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NSW Council for Women's Economic Opportunity

Established in February 2012, the NSW Council for Women’s Economic Opportunity provides specialist advice to the NSW Government to improve women’s financial wellbeing and security, and support diverse and flexible employment opportunities for women and girls. In doing so, the Council contributes to the implementation of the NSW Women's Strategy, 2018 - 2022.

The Council is made up of experts from business, industry, non-government organisations, and government. The Hon. Bronnie Taylor, MLC, oversees the Council in her capacity of Minister for Women. Women NSW, Department of Communities and Justice, provides the secretariat for the Council.

For more information contact nswcweo@facs.nsw.gov.au.

Current members

Jillian Kilby

Jillian Kilby

Jillian Kilby, NSW/ACT AgriFutures Rural Woman of the Year in 2018, has a keen interest in contributing and sharing her information and expertise across government, industry and the community.

As a civil engineer and farmer’s daughter from Coonamble, she takes a committed and practical approach to making positive changes to lives across regional NSW.

Her vision is to improve the commercial success of regional start-ups by increasing the capability, capacity and confidence of business owners.

In particular, she wants to champion women to be brave with their lives and support them to pursue professional and personal goals.

As Chief Executive Officer and founder of The Infrastructure Collaborative, Jillian has served the infrastructure needs of NSW local governments west of the Blue Mountains since 2009. She works with clients in regional Australia and the USA, and enjoys cross-pollinating ideas.

In 2018, Jillian purchased the grand, historic post office in Dubbo’s main street to create The Exchange - a regional innovation hub and co-working space. Jillian’s principal aim at The Exchange is to build confidence, capacity and capability to increase the chance of the commercial success of startups and other business ventures.

Jillian holds a Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Policy (2013–2016) from Stanford University, and uses a “design thinking” approach from this study to solve problems and shift infrastructure projects from the government planning stage to be shovel ready.

In 2010, she won the Australian Young Professional Engineer Award and Sydney University Young Alumni of the Year Award.

Kristal Kinsela

Kristal Kinsela

A descendant of both the Jawoyn and Wiradjuri nations, Kristal Kinsela is a proud Aboriginal role model. She has more than 16 years’ experience in education and training, organisational and workforce development, and supplier diversity working across government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors.

A well-known Aboriginal businesswoman and entrepreneur, she has worked across Australia and is highly regarded as a skilled facilitator, expert in stakeholder engagement and project management.

A descendant of both the Jawoyn and Wiradjuri nations, Kristal Kinsela is a proud Aboriginal role model. She has more than 16 years’ experience in education and training, organisational and workforce development, and supplier diversity working across government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors.

A well-known Aboriginal businesswoman and entrepreneur, she has worked across Australia and is highly regarded as a skilled facilitator, expert in stakeholder engagement and project management.

Kristal is a self-employed business owner and is currently establishing a new enterprise. Prior to this, she was an owner and managing director of IPS Management Consultants, a majority Indigenous-owned management consulting company and winner of the 2018 and 2019 Supply Nation Certified Supplier of the Year. She wrote and published the first book in Australia on supplier diversity and Indigenous business procurement, titled Supplier Diversity How.

Kristal is passionate about creating lasting pathways and increasing the capabilities of Indigenous businesses and individuals. She contributes at the interface of Aboriginal business development and government and business procurement.

Kristal is also a director of the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA), a director of Worthwhile Ventures - a social venture capital not for profit organisation, and a director of Jaramer Legal – an Indigenous joint venture commercial law firm.

Her many awards include:

  • 2019 Indigenous Defence Leader of the Year Award
  • 2017 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year
  • 2017 Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year, recognising her outstanding contribution in working with Indigenous communities, Indigenous businesses, leaders and women across Australia.

In September 2019, she was recognised in the prestigious Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence. She was previously a finalist in the Women’s Agenda’s 2017 Agenda Setter of the Year, and was featured in The Agenda 30, an e-book highlighting 30 women redefining business in 2018.

Danica Leys

Danica Leys

Danica is the CEO of the Country Women’s Association of NSW. Danica has extensive experience working in and for the regions, having previously held senior policy and legal roles.

She has also spent time in Central West and North West NSW as an agronomist. Danica holds a Bachelor of Agriculture (Honours) and a Bachelor of Law, is an admitted solicitor in NSW, and has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course. She is also an appointed Board Member on the Greater Sydney Local Land Services board.

Sally Loane

Sally Loane

Sally Loane is Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Services Council (FSC), which represents members of Australia’s largest industry sector, financial services. Prior to joining the FSC, Sally was the director of media and public affairs at Coca-Cola Amatil from 2006-2014.

Sally grew up on a 6,000-acre sheep property in Tenterfield. Following her graduation from the University of Queensland, her first career was in the media, where she spent 25 years as a highly regarded broadcaster and journalist for Australia's major print, radio and television media organisations. Sally worked with major Australian newspapers writing news, features and opinion columns including with The Australian, Courier Mail and The Sun in Brisbane; The National Times, The Times on Sunday and The Age during her time in the Canberra press gallery; and the Sydney Morning Herald and Sun Herald in Sydney. She was also the consumer affairs editor for the Daily News in Durban, South Africa.

