Diversity Award

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About ACLW’s Diversity Award

For International Women’s Day, ACLW’s ‘Sustaining Women’s Empowerment in Communities and Organisations’  (SWECO) Award is being revisioned as ACLW’s Diversity Award to reflect the aim to honour women, men, groups and organisations for establishing a sustainable initiative in a community or organisation to empower women, particularly from marginalised groups.

Respecting, valuing and including differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion are core principles of diversity and inclusion in workplaces and the community.

With concerns about the underrepresentation of women, particularly women from marginalised social groups in leadership and the need for effective strategies to value and create opportunities for the inclusion and recognition of marginalised women, ACLW’s Diversity Award will recognise Diversity Champions (organisation or individual) for the initiatives they implement to include and empower women, particularly women from marginalised social groups. It will also recognise a Woman who has thrived as a result of a Diversity Champion’s initiative.

ACLW’s Awards Program commenced in 2006, culminating so far in three national awards for women’s advancement,  with more than 60 national recipients beng recognised and awarded, including women, men and organisations. This year is ACLW’s 10th Anniversary of its Awards Program for women’s empowerment. The 2016 Diversity Award refines the spirit of ACLW’s Award Program as it seeks to platform in a mainstream forum, recognition for community and organisational initiatives in Australia that value and empower women in Australia who come from diverse backgrounds, and particularly from groups that are marginalised.

Categories for the Diversity Award

The categories for the Diversity Awards are for an individual or organisation that:

  • Empowers Women in a community or organisation in Australia
  • Empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in a community or organisation in Australia
  • Empowers Women with a Disability in a community or organisation in Australia
  • Empowers Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women in a community or organisation in Australia
  • Empowers Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender Intersex, Queer (LBGTIQ) women in a community or organisation in Australia
  • Empowers women experiencing disadvantage in a community or organisation in Australia
  • Empowers Older Women in a community or organisation in Australia
  • Empowers Rural, Remote and Regional women in a community or organisation in Australia

Self-nominations or nominations by others are accepted. Applications are evaluated in the above 8 Categories by a distinguished Panel of Judges according to the criteria of leadership, sustainability and impact of the initiative on women in the nominated group. You should consider self-nominating for ACLW’s Diversity Award.

Diversity Award Event Program 14 September 2016 NSW Parliament House, Sydney

See also: Beauty in Difference: Diversity Award brings out best

Proud Sponsors of the Diversity Award

DIAMOND Category Sponsors: 

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in a community or organisation in Australia, Diamond Sponsored by the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre and EY
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women in a community or organisation in Australia, Diamond Sponsored by Settlement Services International (SSI)
  • Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender Intersex, Queer (LBGTIQ) women in a community or organisation in Australia, Diamond Sponsored by ACON
  • ​Women experiencing disadvantage in a community or organisation in Australia, Diamond Sponsored by NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS)
  • ​Rural, Remote and Regional women in a community or organisation in Australia, Bronze sponsored by Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC)

​General Sponsors of the Diversity Award:

  • Diamond Sponsor: Aon
  • ​Silver Sponsor: Playgroup NSW
  • Silver Sponsor: Twig Marketing
  • ​Bronze Sponsor: M & M Trophy Warehouse
  • Bronze Sponsor: Ki Print
Judging Panel

Carrie Leeson, CEO Lifeline Canberra

Carrie – Ann Leeson  is CEO of Lifeline Canberra. She is also the President of the Workplace Health Association, Advisory Council to Aspen Corporate Health, and a Director of the Uniting Early Morning Centre in the ACT. Carrie worked as a volunteer telephone crisis supporter for Lifeline and was a director on the board for the organisation.  She completed her degree in Psychology, and Diploma in Public Relations in South Africa prior to moving to Australia and running her own preventative health company. Carrie has used her experience and knowledge to create awareness around the importance of prevention, in both the physical and mental health arenas, and has worked with government, community, schools and businesses to generate sustainable health outcomes.

Dawn Hough, Director, Pride in Diversity

Dawn Hough is Director at Pride in Diversity, Australia’s first and only (national) not-for-profit employer support program for all aspects of LGBTI Inclusion.  In this role Dawn was instrumental in the development of the program offerings and the development of the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), Australia’s definitive benchmark on LGBTI workplace inclusion (and the Top 20 Employers for LGBTI employees awards). Dawn has authored four LGBTI workplace publications and been the producer of the annual Pride in Practice LGBTI workplace conference for the last four years. Previously Dawn introduced and managed the Diversity function for ING Australia, heading up a team of 8 responsible for L&D, Talent Management, Organisational Development and Wellbeing. Prior to INGA, Dawn ran a boutique consultancy for 14 years consulting in organisational development, leadership development, L&D and training.  She has worked on projects in the UK, Amsterdam, Singapore and speaks regularly on LGBTI inclusion nationally in Australia, at Out & Equal’s Conference in the United States and Stonewalls Diversity Champions Conference UK (2013). 

Georgia Prattis, Managing Director, MyriaD Consultants Pty Ltd

Georgia is Director of Myriad International Consulting Services Pty Ltd. She has over 20 years experience specialising in training development and delivery, research, evaluation, strategic planning, policy development, facilitation and stakeholder consultation. Areas of expertise include access and equity, cultural diversity, gender equality, equal opportunity, gender based violence, preventing bullying in the workplace and human rights. Gorgia is an accomplished consultant in diversity related organisational change programs and strategic planning that promote access and equity and develop workforce capabilities. She has extensive policy reform experience in the field of diversity working with the public sector, non-government organisations and community based agencies. Georgia has also participated on a wide range of Boards and committees.  Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts, Diploma in Education and a Master of Educational Studies.

