Ashleigh Streeter-Jones is a prominent activist, writer and advocate for gender equality with an extensive list of accolades. She is the founder of Raise our Voice Australia, the current ACT Woman of the Year and has been included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list and AFR Top 100 Women of Influence list. She was also recently recognised as a delegate to the World Economic Forum.
Ashleigh is also an alumna of the College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP) at The Australian National University (ANU). Having made the move to Canberra exclusively to pursue a Master of Diplomacy, she graduated in 2018. Following her degree, Ashleigh began her extensive career in activism and advocacy. She recalls her move to ANU with great enthusiasm.
“My aim was to look back at my Masters and say, I’d move interstate for that again, and hands down, I would move interstate for that again!.”
Looking back, she was inspired by the passion and experience of her lecturers. When asked about her favourite CAP class, a two-week intensive negotiation course came to mind. This course gave her insight into orchestrating complex negotiations in a variety of scenarios, including P5 negotiations with North Korea, mediation in Aceh, Indonesia, and a UN Security Council negotiation on the Responsibility to Rebuild.
“To have the opportunity to put ourselves in realistic scenarios and learn ‘first-hand’ the challenges and complexities of negotiation was unparalleled," she said.
Being passionate about negotiation and open decision making, Ashleigh has continued to be part of negotiations and advocacy, pushing for more diversity in decision making. Her volunteer roles include direct advocacy to important institutions and mentoring the next generation of leaders.
“I’m incredibly passionate about getting more diversity into public decision making, and believe that women and persons of all genders deserve a seat at every table where decisions are being made.”
She has worked with event organisers to promote more diverse discussion panels, bringing more diverse perspectives and experiences to high profile forums. By promoting more diverse discussion and discussion panels, Ashleigh believes this can have the effect of promoting a more widespread concept of leadership, helping break down the barriers to leadership for women and minorities.
“Support diverse leaders, and work to change the face of leadership. But step one is always asking who’s not in the room, and what you can be doing to get them there," Ashleigh says.
Through her work in the Canberra Global Shapers hub and her own organisation Raise Our Voice Australia, Ashleigh was invited to join prominent business, political and social leaders at the 2021 World Economic Forum. Not only did this give Ashleigh an opportunity to represent Australia as a young leader at the forum, but it has given her ideas to put into practice in her other leadership roles.
“It was such a privilege to sit in discussions where our most prominent global leaders are discussing the creation of a post-COVID world. I’m looking forward to implementing my learnings through the Canberra Global Shapers hub and my own organisation.”
With all the volunteer commitments to mentoring and advocacy, Ashleigh also works full-time. While it can be quite daunting at times, she credits her time at ANU for helping her in both responsibilities.
“My time at ANU taught me a lot of skills that I use today, mostly in my paid work. But most importantly, it taught me the importance of open, non-judgemental discourse.”
Being a successful alumna with a bright future ahead, we asked Ashleigh if there was any advice she would like to pass on to current CAP students.
“Take opportunities! I’ve always been someone who plans, but the best opportunities I’ve been given have been the ones I didn’t anticipate. That’s not to say that you should abandon your plans, it’s still good to know what direction to move in, but keep an open mind. And, if the opportunities aren’t coming to you, dream big and make your own!”