34th World Conference – Day 5 (Friday 15th July 2011)

The last day of the 34th Wold Conference very quickly arrived.  The week has been filled to the brim with sessions, meetings, networking time, celebrations and team meetings.

The last day started, as each day has, with our safety briefing, except this time we had to show how much we remembered and say the safety briefing back to the conference coordinator!   I think we got it right…at least there wasn’t a fire to test how much we actually remembered!

Before commencing sessions, we had Reflections for the very last time, reflecting on our time spent at the World Conference.  This included singing the World Song and World Conference song (the delegation can be booked in advance for any performances).

We first heard from the Olave Baden-Powell Society (www.ob-ps.org) who raise money to support the Mission of WAGGGS.  They are dedicated to ensuring that girls and young women are given the opportunity to change the world.

WAGGGS Awards were then handed out.  This was an extremely momentous occasion for Girl Guides Australia as Eltham Echidna Ranger Guides (Melbourne) were awarded an Olave Award for their project which raised funds to build a much needed first aid post for residents of Rah Island, Vanuatu.  The girls visited the community in 2010 and helped build a seawall to protect the building from storms and floods.

Linden Edgell, retiring Deputy Chair of the World Board, received a bronze WAGGGS medal for her dedication to world Guiding and her work with WAGGGS over a number of years.

Other awards presented were:

Centenary Awards to the UPS Foundation (great global partners of WAGGGS) and Princess Beneditke, who is the patron of the Olave Baden-Powell Society and the Global Girls Fund.

Bronze WAGGGS medal to Kirsty Gray, ex-Chair of the World Board; and Della Salway, retiring Treasurer of WAGGGS.

Margaret Treloar, retiring Chair of the World Board, was awarded the silver WAGGGS medal for her work and dedication to WAGGGS and world Guiding.

After celebrating these accolades, made to some very deserving awardees, we moved into discussing and voting on the proposed motions.

We can let you know that a pilot program has been approved for the investigation and development of a 5th World Centre in Africa.  Those Member Organisations from the Africa Region were celebrating.  This has been some time coming and a report will be produced to the 35th World Conference.  The 5th World Centre will not be a physical building but will be roving.  It will allow a greater number of African girls and young women to experience international Guiding and training.

The WAGGGS Strategic Plan for 2012-2014 was approved.  This Strategic Plan will ensure that we (WAGGGS, Regions and MOs) can reach the Vision 2020…ensuring that all girls and young women are valued and can take action to change the world.

The Conference also approved a “preparatory gathering” for young women under 30 years of age prior to the next World Conference to ensure they have the necessary skills to be able to participate in the decision-making made at a World Conference.

Hong Kong were successful in their bid to hold the 35th World Conference.  All MOs will be heading to Hong Kong in 2014.

The World Conference was then bought to a close with Liv Arnesen, polar explorer, as a keynote speaker, talking about her amazing expeditions and the expedition planned for next year for a group of women to ski across Antarctica.  This is one very inspirational woman.  More information can be found on www.yourexpedition.com.

We had a wrap-up of the Conference from Linden Edgell and Margaret Treloar, with both stating that they were positive about the outcomes of the Conference with some very good decisions being approved by the MOs.

The MOs in attendance then celebrated…singing the World Conference Song, hearing from the new Chair and Deputy Chair of the World Board, thanking the organisers of the Conference and the service team for their assistance during the week, saying farewell to retiring Board members and welcoming the new members, and watching the handing over of the World Flag from Girlguiding UK to the Hong Kong Girl Guide Association.

We then headed to The Dynamic Earth for an official closing dinner.  This was another fantastic venue.  Much celebrating was done and many farewells made as we realised it would be another 3 years before we were all together again.

On behalf of the GGA delegation (Helen, Natasha, Allison and myself), we thank you for supporting us in getting to the World Conference and your continual feedback whilst we have been at Conference, particularly through comments on Facebook.  It has been lovely to be able to share our adventures with all Guides at home, along with their parents and other Guiding supporters.


