A valued part of The Smith Family

National Convention 2017

The VIEW National Convention returned to Tamworth from 15–17 September. More than 500 VIEW members from New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland enjoyed speeches, debates, a pop-up Smith Family Retail store and social events all in the spirit of fun, learning and giving back.




Conference Day 1

The National Convention kicked off with a Welcome to Country from local Elder Yvonne Kent on behalf of the Kamilaroi/Gomeroi Tribe. This was followed by a special rendition of the National Anthem, accompanied on guitar by Kevin Anderson MP, NSW Member for Tamworth. Guests were then welcomed to the New England region by The Hon. Barnaby Joyce, Deputy Prime Minster and Member for New England, who recited Dorothea Mackellar’s, My Country. The Hon. Tanya Davies, NSW Minister for Mental Health, Women, and Ageing officially opened the Convention, talking about her own experiences of growing up in disadvantage and receiving help for her education from a local couple.       

Dr Lisa O’Brien, CEO of The Smith Family delivered her address, congratulating VIEW members on their commitment to child sponsorship. She was delighted to see VIEW’s 1,215 Learning for Life students represented by colourful figures on sticks waving at her from the audience. At the end of her address, Dr O’Brien had the pleasure of introducing Learning for Life student, Ryan, to share his experiences of being supported by The Smith Family.

In her National President’s Address, Gwen Wilton spoke about the Executive’s theme – Many voices, one VIEW, making a difference – and how VIEW Clubs nationwide are making a significant contribution to the community. She talked about the many achievements and activities of the past two years, including the opening of new clubs, initiatives such as the Speakers’ Bureau and the growing relationship with The Smith Family’s Recycling Operation, all of which are vital for the future sustainability and growth of VIEW. Gwen concluded her speech with a lively presentation recognising the 77 ‘unstoppable and invincible’ women of VIEW who were recipients of the Making a Difference Award.

In the afternoon, guests enjoyed hearing from a panel of inspiring women who each shared their personal stories. The panel was chaired by ABC journalist Jennifer Ingall and featured singer and actress Natacha Curnow, voluntary euthanasia advocate and spokesperson for Dying with Dignity NSW, Shayne Higson, author Meg Keneally, and Tamworth local campaigner for medicinal cannabis, Lucy Haslam. 

VIEW member's testimonial:

"To learn about VIEW Australia and to see the wonderful ladies of VIEW from around Australia and to hear the inspirational and LfL student speakers was so heart warming"


Learning for Life student

Ryan shares his story at Convention

One of the special moments at National Convention is the opportunity to hear from a Learning for Life student. This year, tertiary student Ryan shared his experiences of being part of The Smith Family’s sponsorship program.

“I started kindergarten and the Learning for Life scholarship around the same time. The money allowed me to fit in with my peers as I had a proper uniform as well as books, pens and pencils. Even though I only knew their first names, my Learning for Life sponsors are a very significant part of helping me to obtain an education. I remember exchanging letters with them. We became quite close as the years passed. They remembered me each birthday and Christmas and I remember thinking that they cared. This helped a lot as they were able to reach out and support me through their letters.

I’m very grateful that my family has received Learning for Life scholarships. Without the extra money that the scholarship provides, I doubt any of us would have been able to attend further education. I plan to sponsor a child through the program once I’m earning a wage. Having a stranger who is willing to help you with educational expenses is a valuable motivator towards gaining an education. Every child, rich or poor, deserves the right to have a decent education.”

VIEW member's testimonial:

"It is wonderful to hear the stories from LfL students and hearing we are making a difference to the lives of so many children"



Social Dinners

Kicking their heels up 

The opportunity to have fun with like-minded women who want to give back to their community is one of the reasons many women join VIEW. For attendees at Convention, the fun social events are always a highlight. This year two social dinners were held on Friday night: ‘A little Bit Country’ and ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’. Both dinners were full of colour, sparkle and energy and featured great entertainment which encouraged the guests to dance and sing the night away.

VIEW member's testimonial:

"I have always enjoyed attending Convention the balance of conference days and social evenings is good" 




Conference Day 2

The Convention’s second day opened with an address from The Smith Family’s Chair of the Board, Christine Bartlett, who reflected on her own life and also her experiences as a Smith Family Board Member. She also spoke of VIEW’s significant contribution to the sustainability of The Smith Family and of the Board’s appreciation of this.    

The Hon. Anna Bligh AC delivered the George Forbes Oration, speaking about her career, the importance of women in leadership and why organisations like VIEW need to ensure they remain relevant in today’s society and not be weighed down too much by history or tradition. She complimented VIEW on being able to “move with the times”and continue to make a difference. 

After lunch, guests were treated to a fun and entertaining Writer’s Festival session facilitated by Dr Anne Summers AO. The authors who joined the panel this year were Jane Hutcheon from the ABC’s One Plus One and author of China Baby Love, together withMeredith Jaffe, author of The Making of Christina, and Chris Taylor, author of Australian romantic suspense thrillers including The Sydney Legal series.

 VIEW member's testimonial:

"From a discussion where my Club took little part in Resolution we are now involved every year.  It is great to hear speakers from clubs all over in the debates."


Gala Dinner

City of Lights 

The spectacular City of Lights Gala Dinner on Saturday night saw all the guests descend on the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre for an evening of Music through the Decades. The event featured a fabulous line-up of talented vocalists and dancers supported by a nine-piece orchestra. 

VIEW member's testimonial:

"A wonderful way to learn, listen to inspirational women and learning for life student and to finish off with the awesome Gala Dinner"

Grand Celebration

On Sunday morning, the finale to Convention, the Grand Celebration, was held at the beautiful War Memorial Town Hall. This featured performances by Tamworth South Public School Choir and the Tamworth & District Highland Society Pipe Band, who also piped everyone from the Town Hall.





More than 20 vendors held their stalls at National Convention. 

The Smith Family Pop-up Store

Once again, The Smith Family Pop-up store was on both Conference days.

The best thing is that every purchase from a Smith Family store supports programs to help disadvantage children to succeed at school - Buying is Giving.

Convention Awards

Congratulations to the winners of National President's Award, George Forbes Award and Making a Difference Awards.



Convention testimonials

"We as a club, have decided we can take on one more student to add to the four we have"

"I firmly believe that the more ways we can bring real live stories to VIEW women the greater"

"It was very encouraging to hear how LfL has helped this very bright student become a contributing member of the community"


"Convention Days 1 and 2 are always excellent the fun of social nights, gala dinner are icing on the cake catching up and making new friendships round off a great time for VIEW members attending"


"Joy of reconnecting with VIEW members from Australia wide is so special and stimulating while I can I will keep attending Convention"

"Convention is an uplifting and learning experience which I feel is important it is great to be able to mix with VIEW members from other states"




"I love Convention - gala night, LfL student very important. Loving sharing with friends and having fun" 

"Wanted to enhance my knowledge of VIEW by interaction with other clubs and women from different States and Areas"

"I have been a VIEW member for many years but had never before been to a Convention I through it was time"



"To learn about VIEW Australia and to see the wonderful ladies of VIEW from around Australia and to hear the inspirational and LfL student speakers was so heart warming"


"I have enjoyed many Conventions and look forward to it."

"I can see the value of what Conventions offer I’ve a clearer understanding of the big picture"


Convention pictures