The ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women provides strategic advice to the ACT Government on issues affecting women in the ACT. It also provides a link between the Minister for Women and women in the ACT community
The work of the Council reflects the objectives of the ACT Women's Plan 2016-26.
2019-20 Ministerial Advisory Council on Women
Terms of Reference
The Council brings together women with a diversity of experience and expertise to assist the Government develop and implement policies that are relevant to women in the ACT.
The Council represents a wide range of women's views and is a valuable link between ACT women and the ACT Government. You can keep up to date with the work of the Council and stay in touch on the Ministerial Advisory Council on Women Facebook page.
Ms Louise Bannister - Chair
Ms Louise Bannister has a lifetime of experience as a disability advocate and is passionate about creating a fully inclusive ACT community through leadership, education, mentoring, advocacy, promotion of access, and the right for individual choice and control. Ms Bannister was awarded the 2012 Chief Minister’s Award for Inclusion by an Individual, in recognition of her ongoing contribution to the disability community.
Ms Bannister has previously served two terms on MACW and is the appointed Chair for the 2019-20 Council. Ms Bannister is also currently sitting on the Board of Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT); the ACT Disability Reference Group; and Health Care Consumers Association (HCCA) Executive Committee; as well as several ACT Health RACC Committees. She served as Deputy Chair of the ACT Disability Advisory Council from 2011-2014.
Ms Bannister has an ability to consult widely with women with disability through her involvement with WWDACT and HCCA and her other advocacy roles. Ms Bannister brings the perspective of women living with disability to MACW and has rapport with and experience in working with women with intellectual disability to assist them to develop self-advocacy and leadership skills.
Ms Bannister was nominated by WWDACT as their representative to MACW.
Ms Bannister is currently working with the NDS Disability Workforce Impact Collective.
Ms Helen Roe - Co-Deputy Chair
Ms Roe is a leading authority in media, marketing and digital technologies, and hopes to contribute to the future direction of the 2016-19 ACT Digital Strategy and the promotion of MACW.
Ms Roe is passionate about empowering women and girls to think creatively and critically about media marketing, build strong personal values and feel confident in their choices.
Helen shares this message through her book GirlTribes, empowering women and girls to thrive in their online worlds, through workshops and accredited online media literacy professional learning for teachers.
As health and wellbeing remains a key priority of the ACT Womens’ Plan, Ms Roe’s media literacy and digital marketing skills will provide MACW with a broader and more engaging reach to women in the region.
Ms Gulnara Abbasova - Co-Deputy Chair
Ms Gulnara Abbasova brings to MACW extensive strategic leadership and governance experience, commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, strong community focus, and an insightful perspective on the intersectionality of gender and culture.
Ms Abbasova is an experienced executive with a significant track record in civil society leadership, strategy and advocacy across social policy, gender equality and human rights nationally and internationally.
Ms Abbasova is currently Executive Officer of the Migrant and Refugee Women’s Health Partnership, auspiced by Migration Council Australia. Previously, she was Executive Director of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia. In these roles, Ms Abbasova led national initiatives focused on the empowerment of migrant and refugee communities, and particularly women from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
Ms Abbasova’s international experience includes leading programs at two United Nations agencies on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and issues, as well as in the area of civil society capacity building and participation. She also worked extensively in international advocacy with a focus on Indigenous Peoples and ethnic minorities, and facilitated local community development initiatives.
Ms Abbasova serves on a number of boards and committees focusing on professional regulation, access and equity, and public health.
Dr Nicola Fraser
Dr Fraser brings with her experience in communication and public relations skills, with a PhD in gender inequality and domestic violence.
She has direct experience with the ACT Education Directorate which will provide fluid linkages to this department for more effective outcomes of the ACT Women’s Plan.
Dr Fraser holds academic and practical expertise in education in particular the area of disability support and has skills in research, communication, public relations and writing.
Professor Zsuzsoka Kecskes
Professor Kecskes has provided mentorship of women in the area of medicine. Prof Kecskes brings extensive experience in neonatal health being recognised by the Australia Day Council for her contribution with ACT Australian of the Year 2014 honour.
Prof Kecskes has been steering the development of female academics in the medical profession with formal and informal mentorship as well as systemic reviews to improve access from women within academia.
Prof Kecskes has extensive writing and research skills with 42 peer reviewed articles being published on topics from neo-natal care to organ transplants. Additionally, Prof Kecskes has varied experiences as chair, secretariat and expert consultant on numerous boards and committee’s which she will bring to MACW.
Ms Helen Machalias
Ms Helen Machalias comes to MACW with experience working on issues impacting women in the ACT as well as a professional and academic background in community engagement and policy development. As YWCA Canberra’s Director of Communication, Advocacy and Fundraising, she leads a team that delivers a range of women’s leadership initiatives, as well as communications, policy development and membership engagement to advance women’s position in society.
She has extensive experience promoting gender equality and the improved representation of women, including as a member of NCOSS Women’s employment working group and as a Reference Group member of the NSW Women’s Leadership Network for the Institute of Public Administration Australia. Other relevant experience includes being a co-opted member of the ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women in 2018, an ACT representative on the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance’s Advisory Group, a committee member of the National Council of Women (ACT) and a member of the Equality Rights Alliance’s expert working groups for housing and women’s leadership.
Ms Radhika Chaudhri
Ms Chaudhri bring with her extensive legal expertise in Equity and Property Law. Ms Chaudhri brings expertise in economic stabilisation of women through law reform, with doctoral research into legal responses to economic forms of domestic violence.
