Be bold: Dame Quentin Bryce’s advice for girls

Melbourne: “Be bold, be bold, be bold,” was the very clear message delivered by Dame Quentin Bryce to over 180 senior high school girls at a Young Women and Leadership Q&A here recently.
The students, mostly from Melbourne’s West, gave a rapturous welcome to Ms Bryce at Victoria University’s Sir Zelman Cowen Centre and proceeded to quiz her about her time as Governor-General and many other issues.
Students qualified for the Young Women and Leadership Q&A by writing up to 150 words identifying the issues they would advocate if they were Governor-General for a week, as well as drafting a question to ask Ms Bryce.
Student issues ranged from gender equality and other forms of inequality to refugees, domestic violence and sport.
In response to questions, Ms Bryce said that she’d had to grow a thick skin to deal with all the criticism she had attracted as a lifelong feminist and admitted there was particular pressure on women ‘firsts’.
Ms Bryce said that combining career, family and community responsibilities required lots of organisation and hard work for women but could be done. She warned girls of the dangers of “busyness”.
“Please, please remember to leave some time in your lives for quietness, for refreshment and relaxation, for caring for your mind, body and spirit, some capacity to go inside yourself on the most important journey in life, understanding yourself and going to the centre of yourself. Time for poetry, for beautiful things, for being in art galleries, for literature, for lying on the grass looking at the sky, for reflection, for thinking deeply about things.”
To much laughter, she confessed that the thing she’d hated most about being Governor-General was packing to go away. Her “truckloads” of clothes have since gone to good homes, she said.
Multiculturalism is the best thing Australia has going for it, Ms Bryce said. She welcomed the announcement about the intake of refugees from Syria.