Graham West, National President, St Vincent de Paul Society & Consultant

Graham West is a National President of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Management Consultant in the NFP sector and a former CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society in NSW. Graham was a Member of Parliament in NSW for 10 years representing the Campbelltown area, and held a number of Ministerial positions including Juvenile Justice and Youth and has been active at a board level in the community sector for many years, especially in community development and youth drug and alcohol education and support. In addition, Graham has a continuing interest in community engagement policies, environmental strategies at the local level, and issues concerning indigenous youth, especially in the areas of employment and education. Graham has written on youth engagement in decision-making using social networking and Web 2.0 and is a regular speaker on the importance of community development. Graham holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Management, a Master of International Studies, is an Advanced Fire Fighter with the NSW Rural Fire Service, and a Chartered Member of the Institute of Logistics and Transport.

​Helen Wiseman, Non-Executive Director & Professional Mentor

Amongst the 2014 Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence, Helen Wiseman is a businesswoman, non-executive director, Chartered Accountant, professional mentor and social justice advocate. She has clocked up more than 22 years in professional accounting firms in both the UK and Australia including as a former KPMG partner.  In 2011, Helen co-founded Imalia, a financial services business and is currently a Chair with The Executive Connection.  In her board roles, she is Chair of several audit committees the largest of which is the Bidvest Global Foodservice Audit Committee, and sits on the boards of Choice and the War Widows Guild of Australia (NSW). Since 2004, Helen is the Chair of Shine for Kids, a national organisation that supports children of prisoners.

Janine Middleton, Co-Chair, Australian Marriage Equality

Janine has spent the majority of the last 20 years in Europe, she has in excess of 25 years’ experience in the Financial Services industry, working in both Australia and the United Kingdom.  She spent 13 years with J.P.Morgan in London, working in Debt Capital Markets, covering both high grade and high yield transactions, in a range of industries across Europe and the Middle East.  She has extensive management experience and held the title of Managing Director for her last five years with J.P.Morgan.  She spent four years as a founding partner of an Australian private equity firm, Tasman Capital Partners and  is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Since returning to Australia in 2012, Janine has become heavily involved in the non for profit sector and is a Director of Outcomes Australia and ShareLife.  Janine is also the Co-Chair of Australian Marriage Equality. Janine also volunteers for Glengarry Aged Care Facility for dementia patients and is a foster carer with the RSPCA.

Katy McDonald, National Director of People & Development, Sydney Opera House

Katy commenced her legal career working as a judge’s associate for a judge of the Federal Court of Australia and the then President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.  She practised law in private practice for about 8 years; first as a commercial litigator at Barker Gosling and then she joined the Human Resources and Industrial Relations Practice Group iat Minter Ellison.  Katy left private practice in the mid 1990s to work to work at the University of Sydney as the Director of Equal Opportunity.  In 1999, she joined Westpac where she was Head of Employee Relations Legal and then the Head of Employee Relations, Diversity and Employment Policy. She spent 10 years at the bank and was HR Director for Minter Ellison for 5 years from 2010 to 2015.  Katy is currently the Director of People & Culture at the Sydney Opera House.  Katy has always been passionate about human rights and talent.  In all her roles Katy has focused on women’s equality in the work place.

Maria Dimopoulos, Managing Director, MyriaD Consultants Pty Ltd

Maria Dimopoulos is nationally and internationally recognised as an expert specialising in the intersections of cultural diversity, gender equality and the law. As Managing Director at MyriaD Consultants she has had extensive experience in policy formulation for Government, research for social planning and in community education. Much of Maria’s work has been aimed at promoting and enhancing cultural diversity and gender informed approaches in the ongoing complex legal and political reform processes and in ensuring the meaningful inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives in those reform processes. She also continues to deliver judicial education programs across Australia. Maria’s expert contributions have included knowledge provision and advisory roles in access and equity, multiculturalism, gender justice, advocacy, bridging and supporting participation in mainstream processes, coordination, capacity-building, and piloting innovative projects. In 2008, she was appointed by the Federal government to the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. Maria was also a member of the Access and Equity Inquiry Panel which reported to Government in 2012 on the accessibility of government services to multicultural Australia.

Nareen Young, Director, Pricewaterhouse Coopers Indigenous Consulting; Fmr CEO Diversity Council Australia

Nareen Young is one of Australia’s leading workplace practitioners and thinkers and managed, with enormous success, in the not for profit sector for over 15 years. She has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for this work, including the inaugural 100 Women of Influence honour for Diversity. Nareen is currently a Director at Pricewaterhouse Coopers Indigenous Consulting, spent 8 months in 2014 as Strategic Adviser – Flexibility at Westpac, is a mentor for the AFR Boss Emerging Leaders Program and utilises her knowledge as a reporting CEO for 15 years through governance. She is non-executive Director of Indigenous Business Australia, Netball Australia and the Institute for Cultural Diversity and the Chair of Groundswell Arts NSW.

Nick Guggisberg, Manager Community & Cultural Development Kiama Municipal Council

Nick spent the first half of his adult life experiencing broader Australia, playing and teaching music throughout the whole continent while largely based in Alice Springs.  Nick draws on his broad range of life experiences during his studies to hone and shape these experiences and insights into skills and knowledge that he could apply professionally as a Social Worker. Since graduating with a Social Work degree, Nick has largely worked in the Community Development field working with Social Housing Tenants, managing a Youth Service, managing a Foster Care program, and currently works as the Manager Community & Cultural Development for Kiama Municipal Council. As a Social Worker, social justice is at the heart of everything Nick turns his attention to. Nick believes that “leadership development is integral to empowering people and communities to identify and achieve what they identify as most important to them. Supporting and empowering women isn’t just about equity, it’s about being strategic in creating a better world, because if we empower women, we empower all.”

