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AIS Talent Program participants ready to challenge the status quo

AIS Talent Program participants
AIS Talent Program participants pictured with Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins

Participants in the inaugural AIS Talent Program came together in Canberra last week to celebrate the completion of a first of its kind leadership program that was launched in March this year

Sport Australia and the AIS developed the Talent Program to address the under-representation of female sport executives and high performance coaches across Australian sport.

The program welcomed applications Australia-wide from women already actively involved in sport or talented individuals from other industries who wanted to make a difference in sport.

At the launch earlier in the year, Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer and AIS CEO Peter Conde challenged the women involved to use the experience to help drive greater diversity in Australian sport.

“Congratulations to all of the participants in being a part of this new iniative and assisting us in taking the necessary steps to tackle gender diversity in sport,” Palmer said.

“It is no secret that women are still underrepresented in key decision making roles across the industry and Sport Australia and the AIS are committed to working towards closing that gap.

“These programs aimed to build on the personal skills of the participants to push them to maximise their professional development and continue to drive change as influential leaders in our sector.”

Seventeen coaches and 16 executives were selected from more than 250 applicants to participate in the program which covered important topics such as leadership presence, professional networking and understanding barriers to organisational diversity.

AIS CEO Peter Conde says he’s confident the program will encourage more women to become involved in high performance coaching.

“This program confirmed that there is a great talent pool of female coaches thriving in their sport of choice,” said Conde.

“However the ratio of females in high performance coaching roles is still vastly unbalanced and we hope that programs such as these will bring light to the systemic imbalance and encourage us and sport as a collective to find some solutions.”

Head Coach of the Women’s Hockey Program at the Victorian Institute of Sport, Stacia Strain, said the program has assisted her not only in her professional life but also in her personal life as a new parent.

“The biggest thing I’ve surprisingly gotten out of it is more confidence in myself and my ability as a coach and my ability to influence within my sport and also within the broader network,” said Strain.

“This (program) has kind of given me a new lease on life and confidence that I can do both, be a mum and also have a career that I am really passionate about.”

The AIS Talent Executive group’s final workshop focused on systematic changes for gender equality in sport which included a special presentation from Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.

Executive Talent program participant Vibeke Stison said one of her personal highlights was meeting and getting to know the other participants.

“I think the key benefit of the program has been meeting these other women who are super inspiring because I didn’t know any of them before I started,” said Stison.

“To realise that you are one of many and there is a huge talent pool of people with such a diverse background that are all really passionate about sport and growing sport and creating new opportunities and thinking about their legacy for the next generation, I think that has probably been the best thing.”

Executive Program

  • Taya Conomos (Olympic and Commonwealth Games Project and Communications Manager, Seven Network)
  • Emma Jayne Grigson (Director, Health Regulation & Protection, Government of South Australia & Former Health Operations Executive, Australian Defence Force)
  • Carrie Graf (Director of Sport, University of Canberra)
  • Rebecca Hamilton (Head of Marketing and Experience, GWS Giants AFL)
  • Monique Hennessy (Legal Counsel, National Rugby League)
  • Tal Karp (Director, Sixfold Consulting Group, and former Matildas player)
  • Sam Lane (Journalist, Seven Network)
  • Kim McConnie (Director of Marketing/Sport, Foxtel & Former Head of Big Bash League, Cricket Australia)
  • Nat Momsen (General Manager Marketing, Nissan Motor Corporation)
  • Catherine Ordway (Senior Consultant, Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers)
  • Sally Phillips (Former Head of Women's National Basketball League)
  • Jo Richards (Performance Team Director, Western Australian Institute of sport)
  • Katherine Savage (Chief Commercial Officer, Rowing Australia)
  • Tamara Sheppard (General Manager Performance, Swimming Australia)
  • Vibeke Stisen (General Manager Commercial and Communications, Hockey Australia)
  • Sarah Styles (Head of Female Engagement, Cricket Australia)

High Performance Coaching Program

  • Vyninka Arlow (High Performance Coach, Diving Australia, two-time Olympian,)
  • Kristen Beams (High Performance Scholarship Coach, Cricket Victoria, former Australian player)
  • Emma Carney (High Performance Coach, Triathlon)
  • Michelle Cowan (High Performance Coach, West Coast Eagles, Australian Rules)
  • Heather Garriock (Head Coach of Canberra United, W-League, Football)
  • Rebecca Goddard (Australian Rules Coach & Australian Federal Police,)
  • Amanda Isaac (Head Swim Coach, Abbotsleigh School)
  • Shannon McFerran (Assistant Coach Carlton in AFLW)
  • Regan Molyneaux (National Talent Development Coach, Gymnastics Australia)
  • Tahnee Norris (Head Coach Burleigh Bears Women, former Jillaroos representative, Rugby League)
  • Katrina Powell (Head Coach Hockey, NSW Institute of Sport)
  • Ellen Randell (Senior Coach Women’s National Training Centre, Rowing Australia)
  • Sarah Scott (Coach, Nunawading Swimming Club)
  • Leanne Speechley (High Performance Swim Coach, Pymble Ladies College)
  • Stacia Strain (Hockey Head Coach & Program Manager, Victorian Institute of Sport)
  • Alana Thomas (Melbourne Rebels Super W Head Coach, Rugby Union)
  • Beth Whaanga (Coach, Queensland Rugby Union and Brisbane State High School)
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