Heart of a Lion - Womens, Management, Work Conference

Heart of a Lion

Senator Sue Lines for Western Australia talks about standing her ground.

To appreciate a leader's strength is to understand their formative years; those who nurtured their talent and above all, never gave up on them.

At a time when women were expected to give up their jobs and be homemakers, Senator Sue Lines's mother – Nancy McRae, a scholarship recipient and exceptional student, was a schoolteacher and she ended her career as a deputy principal. Father William Lines fought in World War II, then retrained and successfully ventured into the building trades. Bravery, listening to one's instincts, showing kindness were inspired by stepmother Mary Davies. As a troubled teenager, seeing herself one day as a State Senator many not have entered her realm of thought. But her parents' unwavering commitment laid the foundation for Sue to a bright, bold future. "[They] taught me resilience, compassion and to stand up for my beliefs. They showed me that education and politics matter", Senator Sue Lines surmises.

"Be honest and forthright. Always fight for what you believe is fair

– keep fighting for that fairness" 

Senator Sue Lines

Sue's political skills were honed through her United Voice advocacy days, and more particularly as an elected Union leader. She discovered her fire to champion rights of the disadvantaged. "United Voice is a Union who advocate for low paid, and a predominantly female workforce. [Members] do amazing work in the community but are often overlooked early childhood educators, aged care workers, hospitality workers cleaners and so on. Their wages and conditions are often under attack and they deserve much more than they get."

"As a long term and active Labor Party member, I came to the conclusion that I could only really effect change by putting myself forward as an elected member to pursue the issues I feel passionate about and make real and lasting change through the parliament", shared Sue. Her leadership skills were further developed through chairing committees and speaking out in the parliamentary debates.

Her defining moment came in June 2013 when she replaced Senator Chris Evans. What is an incredibly proud moment for a Senator, Sue's first speech outlined her personal values and principles, giving Australia an insight to her leadership brand. "I advocate on the principles and values of the Labor Party. I stand for fairness and for justice. I want to end homelessness [, for] housing to be affordable [and] to see justice reinvestment as a way to end the high rate of Indigenous incarceration."

Sue will boldly state her observations. That's part of her attraction. "I think honesty is an important attribute. Without honesty you will never have trust" she said when asked if trust is the most important currency in politics and business. "[As one of the people, I wish] for a better government than the Abbott [one]. Their behaviour and their actions devalue the voting public's view of all politicians". Not one to mince her words. Her recent speech on marriage equality demonstrates Sue's passion for equality and fairness.

What does success mean?

"When I am able to change people's points of view on hard-fought issues"

Senator Sue Lines

Sue is proud to be called a feminist and has poured her efforts to advancing female leadership. For this year's International Women's Day, she spoke in Parliament about gender pay gap and partner violence. She strongly advocates to increase women's participation in society and especially in politics. "Women still undertake the majority of family work and this is a barrier to women's participation in all spheres of our community including politics. This needs to change, but won't change until women demand Affirmative Action in all spheres including the parliament."

While the business world has much to work on achieving gender equality, it's disappointing to know that discriminatory elements, it would seem, surface in the corridors and chambers of power. "The gender imbalance in the parliament is on display every day and there are members of the government in particular who attack and denigrate women in the chambers" reveals Sue.

"Women do have a more inclusive way of leading. We try to bring more people along with us."

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

"Women are 50% of the population. Men, no matter how sensitive, cannot represent the interest of women. It is important that our Parliament reflects our population. It can't just be men speaking for women – it needs to be women!" "Women are more inclusive and believe in the importance of bringing others with us" Sue concludes - we couldn't agree more.