Women of the West Awards 2018

The Western Sydney University Women of the West Awards honour women in Greater Western Sydney and formally recognises their contribution to the development of the region.

The Awards showcase the diversity and strength of women in Greater Western Sydney.

Nominations for 2018 are Now Open

Would you like to acknowledge an extraordinary woman who has contributed to Greater Western Sydney?

You are invited to acknowledge a colleague, friend, acquaintance or family member by nominating them for a Women of the West Award in 2018.

Each year, nominees come from a variety of backgrounds including education, health services, local industry, volunteering, environmental groups, government and non-government organisations.

Read about last year's winners on the News Centre.

Submitting a Nomination

Nominations should be submitted by email to womenofthewest@westernsydney.edu.au stating:

  • your nominee's full name 
  • her email address
  • the appropriate award category (see below) and
  • the reason you believe this woman should be recognised

Provide real examples of how the woman you are nominating has contributed to society, demonstrated leadership, helped others and / or left a legacy somewhere. Ask others that know the nominee to help you find good examples.

Nominations close at 5pm on Thursday 14 December 2017.

Award Categories

Nominations are open for the following categories:

  • Woman of the West (Business)
  • Woman of the West (Community)
  • Young Woman of the West (18 to 30 years of age as of 31 December 2017)

Award Criteria

Each year members of the Greater Western Sydney community are invited to nominate women who:

  • live and/or work in Greater Western Sydney
  • demonstrate leadership
  • contribute to improving the lives of people in Greater Western Sydney
  • demonstrate achievements or outcomes above and beyond their occupational roles

The above criteria apply for all categories.

For the purposes of the awards, Western Sydney is taken to include the following 14 local government areas:  Hawkesbury; Baulkham Hills; Blue Mountains; Blacktown; Parramatta; Auburn; Holroyd; Penrith; Fairfield; Bankstown; Liverpool; Camden; Campbelltown; Wollondilly.

Women holding senior state or federal government roles are ineligible to be nominated.  Women who are currently employed by Western Sydney University are ineligible to be nominated.  University students can be nominated, however their contributions to greater Western Sydney must include service outside the University, and within the region.

What Happens Next

After the nomination period, nominated women will be invited explain their contributions through a short written or video application.

Winners will be publicly announced at the Western Sydney University International Women’s Day celebration in March 2018.

For more information, please feel free to contact womenofthewest@westernsydney.edu.au.

Women of the West 2017

Congratulations once again to all the nominees for the 2017 Young Women of the West and Women of the West Awards.

Women of the West | Business

Christa Anthony, Principal/Owner, Studio Dance NSW

Nominated by Sarina Anthony.

Christa was nominated by Sarina Anthony for her drive and valuable contribution to the lives of others in Greater Western Sydney. In her role as Principal/Owner of Studio Dance NSW, Christa strives to empower the youth of Kings Park and surrounding areas through the performing arts. Christa also tutors students studying the Diploma of Counselling, utilising her Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) and Graduate Diploma in Counselling from Western Sydney University.

Christa previously worked as a counsellor and case worker within Greater Western Sydney, and is still committed to helping children and young people achieve their dreams. A recipient of the Young Women of the West Award in 2012, she has continued to gain recognition for her business acumen and community focus, receiving the 2014 Coral McLean Award which recognises outstanding community contributions by women within the Chifley electorate.

Christa is also active within the disabled community, conducting dance classes within her studio specifically for children with special needs.

Frances Sidarous, Senior Property Manager & New Development Sales Manager, Sidarous Realty

Nominated by Christine Hallett.

A nominee for the Young Women of the West Award in 2016, Frances has demonstrated significant leadership within the Greater Western Sydney community by assisting and mentoring first-time home owners through her real estate business, Sidarous Realty. With a focus on personal connection and integrity, Frances strives to assist those within Greater Western Sydney to realise the 'Australian dream' of owning their first home.
A current Western Sydney University student, Frances has been an exemplary volunteer 'buddy' within the Law School whilst completing her studies. Frances is also actively involved with multiple community organisations, with a particular focus on animal welfare. She regularly conducts fundraising events to raise money and awareness for animals in need.

