This Friday, 8thMarch, Snowy Mountains Grammar School will be hosting an inaugural International Women’s Day breakfast at Rydges Horizons, Jindabyne.  Throughout the world on this day, communities will gather together to celebrate and commemorate the diverse and invaluable contribution of women in society. The theme for this local event is:

“Inspiring Young Women in the Snowy Monaro Region”

The aim of the SMGS International Women’s Day breakfast is to foster connections between local community members and the young women in our region, to expose our young ladies to the myriad career opportunities available, and inspire them to pursue a life of purpose and passion

Keynote speaker, Laura Darlington, is an Everest summiteer, the first Australian woman to climb to the summit of Makalu Mountain, the fifth highest mountain in the world, and a director at KPMG.  Laura is a fervent advocate for gender equality and a passionate supporter of International Women’s Day.

In anticipation of Laura’s keynote address at our inaugural event, we asked Laura a few questions about her thoughts on IWD, what inspires her and going after big goals.

Here are her answers:

What does IWD mean to you?

“IWD to me means a day to celebrate the achievement we as a worldwide community have made in progressing towards gender equality but, more importantly, to draw awareness to where progress needs to be made. I understand that I’m one of the privileged, and have rarely had my gender affect my opportunities in life, but importantly I realise that this is not the experience of many women. IWD is a day where we can use our privilege to drive change for those that need it most.”

Who inspires you and why?

“I’m inspired by a range of people, but generally they are not your celebrity type, they are more your quiet achievers, who are doing things in their local community. However, in the celebrity world, I would say Layne Beachley or Serena Williams, because they are champions in their sport, but also have done a lot to showcase and progress women’s equality in sport.”

What challenges did you face in working towards your goals?  How did you overcome these challenges?

“In getting to where I am today, I have faced many challenges in the various aspects of my life, ranging from within six months of being married, my husband being diagnosed with cancer, to just not having enough time. The main way I have overcome these things is to go with the flow, realise that the bad times make the good times more enjoyable, and that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

If you could offer any advice to young women about tackling a big goal or going after their dreams, what would your advice be?

“Have an accountability partner, someone you need to answer to when you don’t want to get up in the morning and put the hard work in, and don’t let fear of failure stop you from even trying. I would prefer to get half-way to a goal than not try at all, and no goal worth achieving is easy to obtain. So it will be hard but it will be worth it.”

What did you want to be/do when you grew up?

“I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast and then, when I realised that wasn’t going to work out for me, I wanted to be a medical scientist who discovered a cure for AIDS. I even went so far as starting a degree in Bio-Chemistry and doing work experience at the John Curtin School of Medical Research with an amazing researcher who was working on an AIDS vaccine.”

Snowy Mountains Grammar School’s Principal, Dr Andrew Bell, initiated the movement for the school to establish an annual school/community event to commemorate and celebrate the integral contribution of women in society and to inspire our future female leaders to follow in the footsteps of greatness.

“… it is essential that our young women have access to the thoughts, anecdotes and reflections of accomplished women as a means to inspire the next generation, to make our world a more equitable, balanced and ultimately better place, for everyone to live in.”

Inspiring and successful female role models from within the community have been invited to share their life journey with the female students of Snowy Mountains Grammar School. These guest speakers include:

  • The Hon. (Bronnie) Bronwyn Taylor, MLC

Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier and Southern NSW.

  • Rachel Metcalf-Henness

CEO at Specialised Geo Pty Ltd., an Australian-owned company specialising in geo-technical solutions for civil, construction, mining and maintenance projects.

  • Alice Chilcott (nee Jones)

2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games athlete. Alice finished 12thin Olympic Alpine Skiing and currently works for Thredbo as the Sports Retail and Rental Manager.

  • Kati Burridge

Senior Licensing Sales Executive at Microsoft.

  • Kylie Smith

Director/Lawyer (Alpine Law). Kylie was admitted to practise law in 1998, and has expertise in many areas of law, particularly estate law, commercial law, litigation, debt recovery and property law.  

  • Melita Beilicz

Director, Dominion Finance mortgage brokers.

  • Dr Vicky Mattiazzo

Owner, Jindabyne Medical Practice.

  • Lorraine Scott

Co-founder and Director, AirAssess – an Australian technology start-up that brings together the power of drone technology, data analytics, robotic process automation and machine learning to deliver rapid and decision imperative intelligence to insurers, builders and asset managers.

  • Daisy Oayda

Daisy is the creator, heart and soul behind Snowy Mountains Cookies, a highly successful local company supplying premium gourmet produce to multiple airlines, five-star hotels and independent cafes.

We would like to thank our event table sponsors for their support and contributions:

Alpine Beginnings

Gravity skis, boots and bikes


Rydges Horizons

Snowy Mountains Cookies

Sundance Bakehouse

Thorn and Snow


5 Willows

A massive thank you to the many people working behind the scenes to help get the event off the ground:

Mrs Julie Wright for donating the lavender bags

Video clip – Saskia Dutch and Ambrose Hansen

IWD Committee – Melissa Bell, Brooke Darlington, Angela Dutch and Emma Smith.

With tickets selling out over the weekend, we are looking forward to celebrating International Women’s Day this Friday and building on the event for years to come