​Padma Raman, Executive Director of the Australian Human Rights Commission

Padma Raman has a long and established career committed to protecting and advancing human rights. She is the Executive Director of Australia’s national human rights institution, the Australian Human Rights Commission and came to the position after establishing the Victorian Law Reform Commission which she ran for nine years. During that time, Ms Raman was also a member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) for 4 ½ years. She was instrumental in assisting the Victorian Government develop and implement the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. Prior to this, Ms Raman worked extensively in the community and academic sectors. She holds a Masters of Law by research, specialising in the experiences of immigrant and Indigenous women under the Australian legal system.

Dr Patricia Hamilton, President of National Rural Women’s Coalition (NRWC)

​Dr Patricia Hamilton has a PhD in Rural Sociology. Patricia is President of the National Women’s Rural Coalition Ltd, a collaborative national voice for women living in rural, regional and remote Australia and a Board Member of the Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North. Patricia is a former Secondary Principal. Her leadership and management skills and the involvement in research and evaluation with both education and rural enterprises have equipped her with a wide range of processes and experiences to be a valuable contributor to the advancement of women in rural Australia as Patricia consistently highlights women’s critical role in sustaining and increasing the prosperity and productivity of family farming businesses and rural communities. In 2009, Patricia was acknowledged on the South Australian Women’s Honour Roll in recognition of her dedication and continuous commitment as an advocate and mentor for rural women and youth across the country.

​Roy Rogers, CEO The Flagstaff Group

Roy Rogers is the CEO of the Flagstaff Group, a commercially focused Australian Disability Enterprise operating in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions. Roy joined Flagstaff in 2005 and became CEO in 2011. Roy is a Chartered Professional Engineer with a degree in Civil/Structural Engineering and an MBA from Wollongong University. Roy is a member the Illawarra Community Advisory Panel, Light & Hope Mental Health Clubhouse committee and is on the Board of Family services Illawarra. Before moving the NFP sector Roy had over 30 years’ experience in corporate sector in both senior and general management roles, including BHP and various national and international manufacturing and supply businesses. Roy has been successful in the disability sector for raising the bar to create a variety of mainstream employment opportunities by building vocational skills and developing a strong work ethic that improves self-esteem and confidence.

​Shirley Chowdhary, Counsel,  Group Treasury Westpac

Shirley Chowdhary is a Sydney based lawyer and advocate for gender diversity in the workplace. Her career has taken her from a top tier New York law firm and a US global bank in Japan to leading  teams of volunteers and writing a biography for a WW2 Prisoner of War. She is currently a lawyer at one of the BigFour banks in Sydney and is raising three children with her husband of 21 years. Shirley is the recipient of a 2015 Cultural Diversity Scholarship jointly funded by the Australian Government and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. The scholarship is aimed at supporting an increased representation of women on Australian boards and fostering emerging female talent.

Professor Shirley Randell, Gender Equality Specialist

Professor Shirley Randell AO, PhD was educated at Perth Modern School and the Universities of Papua New Guinea, Canberra, New England and London. As a leading expert in public sector and institutional reform, teacher education, gender mainstreaming and human rights in developing countries, Prof. Randell has provided specialist technical assistance to governments in the Asia Pacific Region and in Africa over the last 18 years. After working with UNDP and the Ministry for Women’s Affairs on a gender mainstreaming training program for senior public servants in 2004-5 in Bangladesh, Prof. Randell  returned to Dhaka in 2014 on a three year project with ADB and the Ministry of Education as Pre-service Secondary Training Program Specialist, Bangladesh Teacher Quality Improvement Project ll, with Development Strategists International Consulting. In 2009 she established and directed the Centre for Gender, Culture and Development at the Kigali Institute of Education, now the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Rwanda. She is the author of numerous journal articles and books and is a renowned international speaker. Prof Randell was one of Australia’s 100 Inaugural Women of Influence in 2012 and one of the International Alliance for Women’s 100 World of Difference Awardees in 2013. She is a Distinguished Alumni of the University of Canberra and University of New England Armidale, Patron of the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women and Sunshine Foundation Australia, and the Global Ambassador- Rwanda for The International Alliance of Women.    

Sue Conde AM Former President, United Women Australia

Sue Conde AM is a former President of Unifem Australia. Sue has held various executive leadership positions at State and National levels of Girl Guides Australia serving as Deputy Chief Commissioner from 1998-2002. International experiences include attending the UN General Assembly Special Session on Women in New York in 2000 and as a member of the Australian Government delegations; she has attended the UN Special Session on Children in 2002 and the Commission on the Status of Women in 2006 and 2010.  She joined the UNIFEM Australia National Committee in 2002 and was elected Vice President in 2005. From 2003-2007 she was actively engaged as a member of the National Leadership Group in UNIFEM Australia’s launch of the new Australian initiative – the White Ribbon Campaign. Sue served as President of the AWC for three years from 2003-2006. In January 2005 Sue was appointed as a Member in the Order of Australia for service to the community through organisations and advisory bodies that promote the interests of women, to youth through the Guiding movement and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

Susan Ferrier, National Head of People, Performance & Culture, KPMG​

Susan Ferrier is an accomplished senior executive with more than 30 years of international experience working with boards and executive teams in professional services, technology, financial services and legal organisations.  Susan has been the CEO of a small technology start up and is a Director on The Royal Hospital for Women Foundation Board. She is passionate about leadership, indigenous issues and gender equity. Susan is committed to helping people achieve their full potential by building conversations and initiatives around inclusivity and curiosity – whether it is at work or with her four children.

