On 1-3 September, District 23, Australia, held its 17th District Conference in Bunbury.
District Governor Kay Stewart and her fellow Zontians welcomed Annika Bränström, a Zonta International director and district liaison. They were honored to have Bunbury's mayor attend and officially open the conference. State and federal government leaders also attended, and local First Nations Elder Phyllis Bennell performed "Welcome to Country" following the flag parade and the governor's welcome.
Carole Theobald, the chair of the Zonta Says Now working group, who also chairs the district's working group, reviewed the progress of the working group, including the launch of the leaflet on disaster preparedness and response, a focus for next year. Carole then introduced Natalie Isaacs, founder and CEO of 1 Million Women, whose keynote address showed how women and girls can take practical action to fight climate change by changing their lives. A welcome reception followed a conversation between Carole and Natalie.
As hosts, members from the Zonta Club of Bunbury led the "Dine Around Bunbury" group dinners after Friday's welcome reception. Ninty-five Zontians in groups of 9-18 dine at 12 of the city's restaurants.
Under the conference theme, "A Better World," Saturday's program was a blend of important Zonta business, including Annika's presentation of the newly released Zonta International Strategic Plan, reports from the Governor, Membership Chair, a presentation of the 2024 Convention in Brisbane and voting results.
Keynote presentations included Western Australia's Australian of the Year, Professor Samar Aoun speaking on Compassionate Communities and Megan McCracken, a long-time advocate for gender balance in historically male-dominated industries. Phoebe Bourke, a 2023 Young Women in Public Affairs Awardee, and Amy Zahra, a 2022 Jane M. Klausman Women in Business recipient, shared their stories and what the awards meant to them. Bella Burgermeister and Lexy McDonald, two local young women, shared how they contributed to a better world. Kristi McVee, a former specialist child interviewer and a detective senior constable, talked about how they can help prevent child abuse and break the cycle of trauma that victims often experience.
The Zontians reignited their Zonta Spirit at Saturday evening's gala dinner and enjoyed an evening of fellowship, frivolity and food. They left their seats for the overcrowded dance floor to enjoy "letting their hair down!"
Sunday was a day of celebration. The remembrance ceremony celebrated the lives and service of seven Zontians who passed away. The Foundation Ambassador gave us an update on donations to the Zonta Foundation for Women – there's still a way to reach our biennium goals. Awards presented celebrated birthing kit involvement of clubs, years of membership, greater visibility and service and advocacy awards.
There was also a Young Zontians Forum focused on the opinions of Z clubs, Golden Z clubs and young professional members about what attracted them to Zonta and what they can do to improve. This was a well-received segment of the conference.
The conference ended with Kay presenting her Governor's Award to two exemplary Zontians, Dr. Catherine Mair and Margaret Lynch and announcing the 2025 district conference in Devonport, Tasmania.