Queensland Voices Shaan Ross-Smith MATE Violence Prevention Program Griffith University

Queensland Voices: Shaan Ross-Smith, MATE Violence Prevention Program, Griffith University

As Shaan Ross Smith commenced her career in the criminal justice system she saw the extent and impact of violence against women first hand. It was then that her passion for gender equality grew. She commenced work in a domestic violence support service agency on the Gold Coast as the Integrated Response Manager where she heard hundreds of stories of tragedy, terror and sadness. So she volunteered at DVConnect as a Board Director and is currently the Chair.

Shaan is the Director of the MATE Bystander Program at Griffith University, focused on the role of the bystander in preventing violence against women. She passionately believes that by communicating the vital role of the bystander in disrupting any and all conversations that disrespect women, we will change the world. Shaan travels across Australia running training courses  about the need to be passionate, concerned, involved bystanders disrupting all forms of violence.


I am most proud of living my values, rather than simply professing them. While many people ask me why I spend so much time volunteering at DVConnect when I could be at home with my family, I tell them this “I have a beautiful family, we live free from violence, in a loving home with many things. I will not stop until every woman can say the same thing and mean it”.


This state is rich with culture. We honour the stories of our first peoples and wherever I roam, I learn and grow through the teachings of our first peoples. I love the sea and the sea life, the laid-back approach to weekends and the vast amount of activities at our fingertips.

You can never get bored in Queensland. You will often find me at Great Keppel Island or with good friends in Cairns on the esplanade. I travel to Townsville and Rockhampton for work and visit family in Toowoomba on the weekends. Home is wherever family is, and my family are proud Queenslanders.


A violence free state. A utopia of blissfully happy citizens going about their lives, embracing differences, evolving together, challenging themselves to be better humans than they were yesterday. This is do-able, it costs nothing. One conversation at a time, I hope to open people’s minds to a new way of being and embracing their lives. Gender equality will fit into the same conversation as horse and cart or black and white TV, because it would have happened and everyone would be reaping the benefits.


Be you. At 35 I realised I was Shaan, this was me and I was ok just the way I am. I was constantly trying to measure up, be like the next person, hide my shortcomings and pretend I had it all together. Now, people get the real me, good at some things, lousy at others-a combination that makes me me.

I bring myself to a meeting/dinner-party really enjoying the newfound freedom of letting go of expectations and being myself. I am passionate about gender-based violence and gender equality. If you invite me anywhere be prepared to hear that passion.


Queensland is built by amazing Queenslanders. Every day women in Queensland are taking action to make Queensland safer for women, to help women’s health and wellbeing, to build women’s economic security and to increase women’s participation in the workforce and female leadership. Femeconomy is showcasing 20 women from across Queensland that are delivering the Queensland Government’s Women’s Strategy. 

Queensland Voices


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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.