Department of Family and Community Services

NSW Council for Women's Economic Opportunity

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The NSW Council for Women's Economic Opportunity (NSW CWEO) provides specialist advice to the NSW Government on strategies aimed at providing women with greater economic opportunities.

Launched in April 2012, the NSW CWEO examines why women continue to be under-represented in large sectors of the workforce. It champions solutions to empower women through equal opportunities, including increasing participation of women in non-traditional roles.

The NSW CWEO brings together experts from the engineering, construction, manufacturing and education and training industries.

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The NSW CWEO is chaired by the Minister and is made up of individuals from the community, academia and the non-government and business sectors.


Brian is the Executive Director of the Master Builders Association NSW.

Brian joined the Master Builders Association (MBA) as a trainee industrial relations officer in the early 1980s, after completing a Bachelor of Building at the University of NSW. In 1991, he took on the role of MBA NSW Executive Officer, Industrial Relations and Safety, and six years later moved to the role of Deputy Executive Director. Brian took up the role of  Executive Director in 2000.

Throughout his time with the MBA, Brian has represented the industry and Master Builders on numerous committees and boards. He has also delivered lectures on workplace relations and safety at the University of NSW and various TAFE colleges.


Hannah Higgins is an Operations Superintendent at Orica Ltd, a position held since 2016. Hannah is a chemical engineer and has worked at Orica since 2012. Hannah graduated with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from the University of New South Wales.

In 2016, Hannah was nominated for the Maria Skyllas-Kazacos Young Professional Award for Outstanding Achievement. Hannah was Vice President of the UNSW Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Society and has been a mentor to female engineering students. Hannah has also spoken at several Women in Engineering events at UNSW since graduating in 2011. Hannah has outstanding commitment to supporting women enter male-dominated professions  such as engineering.


Johanna Turner graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Law from Macquarie University in 1987. She was admitted as a solicitor to the NSW Supreme Court in the same year. Johanna is currently a non-executive director of the Financial Ombudsman Service Australia and an Independent Compliance Committee Member for both Blackrock Investment Management Limited and Fundhost Limited.

Johanna has spent 25 years working in the financial services sector in legal, compliance, risk and governance roles. She has extensive experience working in domestic and international banks, exchanges and regulatory bodies. Her most recent executive roles were as Chief Compliance Officer and more recently Chief Risk Officer for Citigroup Pty Ltd and Citibank N.A in Australia.  Prior to joining Citibank, Johanna was  Head of FICC Compliance at Macquarie Bank Limited. She has also held senior roles at the ASX, the Sydney Futures Exchange and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

During her career, Johanna has been an advocate for gender diversity in the financial services sector. Johanna was a  non-executive Director of Women in Banking and Finance Limited (WIBF) (2012-2015), a not for profit organisation that promotes gender diversity in the financial services sector. She has also been a member of the Citibank Diversity Committee and throughout her career mentored many women within the  financial services sector.


Katie Lahey is the Executive Chairman, Australasia for Korn Ferry. She is Chairman of the Tourism & Transport Forum, a Board Member of Star Entertainment Group, the New South Wales Export and Investment Advisory Board and the Australian Brandenburg  Orchestra.

Katie is the former Chairman of Carnival Australia, part of the world’s largest cruise company, a former member of the David Jones Board, Australia Council Major Performing Arts Board, Director of Australia Post, Hills Motorway and the Garvan Research Foundation.

Before leading Korn Ferry, she was Chief Executive of The Business Council of Australia (BCA) for ten years and, prior to BCA, she was the Chief Executive of the State Chamber of Commerce (NSW), Chief Executive of the Sydney City Council and Chairman and Chief Executive of the Victorian Tourism Commission.

In June 2013, Katie was named a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to business and the arts. Katie was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2003 for her contribution to Australian society in the area  of Business Leadership. She earned a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) from the University of Melbourne, and was awarded the prize for top  student in the Master of Business Administration program for her year.


Ms Heywood is an executive and leader with over 25 years corporate experience in the mining sector, including 10 years with Rio Tinto. Her experience includes strategic marketing, business finance and compliance and she has led organisational restructures, disposals and acquisitions. Additionally, she has had significant experience in complex cross-cultural negotiations and international customer and stakeholder relationship management (including governments, communities and investment partners).

Ms Heywood holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) from Charles Sturt University and a Master of Business Administration from the Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne. She is a member of the  Australian Institute of Company Directors, CPA Australia and AUSIMM.

Ms Heywood serves as a non-executive Director and Audit Committee member for Orocobre, an ASX200 Lithium Mining Company with operations in Argentina. She is also a non-executive Director and Chair of the fund-raising committee for Gunawirra, a not-for-profit organisation working to empower young Aboriginal parents. She runs her own management consulting business focusing on Strategy Development, Finance, Marketing Development and Governance.


Pallavi Sinha is a lawyer, lecturer and speaker. In 2016, she was selected in the prestigious Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence winner list.

