Women of the West Awards
WOMEN OF THE WEST AWARDS 2021
Friday, 12 March 2021
12.00 pm - 3.00 pm
Waterview in Bicentennial Park, Bicentennial Drive, Olympic Park
$125.00 (incl. GST)
$40.00 (incl. GST)
Book event tickets via link below:
» Book Now for International Women's Day / Women of the West (opens in a new window)
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Introducing the Nominees for the 2021 Women of the West Awards!
Western Sydney University's Women of the West Awards recognise the outstanding contributions women make to the development of the Western Sydney region. Each year, we recognise women in the following categories:
- Woman of the West (Business)
- Woman of the West (Community)
- Young Woman of the West
Winners will be announced at a lunch to celebrate International Women's Day in partnership with the Coleman Greig Women in Business Forum. Details on how to book tickets to celebrate with us will be made public as soon as possible.
Nominees for Woman of the West (Business)
Aimee Paananen grew up in Western Sydney. Recognising the impact of anaphylaxis from her own experience, Aimee established a nut-free beauty salon, The Elegant Life and launched a nut free skincare line FACEKISS. In 2019, Aimee grew her business by launching a training academy. She now helps women develop confidence, self-esteem and financial independence all over Australia as they undertake their own journeys to start home-based businesses or by helping grow and expand new services to their businesses. Aimee is 9 x multi award winning national.
Cassandra has a strong background in separation and divorce. She is a passionate advocate for amicable and peaceful resolution of separation and for the voice of the child to be heard during the coordination
Donna Sillett is a Multi Award-Winning Mumpreneur, Transformational Business Coach, International Awards Judge, #1 Best- Selling Author, Guest Speaker, Inspirational Weight Loss Blogger & Sustainability Advocate. With over 26 years’ industry experience, Donna has been operating international multi award-winning eco &
Eileen Rossall has a strong background in education and alternative and holistic health. She is a passionate advocate for health and wellbeing spiritually and as a whole whilst promoting personal growth
Emma Macfarlane is a Macarthur lifetime local whose passion for supporting community is demonstrated by her strong involvement within it. In addition to running her own law firm, she is a founding Director of Victress Connection, a non-profit organisation established to enhance the skills of businesswomen and bring them
Gina Field is the Founder and Managing Director of Nepean Regional Security. Commencing in the late 80’s a security officer, Gina identified the limited career platforms for women in a male dominated industry such as Security. Through running her own security company and winning a myriad of over 30 industry awards including the NSW Premiers Businesswoman of the Year and Entrepreneur of the year, Gina advocates through sponsorship, mentor programs and public speaking about the options to encourage young women to think about non-traditional employment options as future careers.
I am a mum, an entrepreneur, a health advocate of toxin-free cooking and the co-founder of Nutricraft cookware. For more than 10 years, I have not been myself because of the grief I felt when I lost
Julie Hughes is a Founding Director of the Michael Hughes Foundation, a registered social enterprise focussed on cardiac arrest. Their mission is to Turn Bystanders into First Responders in medical emergencies. Her journey started after being the first responder to her husband Michael who passed away in 2013. Julie is a leading advocate in NSW for improvements in the community response to cardiac arrest and is creating HeartSafe Communities in Western Sydney. Julie is a member of the NSW Health Expect Panel for the Prevention of Premature Cardiac Mortality and was named 2016 City of Parramatta Citizen of the Year.
Nicole a proud Mum of 4, is the founder of CORE Kids Health & Education. Nicole’s nursing career has included paediatric oncology, research, education, management and her current role as Clinical Nurse
Young entrepreneur, who dares to believe that she can bring a gainful difference in the die-hard food services industry through a self-developed framework of PFSS (Product focused scientific selling).What helps me going in this up-hill battle is my pragmatic stint as a Financial Portfolio Analyst in investment banking, which
Rebecca Raad has been the Executive Director of BNI Sydney North West & Penrith since October 2018. Her region has been named the number one BNI Franchise in Australia in 2019 and 2020. In November 2020, Rebecca was the proud winner of the highly coveted Global BNI CEO Award. Rebecca is passionate about creating community in the diverse melting pot of Western Sydney. She works to establish a sense of belonging in each of her members and strategically builds her business network to include and embrace all professionals, from self-employed mothers and young entrepreneurs to experienced business experts, all with the same dream. To make a difference in the world.
