A True LeaderHerShip Story: #TeamHB3’s Antarctic Expedition

I’ve returned to Australia feeling inspired, emotional, excited, privileged, driven and hopeful.

Firstly, I am beyond grateful for the creative vision of Fabian Dattner (see photo below) for enacting her dream. With initiative, passion, commitment, tenacity, stubborn optimism and a courageous spirit, you have co-created the Homeward Bound legacy.

FabianWith 90 big-hearted and talented women from all over the globe, for the first three weeks of 2019 I underwent the most inspiring ‘LeaderHerShip’ program imaginable.

HB Heart 2

An incubator for transformational learning:

We entered into the “belly of the dragon” and started with deep introspection of “self” to better understand our LeaderHerShip strengths and weaknesses.


Individually and collectively we designed strategies, cross-pollinated ideas, learnt, laughed, cried, danced and grew in an indescribable three weeks. Without question, the transformative experience provided a once in a lifetime learning opportunity. I will do a separate blog on the nuts-and-bolts of the program later.


49579429_1581056898664696_2207404476208250880_oBeing in Antarctica undoubtedly amplified our understanding of climate change and clearly made the expedition immensely richer. For instance, the three weeks #HB3 spent with female empowerment advocate and our revered co-facilitator Christiana Figueres was utterly mind-blowing.


Photo: One of my highlights: spending time with Christiana Figueres.

As a world leader in climate change she remarked about the success of the program:

“It was a veritable voyage of discovery, since nature in the Antarctic is still changing at a very rapid pace. I was overjoyed to observe how these great women scientists have undertaken to use their experience to help humanity address climate change and to lead profound changes planet-wide”.


The pristine natural landscape

We saw countless whales, penguins, seals, and icebergs whilst also experiencing first-hand the power of complete silence in this awe-inspiring wilderness environment.




wave from ship_2299

michelle croucPhoto  Credit: Michelle Couch

christinaPhoto Credit: Christina Devorshak

I have enormous respect for the top-shelf “LeaderHerShip” onboard faculty and co-facilitators (see picture below): Kylie Lewis, Pollyanna Lenkic, Fern Hames, Kate Duncan, Sharon Robinson, Sophie Adams, Deb O’Connell, Michelle Crouch, Christina Figueres and of course, the irrepressible Fabian Dattner. A special shout out to the MV Ushuaia crew Monika, Leandro and Katja etc., who made the trip even more memorable.


For those who helped me get there, especially my sponsors (Western Sydney University, Outdoor Education Group, Rotary Club of Berry, Paddy Pallin, IceBreaker, Harvey Norman) and donors and friends who helped fund the trip.  To my family and most of all my friends, Barb, Mikey, Anna, Des, and many more who allowed me the space to do this project by looking after the farm. And most importantly, a massive thank you to @HomewardBoundProject, @DattnerGrant, @Acciona, and @HumanSynergistics who were the major sponsors of our exquisite program.


Lastly, thank you @MaryMcMillan for this video summary of our trip which beautifully encapsulates our 20-day voyage to Antarctica. Witnessing our journey unfold in Antarctica and now, back in our home towns brings me much joy and prospect.

Because Mother Nature Needs Her Daughters.


After 2 days of on-land leadership training – Bon Voyage and Adios


Excitement is mounting as we distill our leadership learnings and embark to Antarctica:

A once in a life time opportunity. We head with HB#3 tomorrow to Antarctica.

Over the past two days I’ve loved the variety and expansiveness of topics and concepts presented by a stellar leadership training team, Fabian, Kylie, Kit, Deb, Sophie, Sharon and Christiana. For me, the standout was entering into the Belly of the Dragon. More later on this metaphor.




I also learnt the work done at Google is done collaboratively in teams. The research behind What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team is found in:

Project Aristotle

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 12.43.27 am.png

The through line from the workshops:

Aspirations: Authentically attempting the integration of knowledge and building capacity to execute skills, behaviours and attitudes.

Respect: Self, Others and the Environment. ‘Real Queen’s fix each other’s crowns’


Better me, Better we, Better world

Visibility without Value is Vanity

The first few days in Ushuaia and more on the expedition route plan


Homeward Bound (HB#3) preparing for Antarctica: New Year’s Eve

I’ve arrived in Ushuaia, the most southern tip of Argentina.


From Jan 28-30, 2018 HB be doing the capstone training event for our 12-month leadership development program.  Personally, this has been a standout.  Over the years I have done many, many, many leadership training courses, however I can attest  that the Human Synergistic’s approach is second to none. Their mantra “changing the world, one organisation at a time” is an apt descriptor of their skilful work and insightful approach.

Then the expeditionary component 

We start our journey leaving on our boat the ‘MV Ushuaia’ New Year’s Eve (31 Dec) and heading down through the Beagle Channel (approx. 4-6 hours) and into the Drake Passage. This is a beautiful channel with Argentina on one side, and Chile on the other.

According to all reports, the Drake Passage is magnificent, alive, ever-changing and dynamic. From here, we transition from the tepid air of South America into the Antarctic air. Beware, this is very rapid and we are in the hands of Mother Nature. As a result, swells will change as the weather moves across the passage.  By the end of our first day at sea, we have navigated the biological boundary of Antarctic, which is called the Antarctic convergence (a line which defines Antarctica in the ocean, the demarcation between the warmer northern oceans and the colder southern water).

