Outstanding educators named this year's Women of the West

Frances Bodkin and Amy Krisenthal
Frances Bodkin and Lucy Turnbull
Amy Krisenthal
Frances Bodkin
Lucy Turnbull, Amy Krisenthal and Fiona Scott
2013 Young Woman of the West winner, Mariah Okeroa with Amy Krisenthal
Fiona Scott, Marise Payne and Lucy Turnbull
Photo gallery from the 2014 Women of the West Awards ceremony

Two enterprising western Sydney women who have made a remarkable difference when it comes to teaching and inspiring young people have been named the winners of this year’s University of Western Sydney Women of the West Awards.

During a ceremony held at the UWS Parramatta Campus on Friday 7 March to celebrate International Women’s Day, Aunty Frances Bodkin a resident of Tahmoor was named Woman of the West, while Amy Krisenthal from Parramatta took out the Young Woman of the West prize.

They received their awards and warm congratulations from special guest and ceremony speaker, Lucy Turnbull AO.

Known to many throughout the Greater Western Sydney region as Aunty Fran, Aunty Frances Bodkin is a Dharawal elder, knowledge ‘keeper’ and teacher of Aboriginal environmental science and traditional Dharawal Aboriginal knowledge. 

A much-respected educator, author, advisor and speaker, Aunty Fran was named this year’s Woman of the West in recognition of her strong commitment to educating Greater Western Sydney region’s youth about Aboriginal environmental science and Aboriginal culture. 

With degrees in environmental science, geomorphology – the study of landforms – and climatology, Aunty Fran has a real passion for education that reflects her connection to place, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience that encompasses both the Western education system and the understandings of an Aboriginal experience.

“Knowledge is our prime resource – we must treasure it. From lessons in the classroom to field trips, media appearances and lobbying, I will continue to educate and inspire students and adults in western Sydney and beyond,” she says.

Young Woman of the West winner, Amy Krisenthal, is an English teacher at Chifley College Shalvey Campus(opens in a new window), who has made a selfless contribution to the school and its students’ learning and welfare.  

An outstanding classroom teacher, educational leader and advocate for improving the educational outcomes for young people, Amy was recognised for elevating the achievement of her students in NAPLAN and schools assessments, and for differentiating delivery of the syllabus to meet the needs of individual students.

“My passion for the learning and welfare of young people extends well outside the classroom – I have spent countless hours volunteering to help boys within Juvenile Detention, and enjoy working with Aboriginal children in their transition from primary to high school,” says Amy.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Hawkins says the University’s Women of the West Awards, established in 2005, are about celebrating the extraordinary contributions that women make to the Greater Western Sydney region.

“This year’s Women of the West nominees come from a variety of backgrounds and all make significant contributions to their professional fields and their local communities,” says Ms Hawkins.

“What they all share however is a sense of fairness, social justice and a desire to put others first. Giving back to others through volunteering and community work is a strong theme that carries through each of the women’s inspirational stories.

“On behalf of the University of Western Sydney community, I congratulate our winners and all of our Women of the West nominees for 2014.”

The category winners of both the Women of the West and Young Women of the West Awards will each receive a grant of $5,000 to further develop their leadership and advocacy work in their local community.