Diversity Award Winner, Cate Rocchi, Chair of Linkwest Tells Her Story

In 2018, Cate Rocchi, who has recently stepped down as  Chair of Linkwest, after four years on the board, won the Difference Makers Diversity Award.

Cate is the Managing Director of Perth Media and has a large family.  Despite a busy schedule, she wanted to give back to the Western Australian community so she found the time to commit to the  Linkwest board. She described the experience as a privilege and career highlight.

Linkwest,  a not for profit organization, is the peak body for  Neighbourhood and Community Resource Centres in WA.  It assists to develop vibrant, inclusive, and connected communities.

During Cate’s four years on the board, she was a very active member of the organisation, and being hands on, she would often attend community events and visit centres to find out more about the wonderful work of its members. Cate said this experience was amazing, as she was given the opportunity to travel around Western Australia and listen to the members’ stories. These stories gave her great insight into the issues regional organisations face as well as being able to see firsthand how uniquely brilliant these organisations are in implementing and running small community initiatives. The members brought the community together with very little resources in which to do it.

Cate often wrote updates to share with stakeholders that showcased these community initiatives and strategically used social media, as a proactive tool, to publicize Linkwest and its members and  the good work both were doing. Cate said this sometimes took a lot of persuading. Some of the community members didn’t realise how uniquely brilliant they were. Many of the coordinators were community champions but they were modest about their achievements. However, despite the shyness, the good stories had to be told – especially in light of potential budget cuts.

However during these four years, Cate also achieved something special herself. Whilst on the board of Linkwest, she quickly identified that many community boards are top heavy with women and they needed to be more diverse in order to reflect the community. Cate noticed the diversity at Linkwest fell short when it came to male representation, particularly young males. Being a firm believer that diversity is the key to enable rich discussions, ideas and methods of engagement, Cate began to advocate for to increase the number of men on  LInkwest’s board.

Today Linkwest, with the support of Linkwest CEO Jane Chilcott, has welcomed four new men onto their board, these include James Jarvis (also a board member of Country Arts WA, Chair of Pilbara for Purpose, CEO of Nintirri and based in Tom Price) and John Rich (manager of Ottery Family Centre), as well as the Treasurer Gerd Heppekausen (formerly of Department Regional Development and Primary Industries) and businessman Toni Angelevski. Cate said that since a larger percentage  of men joined the board, there has been a big difference in the way the board operates and Linkwest hopes gender diversity continues.

Although Cate still thinks that she was simply just doing her duty as a board member, I am sure you would all agree this was clearly something special.     

Written by:
Dawn McAleenan, ELPG Graduate 2018 and Board Director, Outcare

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