Le Ho, Managing Director, Aspiring Promotions

Nominated by Stephanie Luong.

Le was nominated by Stephanie Luong for her exceptional leadership and business acumen. Recognised as one of Australia's leading female entrepreneurs, Le took over the waste management company Capital City Waste Services (CCWS) and within years had the company achieving record turnover. Having sold CCWS, Le is now using her status within the community to run Aspiring Promotions. Aspiring Promotions aims to provide the means for entrepreneurs and businesses to share their stories of overcoming adversity and securing success. Herself a Vietnamese-Australian and coming from a refugee background, Le is using Aspiring Promotions to provide a voice to others from diverse backgrounds, particularly those from Greater Western Sydney, with the aim of inspiring those within the community.

Working with local community groups, Le strives to empower those from disadvantaged backgrounds to build their own successes. In particular, Le has worked closely with the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, an Australian organisation that aims to rescue Vietnam's poorest children from poverty.

Sapna Shah, Co-Founder, Onroad Driving School

Nominated by Annelise Ashkar.

Sapna was nominated by Annelise Ashkar for her business leadership and passion for safety and gender equality. Establishing a business within the traditionally male-dominated driving school industry, Sapna strived to create a business with a strong community focus and with exemplary service. The positive impact that Onroad Driving School has had within the community has been recognised through several local business awards, including as a 2015 finalist at the Australian Small Business Champion Awards.

Sapna is committed to safety within the Greater Western Sydney community, using her driving school as a platform to teach the importance of road skills and safety. In 2016, Sapna teamed up with Vision Australia for the Angus Suttor Driving Day at Eastern Creek, an event which grants the visually impaired the opportunity to drive.

Sapna's professional and community work has touched many lives within the Greater Western Sydney region, with thousands benefitting from her leadership within the driving school industry.

Women of the West – Community

Yvonne Keane, Mayor, The Hills Shire Council

Nominated by Chantelle Fornari-Orsmond.

Yvonne is currently the Mayor for The Hills Shire Council. She is also the Chair (volunteer) for a new crisis shelter that has been established in Castle Hill for women and their children who are fleeing domestic violence.

Under Yvonne's leadership, the shelter provides much-needed beds to women and children, and safely and successfully transitions them to a new life away from domestic violence.

Yvonne's compassion and commitment is well known within the community and has been recognised through her hard work and dedication to the sector.

Marianna Guirguis, Client Services Officer, Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency

Nominated by Holly Corpre.

Marianna has been a volunteer Client Services Officer at Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency for two years and has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills. She has established effective relationships and advocacy within the Arabic speaking community and her devotion to her role has provided many individuals with a network of support.

Marianna is an asset to the community of Mount Druitt and also Greater Western Sydney.

Jenny Bombardieri, Executive Officer, Recreation Sports and Aquatics Club

Nominated by Bob Beer.

Jenny was nominated by Bob Beer for her exemplary leadership in the service of her community as an active and passionate volunteer.

Jenny first engaged in community volunteering with the development of special swim classes for children with asthma and also intellectual disability. The demands for these programs led to Jenny managing a group of volunteers and establishing Roselands Sports and Aquatics Club (RSAC). This organisation has provided a fundamental base of programs for the local community to service particular individuals with disabilities. Jenny's commitment to the organisation has been recognised through various organisations providing financial support and resources. These have included NSW Department of Sport and Recreation, local councils and various corporate companies.

Working as Executive Officer for the RSAC, Jenny is committed to providing regular programs for over 500 people with disabilities. Jenny is highly recognised within her local community and Greater Western Sydney.

Manar Hajaj, Contact Supervisor, Creating Links

Nominated by Manal Hajaj.

Manar is currently the Contact Supervisor at Creating Links and demonstrates a passion to contribute and improve the lives of individuals living in Greater Western Sydney. Manar specialises in providing vulnerable minors, who are in the foster system, with scheduled and meaningful contact with their family.

