If you have been reading the news lately, chances are you are feeling a little bit disenfranchised. Women in leadership positions are being targeted by the media and politicians, and we are still grappling with how our society should deal with challenging issues such as domestic violence.

It’s time to change the conversation. On Sunday the 8th of March, the All About Women Festival is coming to the Sydney Opera House to provide an opportunity for the community to come together and discuss issues relevant to women.

All About Women promises an exhilarating day of ideas and stories from world-class storytellers, thinkers, adventurers and legends. This year, the festival is coinciding with International Women’s Day, and bringing together a diverse range of impressive women from all around the world, such as Elizabeth Gilbert, Anita Sarkeesian, Rosie Battie and Annabel Crabb to share stories and explore the experiences and voices of fascinating women.

For Ann Mossop, the Head of Public Programs at the Sydney Opera House, the opportunity to take on a role sharing ideas and engaging with different audiences was one she couldn’t resist. Now in its third year, All About Women is set to be bigger and better than ever.

Ann isn’t concerned by the fact that we live in an age where our attention spans seem to be ever diminishing, and information sharing is often done via text message or a 140 character tweet. Alternatively, she sees the Festival as another way to feed societies hunger for knowledge, engagement and connectivity.

“People want to be exposed to a lot of different ideas. They don’t want to just read one very complicated book and leave it at that. People want to know about a lot of things: there is a curiosity and a hunger right now.”

In Ann’s opinion, the Festival provides something special by allowing the audience to connect in some way with the person behind the idea, and being in a room with other people who are passionate about the same issues. The social element of the Festival makes the audience feel connected to something that is real, important and happening right now.

In her role, Ann has been fortunate to meet many fascinating and inspiring individuals. Ann’s highlights of this year’s program include Anita Sarkeesian, whose writings on the treatment of women in video games resulted in death threats. In an age where we are all acutely aware of vile and vicious trolling online, Anita is able to share her perspective from the middle of the controversy. Ann is also proud to feature Australian of the Year, Rosie Battie, on her tireless campaign against domestic violence. Ann hopes that Rosie’s voice will help a huge number of women suffering because of domestic violence, which is often regarded as “too hard” or simply “too sad”. Ann is also looking forward to hearing Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) talk about on how to be creative, and sharing tales of her extraordinary life with the audience.

Sharing ideas and talking about women’s issues can’t be limited to events such as All About Women; it’s something that we must do all year around. We asked Ann what she would recommend for women who want to take a stand on issues they are passionate about:

  • First, find a platform to engage with ideas. Events like All About Women provide this platform for women to share their thoughts and for everyone to talk about ideas that matter to women. Ann wants people to come and listen, watch, read the speaker’s works, talk about them and think about what it means in their daily life.
  • For some people, there will be a second step. This step recognises that you want to do something on a scale that is not just about you and your life. You can engage with an organisation that does this kind of work, start a book club to talk about ideas, volunteer, donate money – anything!

“What we assume is that the more public conversations that we have about these ideas, the richer, livelier and better kind of culture we are going to live in, and the more progress there will be for women on a range of issues.”

We can’t wait to attend All About Women and share our thoughts on social media using the hashtag #allaboutwomen. Don’t miss out! Get your tickets here.

This October, thousands of grown men and women are wearing school dresses to work, play, and everywhere in between! What is this madness? A weird new fashion trend? An early Halloween celebration perhaps?

No, it’s part of Australian charity One Girl’s Do It In A Dress campaign! The idea behind the campaign is simple: wear a school dress, do a challenge in October, raise $300 and educate a girl in Africa. Sounds easy enough… but WHY should you participate? Here are 5 reasons!

1. 66 million girls around the world aren’t in school, simply because they were born a girl. But you can change that!

That’s a hard statistic to wrap your mind around – what does 66 million girls even look like? I mean, what does 1 million even look like? Here’s another chilling stat for you: A girl in Sierra Leone, West Africa is more likely to be sexually assaulted than she is to attend high school. Sierra Leone is where One Girl works to educate and empower girls – and Do It In A Dress raises money for them to reach more girls! By wearing a school dress you’re helping give some of these 66 million girls the chance to go to school.