Up until late 2005, Sally was the host of the Morning program on 702 ABC Sydney and has an extensive background in reporting on political, business, legal, social and consumer issues.

Sally is also a director of Venues NSW, Destination NSW and the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Research Foundation. Sally is also a governor of the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation, an ambassador for Business Events Sydney and a member of Chief Executive Women, which is committed to “women leaders enabling other women leaders”.

Sally was the first female director of Waratahs Rugby and served on the board for seven years. She was a director of SCEGGS Darlinghurst for 12 years, chaired the Salvation Army’s Sydney East Doorknock Appeal from 2008-2011 and was a co-deputy chair for the Committee for Sydney.

Her first book, Who Cares? Guilt, Hope and the Child-Care Debate was published in 1997. Sally has contributed to other books, including the 2002 Random House book: What Women Want with a chapter called “Losing John”.

Joanna Maxwell

Joanna Maxwell

Joanna Maxwell has had an interesting and varied working life, including a legal career, academic teaching, freelance journalism, film writing, training as a therapist and working as a coach, teacher of adults and a consultant.

She has achieved several qualifications - in arts (BA), law (LLB and LLM), coaching (PCC), training (TAE), therapy and education (M.Ed).

Joanna is currently chairperson at Sydney Community College, where she had been director for almost four years from 2016 and a tutor for 11 years from 2006 teaching creative writing, journalism, business writing and business startup.

In keeping with her commitment to helping older people live fulfilling lives, Joanna is Director, Age Discrimination Team at the Australian Human Rights Commission, a position she has held since early 2018. In this role, she considers a wide range of issues that affect older Australians, such as workplace discrimination, elder abuse, homelessness, isolation and intergenerational connection.

This year Joanna was appointed a member of the NSW Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing (MACA), which advises the Minister for Seniors on matters affecting the needs, interests and wellbeing of older people in NSW, and on the impact of the ageing of the population.

Joanna is increasingly working to help Australians of all ages and backgrounds feel they belong and to flourish. That was the driving force behind writing her latest book, Rethink Your Career in your 40s, 50s and 60s, which was published in 2017 as an ABC Book. Rethink Your Career won the Royal Society (Australian and New Zealand) inaugural Career Book of the Year Award for 2018, and is being published in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in 2020.

In her early 40s, Joanna founded her own business and ran career-change programs helping people whose first career was not the right fit for them. She used creative thinking to teach people to think differently. In her 50s, she took her business in new directions and ran a business startup program for migrant women in Lakemba for five years.

Joanna was resident coach on two series of Ray Martin’s The Road Next Travelled radio show, which focused on Australians changing their lives in their 50s.

Bobbi Mahleb AM

Bobbi Mahleb

Bobbi Mahlab AM was recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia for her significant service to publishing, women and philanthropy.

She is the founder and chair of Mahlab, a company she established in 1997 after a career in journalism and publishing.

Mahlab is a globally recognised content marketing and communications agency working with major brands and professional associations to develop and implement content, public relations, publishing and communication strategies.

In 2016, Bobbi co-founded Mentor Walks where she is still employed, making mentoring accessible to women and giving them, at all stages of their careers, access to leading women – such as CEOs and senior executives - who can guide and help them. Mentor Walks now operates in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Wollongong, Dubbo and Geelong. It aims to accelerate positive change by building a community of good women who help good women. More than 3400 women have participated to date.

From 2018 until March 2020, Bobbi was a juror for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards for Oceania and South Asia region. The initiative is an annual international entrepreneurship program that aims to drive change by empowering women entrepreneurs.

In 2015, Bobbi was selected by EY to participate in its Entrepreneurial Winning Women program that supports female led businesses to scale.

Bobbi was also an advisory board member for the Sydney Women’s Fund for nine years from 2010. The fund supports programs that support women and children in the wider Sydney area.

Bobbi’s volunteer work includes past membership of the management committee for Detour House in Sydney’s Inner West, which provides refuge for homeless teenage girls, and a residential program for drug and alcohol addicted women.

Her awards include:

  • Entrepreneur of the Year – finalist
  • Global Content Marketing Agency of the Year – finalist
  • Social Change Maker of the Year – finalist
  • Publisher of the Year (less than 50 employees) - winner
  • Agency/Client Content Marketing Partnership – winner
  • Best Content-Driven Website - winner

Jo Palmer

Jo Palmer

The Rock-based entrepreneur Jo Palmer is motivated by the social and economic benefits that remote work provides for marginalised sections of the community.

Jo believes location, gender, physical ability or ethnicity should not determine the work you do. She is also passionate about the environmental, social and fiscal benefits that organisations experience through hiring remotely.

