke I was struck by the strength of his commitment to his core value of equality and the way that this permeates everything he does. He spoke of noticing and being deeply uncomfortable with the lack of opportunities available to his sisters, an observation which ignited in him a determination to treat his future children differently and set him on the path he is on today.

Ziauddin publicly and emotionally acknowledged the crucial role played by his wife, Toor Pekai, who was present, in supporting and encouraging both himself and Malala in their courageous mission, explaining that they would not be where they are today without her.

Many interesting conversations were had in the incredible Cranlana garden following the event and I have no doubt that many more conversations will be had by all who attended in the weeks and months to come.

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The evening was a huge success and The Australian Women Donors Network would like to thank Mutual Trust for their generous event sponsorship. We would also like to thank Kerry Gardner AM and Andrew Myer AM for hosting this event at the stunning Cranlana, and for their continued support of our network. 

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First annual holiday celebration with The Community of Giving

On the evening of my third day the office was bursting with colour and sparkle as staff decorated The Community of Giving in East Melbourne for our first annual holiday celebration. Adam from the Reichstein Foundation explained the circumstances that led to the development of Australia’s first philanthropy hub and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet many of the industry’s thought leaders as well as many dedicated supporters of The Australian Women Donors Network.

I am looking forward to a quiet week next week where I can learn my new role and get stuck into my part in supporting the Australian Women Donors Network in our mission: to ensure that girls all over the world are seen, heard and valued.

I look forward to working with many of you in the new year.


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Previous Events


The 2018 Australian Philanthropy Awards are now open for nomination. Each year Philanthropy Australia acknowledges and celebrates the extraordinary achievements in contemporary philanthropy for work that is visionary, high impact and transformative.
We are proud to partner with Philanthropy Australia in the Gender-wise Philanthropy Award again this year, recognising current achievements from funding initiatives that advance gender equity.

Nominations for the Australian Philanthropy Awards 2018 are open until Friday 18th May at 5pm.



The Australian Women Donors Network is proud to partner with The Funding Network to bring you “Empowering Women”. Join us on Wednesday 2nd of May to celebrate and support these three grassroots social change project, creating life-changing outcomes for women and girls.



Join Hillary Clinton while she shares the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. An illuminating insight into Secretary Clinton's experience as a woman in politics — she lets loose on this topic, and others, in a way she never has before.





SYDNEY – 11 MAY 2018



MELBOURNE EVENT HERE – 12-2pm Tuesday 14 November, 2017

SYDNEY EVENT HERE - 12-2pm Friday 10 November, 2017

The Australian Women Donors Network is proud to present these very special events featuring global thought leader, author, entrepreneur, philanthropy trailblazer and change-maker Lisa Witter.

Lisa provides a new perspective on the forces of philanthropy, gender, entrepreneurship, and impact investing and how they interact with government policy. In keeping with our established tradition of presenting outstanding international speakers, Lisa’s interactive presentation style will inform, inspire and thoroughly engage you in examining how we can unleash the full potential of women and girls – surely one of the most significant challenges and exciting opportunities of our time.

For further information and to book, click on your City below:


Saturday 3 June 2017


On the occasion of Eve Mahlab's 80th birthday, please join the Victorian Women's Trust and the Australian Women Donors Network for a night of celebration! We’ll dance, dine and toast to the achievements of the women's movement, the women and men who contributed, and gather momentum for the road ahead.

This event is now fully booked. If you are not able to attend in person but would like to send your wishes, you can write Eve a birthday message or make a donation to the Dugdale Trust for Women and Girls as your gift here

Gender-wise philanthropy and unconscious bias: Paper Bag lunch series

Monday 1st May 2017, 12:30pm

Julie Reilly and Professor Bob Wood of the Centre for Ethical Leadership will present at Wendy Brooks Consulting's Paper Bag Lunch series.

Understanding and addressing unconscious bias, particularly around gender, is considered critical to good leadership and decision making in business and increasingly in government. But what does that mean for philanthropy and the social sector ? Please RSVP to by 25th April, 2017.

Register your interest here

WEBINAR: The Trump Effect – What will it mean for Philanthropy in Australia?

Thu 27th Apr 2017, 13:00 – 14:00

Our CEO, Julie Reilly, will join Hugh Hodges, Director Philanthropy at Harper Bernays Limited and Dr John Spierings, Executive Officer of the Reichstein Foundation to explore the potential impacts of Donald Trump's administration on social investment, philanthropy, and social policy. Join us for this interactive webinar where you can also present your views and pose questions

Register here


Nominations close Monday 13 February 2017

Award celebration Wednesday 5 April 2017

The 2017 Australian Philanthropy Awards recognise and celebrate recent extraordinary achievements in Australian philanthropy for work that is visionary, high impact and transformative.

The Gender-Wise Philanthropy Award, presented in partnership with the Australian Women Donor’s Network and FIIG Securities Ltd, recognises achievements from funding initiatives that advance gender equity through direct investment in projects or organisations that support women and girls or the integration of a gender lens. The funder can be investing philanthropically in women and girls either locally or internationally.

Nominate here by 13 February 2017.



Sydney – Thursday, 10 November 2016

Melbourne – Tuesday 15 November 2016

Women Moving Millions is a growing global community of over 250 members in 14 countries who have each given and/or pledged $1 million or more to organizations or initiatives (of their choosing) that benefit women and girls. Join these outstanding philanthropic leaders as they discuss this growing global philanthropic movement, and the compelling case for investing in women and girls. Please CLICK HERE


Gender is currently at the front and centre of the national conversation, in particular the role unconscious bias plays in our decision making. Join us to examine how bringing gender considerations to your granting can amplify your impact. For more information please CLICK HERE

Does Philanthropy need Champions of Change?

Lieutenant General David Morrison AO (Retd) Chair of the Diversity Council of Australia and 2016 Australian of the Year, in conversation with Catherine Fox. For more information please CLICK HERE. To listen to the audio recording of the Melbourne event, please CLICK HERE.

The X-Factor: Putting Sex and Gender Under the Microscope in Medical Research

A special event for medical research funders, and other interested parties, to learn about the importance of sex and gender in medical research funding. To register and find out more information CLICK HERE.

Funding with Gender and Cultural Wisdom

A special event for philanthropic supporters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Girls.
This is an event for funders only. To register and find out more information CLICK HERE.

The Community Impact of Investing in Women and Girls

An oration by Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO, CBE in Melbourne on the 30th of April 2014. For more information please CLICK HERE.

Colleen Willoughby 'Power of Collaborative Giving' Australian Tour

A tour of Australia during August 2013 presenting at more than fourteen events across four cities on the Power of Collective Giving. For more information, please CLICK HERE.
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