Ellen Walker


Held across two days on 8-9th February 2024, 27 ambitious women had the privilege of attending the Monash University Women in Sport Leadership Retreat. 

Eager students from a diverse array of sporting backgrounds, who went through a detailed application and selection process, were invited to attend the complimentary stay at the 5-star Pullman on the Park in Melbourne's CBD. 

Led by Master of Ceremonies (and Monash graduate, Volleyball Club President and current staff member) Dr. Amanda Davies, students had the opportunity to hear from esteemed guest speakers, and to participate in workshops focused on their self-development and how to create lasting impact.

An initiative as part of Monash University’s Women in Sport Network, the Retreat built on the work already being done by Team Monash in recognising the immense value that active involvement in sporting and recreational clubs and programs can bring to our students.

The future leaders arrived at the hotel early in the morning, where they had the chance to mingle and network, before learning about their own communication and leadership styles. A workshop run by Tania Le Page from Time 2 Talk provided participants with great insight not only about themselves, but also how to work effectively with others and engage in challenging conversations.

Clinical psychologist and AFLW Player Development Manager Bree Van Ryswyk delivered a workshop on how to foster a ‘growth mindset’, and how to avoid negative thinking patterns.

 During the free time, students had the opportunity to relax and socialise by the pool and sauna, or exercise in the gym.

Keynote speaker Lucy Dawson was joined by special guests Emily Spencer, Ella Stephenson and Jessica Au during the dinner function, where participants had the opportunity to listen to and ask questions about their experiences of being a woman in sport.

 Lucy Dawson is a current barrister at the Victorian Bar Association, graduating from Monash University with a double degree in Law (Hons) and Arts in 2014. During her time at the university, Lucy successfully represented Monash at an international level as a Varsity basketball player. Lucy spoke about the challenges of being a leader when you’re naturally shy and introverted, and growing into a role that doesn’t feel comfortable even though others might look up to you. 

 Lucy shared that “It was only when I got towards the end of my time at Uni that I really came out of my shell, and it was a process that was aided hugely by the leaders I’d had in the past and their kind approach to inclusiveness and team cultures.”

 On the second day of the retreat, the students were able to engage in a Q&A panel with inspirational guests Rebecca Saber, Alice Wu, Bec Herft, and Olympian Bec Henderson. 

 Monash researcher Aish Ravi delivered a talk on how to create an inclusive environment, by getting the women to think about the importance of a good coach.

 To wrap up the amazing two day event, Monash Hockey alumni Rachel Rodrigues McGown led a session to allow everyone to think about how they will bring their learnings back to their own sporting communities.

 Participant Yuki Yu (Monash University Kendo Club President) expressed that “There are not many occasions where we are able to meet and share our journey that have led us to achieving in our sports, and it has been a great pleasure to be able to meet so many aspirational leaders gathered in one place.”

 Yuki further mentioned that “This has been one of the most exciting and motivating sessions I've had in my university life”.

 Team Monash looks forward to working further with this cohort of students and expanding the opportunities available to all Monash students.

 You can find out more about the Women in Sport Network on our website. 

 Check out all the images from the event here.