Tanya Hosch, Joint Campaign Director, Recognise

Tanya is the Joint Campaign Director for Recognise, a position she shares with Tim Gartrell. Prior to this, Tanya has been in advocacy and consulting roles with the aim of increasing philanthropic investment into Indigenous development. Tanya was an integral member of the team responsible for the model design and establishment of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. More recently Tanya worked with a steering committee to establish the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute. For the past 15 years Tanya has sat on a number of boards and committees. Tanya currently sits on the boards of the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute, the National Board of the Australian Red Cross, and has recently been appointed as the Independent Chair of the new company Price Waterhouse Coopers Indigenous Consulting. In 2013 Tanya was named in the South Australian Women’s Honour Roll and for the past two consecutive years has been recognised in the list of ‘100 Women of Influence’ Awards run by Westpac and the Australian Financial Review to recognise women who are achievers in Australian business and society. In 2014, Tanya was appointed to the Review Panel for the Act of Recognition (2013) to provide a report (delivered in September 2014) to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

Terese Edwards, CEO, National Council of Single Mothers & their Children

Terese Edwards is the CEO of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children Inc since 2009. She is also Chair of the South Australian Women Services Network. Terese is an ambassador for single mother families and speaks for women and children who contend with poverty, hardship and violence.She is also the Deputy President of ACOSS since February 2010. She is a Steering committee member of the Equality and Rights Alliance (National Women‘s Alliance) since 2012 She is a Member of the Economic Security for women since October 2012 and a Child Support National Stakeholder Engagement Group Member since 2009. Terese has a Masters in Public Administration, a Graduate Diploma in Management and a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy. 

Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey, Director ACLW


Proud Ambassadors of the 2016 Diversity Awards

  • Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash Minster for Women Minister for Employment Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
  • ​The Hon Mike Baird MP, Premier of NSW
  • ​The Hon Gareth Ward MP for Kiama and Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and the South Coast
  • ​ The Hon Pru Goward MP Minister for Women Minister for Mental Health Minister for Medical Research Assistant Minister for Health Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
  • ​The Hon Linda Burney MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Education, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Member for Canterbury
  • ​ The Hon. John Ajaka MLC Minister for Ageing Minister for Disability Services Minister for Multiculturalism
  • ​The Hon. Jillian Skinner NSW Minister for Health
  • ​ Christine Forster, City of Sydney Councillor
  • ​ Dr John Falzon, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia
  • ​Helen Conway, Fmr CEO Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA),Deputy Chair, Aon Superannuation Pty Ltd

Application details

ACLW’s 2016 Diversity Awards Application

  • Individuals/organisations may self-nominate or be nominated by another individual or organisation.
  • The application comprises a section for the Diversity Champion AND a section for a woman who has benefitted from the initiative.
  • Questions address the criteria of leadership, sustainability and impact of the initiative. 

Diversity Awards Judging Criteria

Applications are evaluated by the Judges according to the following criteria:

  • Leadership: Leadership skills employed in effectively developing, implementing and evaluating an initiative for empowering women in a community or organisation relevant to the nominated category.
  • Sustainability: The initiative sustains empowerment for women within the community or organisation relevant to the nominated category.
  • Impact: Actual individual, social and economic impact of the initiative on women as demonstrated by quantitative (e.g. statistics) or qualitative evidence for corresponding key activities of the initiative (e.g. milestones reached towards stated goals) and the benefits experienced by the recipient woman (Part B of the application) from the nominated category

Diversity Awards 2016 Timeline

  • International Women’s Day, 8 March 2016           Diversity Awards Applications Open
  • 12 May 2016      Diversity Awards Applications Close
  • 13 May 2016 – 31 July 2016: Judging period         Judging of Diversity Awards by Judging Panel
  • From 1 August 2016        All Finalists are notified and their profiles are promoted at ACLW
  • 14 September 2016         Diversity Awards Ceremony – NSW Parliament House Sydney


  • There will be 3 Finalists (3 x Diversity Champion and a Woman benefiting) in each of the 8 Categories. All of the Finalists (Diversity Champion and a Woman benefiting) will be notified and their profiles will be promoted at ACLW.  Online and off-line publicity of the winners and short-listed candidates and their initiatives will also ensue.
  • All Finalists (Diversity Champion and a Woman benefiting) must attend the Award ceremony to be recognised and presented with an official Award Certificate.
  • In each category, there will be only 1 Winner (A Diversity Champion and a Woman benfitting from that Diversity Champion’s initiative). The Diversity Champion can be an Organisation or an individual.
  • The Winner will receive a trophy, an official Award Certificate and prize money. The table below outlines the prizes.

Diversity Awards Presentation

The 2016 Diversity Awards Dinner Ceremony will be held in NSW Parliament House Sydney on 14 September 2016. Finalists (Diversity Champion and Woman benefiting) must be present at the Award Ceremony on 14 September in Parliament House in Sydney.This will be a ticketed event with limited seating. All of the women Finalists who have benefited from the Finalist Diversity Champion’s initiative will be offered a complementary ticket to attend the Dinner ceremony. More details of the Award Ceremony will be released closer to the date.

Terms and Conditions for ACLW’s Diversity Awards

  • Gender: All
  • Age: 18 or older
  • Any individual, who is a relative of the judges, or is employed in the organisation of ACLW, the Judges, Sponsors or Ambassadors of this Award will not be eligible for an award under this program.
  • An individual who has previously won any Award from ACLW will be ineligible. Organisations that have previously won any Award from ACLW are also ineligible.
  • Only one application per individual, group or organisation will be accepted. 
  • The initiative must be continuing currently in Australia and must be benefitting women in Australia, but who are not necessarily Australian citizens.
  • Part A and Part B of the Diversity Award Application must be completed within the specified word limits for the entire application to be eligible for ACLW’s 2016 Diversity Award.
  • The application must be submitted by email by 12 May 2016. The submitted application becomes the property of ACLW.
  • Finalists allow the use of their application and image for publicity purposes.
  • Finalists will make themselves available without cost for publicity purposes as required prior to, during and after the Awards Presentation. This may include being featured in promotional media.
  • Finalists (Diversity Champion and Woman benefiting) must be present at the Award Ceremony on 14 September in Parliament House in Sydney.  All of the women Finalists who have benefited from the Diversity Champion’s initiative will only be offered a complementary ticket to attend the Dinner ceremony.  ACLW will not be covering any other expenses.
  • ACLW reserves the right to allocate the prizes in each category and to not award in a category if the applicants do not meet the criteria.
  • The Judging panel reserves the right to consider an application for another category in the Award. The Judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
Diversity Award Ceremony 2016

ACLW proudly announces the 2016 national Diversity Awards Ceremony to be held in NSW Parliament House Sydney on 14 September 2016.
Join Ministers, Award Judges and Award Sponsors to celebrate the excellent diverse achievements of our inspiring national Finalists (Diversity Champion and Woman benefiting) in each of the 8 categories. 