Rosalind ChiaRosalind Chia is known in the community for her agenda-free contributions to the arts, media, disability advocacy, and community NFP groups. Herself a DV survivor and advocate for Australian families living with barriers to health and equal access to opportunity, she is the definition of resilience. Her goal is to perpetuate healthy morale and - essentially – connection within the community. She says,”‘West of the River’ Magazine is my way of modelling healthier, more prosocial and evidence-based conversations that begin with the individual but take responsibility for a wider social effect.” she has formed an inclusive work
environment via her new social enterprise (established in 2019) by employing people of all abilities whilst delivering fabulous true stories and mental health awareness through her magazine.
Nominees for Woman of the West (Community)
Belinda is a purpose driven individual, bringing the skills and experience gained in a blue-chip corporate career into the not-for-profit sector. She is a passionate advocate for improving the health and wellbeing of
Catherine Costello has worked within the Disability Sector for the past 25years. I have a strong passion for helping people and my passion lies in the areas of Mental Health, Homelessness, Employment and assisting
Jane Stratton is the CEO and founder of the Think+DO Tank Foundation, where she works at changing the world through creative thinking with communities. In 2017, Jane established the highly successful social
With a strong background in coaching Judo, former National Coach and current NSW Head Junior Coach and Junior Development Coach, Kerrye is passionate about the development of children, particularly girls
Khrise Toledo has a strong background and has over 15 years’ experience in Social Welfare, Case Management and Community Development. She is a passionate advocate for improving and further developing community capacity and improving the lives of people with disability. She is currently a Community Development Team Leader at Peppercorn Services Inc, and the Director of Aspire Disability Services. Khrise to date she is about to complete her Bachelor of Social Science major in Social Welfare and has attained a Diploma in Community Services, Case Management, Leadership and Management and a Certified Case
Kit Ng has a background in Dietetics and Theology, along with a strong interest in mentoring and coaching. She has a passion to take ancient truths and make them relevant for today’s youth, to provide them with spiritual support and guidance, and to develop them into leaders of their communities in the South-West for the future, with an emphasis of helping others. She is currently working as a mentor at the organisation called AFES, and has 2 trainees to share her vision.
Kylie Pussell has a strong background in not for profit and community roles. She is a passionate advocate for premature and sick babies and their families and is CEO and CoFounder of Miracle Babies Foundation.
Lena Nahlous is an experienced CEO, producer, curator, artistic director and facilitator with a long-term commitment to equity in the arts and creative sectors. She is currently the Executive Director of Diversity
Arts Australia and host of The Colour Cycle podcast. She has over 20 years-experience in arts, cultural and media organisations where she has developed artist brokerage and training programs focusing on creatives
from culturally diverse, refugee and migrant backgrounds and young people.She established initiatives like the Arab Film Festival, Switch digital media centre and Artfiles, an artist employment and brokerage program. Lena’s recent projects include the After Australia anthology, the Creative Equity Toolkit and Pacesetters.
Linda is the CEO of Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands. She has been instrumental in setting up a range of
Melissa Monteiro is the CEO of Community Migrant Resource Centre. Melissa has over 25 years of experience in the community sector. Melissa has managed CMRC, a not - for- profit community organization based in Parramatta providing settlement services to refugees and humanitarian entrants.
