Because of Her, We Can Ebook Female Leader, Christine Ross said, “We are the oldest living culture in the world. We can break down so many barriers if we take the time to learn about each other’s cultures.”
You say that you change industries, rather than change jobs every few years. What motivates you to do that, and why did you start your own business?
Working in different industries from education, media, hospitality, the resources sector and recently the water industry, also challenges you to learn and adapt both personally and professionally to what is required in the role.
I always wanted to run my own consultancy rather than working for one employer full-time. However, I was never in a financial position to do this as I was a single mum and the main breadwinner and had to have a consistency of income.
It was only when I was made redundant from the mining sector in Western Australia in 2015, as we say ‘when the boom went bust’, that I became an ‘accidental’ consultant. There were literally no jobs around and I didn’t want to say I was unemployed. So began my journey as a consultant and having to navigate through all the highs and lows this brings. I do love the freedom it brings with so many different work opportunities. Christine Ross Consultancy allows me to be very creative with the work I am doing, particularly with the events I organise.
Having had the opportunity to experience many different leadership styles over your career, how have you consciously shaped your own leadership approach?
I look, listen and absorb diferent people’s leadership styles. I have left good jobs due to bad managers. It’s not worth being in a workplace that is unsupportive and works on micromanaging. Having worked in Aboriginal Employment for over 25 years I have extensive knowledge, skills and experience that I bring to any workplace who may have a proactive Aboriginal Employment Program. If a workplace does not value my cultural knowledge, then it is not valuing me as an employee and I am not likely to stay.
A lot of it comes from common sense and treating people fairly. As a leader I prefer to lead by example. I have always displayed a strong work ethic and professional integrity in all of my workplaces. I very much value the contribution everyone I meet brings to any formal or informal gathering, so not just a workplace. My leadership style is based on inclusivity and allowing others to reach their full potential. I am a strong believer in encouraging people to achieve their dreams and always ensure I give credit where credit is due in acknowledging their contributions.
What would you like to see change for the future of work in Australia?
As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we know exactly what we want and where we need to improve our lives both as individuals and for our communities. To effect change requires resources. Governments hold the power with funding. So, it’s a matter for them to really take on board what has been suggested when consulting with our people. Having said that it’s also great to see a lot of our people and communities are becoming resourceful and no longer relying on governments to fund them. We have so many amazing Aboriginal owned businesses across Australia. I love that some of our remote Aboriginal communities have set up enterprises and are self-funding and self-sustaining.
We can all make a change and difference in our lives across the board from schooling, jobs, home ownership to Aboriginal owned businesses if we are given good opportunities. It’s not always a level playing field for Aboriginal people. We often have to work twice as hard to achieve what we do because we are forever having to prove ourselves.
I would like to see more funds put into supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business women. The sky’s the limit in what we can achieve, if only we had the funds to make it a reality.
You’ve participated in organising the NAIDOC Because of Her We Can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Conference. Share with us why it’s so important to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Leadership, and what it is like to live between ‘two worlds’.
This conference celebrates the theme which honours our amazing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, both past and present. This will be the largest gathering of our women in nearly 30 years. All of our amazing speakers are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Their stories need to be heard and their achievements celebrated.
We have no choice but to live and work between ‘two worlds’ as we are very much a minority group in Australia. However as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we ask that everyone acknowledges the diversity amongst our people. We are very proud of our culture, our families and our communities and connection to our Country, and that we are the oldest living culture in the world. We can break down so many barriers if we take the time to learn more about each other’s cultures as it’s about respect and understanding.
The National Because of Her, We Can Ebook is a tribute to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Right across Australia there are endless examples of strong and successful Indigenous women leading the way. This Ebook shines a light on 12 of our country’s Indigenous women, including four Queenslanders, who are leading and succeeding in business. These women show the strength, resilience, hard work, creativity and intelligence that are crucial elements in business success. Their stories, journeys and the lessons learned are as diverse as they are, but all offer inspirational advice.
The Honourable Di Farmer MP
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
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