Recently Manar has become a volunteer at Lifeline Australia and also AusRelief. She also raised a significant amount of funds for a local hospital during the Tumut Cycling Classic. Manar takes pride in her work and has made a significant impact on many individuals' lives in Greater Western Sydney and beyond.

Ruth Morrison, Secretary, Rotary Club of Narellan

Nominated by Ramya Acharya.

Ruth has been a member of Rotary Club of Narellan for the past 10 years and is currently the Club's secretary. Narellan Rotary serves the local region of Greater Western Sydney in a variety of ways and under Ruth's leadership has made a significant, positive contribution to the lives of many in the area.

The initiatives and contributions that Ruth has been a part of have included the Rotary Club of Narellan Ball which has contributed approximately 10 million dollars to community organisations focusing on education.

Ruth's sustained commitment to fundraising within her local community has played a major role in many individuals' lives.

Ruth Nelson, Partner, The Creating Space Project

Nominated by Jodie Hay.

Ruth was nominated by Jodie Hay for her endless commitment to leading a number of voluntary programs across Greater Western Sydney. These have included servicing the board and committee meetings for the Australian Forum for Justice and the Josephite Justice network.

Ruth's most recent work has been on The Creating Space Project which has inspired many women to have a voice and learn their own strength, value and power. At the moment the project has been focused on a group of female refugees to enhance their English and job seeking skills.

Ruth's philanthropic work covers all levels of society and has made a significant impact on individuals within her local community and beyond.

Wendy Lindsay, Vice President, Padstow Park Public School P&C

Nominated by David Coleman.

Wendy has been the driving force in her local community to raise funds to provide upgraded facilities to her local public school. She has also implemented the Kids in the Kitchen program which educates primary students about healthy eating and cooking.

Wendy's contribution to local community radio has also been noted, especially in promoting community groups and charities. Her ongoing commitment to a wide range of community organisations has provided a range of opportunities to the broader community and has been recognised with her being named the 2015 Local Woman of the Year for East Hills.

Kathryn Temple, Lecturer, Western Sydney TAFE College Richmond

Nominated by Bronwyn Berriman.

Kathryn was nominated by Bronwyn Berriman for her commitment and contribution to the lives of families in the Blue Mountains Region. Kathryn's current role as lecturer in Horticulture and Landscape Design has allowed her to provide landscaping and design work to local community groups which have included childcare centres, aged care facilities and most recently the 2013 Blue Mountains bushfire recovery effort. Kathryn saw an opportunity to involve her TAFE students in assisting rebuilding individuals lives through restoring or establishing new gardens for families affected by the devastation of the fires. The determination that Kathryn has demonstrated has been above and beyond her current role and she has been recognised as one of the unsung heroes of the Blue Mountains bushfires.

Kathryn is also an active member of the Springwood Baptist Church and leads their Craftworks program on a weekly basis. This program seeks to engage women in the church and the wider community. She also volunteers her time on a weekly basis to visit elderly residents in a retirement facility at Leura in the Blue Mountains.

Kathryn's personal and professional endeavours have touched many people's lives throughout the Greater Western Sydney Region.

Young Women of the West (18 to 28 years)

Maja Podinic, Student, Western Sydney University

Nominated by Tanja Podinic.

Maja was nominated by Tanja Podinic for her passion and commitment to her local community. Maja is currently a student of Western Sydney University and has a strong focus on leadership and social justice. She has recently completed a TAFE certificate in Leadership and Mentoring which has provided the fundamental base to developing her Pen Pals Cross Cultural Program. This program has been introduced across two Greater Western Sydney schools engaging students who are predominately refugees and have come from a non-English speaking background. Her work for this program has been recognised through receiving a Highly Commended for the Dame Marie Bashir Peace Prize award. Maja was also provided with the opportunity to present a speech on her Pen Pals Cross Cultural Program at NSW Parliament House.

Maja is a role model for other young people within her community and is a strong advocate for refugees.