Coffs Coast International Women’s Day, Woman of the Year 2018

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The International Women’s Day Coffs Coast Woman of the Year Award was established to acknowledge the positive contribution of women in the Coffs Coast region. It aims to recognise outstanding women working for the betterment of women and girls in business, education or community.

International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates and acknowledges the achievements of women globally on 8th March each year. The three major women’s groups in Coffs Harbour: the Zonta Club of Coffs Harbour Inc., BPW (Business and Professional Women) Coffs Harbour, and the Coffs Coast Business Women’s Network (BWN) will again be holding their very special breakfast on the morning of 8th March 2018, to provide the opportunity for girls, men and women to come together to share in the successes of our local women and girls.

Finalists: Five inspiring finalists have been recognised by their peers for the 2018 Woman of the Year Award. The finalists and the eventual winner of the Award will be presented at the IWD Breakfast, at C.ex Coffs, on International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2018.

The sponsors for the cash award of $1,000 are Coffs Harbour City Council and C.ex Group ClubGRANTS program.

This year we are delighted to announce that we have a runner up award of $250, sponsored by One Agency Coffs Harbour. The finalists are:

Ellen Slater

Ellen is the face of a great initiative on the Coffs Coast, Joyland Carers’ Retreat. Over the past two and half years, Ellen Slater has worked diligently to meet the need for suitable respite facilities for carers in the Coffs Coast Region.

Her retreat provides a holistic service for carers’ health and wellbeing to enable them to have time out from their caring role, to relax, rejuvenate and access support for their own psychological wellness. Respite is at no cost, as it is paid for from a series of successful fundraising activities organised by Ellen.

Bea Ballangarry

Aunty Bea is a well-respected Indigenous elder and inspirational mentor to women of all ages in Coffs Harbour.

Aunty Bea is a core founder of the community initiative, WOW Women Of the World, Coffs Harbour. WOW has been connecting women and girls coming from socially, cultural and financially disadvantaged backgrounds since 2011. She facilitates cultural awareness in a safe environment for women to connect and exchange stories through her Women’s Story Circles. These Circles have been part of WOW and other community events via festivals and conferences, as well as putting Coffs Harbour on the international map at an International Women’s conference in Katherine in 2015 and opening the Venice Biennale in 2016.

Meena Johnson

Meena, a Program Manager with Wesley Mission, is a champion for homeless people in the Coffs Harbour region. She has been instrumental in introducing and developing community capacity building projects that promote the housing options for disadvantaged homeless people on low income in Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca LGAs. Meena’s strength is in her capacity to get services working together collaboratively, be it government or non-government organisations. Her passion is infectious, and her phrase “Homelessness is everyone’s business” gets people involved in working together.

Kyla Holley

Since 2014, Kyla has been working tirelessly to establish the Australian Centre for Eating Disorders (ACFED) to improve the education and support standards for people with eating disorders and obesity throughout Australia and New Zealand. Women are the predominant population affected by eating disorders and obesity. With very few resources, Kyla has created a small business with a lofty mission.

ACFED’s mission includes developing and delivering professional development opportunities in Eating Disorders and Obesity for health professionals. To date, over 340 health professionals have participated in the numerous ACFED eating disorder and obesity course options across Australia and New Zealand.

Deb Leaney

Deb dedicates her time to creating a safe community for women through Zumba classes. Deb’s commitment to women’s emotional and physical wellbeing creates capacity for women to: experience freedom in their bodies, connect with others, thereby reducing isolation; have time out from emotional upheavals, along with experiencing much laughter and fun. Deb models genuine kindness and compassion.

Deb hopes that by creating a safe, fun  space that women experience increased confidence, enjoy and love the experience of being “oneself”, enjoy Latin music and gain numerous health benefits.

The theme for IWD 2018 is #Press for Progress. Are you ready to find out how we can continue the great progress that has been made for women and girls to date? Then, make sure you come to the 2018 IWD Breakfast event on Thursday 8th March 2018, C.ex Coffs, to congratulate the winner of this prestigious award. Our guest speaker, sponsored by ANZ Coffs Harbour, will be Augusta Supple, a former Coffs Coast resident who is making a difference in the world of performing arts. You will also be inspired by female future leaders, student recipients of the 2017 Zonta Young Women in Public Affairs Award.

Tickets can be purchased at

Thank you to all our sponsors: C.ex Group, Coffs Harbour City Council, One Agency Coffs Harbour, ANZ Coffs Harbour, Opal Cove Resort and FOCUS.

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