  1. Empowers Women in a community or organisation in Australia
  2. Empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in a community or organisation in Australia
  3. Empowers Women with a Disability in a community or organisation in Australia
  4. Empowers Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women in a community or organisation in Australia
  5. Empowers Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender Intersex, Queer (LBGTIQ) women in a community or organisation in Australia
  6. Empowers women experiencing disadvantage in a community or organisation in Australia
  7. Empowers Older Women in a community or organisation in Australia
  8. Empowers Rural, Remote and Regional women in a community or organisation in Australia

This inaugural Award recognises individuals and organisations that empower women, particularly from marginalised groups, through community and organisational initiatives and women who have utilised this assistance in advancing professionally and personally in workplaces and/or communities in Australia

Congratulations to all our 2016 Diversity Award Long-Listed candidates and Finalists.

Event Details

When: Wednesday, 14 September 2016, 6.45pm for a 7pm start. 
Where: Strangers Dining Room in NSW’s Parliament House, 6 Macquarie Street, Sydney
Cost: $95 AUD. Seating is limited, so please purchase tickets asap. Registrations need to be done separately even if using the same credit card.

Guests will enjoy: 

  • a delicious 3 course meal. Dessert will be supplied by our Award Ceremony Sponsor, Sweet Fantasy Cakes.
  • juices and soft drinks
  • great entertainment

Please note that special dietary requirements are only being applied for the entree and main course meal, but not for the dessert. Please provide your special requirements for the first 2 courses when using the Paypal facility.  

Event Entertainment & Diversity Award Ceremony Sponsors

Shanell Dargan, a case worker, 21, from the Macarthur region touched the heart of the nation with her honest audition on The X Factor with her moving rendition of Beyonce’s Ave Maria,  but it was her emotional backstory that brought the country to tears. Ms Dargan, known by most as Nellie, publicly thanked her role model, Irish grandmother Patricia, on Channel 7, for raising her while her parents were in and out of jail. As a youth worker, Shanell believes it is even more imperative she shares her personal story of experiencing domestic violence. Since she posted her story it has received over 20,000 likes and more than 2,000 shares. And despite some negative backlash, Shanell remains positive about coming out publicly on such a taboo subject. Ms Dargan attended Ambarvale Public School and Campbelltown Performing Arts High School and said she is proud to represent her home.

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir (SGLC) is a non-auditioned choir which welcomes members regardless of their sexual identity or musical experience. The choir is open to all – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersex, queer and our straight allies.  Since beginning in 1991, SGLC has performed Carl Vine’s Mythologia with Sydney Dance Company at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, hosted the first Australasian Gay and Lesbian Choral Festival, performed at the Sydney Gay Games Choral Festival, and toured Europe, New Zealand and North America. Its 2009 production of Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen was the first opera in the world to be staged by a queer choir. In 2011, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir celebrated its 20th anniversary with a gala concert at Sydney Town Hall. In 2014, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir toured Northern Europe, visiting Finland and Estonia where the choir sang with local gay, lesbian and ally choirs. The tour culminated with participation in the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia. More information about SGLC is at http://www.sglc.org

The Greek Folk Dancers of NSW was founded in 1992 under the Instruction of Vasilios Aligiannis with the belief in the preservation of dances, music and costumes in their traditional form and that the teaching and stage presentation of dances must be based on ethnographic research of the areas or villages presented. The Greek Folk Dancers of NSW is an active member in the Greek Community and can be found at http://www.greekdancing.com.au

Sound Manager: Anthony Skapetis​​

Anthony Skapetis is the owner of the retro style music cafe, Soundsepresso where he combines his love for music and the preservation of vinyl records. He is a Co-host of Karamela Greek Radio 2RDJ and Co-host of Marrickville Mornings at Radio Skidrow. He is involved in assisting many community charities for the Greek community and celebrating Greek culture. Soundsepresso is at http://soundsespresso.com.au/  and https://www.facebook.com/soundsespresso

Desert supplied by Konstantina and Arthur Georgoulas from Sweet Fantasy Cakes
Saki and Peri Georgoulas established Sweet Fantasy Cakes on the 23rdof December, 1993, bringing his experience and traditional recipes from his home country of Greece, and working with the best ingredients possible. Sweet Fantasy Cakes is now run by Arthur and his daughter Konstantina, paired with an amazing team of individuals which make up their “sweet” family in their 2 stores in Bankstown and Ramsgate Beach. From light European creams to sweeter Greek treats, there’s something to suit everyone’s palate. Sweet Fantasy cakes was a Winner in 2015 & Finalist in 2016 for the Australian Business Champion Awards.  Konstantina Georgoulas was a 2016 Finalist in the Australian Business Champion Awards Entrepreneur of the Year.
Sweet Fantasy Cakes’ website is http://sweetfantasycakes.com.au/

Official Photographer: Deeann Green

​Deeann Green is a 3rd year double degree student at the University of Wollongong. She studies a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Music) and a Bachelor of Science (Biology) as well as a minor in Photography. In 2013, she graduated from Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts and made the NSW HSC Distinguished Achievers List. She has been playing the violin for 13 years, has six years teaching experience and teaches the violin and piano to 30 students. Deeann also has a passion for photography, especially for portraits, dance and expressive photography and events. Her photos have featured in exhibitions at the Wollongong Town Hall, the ‘Paws for a Cause’ exhibition, fundraising for WIRES, WARN and the RSPCA, the Illawarra Mercury and Wollongong Central. In the near future, she hopes to have a body of work published in a photography magazine. 

