Three women from the Moreton Bay Region have been recognised by the Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women’s Network (QRRRWN), which held a virtual ceremony for its annual awards on Saturday night.
The program aims to encourage women to identify and be recognised for the strengths they contribute to rural, regional and remote communities.
The Moreton Bay region winners – Melissa Redsell from A Brave Life; Katrina Houghton, who created the Know Your Knockers breast cancer guide; and Humpybong State School Principal Catherine Waldron - were chosen from 18 finalists across the seven categories in the 2020 QRRRWN Strong Women Leadership Awards.
Warner’s Melissa Redsell, founder of A Brave Life, was named Woman of the Year for her work supporting young mothers over the past five years.
Funded through donations, grants, and sponsorship, the charity provides new nappy bags for expectant teen mums through its Baby Bundle program.
She says the award is recognition of the support A Brave Life provides for young mums and as a smaller business, dealing with what is often a taboo subject, it is particularly gratifying.
“Knowing first-hand the power that education has had in my life, I wanted use my life story to encourage and empower other young women by letting them know that ‘nothing is impossible’,” Melissa says.
“To be recognised for the work that I do, and that A Brave Life does in community, is truly amazing.”
She says she’s especially proud that three A Brave Life mums will start their tertiary education at USQ at Petrie next year, joining a fourth who has just completed first year nursing.
Melissa hopes the recognition she received will inspire the young women she works with, providing support to help them juggle study with motherhood.
“There’s so many young women I work with who could be Woman of the Year,” she says.
Thrilled to end the year on a positive note, she says demand for support - both practical and emotional – increased this year as young mums struggled to deal with the added isolation brought about by COVID-19 restrictions.
“We provided 800 bundles this year alone – 40 of them yesterday - and we couldn’t have done it without our supporters – each nappy bag would cost at least $150 retail to put together.”
To donate to A Brave Life’s Christmas appeal, click here.
Moreton Bay Regional Councillor Cath Tonks (Div 9) congratulated Melissa on her achievement at this week’s council meeting.
“Melissa is without question one of the most remarkable women in Australia today, and we are spoilt to be able to call her a local,” Cr Tonks says.
“Her life story is a true tale of triumph over adversity and it’s impossible to meet her and not feel moved by her determination to make this world a better place for young mums.”
QRRRWN Vice-President Davida Melksham says the awards celebrate the efforts of women in rural, regional and remote communities – paid and unpaid.
“To have excellence in domestic violence, education, at-risk teens, community policing, respectful relationships, breast cancer support, disability, youth work, art, writing, tourism and sustainable communities all underlines the layers being built to sustain rural community,” she says.
“There has been a steady stream of feedback that again this year, the body of work undertaken by this year’s finalists is awe-inspiring. Each year, our members, draw energy and enthusiasm from the drive and energy of those who are nominated.”
Founding QRRRWN members Georgie Somerset and Margaret Cruickshank, and board member who breathed life into the inaugural Awards program Bev Ryan, joined last year’s QRRRWN Woman of the Year Loretta Johnson to announce awards.
Margaret Cruickshank says: “When we started QRRRWN it was a man’s world and it’s obvious from the awards that women’s voices are not even questioned but are widely accepted now”.
Woman of the Year: Melissa Redsell, Warner
Inspirational Woman of the Year: Jacqueline Curley, Cloncurry
Young Woman with a Vision: Bella Shilf, Cooyar
Small Business Owner of the Year: Katrina Houghton, Woody Point
Story Teller of the Year: Alison Richardson, Mackay
Influential Leader of the Year: Catherine Waldron, Margate
Volunteer of the Year: Ruth Vicary, Mundubbera, and Melissa Hopkins, Wandoan