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Editor's Agenda

The Ita Buttrose mantra: “Tomorrow will be better”

/ Jan 26, 2013 10:16AM / Print / ()

Julia Gillard presents Ita Buttrose with the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards on January 25, in Canberra. (Photo by Pamela Martin/Getty Images)

At the age of just 11, Ita Buttrose knew she wanted to be a journalist. But she also thought she'd leave the workforce after having children.

"I thought I would work for a few years, marry, have children and leave the workforce to become a housewife," she told Women's Agenda late last year.

How things change. The 2013 Australian of the Year kept on working and built up an incredible media career that's opened numerous doors for her (and all of us) ever since.

"I married and had children but kept on working, becoming part of women's changing world, much of which was driven by the arrival of women's liberation. It has been an exciting time to be a woman!"

The former Australian Women's Weekly copy girl became the Daily Telegraph's women's editor at just 23 and was later promoted to launch the groundbreaking woman's title, Cleo. She was the first woman appointed editor of a major metropolitan newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, and the first again to take a seat on the News Ltd board.

More recently, she's been using her long-standing profile in the media world to do some excellent work in the health sector. She's national president of Alzheimer's Australia, vice president of Arthritis Australia and has also worked to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Life is full of detours, but with confidence in her own abilities Buttrose made the most of everything that came her way, and paved new pathways for those women behind her. "I always tell myself tomorrow will be better and it usually is," she told us.

So how does she do it? Buttrose offered some excellent advice when we asked about the best path to success. "Never lose your curiosity; be well informed – start the day listening, watching or reading the news; always do your research before an interview; and never accept second best from yourself."

And Buttrose is showing no signs of slowing down. Her career and life goals cover everything from continuing to write books and volunteering in the health sector, to starting another magazine, maintaining her fitness and accepting other "unexpected opportunities" that come her way.

One such opportunity will be using the title she's just received to encourage people to seek preventative health strategies and to reverse "ageist attitudes in our society". As she said upon accepting the award: "Just because you're old, doesn't mean you're not a person."

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