​Austage Events  – Producing premier events for over 21 years. Specialising in technical production and event concept design, Austage Events is a full service audio visual company for the corporate, fashion and entertainment industries. Offering a range of personalised and tailored ideas for each individual client, we combine your ideas with our unrivalled expertise and leading resources to create event solutions which are intelligent, innovative and engaging. Be it a large conference or an intimate show, our design and technical production teams carefully work together with you to construct successful outcomes that are clever and versatile. From development right through to implementation you will always be highly informed. Consistent professional support is also available across Australia. With offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and partnerships in Brisbane and Adelaide, we can coordinate and manage your event regardless of location; ensuring clear communication and minimal contact points that make the process effortless and approachable. Put simply, Austage Events create spectacular shows and we do it for you with the professional effectiveness and efficiency gained from over 20 years of creating premier, world-class events. Contact: Phone: 1300 798 854 Email: contact@austageevents.com.au  Website:http://www.austageevents.com.au

Chris Evans Framing Kiama (02) 4233 1343

Diversity Award Finalists and Winners

ACLW proudly announces the Finalists of its inaugural 2016 national Diversity Award. All Finalists will be recognised at the Diversity Dinner Award Ceremony on 14th September 2016 in Parliament House, Sydney when winners in each category will be announced. We look forward to celebrating the extraordinary achievements of the Award’s Diversity Champions and Women who have benefited from the Diversity Champion’s initiative. Please join us to commend and support all of the Award Finalists. Thank you to all of the individuals and organisations who applied for this Award.  Your achievements for women from diverse backgrounds and in different sectors showcases a rich tapestry of diversity initiatives for women, particularly for marginalised women across Australia. A special Thank you is extended to all of the Award’s expert Judges and generous Sponsors for making this national Award for women possible.  

Congratulations to all of the Finalists!

Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey

2016 Diversity Award Finalists:

Diversity Champions Woman Benefiting
Amelia TelfordAngel Owen
Carly FindlayKyrie Fuss
Cynthia BaloghCatherine Cervasio
Dagmar Jenkins Name withheld 
DV NSWKay Schubach
Energy Skills QldKoorine Walker & Malvena Walker
Fay HairKath Nelson
Hazara Women of AustraliaAnsia Muradi
Lisa KennewellDr Nayana Parange
Mariette CowleyWinifred Nanala
Merredith HillebrandPeggy Maxwell
Natalie ScanlonAarch Parekh
Olivetree Women’s  Network Indra Yanti
Rachel NicolsonRegan Barker
Robyn BullNatalie McKirdy
Roxanne SmithLjudan Michaelis-Thorpe
Sonia McDonaldShelley Anne-Brace
Tenneh KpakaNajeeba Wazefadost
The Gender Equity in Science CommitteeMarnie Blewitt
Women and Mentoring (WAM)Juli Gansberg
Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV)Sam Winch
Thank you – Diversity Award Ceremony

From WDV and Sam

Women with Disabilities Victoria is thrilled to have been recognised in the 2016 Australian Centre for Leadership for Women Diversity Awards in the Disability Category. ACLW’s commitment to developing the leadership of a diversity of women is an important strategy towards the equity and empowerment of all women.

Women with disabilities drive WDV, in governance, design, development and delivery. Whether programs are for women or professionals, all programs are designed by women with disabilities. This is what makes WDV unique.

For example, the ‘Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program’ was conceived by women with disabilities at WDV as an organisational change program to increase Gender Equity and safety for women in disability services.

Over 30 women with disabilities have been involved in managing, developing and redeveloping in every stage of this program. The program is now in its third phase after receiving additional funding from the Victorian Government.

Program co-facilitator and award co-recipient, Sam, says, “I am proud of the work I am doing with WDV. I’m proud for myself for facing the challenges I need to, in order to provide another voice for women with disabilities. I can see the change as it happens in my work and I feel more confident in my everyday life and can now advocate for myself and others. Even though it is difficult for me at times, it is worthwhile to raise awareness of violence against women with disabilities… the more that do know, we have a better chance of stopping violence in the future.”

ACLW’s Diversity Awards showcase a range of other programs working towards the same goals. We look forward to working together as part of a community that supports all women to have leadership development opportunities. 

From Women with Disabilities Victoria and Sam

From Ann Polis, Chair of WAM (Women and Mentoring)


WAM (Women and Mentoring) is thrilled to have its work recognised through the ACLW diversity awards and we are delighted to have reached the finals. We are very proud of our work and welcome the opportunity to spread the word about it. We strongly believe in one on one mentoring as a personal development tool for women and can demonstrate how this has worked for women charged with an offence in the criminal justice system. We can link this strongly to leadership development.These women are often very isolated and lack basic knowledge; they lack the support to navigate the system. The mentors can help them to grow and to avoid reoffending.

We are encouraged that 94%of our participants have not reoffended.These women are in great need of support, resolve and direction; they need self reliance and the skills to find and use resources which will enable them to take their place in the community.Through our mentoring program we can help them to develop and use positive life skills and to deal with such crucial matters as housing, education and health.

Our mentoring approach constitutes a very pure form of leadership which aims to bring out the best in those people working with us.The mentors are volunteers from the community who are recruited and trained and matched with program participants. They are dedicated and wise.At WAM we strive to lead through mentoring and by example to show that every person is valuable, every person has rights, every person deserves respect and support… We can show that this works.

I now hand over to Juli who has been mentored by Prue  in a truly remarkable development process. She has emerged a different person and deserves the last word.