Melissa is currently involved in empowering refugee and migrant communities and has mentored many not-for-profit organizations and individuals. Melissa is passionate about migrant and refugee women, humanitarian resettlement and social justice issues. Melissa is an IMPACT25 Australia winner in 2019 and was awarded the Pro Bono Australia Collaborator Award. Melissa serves on various local and national committees. She is currently Chair of Settlement Council of Australia, Director Anti-Discrimination
NSW and Police Multicultural Advisory Council.
Pratibha Bhanushali is an Accountant by profession. With 32 years’ experience in corporate and entrepreneurial environment, Pratibha is passionate about connecting and supporting women in business and community. She is passionate about supporting community. Pratibha is also actively into JP service since last 8 years. She is a Founder and President at community organisation called Powerful Empowered Women Inc, an initiative to create a platform for women to support Women In Business and Community since December 2019. There are in total 955 women members in group. She is also the Founder and President at the community organisation Brighter Stellar Inc. Pratibha has recently honoured with Parliamentary Recognition Award for Outstanding Contribution in The Hills Community by Hon David Elliott, Police and Emergency Minister. She has recently became Treasurer at Hornsby Chamber of Commerce. Pratibha has also joined Rural Fire Service in 2020, she has also contributed to fundraising campaigns for Cancer Council, Hills Relay For Life, Hills Winter Sleep Out.
Rukhshanda Zaman is a meticulous IT Professional, working as an ICT Integrator at International Grammar School, who plays a colossal role in the lives of many people in the community around her. She is a prominent and active member of the Pakistan Association of Australia(since 2017) as Information Secretary for 2021, she had been leading in a variety of projects such as organising food drives, initiating fundraisers, emotional support for domestic violence victims, arranging workshops, running a WhatsApp group and a Facebook Group for women looking for work, women struggling with workplace issues, be it a bush fire season or Pandemic sufferers, she is always there to lead and inspire other women of her community. She led a huge campaign for International specifically Pakistani students during the pandemic and inspired many of her community fellows to take the same initiative. Besides being a fulltime working woman, she spends time working for the community, especially ladies in the community to speak up and have a voice of their own. Rukhshanda is also raising awareness for breast cancer by hosting an annual Pink Ribbon Breakfast (registered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation), to raise money for Breast Cancer awareness and research. Rukhshanda uses her influence and intellect to empower and inspire members of the community and help improve the positive image of Pakistan and Pakistanis in Australia.
Sarah Cassim is a Bowen Mountain mother of 3, is the founder of Hawkesbury Women in Business and Little Bluebird Books.Sarah has strived to assist a diverse range of families within the Hawkesbury
and surrounds in establishing a clearer direction towards building their professional businesses and personal well-beings. By connecting the community, she has seen incredible success in women returning to
work, women becoming major parts of a community after being isolated or bound by their fears and anxieties. She works alongside many members of the community and believes in the power of collaborating
in the community. Sarah has inspired many to achieve what they want to achieve and give hope. Sarah and her husband formed a Christmas time giveaway, whereas they delivered hams and vegetable boxes to
families who had been hard hit by the COVID pandemic. This was incredibly helpful for many families who had been through extreme hardship throughout the year.
Saroni is an Actor, Co-Chair, Equity- Diversity-MEAA and Social-Entrepreneur. She has created Saroni Roy Foundation- (SRf), a social-enterprise based on three core values - diversity, sustainability, social-justice, perpetuating socio-economic-environmental well-being, creating a peaceful, inclusive ‘one-world’ to live and love. She’s awarded the 2021 City of Parramatta Young-Adult Citizen of the Year Finalist for noteworthy contribution to the City of Parramatta and has conceptualised and hosted several community-cohesion programs, including commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth-Anniversary, drawing active participation from Indigenous and International communities of Greater-Western-Sydney. Saroni was named Ms India-Australia Goodwill Ambassador in 2018. Her food donation drive for Addison-Road-Community-Organisation provided food to 100,000 under-privileged Australians and rescued 100 tonnes of food from going to the landfill.