Renée Bianchi


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34th World Conference – Day 4 (Thursday 14th July 2011

Day 4 of the World Conference has been very eventful. The highlight has been the voting for the 6 new members of the World Board, and 2 substitute members. The following candidates were elected:
• Jill Zelmanovits (Canada)
• Teruko Wada (Japan)
• Shaleeka Abeygunasekera (Sri Lanka)
• Fiona Hartnett (New Zealand)
• Nicola Grinstead (UK)
• Michelle February (South Africa)
• Niumaath Shafeeg (Maldives, Substitute 1)
• Florence Chidiogo Enemuo (Nigeria, Substitute 2)

The new Chair of the World Board is Nadine El Achy from Lebanon, and the new Deputy Chair is Sapreet Saluja from the USA. We know that they will continue to lead WAGGGS into the future.

The second keynote speech of the Conference was delivered by Catherine Stihler, the only female Scottish Member of European Parliament. A former girl guide, she spoke about women and decision-making and how women have every right to be involved; that they need to be part of the process as the decisions made will affect their future. She challenged those present to never give up on others and to think about what we can do to make a change, to make a difference to improve the lives of others.

The Hong Kong Girl Guides Association presented their bid to host the 35th World Conference in 2014. Delegates will vote on this bid tomorrow. The World Board conducted a question and answer session on the proposed Strategic Plan 2012-2014. It was great to hear from the Board Members first hand their responses to the queries that MOs had.

There was some ‘free time’ in the afternoon, where we all trundled off to different meetings. Helen attended the International Commissioners meeting, Tash represented Australia at a gathering of GAT (Global Action Theme) Champions, and Ally and Renée attended an information session on the brand new WAGGGS Global Advocacy Campaign, which was launched late this afternoon. The Global Advocacy Campaign is to End Violence Against Girls, whether it be trafficking, abuse, bullying, child marriage etc. Representatives from some of WAGGGS’ key partnerships, with UNWomen, Plan International, Save the Children and UPS Foundation were present as we were lead in a ‘firework’ to start the conversation. Will you join us in moving from a whisper to a shout??

In the evening we celebrated the Four World Centres at a Fiesta. Ally and Tash went skiing in Switzerland, you could receive a henna tattoo in India, have your photo taken with the royal couple Prince William and Katherine, whack a piñata in Mexico, and suggest a name for the proposed fifth World Centre in Africa. We also spent some time celebrating with New Zealand, Canada and the UK and their successful candidates to the World Board.

Friday promises to be a huge day, with voting occurring on the majority of proposed motions. Australia will be in the spotlight again, showcasing the amazing work that our members are doing to achieve the MDGs. It will end with the Closing Ceremony, when this amazing week will come to a close and we can all get some much deserved sleep.

Allison Hooper

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34th WAGGGS World Conference – Day 3 (Wednesday 13th July 2011)

Blog – day 3 of World Conference, 13 July 2011.


After enjoying ourselves at the ceilidh, it was back to business on Wednesday morning.   The first formal session involved discussing the proposed motions put forward by the World Board and/or other Member Organisations (MOs).

There was only brief discussion on the proposed motions, with any amendments due later tonight, and voting would take place on Friday morning.

We then heard further from young women as to their experiences with attending the World Centres and their Reflections on the World Conference so far, and our Amy Spark (Vic) was one of those chosen to speak.

The rest of the day was then taken up with attending various workshops, demonstrations or café conversations.  Sessions attended included membership, diversity and inclusion, e-learning and fund development.  Helen, our Chief Commissioner, also presented a session on the strategic partnerships of Girl Guides Australia.

Throughout the day, and in between attending workshops and the like, we also manned our stall at the Expo which outlined the journey Girl Guides Australia has taken with strategic partnerships.  This includes partnerships with Westpac, Clean Up Australia and the Australia Government.

After dinner, we then moved to the International Evening and World Market, where each MO dresses in national costumes and sells wares rom their country. The Australia contingent went with a beach theme, board shorts, Australia jerseys, Australia hat or bandanna and thongs.

The prize for the best dressed would have to go to Linden Edgell, current deputy chair of the World Board.  Speaking about Linden, Australia then hosted a celebration for Linden’s time on the Board and she will retire from the World Board at the end of the conference.  Many of Linden’s Guiding friends met along the way were present and as a young person in that room, the women present were truly inspirational.

The World Conference is quickly coming to an end.  Tomorrow we vote on the World Board nominees and hear the bids for hosting the 35th World Conference.


