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Case study: Women in leadership

To inspire young females to continue their journeys in leadership and value different ways of measuring success, the Student Leaders at Patterson River Secondary College hosted a Women in Leadership High Tea with student leaders from both their school and local primary schools, as well as successful females from the community.


Year 11 student leaders and the College Captains.


After attending a Leadership Development Day, student leaders at Patterson River Secondary College planned a Women in Leadership High Tea to celebrate the positive leadership influences around. The High Tea was attended by around 100 people, involving all of the female student leaders at the College, Grade 5/6 female leaders from local primary schools and successful females within the community.

Their goal with this High Tea was to inspire young females to continue their journey in leadership but also to realise that there are many ways to measure success and that everyone’s journey is different. The student leaders invited Peta Murphy (Federal Member of Parliament for Dunkley) as their keynote speaker, heard a moving speech from the College Assistant Principal and facilitated interview panels with successful members from the local community. All these women provided insight into their journeys, who and what inspired them, and important messages to remember as Women in Leadership. The students also educated guests about leaders who inspired them, from Mahala Yousafzai to Julia Gillard, through the sharing of their achievements and stories.

Each table also had a female mentor present, either a community member or teacher from the College who is in a leadership position. Their role was to share their stories, encourage the students to ask questions of the guest speakers and ensure that the table worked collaboratively during the different activities. Students were provided opportunities to meet people from different schools and year levels to network and learn about each other’s motivations to be a leader and some of the successes they have had in their leadership roles.


At the conclusion of the event, the students asked the guests to provide them with feedback:

  • The participants were inspired to continue their journey in leadership no matter where they were in their education.

  • The primary students thought this event enabled them to understand the leadership opportunities they would have at Patterson River Secondary College in the future.

  • The participants felt that the variety of stories enabled them to see that success isn’t always achieved but it is the journey and what you learn from it, that it is the important part.

The feedback from the primary school teachers was that the students were so excited to be involved and said it was one of the best events that they had been to.

Peta Murphy (MP) spoke to the College Principal upon leaving and mentioned that it was the best student led event that she had been invited to and experienced, leading the team to believe that this was an extremely successful event.

Upon their own reflections, the student leaders feel that this experience created a sense of pride amongst the girls and provided a way to celebrate their aspirations and achievements as young women in leadership. Even though it is hard to capture in words, the buzz and vibe that was created will have a lasting impact on those present and they will look back and remember this event in the future.

If they had the opportunity to run an event like this again, the student leaders would improve the following:

  • have a representative from each school introduce their school group.

  • create more activities where participants mix and work together to help build the transferable skills needed in leadership.

They would also love to run leadership development sessions with the students who are in grade 6 and enrolled at the College later in the year to help prepare them even further for applying for a leadership role at Patterson River Secondary College.

This case study is drawn from VicSRC's Student Voice Awards, an annual celebration of best practice student voice, amplifying the important contribution of students to Victorian education and acting as a catalyst for change within Victorian schools.

Learn more about the awards.