From Juli Gansberg, WAM (Women and Mentoring)

It is very overwhelming to receive this award, and I want to live up to it. I’ve had a quite hard life. I was not brought up by a mum, and I ran away from my grandparents when I was 7. I have seen plenty of violence.

I was referred to the WAM program after being charged with criminal assault. I had already been in prison, for affray. I was filled with fear of everything, even going out in the street by myself. With the help of my WAM mentor, who has been with me for nearly five years now, I made it to my appointments with lawyers and attended my court hearing.  The outcome was a Community Corrections Order, not another sentence.  I complied with that order and I have not re-offended.  I was also involved with a Transport Accident Commission case arising from an acquired brain injury I received in a car accident when my ex-partner deliberately drove us into a pole. Because of that my three youngest children are in foster care. My mentor helped me through the claim process, as well as a hearing in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. She helped me get to the seventeen appointments arranged to work out the degree of my brain injury, and she often came with me. She also helped me to deal with matters relating to my older son’s homelessness. In that time WAM arranged for me to do a personal development course with the Salvation Army. I learned to feel OK in public again, and met Prue in different places for coffee. I have never had a female in my life before, someone who cared about what was happening to me. All my other workers put me in the too hard basket.

Now my scaredom has disappeared, and I can make decisions for myself. This was my main WAM goal. I have moved away from negative influences on my life in Melbourne, and have made a fresh start in regional Victoria. I am renting my own place, after living in public housing for many years. I’ve been able to support myself, living is so much better, I’m even growing broccoli. Some things are still hard, but I am much better at dealing with stress and unexpected situations. I’m not an angry ant like I used to be, and I feel less alone. I would do anything to support WAM, because of the way it has supported me.

From Sonia McDonald

I would like to thank everyone involved with the ACLW’s Diversity Awards. I am honoured and blessed to have been recognised as a Diversity Champion by winning second place in the Diversity Award Category. I am committed to building leadership capability and confidence in women, which is one of the reasons I established my company, LeadershipHQ. Every day I am able to work towards encouraging and skilling women to gain a seat at the leadership table. I believe that by empowering women to support and celebrate each other, we will forge ahead. Women have a natural gift for nurturing others and a talent for collective and collaborative leadership. I want to educate women so they recognise that these are important skills in the way we lead, and ensure they acknowledge their unique female leadership talents. That is the motivation behind my coaching and mentoring work, and the development of my Platinum Executive Coaching, EmpowHER and Women in Leadership programs.I have been very lucky to coach and mentor a number of women over the years and watch them go on to take up and shine in leadership roles around the country. 

As an advocate for diversity, I’ve been thrilled at the response to the diversity events I’ve organised around Australia, bring the diversity conversation to the forefront of business consciousness. The experienced business professionals who have shared their time and advice has been inspirational. I would love to acknowledge Shelley-Anne Brace, who is my award partner “Woman Benefiting.”She is a remarkable emerging leader and her work in the workplace relations has made such a difference to the industry.  I feel so blessed being part of her journey in becoming a great leader. 

Once again, thank you for acknowledging my work in the diversity field. I will continue to drive conversational and build awareness of the real issues in diversity, and to open the way ahead for our emerging female leaders. 

Sonia McDonald CEO & Founder LeadershipHQ

From Natalie Scanlon

‘Thank you to the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women for organising and hosting this important event, which recognises the highest caliber of female leaders in the country.

Change starts here.

I began volunteering at local community centres with the intentions of helping individuals to break down communication barriers when they applied for various employment opportunities. With only one job opportunity advertised per three people within the City of Casey, I realised I had to help those who are actively applying for jobs, but have been unsuccessful because they can’t put their thoughts into words. I don’t want the inability to communicate effectively, through words, to limit an individual’s opportunity for future employment. It isn’t fair. It was here I realised that there was an issue beyond employment, and beyond communication.

Week-after-week, women over 40 presented themselves. Disappointed that they can’t re-enter the workforce after raising their family. They walked through the door with a look of self-loathe and felt that their own life stories were uneventful and meaningless.I’m talking about women who have overcome mental health related illnesses, and workplace bullying, to only be significantly disadvantaged because of circumstances beyond their control.These amazing women are not only struggling to find work, they are struggling to find self-worth.

This night, and award ceremony, is the beginning of change at grass-roots level. I say grass-roots because without change at the bottom, you won’t see change at the top. This award puts important issues into the spotlight, and allows me to connect with others to strive for more for these women. It allows me to initiate change at the bottom, so that it can be followed through by the big-guns up top.

Change starts now. You’re witnessing it. You’re encouraging it. You’re igniting it.’ 

Thank you again. When you are free, I’d love to know how to become further involved with the Centre. Enjoy a well-deserved break. 


Natalie Scanlon

From Cynthia Balogh

Thank you for the honour of receiving this award. I have been honoured with the opportunity that very few people realise. That is to use my wealth of experience both as an international entrepreneur and as a public servant to develop a program to support Australian businesswomen in reaching their international business dreams. I want to acknowledge the giants of women who came before me who realised the importance of such a program and who made it happen despite many obstacles. Women in Global Business, a joint Australian, State and Territory government initiative, supported by Austrade, was a huge success for over five years, to the extent that it became world’s best practice and is being emulated now across a number of countries. I want to thank the wonderful members, mentors, mentees, stakeholders, collaborators and partners and others with whom I worked over those 5 ½ years.

There were some absolutely exceptional women that I had the pleasure to work with, such as Catherine Cervasio of Aromababy.  Catherine is a great role model for women interested in building an international business. I have now moved on to work with a UN Agency working with women-led businesses across the developing world, supporting them to access global markets.

As you can see I can’t let go of my passion. Finally thank you to the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women, the organisers of this award and to Catherine Cervasio, for sponsoring my nomination.