Pallavi currently serves on the White Ribbon Diversity Committee and the Multicultural Consultation Council of the NSW  Anti-Discrimination Board. She is a former People of Australia Ambassador and  was the only person from NSW elected to the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils Australia (FECCA) as Women’s Committee Advisory Chair in 2014. She presented submissions before a Senate Committee on Domestic Violence on behalf of FECCA and some of her recommendations were adopted. She was also involved in meetings with the former Minister for Immigration which led to changes to migration policy aimed to increase domestic violence survivors’ access to  justice.

Pallavi is regularly interviewed by the media and is a  popular and well-known speaker and writer, especially on topics such as domestic or family violence. Her opinion pieces have been widely published, including by the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC and SBS.


Sandra is the Director and Principal Consultant of  the Triulzi Group Pty Ltd, a strategic management consultancy firm established in 1991. Sandra has held senior management roles with Lend Lease, Westpac, Qantas, UGL and Abigroup. She has also held a number of Board and  Government committee roles.

Sandra has a background in organisational  development and transformational change. She has over twenty-five years of experience in designing, developing and implementing initiatives in gender diversity; flexibility; cross-cultural issues, including Indigenous engagement and employment generational and disability strategies.

Sandra holds a passion and interest in the construction and engineering industries where she has pioneered initiatives to  attract, recruit and develop women, from both professional and trades backgrounds.


Topaz has over 20 years experience working in business strategy with a particular focus into startup companies across a number of technology industries traversing  hi-tech and med-tech. She founded and successfully exited two companies in the US.

Topaz’s passion is around working to help women gain economic equality, from her work in the 1990s co-founding the Australian Council of Businesswomen (funded by the Federal Government) to her current commitment to SBE Australia (Springboard Accelerator), a venture-catalyst program helping women-led companies grow bigger, scalable, sustainable, global businesses. Since the 2013 inception the program has  helped 36 companies raise a total of $127 million, create hundreds of jobs, and expand their companies overseas.

Topaz is often seen advising, mentoring, and promoting  the innovation ecosystem and is past Chair of PAFtec Pty Ltd, Commercialisation Advisor for Federal Government’s Entrepreneurs Program, Chair of Springboard Enterprises Australia, and serves as Director on the StartupAus Board and the Telstra Industry Advisory Board.


Tracy Howe is Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS).

Tracy is a legally trained advocate with a commitment to human rights, addressing community disadvantage and gender inequality. Previously, Tracy has worked in both government and non-government settings, including with Domestic Violence NSW as Chief Executive Officer and as a senior legal advisor in Federal Government.

Tracy currently sits on the NSW Government’s Social Impact Investment Expert Advisory Group and is appointed to the NSW Domestic and Family Violence Council, the NSW Premier's Council on Homelessness and was the NSW non-government representative on the Implementation Panel for the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and  their Children. Previously Tracy was a delegate with the Australian Women  Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) at the Commission on the Status of Women at the 57th and 58th sessions held at the United Nations in  New York.

In May 2015, Tracy was appointed to the Prime Minister’s COAG Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence against Women. Tracy is also an Ambassador of the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women. In June 2016, Tracy  was appointed as a part-time Commissioner of the NSW Law Reform Commission.


Yvette is a Partner at Pietsch Partners – Tax and Business Advisory for families and private groups.

Yvette has 25 years experience in providing tax and business advice to private groups, family businesses, high net worth individuals and family groups.

Yvette was raised in Forbes and spent a number of years in Sydney as a partner in Private Client Services at Pitcher Partners. She has a Bachelor of Business and a Masters in Tax and is also a member of the  Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Taxation Institute and Australian  Institute of Company Directors.


Yvonne currently serves as the Mayor of the Hills Shire Council, Chair of the Board of The Sanctuary - The Hills Women’s Shelter, Director of the Board for the Endeavour Foundation, Director of the Board of Local Government NSW and Councillor on the NSW Council for Women's Economic Opportunity (NSW CWEO).

An award winning TV Producer, Yvonne has also founded several brands and charitable organisations over the course of her career including: SugarBaby Cosmetics (1997), She.I.Y. (2005), Hear the Children (2009) and most recently, The Sanctuary (2015). Yvonne has enjoyed a successful media career as a TV presenter, where she was known as the "Pocket Rocket" alongside co-host Michael Caton on the Seven Networks “Hot Property” program. Yvonne also wrote regular magazine columns for both New Idea and Handyman magazine.

For her work for the vulnerable in her community Yvonne has been named 2016 NSW Local Government Woman of the Year, a 2013 University of Western Sydney Woman of the West, 2012 Australia Day Citizen of the Year (Hills Shire Council), 2011 United Nations Volunteer of the Year + 10 (Education). In 2012, Yvonne was named NSW Woman of the Year (Inaugural People’s Choice) by NSW Minister for Women, Pru Goward, and then Premier of NSW, Barry O’Farrell.

Recently, Yvonne led a team of committed community leaders and partners to build and establish The Sanctuary – The Hills Women’s Shelter, which has very swiftly become a benchmark Shelter in NSW. Yvonne lives in North-Western Sydney, in a house she built with her own hands, with her husband and partner of 28 years, Anthony and their two children, Asher 8 and Saskia 6.