Gender compass: A groundbreaking new tool for philanthropy and beyond

Thu, 12 Oct 2023 04:00pm - 05:30pm AEDT Mebourne/Hybrid, VIC

Hybrid event

In-person attendees: Equity Trustees, Level 1/575 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000. Directions here.

Virtual attendees. Zoom link will be provided after registration.


In this hybrid session, we aim to explore how this ground breaking new Gender Compass tool can help philanthropy to:

  • Transform the way you communication and promote gender equality.
  • Strengthen decision-making around gender equality initiatives.
  • Assess long-term impact on gender equality.


Australia still faces significant gender inequality issues. Women are underrepresented in leadership positions, take home salary 22.8% lower than men (WGEA) and 1-in-4 women and girls have experienced violence (OurWatch), which costs our economy $22 billion a year. Discrimination, inequality, and violence stem from harmful embedded attitudes and societal norms. In Australia, quantitative research does not exist on understanding and shifting such attitudes – until now.

The Gender Compass is a first-of-its-kind research tool which segments the Australian public according to their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours in relation to gender equality. This ground-breaking research initiative, led by Plan International Australia in a coalition of civil society organisations and academics and modelled on the success and impact of the Climate Compass, will transform how Australians think and speak about gender equality.

This special event will launch the tool in the philanthropy sector. Join a panel comprising leading gender equality advocates, philanthropic funders and researchers to discuss the Gender Compass tool and how it will support organisations to:

  1. Discover new opportunities for promoting gender equality.
  2. Make more strategic decisions with your current gender equality portfolio.
  3. Share this tool with partners to be more effective.
  4. Track your impact on gender equality over time.
  5. Better communicate your impact on gender equality to their audiences.

Please note:

  • This session will be recorded. 
  • Presenters will share their thoughts and views in conversation but will not offer any financial advice.

This research was funded by Trawalla Foundation, Minderoo Foundation, and Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.


This event is for funders and philanthropists. If you want to find out more about the philanthropic work in this area, please reach out to [email protected].

Welcome Remarks 

Jack Heath – Chief Executive Officer, Philanthropy Australia

Jack sees philanthropy as a driving force for good in a time of diminished trust in institutions and huge societal challenges. He advocates for a philanthropy that is big-hearted, clear-headed and joyful.

After graduating from the University of Melbourne in Honours Arts and Law, he served in government as a diplomat, speechwriter and senior adviser to federal ministers including Prime Minister Paul Keating. Then, following the suicide of his young cousin, Jack led the establishment of the ReachOut youth mental health organisations in Australia, Ireland and the USA before serving as CEO at SANE Australia for over 8 years.

He has sat on a number of advisory boards and committees and received awards for his contributions in mental health, including a Centenary Medal.

Susanne Legena – Chief Executive Officer, Plan International Australia

Susanne Legena joined Plan International Australia in 2011 and stepped into the role as Chief Executive Officer in 2018. Prior to this appointment, Susanne had extensive senior management experience across a wide range of public policy, public sector management and communications areas. Her previous roles include the Chief of Staff for the Victorian Minister for Energy & Resources and the Arts.


Dr Rebecca Huntley – Director of Research, 89 Degrees East

Dr Rebecca Huntley is one of Australia’s foremost researchers on social trends. Currently heading the research team as director at 89 Degrees East, a national data, strategy and delivery agency, Rebecca is an author and researcher and holds degrees in law and film studies and a PhD in Gender Studies. For nearly 9 years she was the Director of The Mind & Mood Report, Australia’s longest running social trends report. 

She has lead research at Essential Media and Vox Populi, part of the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA), which is an agency leading research with culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. Rebecca started her own research and consultancy business, where she published a report for Aware Super in early 2021 outlining how Australia can recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on the intersections of climate action, health and wellbeing and thriving communities. She works closely with The Sunrise Movement on the Climate Compass Project as well as with many other climate and environment NGOs.

She is the Chair of the Advisory Board of Australian Parents for Climate Action and has held board positions on The Whitlam Institute and The Dusseldorp Forum. In 2016, Rebecca was appointed as adjunct senior lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at The University of New South Wales.

