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New Year great news

02 February 2015

2014 was a year many of us were glad to see end. It was a year of tragedy and madness. There was the tragic death of Phillip Hughes following a hit to the head by a cricket ball, and there was the madness of the hostage situation in Martin Place in Sydney involving colleagues at Westpac and ending in the deaths of two of the hostages and the gunman.

Overseas there was the massacre in Peshawar Pakistan of nearly 150 school children by Taliban radicals; the ongoing horrors being perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria and the killing of journalists at the French satiric magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The list just went on and on, making me dread picking up the paper or listening to the news. Perhaps, even more disturbing were the reports of young men from Australia going off to fight in Syria. It made me think about what it is to be Australian and how lucky we are to live in this country which, it has to be said, while not immune to the problems of terrorism, is so very safe. The actions of these young men (often unbeknownst to their parents) made me reflect on how important it is to keep an open dialogue with our children – to understand what affects them and to discuss the consequences of their actions and the reality behind the often romanticised notions of fighting for freedom or religious beliefs or whatever that they may hold.

Maybe it was the falling dollar or a lack of confidence but I also noticed how many people indulged in ‘staycations’ this year. I can always tell what sort of a summer break it’s going to be by the number of cars parked in my street. I live in one of those city areas where there isn’t a great deal of off-street parking so it becomes very obvious when the neighbours are home. This year the street was always busy with cars shifting spots regularly. Nabbing a convenient park for the day remained high on my to-do list.

Dogs Newsletter Medium

Much of my break I spent with my daughters and our dogs (Beverly, Fletcher and Solly, above) eating our way around Melbourne. The six of us visited cafes for breakfast, booked favourite haunts and new venues for lunches and dinners. We chatted about world affairs and why we’re disillusioned with government - no matter its colour – and sometimes I think the dogs had more to say that was worthwhile than our politicians.

I’ve said it before in these blogs but I think it comes down to leadership. When I think about where I’ve worked for the past 30 years or so and the many women and men I’ve met over that time in positions of leadership I know I’m capable of describing what a leader should look like. Why then has it been so hard to replicate when it comes to government? My guess is it’s because you need a strong unified party in the decision-making seat and an equally strong opposition arguing the point to ensure the process is a rigorous, democratic one.

As this country’s oldest company we have a lot of firsts to celebrate and accompanying that a lot of responsibility. The recent announcement of our inclusion once again in the 'Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World' marks the ninth time the Group has been recognised in the annual index over the past 10 years, including taking out the number one place in 2014. No doubt our increased commitment to CareerTrackers and Indigenous Australians played its part in the win. We’re recruiting at least 40 Indigenous interns each year for the next 10 years - that’s 400 Indigenous university students who will have the opportunity to gain the work experience they need to pursue their careers. It’s the largest commitment to the CareerTrackers program by an Australian corporate.

 I’m also well-aware that this year will be my last February, my last March, my last April and my last chairing of the Global Banking Alliance for women... I’m retiring at the end of 2015, and even though I will remain a Westpac Ambassador with various duties taking me through to 2017 my time as a full time employee will finish in December. I look forward to seeing Ruby members across the coming year, starting with our lunch in Melbourne where the guest speaker Rabia Siddique, one of our 2014 100 Women of Influence, will take us on her amazing journey. Following on from that in March we’ll have our fabulous International Women’s Day celebrations and later in the year we’ll once again advance our 100 Women of Influence.

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