2. Do It In A Dress is easy – and fun!

The novelty of a grown woman wearing a school dress is enough to turn heads, and get people to ask you what on earth you’re wearing. It’s a great way to start important conversations about the issue of girls’ education, and why education is so important. No need to pour a bucket of ice on your head for this campaign!

3. You can do anything – as long as you do it in a dress!

We’ve had people take on the most extreme and insane challenges in school dresses – we’ve had people skydive, go surfing, trek the Himalayas, go bungee jumping and more! But we’ve also had people set personal and unique challenges to suit them – run marathons, film a dance video, wear a dress every day for a month – or just simply go to work in a dress. Whatever you love doing – do that – and do it in a dress!

4. Why a school dress?

The school dress gets attention, and is an awesome conversation starter – but it’s more than that. While we might see the gingham print as a throwback to our old primary school days, for the millions of girls around the world denied an education – it’s a symbol of hope, of potential, of change. A school dress brings opportunity. A school dress means choices. A school dress means education. And that’s why we’re building our revolution with a school dress.

5. You can Do It In A Dress whenever you want!

While our main campaign month is in October, Do It In A Dress is a movement, not an event. You can sign up at www.doitinadress.com, create a team, get your workplace, community group, friends and family involved, and raise money to give girls access to education. And we’d love you to join us!

Now all that’s left to do is sign up! Go to www.doitinadress.com to find out more and join us!

Wear a school dress. Change the world.

Featured image courtesy of One Girl. Content courtesy of Larissa Ocampo from One Girl.

Mikayla-Maricic-Leaders-in-Heels-img-NEWMikayla Maricic
Mikayla is an Ambassador for One Girl, a charity changing the lives one girl at a time. For the past two years, she has developed an extraordinary passion for giving women equal access to education in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Mikayla says, “One Girl captivated me from the first time I heard about it. Now … knowing how I could make a difference, I got on board, plus it looked like so much fun and yet it was making an extraordinary impact not only to girls but their entire families and community!” Follow her via www.doitinadress.com/mikayla-maricic

How does a day that focuses on just you and all the girly things that you enjoy – pampering, shopping, fashion and inspiration sound? If you’re like me, ecstatic at the thought of spending a day which celebrates you, your interests; allows you to connect with other women and simply relax, then Girls Only (GO) Festival in Melbourne on March 15 and 16 at the Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton is where you need to be!

Why Girls Only(GO) Festival?

The search for “me” time and a passion to succeed inspired Susan Dibbs to organise the inaugural GO festival in February 2013. Attended by over 4000 women and over 100 exhibitors (a majority of whom are female) this event’s resounding success gave rise to a second festival in October held at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Susan says, “After spending years meeting women and hearing about their stories and all the sacrifices they make for their children, family and friends, I saw a need for these women to receive back and be celebrated in their own right”.

“It’s my goal to continue growing GO Festival so that women of all ages can come together and enjoy a fantastic and affordable day out. So far we have had inspired 8000 women via our events and hope more will continue joining us at GO”.

GO Festival is held for women and features 100% female focused products and services. Attendees are invited to enjoy a massage or healing, to attend a free workshop or a self defence class. Women can also enjoy a fashion parade or chat to our experts on board, exploring areas such as self-esteem, fashion, finance, motherhood, aging and health. For the first time ever in 2014, GO will be hosting an intimate Psychic Zone for those adventurous souls who want to know what their future holds!

Feedback from attendees

Visitors to the first GO Festival brimmed with enthusiasm as they provided glowing feedback:
A very good weekend. We had some wonderful conversations with women. I particularly enjoyed seeing mothers and daughters enjoying themselves.
For a ‘first time’ effort….I give you a BIG 10/10…….had a great day in the company of my daughter and a lovely friend.
It was an amazing event and extremely well organised! Can’t wait for the next one.

Watch video footage and pictures from GO Festival in October of this year.

If you’re in search of the Ultimate Girls Day Out, then gather your girlfriends and sisters and head to the Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton on March 15 and 16, 2014. Take the chance to celebrate you and your achievements and enjoy a much needed break!

About GO Festival
For more information on becoming a sponsor or exhibitor go to Girls Only (GO) Festival. Or email susan@gofestival.com.au Susan Dibbs, the founder and organiser of GO Festival is also the Director of Wishful Events.

