I am an older womxn living on Turrbal Yuggera country/West End, Brisbane.
Leonie Sanderson is co-founder of The Ageing Revolution, an organisation that challenges ageism at all levels. Leonie has worked in a variety of leadership roles across government and community, especially focusing on older people, women and care.
Leonie’s work has melded engagement with strategy and innovation in tech – a human-centred design approach. She has worked on the design and development of a mobile app for women with endometriosis, an app for carers of people at home, a mobile game focused on conversations about ageing, and Virtual Reality apps to increase empathy and fight bias. In 2019, Leonie co-founded AgeTech Australia, a network to enhance collaboration between innovative small businesses and larger established industry organisations with a focus on involving older people as the lynchpin for design.
Leonie also works as an Engagement Advisor with Health Consumers Queensland and provides specialist advice on engagement in the mental health, youth and older people spheres.
What's easy for womxn?
It’s easy for womxn to do the impossible and the extraordinary on a daily basis – we are usually juggling a million things before breakfast. We’re the carers in our families and networks holding relationships and people together.
What's difficult for womxn?
To acknowledge we do the impossible and the extraordinary everyday and give ourselves some of that care!
How do you maintain mental fitness/mental health?
By getting out into nature. I really noticed during the initial Covid lockdown how much joy it gave me to see the sky, to hear running water, to feel the earth under my feet and the sky above. Taking a bushwalk, getting out in the kayak, going camping all help me to feel restored and content. I also try to make sure I get in some kind of activity every day. Walking to work, taking a walk after dinner – this gives me breathing space to think and process, and time to connect with my family (my 16yo son and my partner usually walk with me!)
What brings you joy?
So many things – that first coffee in the morning, watching cute animal videos on Instagram, the dark chocolate sorbet from the Gelateria down the road, a walk in the afternoon along the river, seeing new plants sprout in my garden, a gin and tonic at the Distillery round the corner and of course hanging out with my friends, eating good food and having fun - there’s so much to take joy in!
Where do you feel a sense of belonging/community?
Right now, West End is where I live. I moved here in 2006, left briefly in 2010 and then moved back again in 2011 and have been here ever since. My sister lived here in the 90s and that was my first experience of the suburb. Now my son has grown up here and I really feel like a part of the community. The only other place I’ve felt that strong sense of community and belonging was when I lived in Taiwan in the late 90s/early 2000s. I left there the last time in 2005 and the friendships I forged there are for life. I’m planning on leaving West End next year and hope that I can once more take those friendships and that sense of belonging with me to wherever I end up…
Where do you live/work?
I mostly work from home but also from a co-working space in the city, the Brisbane Business Hub. It has a good community and is relaxed and friendly.
What motivates you?
My desire to help make the world a better place, especially for people who find themselves in a tough spot.
What’s important to you?
Being honest, open, and accountable, and having humility.
Best piece of advice from a woman?
Don’t have your kids too late in life.
What are you working on?
I’m working on a photo library that challenges ageism, a VR scenario focused on Advance Care Planning for multicultural communities and a project to improve the engagement of young people in health service design and delivery.
When you’re down, how do you get back up?
I have a good cry. I reach out to old friends, who know me and who don’t ever judge. I talk to anyone who’ll listen.
As an older woman, I feel a responsibility to
take on things that impact young people, especially young women, stand up when others can’t and raise my voice loud and strong against injustice. I also feel strong responsibility to raise my son to understand what it means to stand against racism, ageism and sexism. It’s not a one-off thing, it’s every day and it’s every action.
Leonie is an Architect of Change this a term that Maria Shriver uses, it describes "people who want to challange the status quo, who see things not as they are but how they would like it to be and then take steps towards trying to make that a reality".