Licia Kokocinski

In 1988, as Member for Melbourne West, Licia became the first woman of a non English speaking background elected to the Victorian Parliament.

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"My driving force has always been a burning passion for social justice," Licia Kokocinski said of her work over many years in fields as varied as politics, womens, seniors and multicultural affairs. "It's the fire in my belly and I don't think that will ever fade."

Currently the Executive Director of Action on Disabilities within Ethnic Communities, Licia has also played roles as varied as coordinating the campaign to establish the West Sunshine Multicultural Senior Citizens facility, to serving as President of a community radio station in Melbourne's west. Among her many other campaigns and activities, she also founded the Western Region Ethnic Communities Council and served on the Advisory Board for Victoria University of Technology.

Barriers have always been present for Licia, although they never held her back for long. "I was acutely aware that women from backgrounds like mine faced two 'glass ceilings'," she said. "We face one that every woman faces in the workplace, based on gender, but there is also another when you are from a different background and are judged according to stereotypes," she said.

Licia said she now takes mentoring other women very seriously. "If I haven't inculcated a sense of the need to fi ght for what's right, to fix what needs to be fixed and to inspire others to do more than I have done, then I've failed," she said. "Leadership is about taking risks; it's about sticking your neck out, inspiring others and leading from the front." "I hope to have conveyed that you can't just sit there saying 'someone should do something' - you've just got to get out there and do it yourself."