Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Initiative (AUS/NZ WELI)

Achieving gender equity in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

What we do

Empower highly productive women anaesthetists achieve equity, promotion and leadership.

How we help

Personalised pairing with experienced advisors, workshop series, networking events, access to resources and network.

Our goal

To improve Women’s potential for achieving promotion and leadership positions in anaesthesia by helping to even the playing field.

Brief Overview

The Australian and New Zealand chapter of the Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Initiative (AUSNZ WELI) was established in 2023 with tripartite support from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), The Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) and the Society for Paediatric Anaesthesia in Australia and New Zealand (SPANZA). Its aim is help women and non binary anaesthetists and pain physicians identify and achieve their career goals, through a structured 2 year program which combines elements of coaching/mentoring, workshops aimed at developing tools and the provison of resources and networks for aspiring leaders. AUS NZ WELI is based upon the highly successful WELI program devleoped by the Society of Pediatric Anaesthesiologists in the USA.


AANZCA ASM Brisbane 3-7 May 2024​

AANZCA ASM Brisbane 3-7 May 2024​

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News and resources

Looking for proteges soon!

Eligibility; protégé are women and non binary people from Australia and NZ in anaesthesia or pain medicine who are at least 1 year beyond completing their first fellowship with a track record of leadership, looking to develop their skills and improve their opprotunities and resources for career development. Protege will be matched with an advisor in their field of interest who will combine the skills of mentoring, coaching and sponsorhsip (if applicable) to help the protege achieve her career goals.Benefits; initially you will be paired with a WELI advisor…

Recruiting advisors

Information for advisors; An AUS NZ WELI advisor is an individual of any gender who has achieved leadership position(s) in the anaesthesia, pain medicine or other medical fields and who has a history of successful mentoring in the area of interest/expertise. Advisors have been invited to participate in the program and are volunteering their time. Specific skill sets, interests, and areas of expertise will vary among advisors, as will the goals of the proteges within the program…

Frequently asked questions

Why use the terms advisor and protege?

AUS NZ WELI Advisory Board decided to adopt the terms used by (US)WELI to describe the key pertnerships facilitated by AUS NZ WELI; the protégé/advisor dyads.

Advisors are Leaders in medicine or other applicable fields who are supported to combine the elements of coaching and mentoring, and incorporate aspects of sponsorship where applicable. Advisors may well be mentors, but we ask them to not just show our protege’s how they have acheived success, but incorporate tools into the relationship that place the onus back onto the protege to develop goals and a plan for their own success.

The protege should be more focused than a mentee on active reflection and planning to achieve their goals; and wil participate not only as part of the dyads, but also as contributing members of workshops, networking events, and peer support within the program.

Do men have a role with AUS NZ WELI?

Yes! Its incredibly important to have men involved in WELI, both as advisors and as champions for gender equity. Men can provide opportunities for networking and sponsorship that may be difficult to come by even for very successful women. Cultural change is only possible with the engagement of men, and the fact is that a diverse workplace with equal access to flexible work arrangements and gender equitable policies is good for everyone.

What is coaching?

A helping relationship to achieve a mutually identified set of goals to improve an individual’s performance, personal satisfaction and consequently their effectiveness.” (paraphrased from Kilburg, R.R. (1996))

What is mentoring?

A mentor teaches specific skills within an area of the mentor’s expertise. These include task specific advice, direct instruction, and feedback.

Is there really a pay gap? Aren't we all paid according to the same awards?

It’s unclear what is driving the gap that still exists when controlled for a number of factors including hours worked, and its an area that needs more research.The factors that we have considered are; the difference in private practice lists; the the difference in discretionary charges – gap charges,    

The possibility that women are less likely to actively seek out and get approved for incremental increases in the award (required in some states);

Women are less likely to be paid for the work they do outside of clinical roles; eg, less likely to be HOD, less likely to be editor in chief, more likely to take on non-remunerated roles

What do you think about the quota system suggested and adopted by ANZCA?

We believe that all opportunities should be awarded on the basis of merit. But we also strongly believe that everyone should have access to the tools required to build merit. It’s about evening the playing field for everyone to compete for the opportunities fairly. Until that occurs, we support the use of quotas to help put people from diverse backgrounds into leadership positions so that those tools are equally accessible to everyone.

Aren’t women looking for more work life balance than men?

Everyone deserves to build work life balance into their careers, and one persons work life balance looks different to another. We are talking about creating equal access to the tools required to build a meaningful and fulfilling career where people belong and feel connected to their departments and professions.


ANZCA ASM Brisbane 3-7 May 2024
International Women's Day

Coming soon…

Want to learn more about AUSNZ WELI advantages?

Acknowledgment of Country

AUS&NZ WELI acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.