Past events

Wednesday September 29, 2021

2021 Helen Williams Oration | Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM

  • 2021 Helen Williams Oration | Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM image

Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM, Australia’s Chief Scientist, delivered the annual Helen Williams Oration to members and guests at a virtual event held on 29 September 2021.

Dr Foley reflected on our progress in normalising diversity in the workforce. She discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to reframe workplace customs and culture, and question whether we, as a nation, could improve our recognition of the contribution older workers make, and better utilise their full human potential. Dr Foley also considered how the pandemic may lead to addressing systemic issues that have stymied women’s advancement. This includes putting the case for retaining and retraining older skilled workers as Australia faces the challenge of accelerating new high-tech industries, while the flow of skilled migration and international students has slowed.

Dr Foley’s oration was followed by questions from members, which were facilitated by Professor Helen Sullivan FIPAA, Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University and IPAA ACT Councillor. The event was opened by Amanda Story, Partner at MinterEllison.

IPAA ACT established the Helen Williams Oration in 2018, in honour of Helen Williams AC, the first female to be appointed Secretary of an Australian Government department.

Video – a video of Dr Foley’s oration can be acessed below or on our Vimeo channel.
Transcript – the transcript of Dr Foley’s oration can be found on Australia’s Chief Scientist website.

Transcript – a transcript of the full event is available here.


  • Dr Cathy Foley image
    Dr Cathy Foley

    Australian Chief Scientist

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