Renée Bianchi



34th WAGGGS World Conference – Day 2 (Tuesday 12th July 2011)

The second day of the World Conference has been a very long one for the GGA Delegation. We began with Reflections and a short presentation from a WOSM World Committee member on how our two organisations are working together at the world level. This was followed by a brief summary of the proposed 2012-2014 Strategic Plan of WAGGGS, which touched on the 6 Global Outcomes:
• Increased and diversified membership;
• Improved image and visibility of Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting;
• Influenced issues that affect girls and young women;
• Strengthened the quality of the Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting experience;
• Built leadership capacity at every level; and
• Increased funding.

We also had short presentations on further proposed motions that cover the development of a fifth World Centre in Africa, Quota (an amount that MO’s pay to WAGGGS), and Fund Development. There is much debate on some of these topics, leading to some very interesting conversations whilst we wait in line for meals!

After morning tea everyone broke up into Regional Gatherings to further discuss the Strategic Plan – what our MO’s have achieved in the last triennium (3 year period), and how our MO Strategic Plans link to the new WAGGGS Strategic Plan to achieve the vision and mission for the next triennium.

The entire afternoon was spent in Regional Gatherings to discuss regional business. For Australia and the Asia Pacific Region, this included:
• A roll call of members present;
• An introduction of the World Board nominees from the Asia Pacific Region;
• Further discussion on proposed motions from a regional perspective;
• Introduction to the ‘APOP’ (Asia Pacific Operational Plan);
• An ‘up close and personal’ panel discussion with 4 AP Region leaders, including our own Helen Geard who talked about leading an intergenerational organisation; and
• An update on the 2013 AP Regional Conference, which will be held in Tokyo, Japan.

The AP Region Gathering closed with a very special welcome ceremony for the Girl Guides Association of Cambodia, which was voted into full membership on Monday. Every MO from the AP Region had brought their national scarf; these were tied together, and held up by all the young women present in the room. We then sang the World Song in our respective languages, welcoming Cambodia to the largest worldwide organisation for girls and young women. It was a very special celebration for everyone in the room.

The World Board nominees were available after dinner for delegates to meet and greet, and to ask questions of them. The GGA delegation very thoroughly discussed a number of issues with all nominees so that we can have a good indication of what they can bring to the World Board, and who to vote for when the elections take place on Thursday.

The official proceedings ended with a traditional Ceilidh – a celebration of Scottish culture, with live music, dancing and singing – an opportunity for us all to feel some more deep Scottish love! A word of warning – the dancing involves far more energy than meets the eye!

The Aussies have ended the day with a team meeting to compare notes on today’s sessions, and to finalise our goodies for the International Market tomorrow night. We are anticipating that all the badges, Australian souvenirs and other goodies will be quite popular and sell out quickly, so that we can go shopping too!!

Don’t forget to check out our photos from Conference on the GGA Facebook page, and also the other Conference material available from the WAGGGS website.


34th WAGGGS World Conference – Day 1 (Monday 11th July 2011)

Well, the GGA delegation has arrived at the 34th World Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Conference is being held at Heriot-Watt University, just outside Edinburgh.

Along with us (Ally, NT and Renée, NSW&ACT), the delegation is made up of Helen Geard (TAS), Chief Commissioner, and Natasha Hendrick (WA). There are also a number of WAGGGS Honorary Associates who are Australian and present at the World Conference.

Amy Spark (VIC) is also attending the World Conference as a Young WAGGGS Representative, and is a participant, along with Ally and Renée, of the Young Women’s Leadership Program. This offers a variety of opportunities, and is also conducting an Intergenerational Zone, to encourage sharing of ideas and experiences between young women and other participants at the Conference.

We thank everyone for helping us with swaps and products for the International Evening. These were all packed last night in preparation for the International Evening and World Market on Wednesday.

Monday morning began bright (hang on, we are in Scotland, rainy) and early for some of us, when there was a false fire alarm. This was all forgotten when we got to breakfast, and the mountain of food, as well as sharing the breakfast table with people from a variety of countries and making friends straight away.

