Women recognised in local awards

Back: Renée La Peyre, Bridie Coughlin, Lee Fox. Front: Karen Todd, Yvonne Parker, Kathyrn Aston-Mourney. Absent: Nikki Stanley. (supplied)

The 2024 Women in Community Life Awards recognised 29 women on Friday March 8.

The City of Greater Geelong, in partnership with the Women in Community Life Advisory Committee (WiCLAC), nominated the candidates across seven categories: First Nations Woman, Climate Action, Disability Rights, Economic Empowerment, Education, Human Rights, and Leadership in Women’s Health.

Commencing in 2016, the annual awards acknowledge the contribution women have made to the Greater Geelong community and in particular, the impact they have made to promote and advocate for the advancement of gender equality.

The 2024 award recipients are:

Nikki Stanley: Women in Community Life Award for a First Nations Woman

Nikki’s impact on the Geelong community extends far beyond her role as a proud Wadawurrung woman. Nikki’s deep commitment to preserving and sharing the rich traditions of the Wadawurrung people has made her a cornerstone of cultural education and awareness in the region. Her dedication to fostering a sense of belonging for all community has cultivated an environment where everyone feels connected and respected, breaking down barriers and building bridges between different cultural backgrounds.

Yvonne Parker: Women in Community Life Award for Climate Action

Yvonne Parker is a climate activist and volunteer with Geelong Sustainability and is an exemplary role model and a true inspiration. From picking up rubbish on our beaches to providing an example to the women and girls in our community that you are never ‘too’ anything to not have a go and to strive for your dreams. She uses her writing skills as an activist and is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

Lee Fox: Women in Community Life Award for Disability Rights

Facing challenges posed by bipolar disorder, Lee’s transition from being on the disability support pension to leading a team of mental health professionals is a remarkable example of breaking through the barriers of gender stereotypes and societal expectations. By openly discussing her journey and being in a position of influence, she is a persuasive role model for women and girls facing similar challenges. Her story demonstrates that achieving professional success and personal growth is possible regardless of age, gender, and health challenges.

Bridie Coughlin: Women in Community Life Award for Economic Empowerment

Musicians had significant economic impacts on their profession and ability to generate income during the COVID19 pandemic. Bridie has been a leader in re-establishing the live music scene in Geelong, through her role at The Barwon Club Hotel. Bridie has a unique style and a self-confidence that demonstrates professional leadership and the ability to ‘be ones-self’ in their chosen profession. Her identity is simultaneously “alternative” and personable, allowing those opportunities for mentorship, especially with musicians who may not conform to mainstream ideals of gender or identity.

Kathyrn Aston-Mourney: Women in Community Life Award for Education

Kathryn is a scientist, musician and inspiring leader who is passionate about training the next generation of women. Her visibility as a successful young woman in STEM continues to challenge entrenched stereotypes. Kat volunteers to promote STEM careers to the young women of Geelong and provide exciting opportunities for women scientists to showcase their work to the Geelong community. She also volunteers with Orchestra Geelong as a committee member and oboist encouraging women and girls to support their involvement in community music.

Renée La Peyre: Women in Community Life Award for Human Rights

Renée has significantly advanced participation, representation, and leadership for women and girls in the Greater Geelong community through her pioneering efforts in the disability sector. Her dedication to eradicating historical abuses aligns seamlessly with her commitment to advancing the positions of women and girls. Through her business, Renée has provided emergency accommodation to over 200 women with disabilities, challenging stereotypes and promoting the belief that everyone deserves the chance to have safe and enjoyable experiences regardless of their circumstances.

Karen Todd: Women in Community Life Award for Leadership in Women’s Health

As a social worker, Karen is a passionate advocate for protecting women and children from family violence and has trained hundreds of health professionals to effectively recognise and respond to patients experiencing family violence. Her work has led to a significant shift in the way health professionals and health services throughout the Greater Geelong region respond to victims of family violence. Karen’s advocacy resulted in the successful introduction of a social work service across seven days in the Emergency Department at University Hospital Geelong in 2021.