Liz Patu at training

Tackling it all

A short documentary series with the Queensland Reds is inspiring working women everywhere


Last updated: 21 March 2024

We’ve teamed up with the Queensland Reds women’s rugby team to produce a docuseries, Under the Surface, about the 2024 Super W season, which also explores the parallels between the high-pressure environments of professional rugby and mining operations. Here are some highlights from Episode 1 about the often-unseen challenges that come with balancing working and parenting. 

Meet Liz, @queenslandreds rugby player, who's back on the field after welcoming her son. She's proving you can chase your sporting dreams and raise a family. ‍‍‍She’s joined by Vanessa, our Superintendent Dynamic Scheduling, who knows all too well the challenges of balancing a demanding career with kids. They discuss the grit, determination, and support it takes for women to win on and off the field.

Who doesn’t love a challenge?

Liz Patu, a powerhouse on the Queensland Reds Super W team and former Wallaroos captain, knows the struggle of balancing motherhood with a demanding career. 

After missing the 2023 season due to pregnancy, Liz is back on the field in 2024, proving that achieving your sporting dreams doesn't have to end with parenthood. 

“It was tough not being on the sidelines in 2023,” Liz reflects, “but this year we've got a really good team.” 

Coming back from pregnancy has had its challenges, she feels, “but, you know, I love a challenge.” 

Liz Patu and her son
Liz Patu with her son

Building a support network

Finding a support system is crucial for achieving balance. 

Liz shares, “Sometimes I do take my son to training...The girls are happy to carry him and even the coaches as well.” 

This sense of community within the Reds exemplifies the importance of a strong network. 

Something Vanessa Thorley, who has a demanding leadership role in dynamic scheduling for our aluminium integration operations business, understands all too well. 

As a mother of two boys with a husband who travels frequently, her work-life balance is a constant juggle. 

“On travel weeks,” she says, “the pick-ups, drop-offs, and sporting commitments fall mostly on me.”

It’s why she admires the determination of players like Liz. 

“Working full-time, managing a rugby career, and taking care of a family on top of it all...it can't be easy,” she adds.

Vanessa Thorley on her way to meet Liz Patu
Vanessa Thorley on her way to meet Liz Patu

The power of shared experiences

The feeling of having been there, done that creates a deep sense of connection and understanding between women. 

“It’s a reminder that we’re not alone,” Vanessa says.

Liz echoes this sentiment, highlighting the shared experiences of women in demanding fields: “It's amazing what us women can actually do.” 

She finds inspiration in other mothers who have balanced their careers and family, stating, "So I was like, okay, well, if they can get back to playing [rugby] and have 3-4 kids too, why can't I do it?"

“The women and mothers in my team are the motivation for a lot of what I do,” she says. 

She aspires to inspire others, particularly young mothers, to chase their passions.

Learn more about our partnership with the Queensland Reds and how we’re supporting excellence in women’s rugby through the Super W team.

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