Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility International Women's Day, Friday 8 March • Adelaide Hills Council Skip to main content

International Women's Day, Friday 8 March

We are committed to supporting IWD and celebrating the impact women have made within our Council.

International Womens Day 2024

International Women's Day, Friday 8 March

International Women's Day is a global day to reflect on progress, call for change and to celebrate the courage and determination of those who have changed the face of gender equality.

This year’s theme is, Count her in: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress. Women's economic empowerment is central to a gender equal world.

As part of marking the significance of IWD and supporting the pathway to gender equality, Council has collated some internal gender statistics;

  • 0ut of 227 employees there are 109 females – 48%
  • Senior Leadership 8 out of 15 are women – 53%
  • Elected Members 7 out of 13 are women – 54%

In support of this year's theme, we are proud to share three intimate case studies of successful female leaders from within Council. Read their stories, career advice and tips on overcoming obstacles. #countherin

On Friday, Council is holding an internal event for staff and everyone is being encouraged to wear a splash of purple to show their support for IWD.

I believe the key message for everyone is to support and encourage each other irrespective of gender, and be more self-aware of your own bias in the workplace and the impact that has on others.

— Natalie Armstong

Natalie Armstrong, Director Community and Development

1. How did you come to be where you are in your career today?

I started my career with ten years at the Lands Titles Office working in various positions from the bottom up, and this is also where I received my first opportunity at people leadership. It was also a time that I undertook my Conveyancing studies.

Following time in the public sector, I spent 14-years at Norman Waterhouse Lawyers employed as a Conveyancer. During this time I also had the opportunity to support the Property, Infrastructure & Development Team as team leader responsible for budget, business development and first line HR for the team.

I joined AHC in April 2016 as Manager Property Services and after such a long time in the private sector, the local government sector was a big change. But the ability to work with a local community and guide outcomes that make the Hills a better place to live and work is an outstanding experience.

After six and a half years in the Property team, I was very fortunate attain the Director Development & Regulatory Services role. It was challenging getting up to speed in planning, building, strategic policy planning and regulatory services, however working with great people has made the job very enjoyable.

Now with the transitional structure also incorporating Community into my role, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these new parts of the directorate.

I am amazed by the initiatives we deliver to our community, and I am fortunate to work with an inspiring bunch of people.

2. What advice would you give to an aspiring women entering the workforce or looking for career progression?

  • Find yourself a trusted mentor in each workplace you may work in
  • Listen and learn to all parties so you can make educated and informed decisions, there’s always two sides to any situation
  • When considering challenges and opportunities – don’t be held back by gender concerns, but also, don’t automatically assume that there is gender bias at play, make an informed judgement about the situation (a great one that a mentor can help you work through if you aren’t sure) and seek guidance and support as needed
  • Back yourself! (this is one that I wish I had done earlier!)
  • If you do find you are doubting yourself – a mentor can help you immensely and you should consider upskilling about things like imposter syndrome to see if that is playing a part in your doubt (this affects men and women but more often women) – don’t be held back in your working life from self-doubt. Self-reflection is a great thing, self-doubt is not!

3. Have you encountered challenges or obstacles in your career journey that your male counterparts may not have? How did you overcome these?

Reflecting on this question, there’s a couple of things that have raised concerns for me:

  • There is certainly still gender bias within parts of society. I have experienced this in the private sector as a younger female advisor.
  • I managed by adopting a listen and learn approach and then slowly building trust and respect, and sharing my knowledge and experience such that gender was no longer an issue in the working relationship. I had to do the work to build the relationship and the rest followed. Was it fair? Of course not, but the outcome was fantastic for both parties. I see far less gender bias in the current generations which is great to see.
  • I have struggled throughout my working life to be confident and back myself. I had an amazing mentor at Norman Waterhouse, who helped me see through the self doubt, which encouraged me to back myself, I would not have progressed in my career without that mentoring and support. I have also had a fantastic mentor at AHC who helped me push through the bouts of self-doubt. I’m now a more confident and well-rounded people leader because of the opportunity to learn from my mentor’s experiences and knowledge.
  • Disappointingly I have experienced some gender bias from women. Whilst there is gender bias from men, there is also gender bias from women, and this is much trickier to identify and manage, and it is very counter-productive in the workplace. I believe the key message for everyone is to support and encourage each other irrespective of gender, and be more self-aware of your own bias in the workplace and the impact that has on others.