Whilst we pass through that convergence and the sea water temperature drops several degrees. What we’ll see initially in the Drake Passage are the birds of the south – petrels and albatross – they follow the boat which we are told, is phenomenal.

Overnight we pass Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos), aiming off for the very northern tip of the Peninsula.

The temperature will begin to get colder and the water will be cool enough to support icebergs. We may start to see these anytime along with cetaceans – (whales and dolphins) so it will start to “feel’ like Antarctica from here on in.

It’s early summer and the Antarctic has transitioned from the depth of winter and spring. Everything will be coming to life. Exposed rocks will have an abundance of creatures, wanting to breed! It’s that time of year – abundant nesting birds and breeding seals are taking up every available inch.

(Adapted from Mary-Ellen’s post)

pics below of Ushuaia





AND THE ADVENTURE BEGINS: Tomorrow I’m flying to Ushuaia, Argentina


Homeward Bound 2018-2019

The link above gives a quick overview of the 90 women from around the world meeting in Ushuaia, Argentina. We set sail to experience the final expeditionary component of the  STEMM-focussed, women-only global leadership initiative: Homeward Bound (HB).

The mission statement of HB is best summed up in the words of Fabian Dattner, Homeward Bound Co-Founder and CEO

Imagine for a moment a world led in equal measure by men and women. Imagine a much-changed model of leadership. Imagine a collaborative, inclusive and legacy-minded focus on the health and wellbeing of our planet. I imagine these things all the time. I believe (with significant evidence to support my perspective) that these attributes are more likely to be fostered with more women leading, not as an act of equity but of sustainability.

Imagine a world where not only do women lead more visibly, but women with a STEMM background (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine). Science has touched every part of where we are today, and likely will touch every part of our collective future. In my mind’s eye, women are present in co-creating this future and in helping all of us understand the costs and benefits of our choices.

The vision of Homeward Bound (now owned by over 320 women representing 40 nationalities and some 25 different scientific fields) is very clear: 1000 women by 2026 with a STEMM background who are a) More able to lead as a result of their involvement with Homeward Bound, b) All feeling and recognising that women are stronger together and c) All working for the greater good and having a visible impact

Homeward Bound Scholarship the tip of the iceberg for WSU academic


A Western Sydney University academic has been selected for the prestigious Homeward Bound Scholarship – a global leadership, strategic and science initiative for women in STEM, which will culminate in a 20 day expedition to Antarctica.

Associate Professor Tonia Gray, Senior Researcher at Western Sydney University’s Centre for Educational Research, is one of 75 female leaders across the world that will embark on the journey. She will travel alongside female astronomers, engineers, physicists, science communicators, Antarctic specialists, doctors and social scientists from more than 28 countries.

As part of the scholarship, Professor Gray is participating in a yearlong leadership development course which covers ways of improving the gender balance in organisations, and transitioning to a more sustainable and equitable society and economy. In December, she will leave for Argentina where she will travel by boat to Antarctica to learn about the impact of climate change, changes in eco-systems and issues surrounding plastic and ice-cap melts.

“It has been a great experience learning alongside these leaders in a capacity where we can all work together to amplify women in the STEM field of research,” says Professor Gray.

Associate Professor Gray’s research at Western is centered upon gender equity in outdoor learning environments, wellbeing associated with human-nature relationships and experiential learning in a variety of educational settings. With a wealth of experience in curriculum design, implementation and evaluation spanning over three decades, she is also involved in curriculum development with the Board of Studies.

“Research I have conducted so far has seen outdoor learning be integrated in the Australian Curriculum in 2017. My involvement in the Homeward Bound program will allow me to build a suite of educational resources for school teachers and children in the area of sustainability education and climate change,” she says.

Launched in 2016, the Australian developed program became the largest-ever female expedition to Antarctica. Within ten years, Homeward Bound aims to recruit 1000 targeted women from around the world, using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices in influencing policy and decision making that shapes our planet.

“I stand by the saying that women are behind every successful social movement in history, and the Homeward Bound Program is just another great example of woman leading change,” she says



Implementing trauma-informed practice in a disability NGO

Implementing trauma-informed practice in a disability NGO: Supporting the wellbeing and recovery of clients in the disability sector

$25,000 DFACS Grant

Associate Professor Tonia Gray and Dr Danielle Tracey from the Centre for Educational Research have received funding from the Department of Family and Community Services to investigate the impact of a new framework for supporting Australians with an intellectual disability. The framework addresses the high risk of trauma and distress experienced by people with an intellectual disability, and will be trialled in conjunction with existing community services.

This investigation will examine the effects of adopting a Trauma Informed Framework within the existing Australian industry guidelines for interacting with  people with intellectual disability, both while they are receiving care and in the workforce. The study will run for 12 months and gather information from key stakeholders, using interviews and other qualitative methods, on the framework’s efficacy. Its impact will be measured at the systemic, workplace, and client levels. This information will comprise a report to inform any future extensions of the framework.