Diversity & Inclusion
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Rachelle Panitz

ASPL #WeLead Campaign  |  Vol.

56
Rachelle Panitz
Rachelle is the organiser, the planner, the big picture dreamer and the all-rounder. She loves travelling, living overseas and learning languages. The first half of her career was spent working in State and Federal Government departments across Australia and Japan. In 2014, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she realised the challenges for women going through breast cancer. She founded So Brave, Australia’s young women’s breast cancer charity.
“We need to change things for our next generation – all of those inherent biases that we don’t challenge will continuously perpetuate the societal norms that hold us back.” — Rachelle Panitz

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

I’ve always liked doing life a little bit differently, challenging myself and reaching outside of my comfort zone. I am the organiser, the planner, the big picture dreamer and the all-rounder. I love travelling, living overseas and learning languages. The first half of my career was spent working in State and Federal Government departments across Australia and Japan, contributing to advancing small business, international relations, and economic development goals. In 2014, following the birth of my second child, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My diagnosis was delayed despite bringing it to the attention of several leading specialists, and my treatment was and is long-term and intense. I founded Australia’s Young Women’s Breast Cancer Charity because there were limited supports available to support and connect me with other young women going through breast cancer, and across Australia, the situation was even worse. So Brave works with young breast cancer survivors to bridge that gap, advocate for and educate young women about the importance of self-checks and confidently advocating for your health and funding research to change the conversation for young women. I had my second diagnosis late last year, and even though I’m now in the system, the issues facing young breast cancer patients still pervades – this needs to change.

2. Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?

I’m inspired by the women in the spotlight and by the women by my side. Young women who stare fear and their mortality in the face, who don’t back away and actually use their stories to help the next woman.

3. Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?

100% My organisation is actually pushing the ratios the other way – the majority of our Board – both past and current, are women. The majority of our support professionals (legal, financial etc.) are women, as are our volunteers and, of course, our Ambassadors. As a young women’s organisation, this may not be surprising, but we actually believe that more men need to be supporting women in these efforts in addition to increasing women in leadership roles in business.

4. How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion are incredibly important to progress gender equality. In recognising the gaps for young women in the broader breast cancer conversation, my charity – So Brave – seeks to shine a light on the issues faced by young women to change the diversity of thought around breast cancer. We actively work with young women to build their confidence, share their stories, know their bodies and advocate for their health, and this all leads to better inclusion in the health space, as it should!

5. Would you like to tell us a bit more about your thoughts/ comments?

Women can and will change the world. We don’t just have that ability; we need to change things for our next generation – all of those inherent biases that we don’t challenge will continuously perpetuate the societal norms that hold us back. We need to keep asking questions. Keep conversations going. Demand for better representation – and where it isn’t, put ourselves and each other forward. Change won’t come from the establishment; it will come because every single woman activates it. Stop waiting for someone to make things better – go out there and do it yourself!!

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