On Thursday 22nd March, GSA Council is holding a Special General Meeting (SGM) to vote on proposed changes to our constitution.

Under our proposal, we’re hoping to appoint a seven-person board, made up of four experienced professional board members and three graduate student board members. This board will work in collaboration with our existing Students’ Council and enable us to become even more effective as the peak representative body for postgraduate students at the University of Melbourne.

You can read more about our proposal here, and express your interest in attending our SGM here.

I will concede that, despite now supporting the proposed model, I initially had some reservations about the impact the changes might have on GSA’s ability to respond to student issues. GSA is a student organisation, and its incredibly important to me that it remains focused on issues that matter most to students.

I wanted to make sure we appointed board members who could help create the best possible outcomes for graduate students. So, when it came to selecting the first four professionals who would sit on the new board of GSA, I jumped at the chance to participate in the interview process.

I was overwhelmed by the number of exceptional people from across the country and from a wide variety of backgrounds who put themselves forward to sit on the board of GSA. Throughout the process, I was keen to hear about the ways in which they intend to work with Students’ Council, and how they hope to collaborate with us.

I asked about their understanding of the graduate student experience, their ability to mentor us as Councillors, and their interests in ensuring GSA remains a student-focused organisation.

As I sit here, reflecting back on a process that I’ve been so heavily invested in, I am incredibly proud of what I’m about to tell you.

A few days ago, on International Women’s Day, I told the students who attended our celebratory morning tea that a recent report by the World Economic Forum suggests it will take over 200 years for our society to reach gender parity, in the workplace and in politics.

I also told them that the World Economic Forum has found that when women are in leadership positions in our companies, associations, non-profits and public sector, more women are recruited at all levels within those organisations.

With this in mind, I am proud and excited to announce that the inaugural board of GSA will be comprised of four exceptional professional women, and two inspirational female students (the final student position will be filled after the SGM).

All of these women are highly qualified for their positions and bring a wealth of experience across a broad range of fields and universities. All of them are future-focused, and care passionately about the experience of postgraduate students at the University of Melbourne. And all of them, I can say with absolute certainty, will do a phenomenal job for GSA.

As a student-focused organisation, GSA has always been progressive. We are the future, after all. I’m proud that we can continue to be ahead of the curve, with a Council of 15 elected postgraduate students and a board of six exceptional women at the helm.