We moved into the auditorium (or Plenary Hall) for the business part of the Conference. It began with Reflections by members of Girlguiding UK, with the theme “we’re going to let the WAGGGS light shine”. The Chairman of the World Board, Margaret Treloar, welcomed 104 Member Organisations (MOs) to the Conference. This led into a roll call of MOs and all Guides present saying the Promise in their native tongue. This is when we really realised we were at the World Conference!

As the Conference is conducted in English, French, Spanish and Arabic, we were all given interpretation equipment, as well as a voting pad. We were allowed a play with the electronic voting pad before getting serious and beginning World Conference business and voting on proposed motions. This included voting on MOs to become full members of WAGGGS. This was an exciting moment for the Asia Pacific Region as Cambodia were successful in becoming full members.

We heard from Lakshmi Puri, who is the Secretary-General for UN Women who spoke about the importance of investing in and supporting girls and young women, and how WAGGGS has a role in this worldwide. It was made so clear that WAGGGS and UN Women have similar goals and that Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are at the heart of the solution for gender equality.

Other sessions today included:
• A presentation by Centenary Ambassadors from Nepal and Ecuador;
• Oprah-style TV chat sessions with the 5 Regional Chairs and Margaret Treloar;
• Young Women’s Panel - Renée was one of 6 young women on this panel and they discussed the ‘perfect leadership experience’;
• Introduction of the WAGGGS Vision 2020 that “all young women are valued and take action to change the world”; and
• Introduction of the 8 World Board nominees (voting will be held later this week).

We are now heading offsite to the official opening ceremony organised by Girlguiding UK. This promises to be a celebration of everything Scottish (so we can all feel some deep Scottish love, particularly for the bagpipes) and a fantastic way to end the first day of Conference and look forward to the rest of the week.

Renée Bianchi & Allison Hooper


Update from Australian Guide Cale at Our Chalet

Hello! This is Cale, an Australian Girl Guide spending an incredible year of overseas travel and adventure!! It began with my four months as a volunteer at Our Cabaña in Mexico and now I am volunteering for 3 months in Our Chalet, Switzerland! It has been quite a sea-change!! Haha!

I have been here with 11 other volunteers or “vollies” as we are known since May 15 and will leave at the start of September.  But I don’t want to think about that!! I like it here a lot! I am in a beautiful country where I have the opportunity to do a lot of hiking and to see a lot of amazing views of the Alps.

I am learning a lot and working as hard as I can each day. My work here is very diverse and while I love to meet and work with participants I also enjoy to work behind the scenes. I am proud to be a super cleaner; a pro bathroom scrubber, vacuumer and mopper! This week I am helping to cook meals for 70 people, as well as tackling the big clean up afterwards!

When working with event participants I get to lead day hikes around the area as well as overnight sunrise hikes up the steep mountain Bonderspitz! I have the opportunity to run activities about WAGGGS, Switzerland, the WAGGGS centenary, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and advocacy. In addition, I have the chance to challenge myself with adventure activities including rock-climbing, abseiling, zip-lining and the pendulum bridge jump and to explore many Swiss cities.

 I am laughing almost constantly and making many friends that span all across the world!  Currently, the Our Chalet volunteers are from USA, Canada, UK, Dominican Republic, Denmark and AUSTRALIA!! And it is a much longer list of the different nationalities of friends that I have met. I have entered the spider web of the World Centres where someone always knows another someone who knows another someone that you also know! I love this feeling that I am connected by the movement of Girl Guiding and Scouting across the world. It is better than I could have imagined!

This whole adventure stemmed from my uncertainty of what I wanted to study after graduating high school. I took a chance and applied to volunteer at the World Centres during 2011. Information and application forms can be found at the world centre websites,  each can be reached via the ‘Our World’ section on www.wagggg.org and there are many staff and volunteers at each centre who  are keen and willing to answer any of your questions, including me! If YOU, your sister, daughter or friend is interested in volunteering I absolutely and completely recommend and encourage it. This has been the most fun, exhausting, emotional and inspiring journey for me.

I am so happy and so thankful to Guiding that has given me the most precious and unforgettable experiences of my life. Thank you all for supporting international Guiding.

If you want to say hello or have any questions about my time in Our Chalet or Our Cabaña please do not hesitate to contact me via:  international@girlguides.org.au and beware I can talk under wet cement once you get me going!

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