In 2013, Jo established a comprehensive learning and tutoring business, which grew to operate in three regional towns in southern NSW. In 2014, Jo started her first remote job as a sponsorship manager for a Sydney-based corporation. This role was the motivation behind co-founding the sponsorship and event management company Agri Alliance, which has been operating in the agricultural industry in 2016.

After exiting her first two businesses, the idea for Jo's third company, Pointer Remote, came when assessing employment needs for Agri Alliance. Jo realised that there was an enormous number of talented professionals living in the regions who were looking to access work remotely, yet there wasn’t an easy way to connect with potential employers, and so Pointer Remote was established.

Pointer Remote now focuses on building capacity in communities, businesses and individuals to leverage and connect with remote work, regardless of where they live.

Recognition of Jo’s achievements includes:

  • Winner 2019 National AgriFutures Rural Women's Award
  • Winner 2019 St George Kick Start
  • Winner - Soar Collective’s 2017 Soar Awards - Regional Contribution Award
  • Finalist - Regional Australia Institute’s 2017 Lightbulb Moment Competition
  • Finalist - Wagga Wagga Business Chamber Awards - Startup Superstar
  • Finalist - Regional Australia Institute’s 2017 Regional Online Heroes Competition.

Amanda Rose

Amanda Rose

Amanda Rose is a pioneer for women in business in Australia. She is committed to the prosperity of Western Sydney, and particularly to helping Western Sydney businesswomen grow and flourish.

As the founder and publisher of Business Woman Media, Amanda helps strategically connect businesswomen across Australia and the world, with the aim of helping them succeed and connect with each other.

In keeping with her commitment to all women having the opportunity for personal success and empowerment. Amanda is founding director of Western Sydney Women, which incorporates the Western Sydney Executive Women network.

Western Sydney Women provides support and information on issues that impact women, in order to facilitate positive change and economic independence.

Amanda is also managing director of Western Sydney Advisory, which represents communities across Western Sydney and connects them with government, commercial, infrastructure or community initiatives and projects.

Amanda’s other achievements include:

  • founder and publisher of Business Woman Media, a website and social media outlet for businesswomen, with the aim of helping them succeed and connect with each other.
  • founder and CEO of Small Business Women Australia, a one-stop shop of information, resources, advice and learning for the female-owned and led small business.
  • non-executive director at Excelsia College, a Christian higher education facility.

Amanda regularly contributes to the Daily Telegraph in her “Boss Lady” column, as well as for ABC The Drum, Huffington Post, Marie Claire, CEO Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review and SkyBusiness.

Violet Roumeliotis AM

Violet Roumeliotis

Violet Roumeliotis AM is a social entrepreneur who champions the strengths of our diverse communities. Through her C-suite and board roles, Violet uses innovation and collective impact to promote social justice and inclusion.

She is the CEO of Settlement Services International, a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other vulnerable individuals to achieve their full potential. During her eight years as CEO, Violet has taken SSI from a Sydney-based organisation with 68 staff to a 900-plus workforce that supports more than 37,600 people nationally each year.

Violet is committed to achieving equity, and advancing diversity and inclusion in all forms. In 2020, she was made a member of the Order of Australia for outstanding service to the community. Violet is also a former Telstra Australia Business Woman of the Year, has been named one of AFR’s Top 100 Women of Influence for 2018 in the category of Diversity & Inclusion, In Style Magazine’s Community Champion and was awarded the title of Community Fellow from Western Sydney University for outstanding service to the community.

Violet sits on the board of the Australian Council of Social Service, Family Planning NSW and the NSW Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council. Her other appointments include the SBS Community Advisory Committee, the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity, the UTS Business MBA Advisory Group, the Council on Economic Participation for Refugees, the International Metropolis Steering Committee, the Australian Defence Force's Chiefs of Service Committee's diversity and inclusion panel, and the NSW Government’s join partnership working group overseeing refugee resettlement.

Taleen Shamlian

Taleen Shamlian

Taleen Shamlian has been reappointed to CWEO following her original appointment in 2018. Taleen was instrumental in advising on the NSW Government’s Women’s Financial Wellbeing Toolkit and bringing her specialist expertise to the NSW Government on strategies aimed at supporting women with economic opportunities.

She is currently Director and Principal Consultant at Advisory Street Pty Ltd, an economics and public policy firm, advising C-suite executives in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors on a range of stakeholder engagement and public policy issues, such as the Banking Royal Commission.

Prior to this, Taleen was Head of Government Affairs for Visa and the Commonwealth Bank, where she championed community programs around financial security and literacy. Taleen began her career as an economist at Commonwealth Treasury working on tax, superannuation, budget strategy and macroeconomic policies.

Taleen has a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) and a Master of Public Policy (Merit Distinction), both from the University of Sydney. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and a member of the NSW Women in Economics and the Armenian National Committee.

The current ex-officio members are:

  • Simone Walker, Deputy Secretary, Strategy, Policy and Commissioning, Department of Communities and Justice
  • Kate Lorimer-Ward, Deputy Director General, Department of Primary Industries
  • Tanya Smyth, Director, Women NSW
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Last updated: 11 Aug 2021