International Women’s Day

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International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated each year in Coffs Harbour as a joint venture of the three major women’s groups; the Zonta Club of Coffs Harbour Inc, Business and Professional Women (BPW) Coffs Harbour, and the Coffs Coast Business Women’s Network (BWN). IWD celebrates and acknowledges the achievements of women.

The International Women’s Day Coffs Harbour Woman of the Year Award acknowledges and promotes the positive contribution of women in the region of Coffs Harbour. It recognises a woman who demonstrates significant leadership, and/or achievement, and who has made an outstanding contribution to the lives of women and girls in the community.

This year four amazing finalists have been recognised. The finalists and the eventual winner of the Award will be presented at the IWD Breakfast on International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2016. Thank you to bcu, who has come on board again in part sponsoring this award.

Madge Hair

Madge Hair’s development of Garlambirla: A Musical with Soul at Coffs Harbour High School – and its subsequent 2015 production in Sydney for Australian Theatre for Young People – has encouraged Indigenous students to participate and perform, focusing on the Gumbayngirr nation’s dreaming stories and the colonial history of Coffs Harbour, leading to the formation of Garlambirla Youth Theatre.

The increased confidence of the students is indicative of the hard work that Madge has put in. Eleven Aboriginal students successfully auditioned for the Bangarra Dance Theatre Rekindling Programme, with a principal dancer from the play being accepted into NAISDA Dance College. Currently 18 girls are learning traditional and contemporary Gumbaynggirr dance styles with local choreographer Gloria Mercy.

Madge also secured three Small Arts and Cultural Grants, which allowed students to work with professional Indigenous actors and dancers. The impact of Madge’s work in Coffs Harbour, within the theatrical and Indigenous communities, has been widespread and widely appreciated.

Jane Tavener

Jane Tavener has set up a foundation called the Heart and Soul Foundation, which is aimed at developing programmes to empower women through Heart Connection. She has assembled a group of women facilitators to teach personal and professional development modalities, liaising with the Women’s Resource Centre and Warrina Children’s and Women’s Refuge to run a pilot of her “taster” programme for women who have been through domestic and sexual abuse. The pilot was so successful, that Jane was able to trial a follow on programme, named the Enrichment Programme.

Jane has a vision and a passion to bring women together to help other women improve their lives, and she works tirelessly to achieve this.

Jane has also been involved with WOW (Women of the World) since its inception in 2010, and she has co-created many events to celebrate women with the core values of Respect, Connection, Honour, Courage and Empowerment.

Charlotte Young

Charlotte Young, manager of Warrina Women and Children’s Refuge, is a woman with a vision. She has been employed at Warrina for over 20 years and holds firm beliefs on the rights of women and children to live a life free of abuse.

Charlotte demonstrates a passion and commitment to women, children and young people, enabling them to have every opportunity possible to have a life where they are respected and happy, with safety being a priority. This is evidenced by her compassionate nature and wicked sense of humour as she engages with people of many walks of life, always advocating for women’s rights, the safety of children and the good of the Coffs Harbour community.

Charlotte is a generous woman in giving her time and her knowledge within our community. She is a dedicated leader who continues to raise the profile of this insidious social and cultural issue in all areas of both her professional and personal life.

Deb Ryan

Deb Ryan has been the passionate and dynamic CEO of Community Care Options for the past eight years. She exemplifies the remarkable reach and prevalent impact of inclusive leadership, approachability and warm personal style – balancing the performance and human sides of business to bring out the best in people. Deb is dedicated to CCO and the value our industry brings to society and making a difference. Clients credit Deb with making their world a better place.

Women and girls benefit from Deb’s enthusiasm for our community, as demonstrated by her involvement in such events as: participation in C.ex’s CEO Sleepout to promote homelessness awareness, writing successful tenders for the Links To Learning Programme (an alternative education programme for girls at risk of disengaging from school) and the Emergency Relief Funding Programme for people experiencing financial hardship, presenting community workshops, hosting various client lunches, the connectABLE Programme and We Care Day.


The winner of this prestigious award will be announced at the IWD Breakfast event at C.ex Coffs on International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8th March. Guest speaker on the day will see the welcome return of Lydia Shelly, a Sydney lawyer who is a strong advocate of women and in their ability to make positive changes in the world. If you missed meeting Lydia at a BWN breakfast last year, now is your chance to come and hear an amazing woman.

Coffs Harbour has so many incredible women; come and celebrate with us. Tickets can be purchased at 33743 or call 0411 463 592 for more information.

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