This year’s Bubbles and Bargains sale is quickly approaching. To the uninitiated, Bubbles and Bargains is a funds raiser to support Dress for Success Sydney, the charity that helps women-in-need gain back confidence to get back on their feet.

This year’s Bubbles and Bargains event is on Sunday, 21st April at the Australasian College in Broadway. Bubbles and Bargains will offer highly discounted designer clothing for purchase, with profits going to Dress for Success Sydney.

Bubbles and Bargains is a funds raiser to support Dress for Success Sydney, the charity that helps women-in-need gain back confidence to get back on their feet More than 300 fashion lovers, bargain hunters and trend setters are anticipated to attend the event to find a steal from a range of clothing that has been kindly donated by high end fashion houses.

When you come along to Bubbles and Bargains, you can count on an energizing day of fun and surprises with a few hundred of your closest women friends as you go through racks of amazing clothes and accessories donated by the friends of Dress for Success Sydney. Feel free to shop til you drop, knowing that your spending is going towards helping women get the lives they deserve.

If you’re into handbags – second hand Kate Spade, Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Prada will be there for the taking. And with three different show rooms including access to the Designer room filled with fabulous new and secondo bargains of a lifetime, a ‘$5 room’, and also opportunity to get styling advice from our image consultants. There’s sure to be something for every fashionista in Sydney!

Dress for Success Sydney has a mission to promote the economic independence of women-in-need, by providing them with professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools to help them thrive in work and in life.

For a $20 entry fee guests can sip champagne and enjoy the buzz as they scour the racks for some serious fashion bargains, and they will also receive a $20 gift voucher redeemable at the Bubbles & Bargains event.

Event details

When: Sunday 21 April 2013

Where: The Australasian College – 87 Bay Street Glebe


10am: Dress for Success VIP entry for Members and their guest – to become a member please visit http://conta.cc/YNJhxK

11am: Priority entry for Volunteers and General public with online bookings only. Tickets can be purchased online at http://conta.cc/100Z40W

12pm – 3pm Free entry

Cost: $20 – all online registrations will receive a $20 gift voucher redeemable at the Bubbles & Bargains event.

How to purchase tickets: Tickets can be purchased online at http://conta.cc/100Z40W

So get a group of friends together and enjoy some spectacular designer retail therapy whilst supporting an excellent cause!

For further information: http://dressforsuccess.org/sydney or visit Dress for Success Sydney Facebook page.

How to get your hands on free tickets?

We have 5 double passes for the Priority Entry at 11am to give away. Simply tell us in 25 words or less (in the comments below) why you would love to be part of this Fashion Fundraising Sale event.

Competition ends Monday April 15th and entries will be judged on content and creativity by a panel of judges from Dress for Success Sydney.

Event gallery

Bubbles and Bargains5 Bubbles and Bargains Bubbles and Bargains3 Bubbles and Bargains2

Somewhere between checking my iPhone messages, four email accounts and making all my business calls, I found myself searching through my cupboards for those few objects that I knew would get me connected to the forthcoming Christmas season.

And there they were, my Christmas decorations. Shiny silver baubles and sparkling lights completely ‘do it’ for me. How can you not begin to feel the spirit of Christmas when you begin the process of hanging your decorations? I love Christmas. I love everything about it. Though I must admit even as a success and life coach, with my busyness of work, loyalty to my clients and my extensive life to-do list, it’s not always easy to balance my time to allow for a smooth transition into the Christmas spirit. It’s also difficult to completely switch off when there’s so much to get done.

I know it can be like this for most of us, so I’ve put together a few lifestyle tips to ease you into the festive season:

