2012 Women of the Year Awards
Winners of the 2012 NSW Women of the Year Awards, presented at Parliament House on International Women's Day 8 March 2012.
Premier's Award for Woman of the Year
Fran Rowe, Tottenham
Fran’s persistence, determination and ability to empower people during tough times and environmental disasters, continues to help support Australia’s agricultural sector and hundreds of communities.
Having dedicated most of her life to protecting rural communities, farming families and the agricultural sector from the difficulties they face, Fran remains an inspirational voice for those in need.
Fran established a voluntary rural financial counselling service for farming families facing financial difficulties in 1984. It was this service that contributed to the model for the current national Rural Financial Counselling Service, which today employs 50 counsellors across the nation to better serve Australian farmers.
In addition to being the inaugural secretary of the NSW Rural Financial Counsellors’ Association, Fran has also volunteered for various boards and committees where she has influenced and advocated for rural families in desperate need of assistance.
While raising four daughters, Fran gained a Bachelor of Economics from the University of New England and a Diploma of Community Services (in Financial Counselling) - and also managed to find the time to run her current business partnership in a mixed farming enterprise in Central West NSW.
Fran’s ability to juggle her passion for helping communities with her own life’s demands is why this wonderful and inspiring woman deserves the recognition she has already received through her Ronald Anderson Achievements in Agriculture Award - ironically known as the ‘Man of the Year’ Award.
Of this award Fran said “it was obviously thought that women didn’t contribute to farming, but at least this award drew attention to this anomaly and today we have awards that recognise the outstanding contribution that women too make to agriculture.”
Her fight for Australia’s rural communities in times of financial hardship and drought has significantly changed agricultural policy, legislation and assistance measures -benefiting not only our farmers but our country as a whole, keeping this key industry alive.
Our farming industry is such an important part of NSW’s and Australia’s economy and life. Fran knows first-hand how hard it can be for our Aussie farmers and she’s proven that she’s ready to do whatever it takes to help.
People’s Choice Community Hero Woman of the Year
Yvonne Keane, Kellyville
Yvonne is one of those women who makes you ask ‘how does she do it all?’ Mum to two beautiful young children Asher and Saskia, wife to Anthony, as well as CEO and dedicated volunteer, Yvonne is passionate about her family and local community and likes to make a positive difference where she can.
When her son Asher was diagnosed at birth with a hearing impairment, Yvonne gave up a lucrative media career as a TV producer and presenter to work as a full-time volunteer and President of the Hear the Children early intervention centre in Kellyville.
Yvonne worked up to 60 hours a week at the centre which gives hearing impaired babies and pre-schoolers the gift of clear and natural speech through free therapy.
When the service was threatened with closure in 2009, Yvonne stepped in, with a handful of mothers, to help ensure its future. They had no funding, premises or staff, just a dream that the therapy would continue to change children’s lives.
She has since raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the service to ensure its future, thereby potentially changing the lives of countless children and their families’ for the better. Ninety percent of the charity’s children go on to attend mainstream schools with spoken language just the same as hearing children.
Earlier this year, Yvonne took the next step and founded Reach for the Rainbow, a new national not-for-profit organisation which is raising awareness about the benefits of early intervention for babies and pre-schoolers, and generating much-needed funding.
Yvonne’s long-term goal is to help fund the world’s first early intervention ‘super-centre’, in Australia where parents can take their children to get life-changing help.
She says that with the right individual therapy and support, these amazing children can grow into the community leaders, devoted parents and inspirational figures of the future.
Among other awards, Yvonne was named 2012 Citizen of the Year for Hills Shire Council’s Australia Day Awards and 2011 Volunteer of the Year Award (Education).
Lifetime achievement award winner, sponsored by The Daily Telegraph
Dr Edith Weisberg, Vaucluse
Dr Edith Weisberg is the Director of Research at Family Planning NSW and a senior clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Sydney. Edith is an acknowledged leader who has revolutionised reproductive and sexual health for Australian women, through her evidence based approach.
When Edith began her career in sexual and reproductive health, contraception options were not embraced by mainstream medicine. Through her research and advocacy, she worked to transform the way doctors and mainstream society viewed contraception and a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health.
Edith has published 75 peer reviewed papers and has been a member of around 40 expert committees. She has been awarded an Order of Australia for services to medicine in women’s health, reproductive health and family planning, as well as a Public Health Association (NSW) Impact Award and the Phillis N. Stern Distinguished Leadership Award. Edith is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
As the face of Family Planning for over 35 years, Dr Weisberg has supported the empowerment of women to choose their method of contraception. Her work, first as Medical Director of Family Planning NSW and then as Director of Research, has led a truly evidence based approach to reproductive and sexual health.
Dr Weisberg is currently involved with two Australian Research Council (ARC) funded projects focussing on the use of contraception, the choices women make and accessibility to services. Advancing the community’s understanding of reproductive and sexual health is a critical area of public health policy that has been championed by Edith for more than 40 years. Edith remains active in the sector and advocates, through her research, for clinical and attitudinal advancements in reproductive and sexual health.