Ms Chaudhri is committed to the elevation of women by social design with consultation and representation of CALD women in the community. Ms Chaudhri has worked for Canberra Community Law which is a community legal centre. In that role, she was the Centre's Socio-Legal Practice Clinic lawyer. The Clinic provides intensive social and legal support to particularly vulnerable clients, prioritising women escaping violence. Radhika provided advice on tenancy and social security matters, and contributed to law reform and policy recommendations to government aimed at fostering a greater awareness of social issues that are systematically disenfranchising women, such as housing allocation and eviction practices, and Centrelink rules.
Ms Chaudhri is an Associate Lecturer and formal and informal mentor of students at ANU through the Law Reform and Social Justice Mentor Program and ANU College of Law. She is also engaged with NECTAR at ANU, which provides early career academics with a safe place to discuss concerns, barriers and limitations to their career aspirations.
Assistant Professor Skye Saunders
Associate Professor Saunders brings with her a passion for law and gender equality. She holds a PhD on the subject and formerly practised as an Employment/Discrimination Lawyer.
A/Prof Saunders is the Vice President of the YWCA Canberra and was a delegate representing the YWCA Australia at the United Nation’s 62nd Commission on the Status of Women due to her expertise on the sexual harassment of women in rural Australia.
A/Prof Saunders is an Associate Professor (Law) at ANU and is a regular speaker at National and International conferences and events igniting the inherent empathy and perception in both men and women regarding sex discrimination in the workforce.
Ms Sian Keys
Ms Keys is joining MACW with a background in STEM programs and engagement, and a focus on encouraging young women into STEM careers, and increasing accessibility in STEM education and engagement programs.
Ms Keys was awarded the ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Award for Excellence in Volunteer Support for her program ‘Scienceability’. Scienceability was developed through a grant from National Science Week as part of the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Programme, and ran hands-on science and engineering workshops both for and by young adults with intellectual disabilities with the aim of challenging ideas about who science is ‘for’.
Ms Keys brings consultation, research and project management skills to MACW with a particular passion for young women’s development in the fields of engineering, maths and sciences. As well as MACW, Ms Keys has been the Secretary of the Australian Science Communicators ACT from 2016-2018. Ms Keys is currently the Senior Communications Officer for the Australian Space Agency.
Ms Elizabeth Cowan
Ms Elizabeth Cowan is a gender specialist, which include her abilities to research and deeply analyse complex gender issues as well as her commitment to the advancement of women. She has gender specialist post-graduate qualifications and has her Master's thesis (on young women's empowerment in Timor-Leste) was awarded Academic Excellence in Gender Research from the Australian National University's Gender Institute.
Ms Cowan has been working to promote gender equality and address the needs of women for almost a decade. She has worked with the Australian Red Cross, designing and supporting Australia-based projects targeting groups of marginalised people in which women experienced specific gender-based vulnerabilities, including older women, homeless women and women in contact with the justice system.
She has also worked at the NSW Office for Women's Policy, advising the Minister for Women on women's leadership and the gender pay gap and engaging with community groups working with women across NSW. She also spent many years working for CARE International, advising on practical programmatic strategies to advance women's rights and gender equality in the vulnerable communities where CARE works in South-East Asia and the Pacific.
Ms Alice Zhang
Ms Zhang will provide legal expertise and research in support of women who have experienced domestic violence to MACW.
Ms Zhang works for Legal Aid ACT and has held federal policy writing and research roles that have addressed complex forms of gendered violence, particularly forced marriage and human trafficking.
Ms Zhang brings advocacy skills and representation of the CALD community.
Ms Zhang is bringing strong policy skills to MACW with her law degree honours being in refugee politics and nationalism bias and the intersection of gender, race and victimhood when adjudicating cases involving sexual violence.
Ms Alisa Draskovic
Ms Draskovic draws on her experiences as a young migrant woman growing up in Canberra to advocate for the views and interests of young women and culturally and linguistically diverse women in the ACT.
Ms Draskovic has held positions in the domestic and family violence sector and the ACT Government, and currently works on family safety policy in federal government.
Ms Draskovic has been a member of YWCA Canberra since 2013 and served on its Board of Directors from 2014 to 2017. Ms Draskovic is also a member of the Women Deliver Young Leaders Program, a three-year fellowship for youth advocates working to advance the health and wellbeing of girls and women around the world.
Ms Lauren Gale
Over the last decade, Ms Lauren Gale has built expertise working in social and public policy, and is currently the Director of Policy and Programs with the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. Lauren was a member of the Board of the Women’s Centre for Health Matters (WCHM) from 2011, and Chair from 2013-2016. She is strongly committed to the objectives of WCHM - a not-for-profit community organisation working to enhance the health and wellbeing of women in the ACT through social research, advocacy, community development, capacity building and information provision.
In addition to her WCHM involvement, Ms Gale has been actively involved with UN Women Australia, and served as the Youth Representative to the United Nation’s 2012 Commission on the Status of Women. She was also a member of the Board of Netball ACT from 2014, serving as Chair in 2016.
Ms Megan Taylor
Ms Megan Taylor is a Nurse Practitioner working with women who experience difficulty accessing mainstream services due to the impacts of violence, abuse or neglect, language or cultural barriers, homelessness, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, disability, sexual identity and/or financial hardship.
Ms Taylor has particular skills in working with women who are or have been affected by violence. She has collaborated with women’s refuges to provide health promotion activities focused on assisting women with a trauma history and considering the impacts of trauma on their health and wellbeing.
Ms Taylor has also worked with young people, including in the areas of young people’s sexual health, young mothers and young people in custody.
Terms of Reference
ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women - Terms of Reference
MACW Communiqué [PDF 671KB] [Word 826KB]
MACW Communiqué 1 August [PDF 835KB] [Word 950KB]
ACT Gender Equality Forum: Sharing Stories of Success
ACT Gender Equality Forum, Summary of Recommendations
ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women
C/- ACT Office for Women
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6205 0515