International Women’s Day: Honours for six making a difference

International Women’s Day: Honours for six making a difference

Six women from very different backgrounds have been honoured for their work in the Moreton Bay Region for International Women’s Day.

The awards were presented by Soroptimist International Moreton North Inc (SIMNI) at its 10th annual International Women’s Day Awards and Your Voice Matters forum at North Lakes Hotel on March 6.

The event was a chance for members and guests to celebrate the achievements of women and discuss the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality and #breakthebias.

Award winners

Woman of the Year - Trish Jenkins, author/speaker

Trish is an author, international speaker and host of Live TV show/podcast. She actively connects and engages with Soroptimist International members around the world, opening her home to visiting members and their families. As an author and speaker, she strives to help others make better decisions in business and life. No subject is taboo and she has a gentle yet blunt approach.

Business Woman of the Year - Kylie Knight, Moreton Daily editor

Kylie has worked in community news for almost 25 years as a journalist, sub-editor and editor, mostly in the Moreton Bay Region. She has edited newspapers and magazines and produced content for digital audiences, and is the editor of Moreton Daily – the region’s community news service. Kylie has a passion for shining a light on local heroes and businesses, through positive news stories.

Young Woman of the Year - Emma Burridge, senior youth worker Kairos Community College

Emma assisted with the co-ordination of the Youth Partnership Project Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You photo exhibition and with SIMNI’s Cyber Bullying Safety Project alongside Kairos teachers and SIMNI President Chris Knight. Her love of sport has encouraged many students and teachers to take part in the Kokoda Trek in Brisbane. One her strengths is her capacity to advocate for young people, ensuring others respect and listen to their needs and stories.

Young Woman of the Year - Zoey-Brooke Jenson, youth worker Kairos Community College

As a teen mum, Zoey completed her Year 12 certificate and volunteered at her high school as a peer mentor. In her role at Kairos, she has worked with SIMNI members on tribal lunches and with Emma Burridge and the team to support a holistic approach to student wellbeing and mental health resilience. She is presently studying a masters in social work and communities to ensure young people are engaged as next generation leaders.

Community Volunteer of the Year - Bettina Nissen, storyteller/early learning specialist/photographer

Bettina is SIMNI’s resident storyteller, creative arts co-ordinator and was the team leader for its Tribal lunches program at Kairos Community College in 2021. She has extensive experience working with playgroups, schools, community organisations, prisons, aged care facilities and with children and families affected by trauma. She is respected nationally for her work and facilitated and narrated the 100 Women’s Centenary Exhibition at Deception Bay Library.

Community Volunteer of the Year - Sherryn Patterson, disability and diversity advocate

Sherryn is an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse, people living with disabilities and those caring for the elderly. She understands the importance of women have economic and financial security and is a role model for sole parents. Sherryn has been an active volunteer in local and national community organisations and has used her network and advocacy skills to lobby for greater access to support and services for people living with a disability and their families.

See the gallery from the event

‘In Conversation’ panel to #breakthebias

The event also included a panel discussion featuring Deputy Mayor Jodie Shipway, Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters, Share the Dignity Founder Rochelle Gilbert and disability/health care advocate and candidate for Dickson Ali France.

The four shared their stories, insights, experiences and views on gender equality during a frank, surprising and thought-provoking Q&A session.

All agreed women needed to take a bigger role in the process, making their vote count, putting their hands up for preselection and in lobbying for change.

SIMNI President Chris Knight said everything was political when it came down to the impact it had on the lives of women.

“If we are to achieve gender equality by 2030, then we need to put our foot on the accelerator pedal now,” she said.

“We demand less talk and more action.”

Cr Shipway said she had not experienced sexual harassment or discrimination during her career and said local government was well ahead of federal politics in terms of representation and opportunities for women.

Her advice to young women was to just ‘do it’ and keep working hard until they succeeded.

Senator Waters said she became involved in politics because she realised she needed to be part of the process to bring about change. She now realises change takes a long time.

She said Federal Parliament was still two-thirds men, mostly older white men – which was not reflective of the whole community.

“I feel like decisions are being made without the lived experience of so many people. We don’t have enough people of colour in Parliament and we certainly don’t have enough women and people of different abilities and different ethnic backgrounds and professional backgrounds,” Senator Waters said.

“This is why we’re in a bit of a pickle at the moment.”

Ms Gilbert recalled her successful battle to remove the GST from sanitary items.

“It really was a people-power movement. It was about how to get rid of this sexist and archaic tax that was only there because when the tax was brought in there were only men sitting around the table,” she said.

As a result of her campaign, 104,000 people signed a petition calling for the tax to be axed on those items and it was the biggest online petition at that time in Australia.

She has recently launched another petition calling for a mandate to provide women with sanitary items in hospital. (share the dignity website)

“It is our voices that make the difference out there,” she said.

Ms France described appalling verbal abuse she experienced during a previous Federal election campaign targeting her because she was a woman with a disability.

“I think the way that we create change for people with a disability is by elevating their voices and by having them at the table,” she said.

“Twenty percent of people in Australia identify as having a disability but we’re really not represented in our Federal Parliament and the House of Representatives.”

Ms France said she was told many times that she would never work again, after her leg was amputated.

“It wasn’t a case of should I do this, it was a case of I must do this,” she said.

The panel agreed all women needed to ‘pass the ladder down’ to the next generation to achieve gender equality.

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