The NSW Women of the Year Awards celebrate the outstanding contributions of women across NSW, to industry, community and society.

We sponsor the Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises the dedication and life-long commitment of a local NSW woman to her community.

And the winner is...

We’d like to congratulate Christine Strachan as the 2020 winner of the First State Super Lifetime Achievement Award.

Christine was presented with her award at this morning’s NSW Women of the Year Awards breakfast at Sydney’s ICC. Congratulations to Christine and all our finalists for the amazing work you do within our community.   

Christine Strachan

Christine has worked tirelessly throughout her life to develop a number of services aimed at protecting and supporting vulnerable women.

Taking the reins of the Burwood Information and Aid Centre over 40 years ago, Christine grew this service from Meals on Wheels into the large charity Burwood Community Welfare Services.

In 1982 Christine met a woman who was terrified of seeing her husband when applying for an AVO. Christine accompanied her to court and sat with her as her support. This was the beginning of the Women's Domestic Violence Advocacy Service. Today this service, funded by Legal Aid, employs 11 staff who attend court every Thursday, where they support approximately 100 domestic violence survivors each week.

Christine also developed a Specialist Migrant Placement Program, which advocates for female migrant professionals such as doctors, lawyers and engineers to have their qualifications accredited in Australia. Many of these women rebuilt their careers and went on to make valuable contributions to Australian society.

She has provided quality practical and emotional support to disadvantaged members of Sydney’s Inner West community.

 

Our exceptional finalists

Lynette Bright

Lynette is passionate about advocating for community transport to ensure disadvantaged people are able to participate in their local communities. Beginning in 1982 with two vehicles and three volunteers, Lynette has grown South West Community Transport (SWCT) to a fleet of 32 vehicles, 62 paid staff and 65 amazing volunteers. Under Lynette’s leadership the organisation now  provides 400 to 600 trips every day to over 8,000 clients, 20% of whom speak a language other than English at home.

For 29 years she has been an innovator, developing countless resources and training manuals to better equip community drivers with information on the specific medical and cultural needs of their clients.

Lynette's professionalism and integrity are well known. In an industry where change is about the only constant factor, Lynette deals with today while always thinking about the future and how SWCT can adapt and thrive in new environments.

Violet Roumeliotis

Violet is a social entrepreneur with an extensive not-for-profit career spanning almost 40 years. She has championed opportunities for refugees and migrants, beginning in her 20s, and culminating in her current role as CEO of Settlement Services International (SSI).

Violet’s vocation for addressing the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community’s unique needs stems from seeing her own parents struggle as new migrants to Australia. Examples of her work include:      

  • founding Australia’s first culturally matched foster care program that now cares for 165 children daily;
  • a start-up program that has helped 160+ refugees start businesses and was recently licensed to the Canadian government; and 
  • a tailored Ability Links program that connects people with disability, their families and carers to support and services in the community.

During her time as CEO of SSI, she has ensured the organisation’s sustainability through diversification, and implemented a model where SSI’s surpluses are reinvested into initiatives that deliver broader social outcomes for vulnerable communities. In a single year, more than 36,000 people come through SSI’s doors for support.

Yvonne Brugmans

Yvonne has dedicated her life to a career in nursing and education. She is passionate about recruiting new nursing students. In her role as a Nursing Work Experience Coordinator at St George Hospital she secured $1.5 million in funding from the NSW government to implement a Nursing In Schools pilot program for year 11 and 12 students.

The first cohort of twenty local high school students saw a 100% retention, allowing students to enter either a Bachelor of Nursing or Trainee Enrolled nurse program at TAFE. The NSW government then expanded the program to include Sydney West schools. Nursing In Schools provided a vocational education pathway not previously available, as well as incentives for high school students to
enter nursing at a time of nursing shortages. The program is now available in schools around Australia.

After 55 years in nursing, Yvonne momentarily retired, only to return to nursing for a further nine years in the private sector, supporting people with Parkinsons Disease.

Read more about the awards