From support to success

HIA has been building a platform for women in our industry, providing support and acknowledgement to women in building.


Kate Veteri

HIA launched its Business Partner Network nearly 20 years ago to recognise the contribution that business partners – who are typically women – make to the success of their businesses and the residential building industry more widely.

HIA Managing Director Graham Wolfe says ‘while much has changed in the industry since the launch of the network the industry remains very male-dominated. Only 12 per cent of the industry’s workforce is estimated to be women, leaving enormous scope for the industry to capture the expertise of women in the workforce.’

In recent years HIA has recognised a need to expand its endeavours to promote the opportunities for women across the breadth of the residential building industry supply chain. HIA has held various events around the country demonstrating the reality that there should be no limitations on the industry’s perceptions, particularly among men in the industry, of what women can do: we have extremely successful women in HIA’s membership running large and small businesses in manufacturing, design, plumbing and home building.

HIA will now be promoting its broader offering of programs to support women in the industry under the banner ‘HIA Building Women’. The Business Partner Network will now become just one of the suite of programs available. HIA Building Women aims to encourage women to enter the industry, support the careers of women already working in the industry and shift the industry’s male-dominated image.

The inaugural event in Victoria was hosted by Rebecca Maddern, an award-winning senior journalist, known throughout the sporting and journalism industries for making her career in an industry more male-dominated than building – football.

HIA Qld Women in Building & Construction Awards
Some of the winners at the HIA Qld Women in Building & Construction Awards
HIA–Polytec Women in Industry luncheon
The South Australia HIA–Polytec Women in Industry luncheon HAD a record attendance of 300 people

HIA Victoria Executive Director Fiona Nield commented that ‘HIA was so pleased to host the launch of this initiative [in Victoria] with guest speaker Rebecca and a panel of women from our industry’. These included: Colleen May, general manager, May Constructions (chair); Cathy Inglis, general manager technical and innovation, Brickworks; Lana Bonnet, co-owner, L&B Picturesque Painting; Peta Lough, contracts administrator, May Constructions; and Katerina Kapellaki, global interior designer.

While the residential building industry is male-dominated, Fiona says the HIA Building Women event in Victoria demonstrated that there are ‘women who are working in construction roles right across our industry’. Similarly, both Queensland and South Australia experienced this firsthand at their HIA Building Women events.

The recent 2018 HIA Queensland Recognition of Women in Building & Construction Awards saw a range of exceptional women from nominees, winners and attendees that participate across the residential-building supply chain. The fourth year of the Queensland women in industry awards saw Kaitlyn Moore, director of O’Connell Agencies, win the top award for Professional Woman of the Year.

Kaitlyn came from humble beginnings in her garage, importing nails and silicone. Over time her business gradually grew and Kaitlyn had the opportunity to expand and execute her manufacturing vision. Since 2012, Kaitlyn has turned the former import supply business into Australia’s biggest PVC column form manufacturer. Her PVC column tubing is utilised across Australia and supplies to some of the biggest construction projects in the country. This opportunity and growth didn’t come by chance, instead it came through many years of research and development, good and bad experiences, and personal determination – proving what women can do for, and within, the residential building industry.

speaker panel at Victorian event
Speaker panel at the Victorian event
HIA Building Women
The Awards saw a range of exceptional women from nominees, winners and attendees that participate across the residential-building supply chain

HIA Queensland Executive Director Michael Roberts says: ‘We must do everything we can to encourage women into the industry at all levels, if for no other reason than to ensure that there is an in adequate supply of skills to meet the future demand for housing in the state.’

Sarah Gamtcheff of Hafele felt a similar way regarding the South Australia HIA–Polytec Women in Industry luncheon saying the event ‘enables Hafele to celebrate the important role women play in the construction industry’.

The luncheon was held in August this year with a record attendance of 300 people. The event was hosted by Rosanna Mangiarelli, an Australian journalist, and had keynote speakers including Adelaide fashion designer Paul Vasileff of Paolo Sebastian.

Judy Routley of Routleys Bathroom Kitchen Laundry commented that ‘Paolo Sebastian was very inspirational’.

The luncheon provided an opportunity for men and women alike to enjoy the amazing keynote speakers, great food and venue, all while affirming the ongoing contribution women make to the industry. The collection of people and business representatives further provide a wonderful afternoon of networking where new and existing relationships were formed or reconnected.

South Australia went on to highlight the progress being made in the industry when presenting Susie Martin of Aaron Martin Constructions with a HIA national award. Susie received the 2018 HIA Australian Business Partner award from the 2018 HIA–CSR Australian Housing Awards.

Graham Wolfe concluded that ‘the Building Women initiative is responding to the current environment where the industry is still male-dominated, but with enormous scope to access the potential for women to contribute right across the spectrum of careers in the building industry’.

Stay in the loop

If you would like to stay up to date with the HIA Building Women initiative and upcoming events in your region then register your details at

Related Articles

Watch & learn

Even when you’re busy onsite or at your desk you can stay connected to the residential building industry year-round with HIA Webinars.

Vehicle value

Useful tips to get the best value when reselling your car.

Sun, sand and safety

The holidays are once again upon us, but don’t forget to secure your site before you kick back and relax.

Buying for business

Thinking of buying a car for your business? Read these tips first to see if it’s the right decision for you.

Join more than 120,000 like-minded subscribers