Sawsan Alfayadh – Campaigns and Digital Manager, Plan International Australia

Sawsan Alfayadh is currently the Campaigns Manager at Plan International Australia. As a young woman who sought refuge in Australia, Sawsan is driven by her lived experience to help build a fairer, more sustainable world. In her work as a community organiser, digital campaigner and communications generalist at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Environment Victoria and Sydney Alliance (among others), she has supported others to elevate their voices and take action for the common good. 

Panel Discussion Moderator

Julie Reilly OAM – Chief Executive Officer, Australians Investing in Women 

Currently the Chief Executive Officer of Australians Investing in Women (AIIW), Julie Reilly is passionate about growing philanthropy for women and girls. She has worked across government, corporate, NFP, in media and the university sector – winning an Excellence Award for her work in gender at Swinburne University of Technology. Julie received the Pro Bono’s IMPACT 25 Award in 2014 and in 2017 was named Herald Sun’s 50 Women in Victoria You Should Know. 

Julie has undertaken a Churchill Fellowship to study global strategies for growing philanthropy for women and girls and currently holds Advisory Board roles with Perpetual Foundation, Canadian based G(irls)20 and MECCA’s M-Power Program. For 25 years she co-produced Myer’s annual Spirit of Christmas CD which raised over $8.5m for charity. 

In 2021 Julie was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the charitable sector.


Jessica Taylor – Director of Gender Equality, Minderoo Foundation

Jessica Taylor is deeply passionate about influencing the systems that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential. As Director of Gender Equality at Minderoo Foundation, a modern philanthropic organisation focused on arresting unfairness and creating opportunities to better the world, Jess leads the Foundation’s drive to accelerate progress towards a more gender equal world. Drawing on a collaborative, evidenced-based approach, Jess is responsible for ensuring gender equality is at the heart of every program, partnership and investment Minderoo Foundation supports. 

She joined the Minderoo Foundation in 2018 as Chief of Staff to Co-chair Nicola Forrest AO, where she led the Co-chair’s office and worked across both philanthropic and commercial portfolios, including fostering trusted relationships with governments and representatives from a variety of organisations around the world. Jessica also sits as Gender Fund Advisory Board Member at Co-Impact, a global collaborative focused on systems change by advancing education, health and economic opportunity. 

Prior to this, Jessica leveraged her marketing and communications experience to guide organisations both locally and internationally in their growth strategies. She believes deeply in the power of fairness which stems from her upbringing and that big problems require big thinking and collaboration. 

Kristine Kaukomaa – Acting Head of Equal Voice and Agency, Minderoo Foundation

As Minderoo Foundation’s acting Head of Equal Voice and Agency, Kristine is charged with ensuring that gender and equality is at the heart of everything the philanthropy touches. Kristine brings deep social policy expertise having played a leading role in major initiatives including Australia’s first National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality, Australia’s Online Safety Act, 1800RESPECT and the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

Sarah Buckley – Chief Executive Officer, Trawalla Foundation, FICDA

Sarah Buckley is a strategic leader with over seventeen years’ business leadership experience in social innovation, gender equity, ESG integration and responsible investing. Sarah is CEO of the Trawalla Foundation, where she has developed and grown a Female-Led Venture Portfolio for Trawalla.

She is National Co-Convenor of Pathways to Politics Program for Women, a proudly non-partisan initiative that aims to change the face of politics by equipping women with the skills, knowledge, confidence and networks they need to run for elected office and thrive as political leaders. Sarah has been a sought-after sustainability consultant to major Australian companies, led PwC’s award winning Corporate Responsibility team, and held senior roles creating innovative new businesses including PwC’s Indigenous Consulting.

Stephen Torsi – Program Manager, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Stephen Torsi is a social impact leader with over 20 years’ experience across corporate, not-for-profit and government sectors in the UK and Australia. He is currently a Program Manager at Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Australia’s largest and oldest community foundation. Stephen’s ‘portfolio’ learning and working life includes musical theatre, hospitality, national literacy projects, strategic communications, community development, government relations and social impact.

Stephen is very good at building trusting and collaborative relationships. He is obsessed with uncovering the root causes of inequality and how complex systems thinking can illuminate the darkest corners of our shared purpose. Stephen is also Chair of youth service YouthNow and serves his community in several voluntary roles. 

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