Nominees for Young Woman of the West
Elyse Powell is the owner of Bells Line Legal. She is a lawyer with a passion for ensuring legal services are available and easily accessible to all members of her community and works hard to fulfil this vision whilst encouraging other local businesses to do the same. Together, Elyse and Bells Line Legal have received many accolades in a short time of operation including two local business awards, WSABE Awards finalist and Telstra Business women’s Awards finalist.
With a gift for writing, Genille is a self-published author, and uses profits from her books to support one of her projects, “Serve the Community”. Genille has managed to provide over 900 meals for the homeless while living on a university student’s budget. Genille was born in Kingston Jamaica and moved to Australia four years ago. Genille earned her a dual master’s degree in International Communications and International Relations from Macquarie University in 2019. Her passion for homelessness led her to working with Mission without Borders in Australia, where she empowers people living in poverty to become self- sufficient. In addition to, working with the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) to spread awareness and to advocate for human rights for marginalised groups. Genille is finalising her non-profit organization, Future Life, with a focus on strengthening the community. Experiencing homeless and poverty firsthand, she is committed to bridging the gap between homelessness and sustainable life in western Sydney and eventually throughout Australia.
Kavika, a student of bachelor’s in cyber security and Behaviour from WSU is a constant academic achiever; member of the Academy and Golden Key International Society and was awarded the Dean’s Merit List Award for 2019. Her work as the Microsoft Student Ambassador, President of the Cyber Security Association, International Student Ambassador for WSU is involved in bridging the gap between industry and university- majorly focused on creating representation for Women in Security. She is a passionate advocate of cyber awareness-volunteer for noble initiatives such as “Be Connected” Australian Government program and NGOs to educate the elderly about cyber safety. Her security awareness gamification app for young kids gained international recognition when she won the Kaspersky’s Secure’ IT Cup 2020. She was awarded “Best Undergraduate Computing Project” Award by the School of Computer, Data and Mathematical Science in the End of the Year Showcase 2020. She was selected as Semi-Finalist for the 7News Young Achievers Award 2021.
Natalie is a creative instigator who advocates for meaningful community engagement. She has a background in the arts and social entrepreneurship, having created her first project at the age of 18. In 2019 Natalie was invited to participate in the International Visitors Leadership Program with the US Consulate. She is currently a Community Engagement Officer in local government.
Priya has a strong background in construction management. She is a passionate advocate for technology integration into construction businesses. She is currently a doctoral researcher at the Centre for Smart Modern Construction at Western Sydney University. Leading the first and only CIB student chapter in NSW, co-building OkayMate, a digital tool that crowdsources safety experiences on a construction site to achieve zero harm or teaching a classroom full of master’s students advanced contract management, her contribution to research, outreach and quality of teaching of the School of Built Environment at WSU as a young professional has been noteworthy.
Sophie Wills has a passion for community and improving sudden cardiac arrest outcomes. As a student Paramedic, Sophie founded the not-for-profit organisation Community Defib Project. Sophie as Chair developed the project to reach more than 10 communities. The organisation is responsible for the installation of more the 30 community accessible defibrillators for vulnerable communities. These devices are available 24/7 for access by members of the community and provide the tools for community members to save the life of someone in cardiac arrest. Sophie is currently working as a paramedic for NSW Ambulance.
Rose is an award-winning researcher, mentor and advocate for gender equity, diversity in leadership and access to education. In addition to studying a double degree (business and law), volunteering in the community and creating digital content, she represents 32,000 students on Western Sydney University’s Board of Trustees. Rose is also an Analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a Multicultural Youth Ambassador for NSW, a Wellbeing Health & Youth Commissioner and a member of FECCA’s National Women’s Advisory Committee. Rose is the 2020-21 Blacktown Showgirl, 2020 Blacktown Young Citizen of the Year and the 2019 Western Sydney Women’s Outstanding Young Woman of the Year.