Celebrating our women: Dr Christine Cunningham, Deputy Chairman of the RCH Board

Female leadership has been a cornerstone of The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) since the very beginning, with the election of Frances Perry as the first President of the Ladies Committee of Management.

Today, we hear from Dr Christine Cunningham, Deputy Chair of the RCH Board, on the leadership positions she holds within the RCH and how she seeks to empower the women in her life.

Dr Christine Cunningham, current Deputy Chairman of the RCH Board

Tell us about your RCH journey. 

I have been on the RCH Board since 2014. I am currently the Deputy Chairman of the Board, Chair of the RCH Quality and Population Health Committee and Chair of the RCH Workplace Culture Review Committee. I am also a member of the RCH Finance and Remuneration Committees.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

International Women’s Day is a day of celebration but also a day to reflect. I hoped that by the time my daughter reached workforce age, the gender-based barriers would not exist. I acknowledge these barriers have been torn down in some instances, but I also see them lurking in the shadows all too frequently. I think International Women’s Day is a day to talk about and reflect on these issues.

The issue of gender-based subjugation, power disparity and violence towards women is never too far from my mind. I currently support three women – one in her first leadership role, to navigate, tolerate and influence the behaviour of those around them and to maintain their sense of self-worth.

On the other hand, I see wonderful women achieve wonderful things and it makes my heart sing. Over the years I have had the privilege of knowing, supporting and encouraging many fabulous women as they strive to (and do) good in the world so this day is also about celebrating them.

Which women are you inspired by? 

There are so many women who are inspirational. I could provide a very long list – here are a few of the publicly-known ones.

  • Jacinda Adern
  • Marie Sklodowska-Curie
  • Rosa Parks
  • Greta Thunberg
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Natalie Isaacs

How have you tried to be a role model for other women in your life? 

Outside of work, I run a consultancy that offers a range of services, so I enjoy mentoring and supporting young people (but especially women) in their journey through life. This can involve financial assistance through to networking opportunities, introductions, help with interviews and work preparation.

I am also a member of the Merriwa Industries Board which is a wonderful not-for-profit providing employment for more than 100 all abilities people in Wangaratta. I enjoy supporting women in particular, but always strive to be kind and supportive to all people.

What are you hoping to achieve in the future? 

I would like to continue, in my small way, to making the world a better place. I would hope that the work I do on boards and through my business will continue to make a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of those communities and clients.

I have a farm on the King River at Oxley and I enjoy growing my own food and provide many kilograms of produce for friends and family. I have embraced the concepts of sustainable agriculture and am interested in developing our farm further to help the environment in a meaningful way. I hope that I can continue to help heal our planet through my regenerative agriculture activities and by providing really healthy, chemical-free food for my family and friends.

This year the RCH is celebrating 150 years of care, what do you think the RCH’s future looks like?

It is an exciting time for the RCH. With first-class staff, a great hospital and the support of amazing philanthropic organisations, the RCH is well-placed for an incredible future. I see opportunities to realise the benefits of technology to provide great care within the hospital but also within the community and the home. I can only imagine the far-reaching benefits of potential advances in areas such as technological advances, precision medicine, predictive analytics, virtual care and robotics. There will also be developments, inventions and treatments that have not yet manifested that will enable the RCH to provide even greater care to more children and young people. It is an exciting future!


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