  • You are probably the superwoman in your work environment right? Well, here’s the thing … you can’t do it all. With all the extra layers of responsibilities and additional things to do for Christmas, you might need to consider giving yourself a break. Going the extra mile will no doubt add your special touch, but it’s of no benefit if you are too exhausted to enjoy it. Know how to recognise when what you have contributed is actually enough.
  • There is just so much going on over the festive season – work functions, Christmas parties, end-of-year events, family celebrations, holidays, travel, shopping, gift-wrapping, food-preparation … the list goes on. It can be a very social and often intense time, so there’s bound to be some frustrations, tiredness and perhaps even fall-outs with others. There is no substitute for taking a deep breath and mentally letting go of the frustrations. You’ll clear your mind of what’s bothering you in the moment, enabling you to get on with what you have to do next.
  • What is it that’s really important to you? Is it religion, tradition, family, giving, celebrating, holidaying, helping others? Make sure that you prioritise and do those things first which are close to your heart. You might have to respect the way other people do things at Christmas time, though you can also fulfill your own wants. Find a way to honour those things that you value most.
  • Is it okay if it’s not perfect? Of course it is. Festive occasions don’t have to perfect for them to be fun! For all your planning, there will likely be things that do go wrong. Embrace a little chaos. It’s the stuff of future memories.
  • What if you were to entertain the idea of kicking off those heels, slipping out of leadership mode and made the decision to go with the flow? What if you were to use this festive time to reflect on all your achievements of the past year and give yourself a pat on the back in acknowledgement? What if you were to take some precious time out and notice all those things in your life that you can be truly grateful for? That’s the spirit.

Top image: dutch blue

Gillian Skeer is The Change Agent – a passionate, expert Master Life & Success Coach, Master Coach NLP, Instructor, Motivational Speaker, Author and Published on-line columnist – inspiring you to be the best that you can be! Connect with Gillian on Facebook at Creative Coaching Solutions – Gillian Skeer Master Coach NLP and at www.creativecoach.co

It’s definitely the time to be jolly as offices get ready for their annual Christmas work function. Many people forget that the Christmas office party is more about ‘office’ than ‘party’. While it may seem like a well-deserved opportunity to let your hair down with colleagues, it’s important to remember that a simple slip-up can erase an entire year’s hard work!

Leading vocational education and training organisation, the Australasian College Broadway’s (www.tac.edu.au) Founder and Co-Chair, Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM, has witnessed the backlash of Christmas functions time and time again.

“Too often we’ve heard Christmas party tales that make your toes curl. Senior executives mixing with junior employees, combined with a constant flow of alcohol, is a potential recipe for humiliation and embarrassment on both sides,” said Ms Houssein-Mustafa.

Maureen offers her tips on how to keep your dignity intact whilst also providing some guidelines on how to impress with your appearance.

To stay on top of your game at a Christmas function and finish off the year on a high:

1. Nominate a friend

Ask a colleague or friend to keep a diligent watch over your behaviour. As soon as you start slurring, flirting or misbehaving, it’s time for them to step in and discreetly offer you some water, food or suggest a taxi.

2. Line your stomach

Ensure that you’re well fed before you begin drinking. If you start on an empty stomach, it may only take a few drinks before you feel sick or worse yet, vomit.

3. Think carefully before you bring your partner

At the time it can seem like a great idea. But ask yourself, each night you go home and vent to them about workplace politics, are they likely to divulge any of your darkest secrets after some Dutch courage?

4. Make a timely exit

Partying into the early hours of the morning can be great, when you’re with friends. Remember the age old sayings, ‘don’t mix business and pleasure’ and ‘nothing good happens after 2am’. Your boss doesn’t want to see you slugging back tequila shots, so it may be best to leave this to your private time.

Leave before 12.

5. How much should you drink?

A good drinking guide is to only consume the amount of someone who is driving.

6. Conversation

Keep personal conversations to a minimum. No one wants tears or drama, so ensure that you’re pleasant to everyone and make a concerted effort to engage in intelligent conversations.

7. Your appearance is key

Below are some details on how to keep your appearance in check, no one wants to see an inappropriately dressed colleague!

Your appearance:

Dressing appropriately for a work Christmas function is key to ensuring that you’ll be on your best behaviour.


1. Glam up, there is no shame in looking gorgeous at a work function, it’s classic and non-intrusive on the eye.

2. A hint of mint is the hottest trend for the summer season; ditch the traditional red and pink nail polish colours for this sweet and surprising hue.

3. Nothing is more glamorous than a Marilyn Monroe red lip. Choose a blue-based red and apply with a lip brush.

4. Skin should look and feel fresh, so avoid over-powdering and stick to a liquid foundation that makes your skin glow. Use a pink based cheek crème to go with this look to avoid making the skin look flat and lifeless.

5. Let your hair down… literally. It’s a great time to show people at work your more relaxed style.

Top image: Bunches and Bits {Karina}