International Womens Day 2024

I have proven to myself that I am a capable, determined, hardworking and respectful person, who deserves to be where I am today.

— Nicole Budd

Nicole Budd, Coordinator Open Space Operations

1. How did you come to be where you are in your career today?

I started out as a horticulture apprentice straight out of high school, working my way up by becoming a Leading Hand. When my Team Leader was looking to retire, they needed someone to back fill temporarily, I was interested in seeing the management and organisational side of things, so after some encouragement from fellow work colleagues, I volunteered and ended up being in that role for ten months. After this, I was in a middle management coordinator role for just over ten years. Whilst I did enjoy my role, I was keen to gain some more diverse skills and build on my knowledge. I was seconded as a Project Coordinator for two years, delivering a variety of Infrastructure projects. This Project Coordinator role really pushed me out of my comfort zone and showed me that I was a capable, adaptive and versatile person. After returning to my substantive role, I knew that I had to move workplaces if I wanted to progress further in my career. I applied and was successful in securing the Coordinator Open Space Operations role here at AHC in September 2020, becoming the first female people leader of field-based staff in AHC history.

2. What advice would you give to an aspiring women entering the workforce or looking for career progression?

Be honest and back yourself. If you really want to do something, you need to be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone. I would recommend volunteering for any additional training and skill development opportunities that come up. Be proactive and look for these opportunities.

Just be yourself!

3. Have you encountered challenges or obstacles in your career journey that your male counterparts may not have? How did you overcome these?

Unfortunately, working in a predominately male field has come with quite a few challenges. From being told I can’t physically do as much as my male colleagues, to not being listened to by contractors or other staff.

Pushing through all the comments, attitudes and actions of others have made me the person I am today. Whilst it wasn’t fun, and disappointing, and frustrating at times, it did make me determined. I have also proven to myself that I am a capable, determined, hardworking and respectful person, who deserves to be where I am today.

Melinda Rankin, Director Fabrik Arts + Heritage

In the arts sector building professional connections is key and my advice to anyone wanting a career in the arts is to get involved: go to networking events, volunteer on committees.

— Melinda Rankin

Melinda Rankin, Director Fabrik Arts + Heritage

1. How did you come to be where you are in your career today?

Sometimes where you end up is not where you thought you were going. When I immersed myself in studying visual arts at university, juggling part-time work and the parenting of three small children, I imagined my future self as an artist working in a studio. And while that studio is still to come, my career in the arts sector has offered incredible experiences. I have collaborated with amazing artists, presenting creative experiences, (some of them incredibly moving and powerful) with and for communities.

While I was still studying and near the end of my degree, I became curious about the work of putting together exhibitions. I squeezed as much unpaid industry experience as possible into my final year: writing articles for journal publications, researching First Nations textiles in the collection at Flinders University Art Museum, and being mentored to curate an exhibition as part of the Adelaide Festival. The connections I made during that time continue today.

Once I was close to graduating, I researched local galleries, introducing myself to staff and sometimes board members in the process. In one of those moments where hard work and synchronicity come together, I applied for and was appointed to the role of Director at the Hahndorf Academy.

Five years later I started as Director of the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, where I worked for seven years before moving to AHC to start the exciting work of building an arts facility from scratch.

2. What advice would you give to an aspiring women entering the workforce or looking for career progression?

In the arts sector building professional connections is key and my advice to anyone wanting a career in the arts is to get involved: go to networking events, volunteer on committees. So much of my work involves working in partnership: with artists, galleries, arts organisations, businesses, communities and funding bodies.
Being involved in professional industry bodies such as Australian Museum and Galleries Association and the Regional Galleries Association of SA has given me a perspective of my work within the wider arts and cultural sector, and has offered opportunities for skills development, new partnerships and (maybe most importantly) supportive professional networks.

3. Have you encountered challenges or obstacles in your career journey that your male counterparts may not have? How did you overcome these?

The topic of gender is an interesting one in the arts. Research shows that more women graduate from art school than men. Studies into public gallery audience demographics also show that two in three visitors are women. Yet research also shows that the highest jobs in the arts are predominantly held by men: South Australia is the only state with a woman director at the helm of its State gallery.

Additionally, my experience of being a woman working in the arts but interacting with other sectors is that of occasionally being stereotyped as a “creative type” (often code for flaky) with little awareness of the professional experience and expertise required within my role. It’s annoying but doesn’t have a large impact overall.

Subscribe to stay up-to-date with
everything Adelaide Hills Council

Select a newsletter *
Full Name