From Kay Schubach

I am honoured to be a finalist in the category of Empowering Women Experiencing Disadvantage in Australia,  and to have received runner up to WAM and the courageous Juli Ginsberg and her very heartening personal journey – congratulations.  I’d like to thank Diann Rodgers-Healey and the ACLW for an awards night celebrating and acknowledging women helping other women. There are too few moments where we acknowledge the relentless work we to do in social justice.  

Of course has a survivor of DV and a woman who has experienced disadvantage, I don’t feel like that at all. Of the women we help now with legal and financial strategies to leave abusive relationships through my partnership with lawyer Susannah Quinn – all I ever see is bravery and resilience albeit hidden under a terrible erosion of their self esteem and a scramble to do the best for their children. 

I’d like to thank Minister Goward for supporting me when I first started speaking out about being a DV survivor and realising I had a story to tell, and importantly work to do – and for her brave and inspired leadership of women And Tracy Howard now of NCOSS who was actually the angel who really held out a hand professionally as I got on my feet. And now the CEO of DVNSW, Moo Baulch, this peak NSW body for the rights of women , who through clear guidance, and clear policy have helped create UNITY and advocacy for a sometimes fragmented sector.  

Of course the message is that we are all in this together and a united force is a powerful force for the many silent individuals who need our collective voice 

Kay Schubach 

From Dr Nayana Parange

Dear Diann,Lisa informed me wonderful news about winning this award. I am so thrilled that Lisa was recognised as a Diversity Champion.I will be catching up with her tomorrow to hear about more details of the occasion but from the online photos etc which I have just seen, it seems to have been an amazing night..such a shame I wasn’t able to attend..but duty comes first!I wanted to thank you and the judging panel and feel really honoured and privileged to have my work for regional, remote and rural communities recognised..it serves to bring the health of pregnant mums in regional, rural and remote areas back to focus again and raise awareness for which I am truly grateful. I will use the money towards my next volunteer outreach training program, which is in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in October where I will be training a group of doctors and midwives who are serving in remote provinces of PNG, as I am self funding my trip.I hope our paths cross someday and we get to meet in person,Best wishes,Nayana

From Kerry Fullarton

On behalf of Energy Skills Queensland we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the 2016 ACLW Diversity Award.  It was an honour and unforgettable experience coming together and sharing in this gala event at Parliament House in Sydney.  Special mention must go to the generous sponsors for supporting this wonderful event and the diversity awards. 

Please find below an acknowledgement statement.

Thank you to Australian Centre for Leadership for Women and Diann Rodgers-Healey, Energy Skills Queensland were surprised and delighted to be awarded 3rd Place Prize Diversity Award Category – Empowers Rural, Remote and Regional Women in a Community or Organisation in Australia.  Diversity Champion, Kerry Fullarton and Koorine and Malvena Walker as women benefiting would like to express their sincere thanks for the invitation to attend such an inspiring awards evening.  

Others would be deserving of this ACLW’s honour for their services to empower rural, remote and regional women in a community and of course, no one person can accomplish anything alone and we are thankful for the support of the dedicated team at Energy Skills Queensland, our stakeholders and regional community project partners.

Being recognised by ACLW is a true honour.  Energy Skills Queensland team has been facilitating training and employment programs to participants under the Queensland Workforce Skilling Strategy for over five years.  Initiatives such as this provide a framework for industry and communities to work together to maximise the potential for unemployed people to gain employment.  The focus has always been on entry level jobs that lead to long-term career opportunities.

Kerry Fullarton has been working on this strategy for over four years and has had the opportunity to meet wonderful women like Koorine and Malvena Walker.  Both ladies have demonstrated enthusiasm to change their employment and life prospects from day one.  They are real role modes for their communities and ambassadors for women entering the industry.  This award validates the role of rural women.

The Queensland Workforce Skilling Strategy has given the careers of the Walker sisters the kick start needed to commence a Traineeship with Wesfarmers Curragh. Successful outcomes like these have been achieved as a result of working on the ground to develop working relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities including Traditional Owner groups, regional community partners, registered training organisations, government agencies and employers to ensure that participants are well supported to gain and retain employment.

Kind regards

Kerry Fullarton, Project Coordinator, Queensland Workforce Skilling Strategy, Energy Skills Queensland

From Merredith Hillebrand

Dear Diann

Thank you to you, the sponsors and judges – It was an honour to be nominated and to then receive equal second place in the category ‘Empowering Women Experiencing Disadvantage’ at the ACLW awards ceremony in Sydney last week.

For the last 6 years I have worked with an incredible organisation called Fitted for Work where we strive to help women experiencing disadvantage break through barriers to get work, develop their confidence and achieve economic security. We know that when women have hope, confidence and economic security through work, the flow on effect is transformational. For some women experiencing disadvantage may have been part of their whole life journey while for others it may only be for a short snap of time.

Providing opportunities to help women overcome those barriers, to get work and become financially independent is what the Transition to Work Program is all about. I have managed this program at Fitted for Work since its inception 6 years ago and it has been a privilege and pleasure to have been a part of the lives of over 500 courageous women who put their trust in our organisation and the individuals within to help them. Peggy is one of those women and she, like all the others is an amazing woman and this award recognizes their individual courage, resilience and determination.

My thanks also go to the many people who are a part of the process that supports and cares for these women and includes program facilitators, mentors, work experience hosts, volunteers and colleagues. Every part that is played helps to provide a piece of the webbing that wraps around each woman to support her in what she needs in her journey towards financial independence and demonstrates the transformational power of women supporting women.

Merredith Hillebrand

From Peggy Maxwell

Dear Diann

I have been privileged to work closely with Merredith, and I am delighted and see firsthand how lives can be changed – and I am one of them.  Thank you Merredith, you truly are an inspirational woman.   

Women supporting other women is a powerful and enriching experience and I see this daily at Fitted for Work. 

Peggy Maxwell

Diversity Award
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