CONGRATULATIONS ACLW’s 2015 SWECO Award Finalists & Winners!

on Wednesday, 04 February 2015. Posted in Sustaining Women's Empowerment in Communities and Organisations, ACLW Channel, Giving Back, Press Releases

ACLW is proud to announce the Finalists and Winners of its Sustaining Women’s Empowerment in Communities and Organisations Award (SWECO). 

These outstanding candidates are to be congratulated for achieving gender equality through their initiatives and establishing organisational processes to sustain this outcome in Australia or overseas.  
This year and for the first time there were three SWECO categories: 
Empowering Women in a Community or Organisation in Australia 
Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in a community or organisation in Australia 
Empowering women in a community or organisation overseas
Sincere thanks are extended to the Panel of distinguished Judges who have contributed their expertise and time to the evaluation of the applications and to our Sponsors for their support and generosity. 
This Award continues to be founded on the calibre of extraordinary leadership as demonstrated by these Finalists to empower women to develop their capacity and achieve their vision. 


The SWECO Award Ceremony was held on Friday 6 March  3pm in Parliament House Sydney. The Hon Catherine Cusack MLC hosted this Ceremony. 
A video and photos of the Ceremony will soon be published here.

Special thanks are extended to all who participated in the SWECO Award Ceremony and to our talented photographer, Georgina Summerville and Videographer, Harry Vincent.


 Catharine Cusack Katy Mcdonald LorraineDenny SueConde2 DiannRH

Photos: The Hon Catherine Cusack MLC; Katy McDonald, Director of People and Development at Minter Ellison Lawyers; ACLW Patrons, Lorraine Denny and Sue Conde and Diann Rodgers-Healey 


2015 SWECO Award Winners for Category A (L) Empowering women in a community or organisation in Australia; B) Empowering Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Women

in a communityand organisation in Australia and C) Empowering women overseas.


SWECO Finalists featured in Business Review


 Thank you Speeches

2015 SWECO Award’s WINNERS


Carol Hanlon - WINNER OF CATEGORY: Empowering Women in a Community or Organisation in Australia 

Carol Hanlon

For the past 20 years, the Belmont Business Enterprise Centre (Belmont BEC) and Textile, Clothing, Footwear Resource Centre (TCF WA) has provided low cost and ‘no cost’  training and mentoring to develop the business skills and business growth potential of more than 16,000 women in new or existing small businesses across Australia. Since the mid 1990’s Carol Hanlon founding CEO of both NFP Centres has been assisting women in business across Australia via phone and email mentoring, and she initiated online training services via webinars in 2010. One particular program that the Centres’ developed is the BPW Business Incubator Project.  The BPW Business Incubator Women in Business Online Training & Mentoring Project – a two year project conducted across Australia for 2013-2014 which has helped 700 women develop business skills and the growth potential of their small businesses. This BPW Incubator Project was launched in 2012 as part of UN Commission Status Women 56, New York NGO Forum Events. In addition to the online mentoring, this project provides an email and phone help desk for participants, networking forums, and helps women to gain access to new business opportunities to link with the global supply chain. The Australian BPW Business Incubator Women in Business Online Training & Mentoring Project has been so successful that it is now a pilot being conducted in 5 APEC economies. These countries include Chinese Taipei, Republic of Korea, The Philippines, Chile and Australia. This international extension of the project has been supported by the APEC Multi-Year Project MSCE 03 2013A Phase 2 -The Chinese Taipei Foundation for Women’s Rights Promotion and Development, Belmont Business Enterprise Centre Inc. (BEC Global), and TCFWA (TCF Global).  In 2015, Carol Hanlon founder of BPW Business Incubator Women in Business Online Training & Mentoring Project will be presenting a summary of the model via a Forum titled ‘Empowering Women in Business through Online Training & Mentoring’ at the NGO Parallel forum during UN CSW59 in New York.


Rachel Hanlon, Carol's daughter accepted her Award as Carol was in CSW, New York.

RachelHanlon  RachelHanlon2

  See Carol Hanlon accepting the Award on ACLW's You Tube Channel


Maternity Choices Australia: WINNER OF CATEGORY: Empowering Women in a Community or Organisation in Australia 

MCA Qld sm2

In 2011-12, Maternity Choices Australia (then Maternity Coalition), in partnership with the Queensland Centre for Mothers and Babies and Health Consumers Queensland, set out to facilitate women’s empowerment by becoming effective and informed maternity consumer advocates. In turn these maternity consumer advocates would help health service providers design and implement woman-centred maternity care models supported by evidence. This was achieved by developing and implementing a Consumer Representative Training Program which supported 55 women in Queensland including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and women living in rural and remote areas. Since then, several of the program participants have become leaders in maternity services advocacy organisations and others have taken on active consumer representative roles on committees at health and hospital services, universities and professional colleges ensuring the voices of the women using maternity services are heard. Others have combined their consumer representative work with taking on leadership roles with Friends of the Birth Centre Queensland, Maternity Choices Australia and Mothers United for Maternity Services Stanthorpe (affiliated with MCA). Combined with the leadership of a supportive Queensland Health Minister and the development of strong relationships with other influential stakeholders, women in Queensland, in particular, have benefited from the empowerment and advocacy of these program participants. Improvements that these program participants have contributed to include significant renovations of birthing suites at Stanthorpe Hospital, implementation of a public continuity of carer model and warm water immersion at Rockhampton Hospital, and women’s access to continuity of carer with Medicare-eligible midwives at eight Queensland public hospitals, the latest and largest hospital being the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. This year, MCA has continued this educational program by expanding it across Australia. Significantly, participants of the first round of education and support, using information and communication technology, are leading this new stage. Women who have participated in the latest round of education and support have already experienced some early wins; such as the commitment by the Victorian Government and Opposition that both parties will establish pilots to credential Medicare-eligible midwives at public hospitals if elected at the State election. MCA’s hope is that recognition of their organisation’s work (all voluntary) will influence all Australian health services/districts to comprehensively engage with maternity consumers as well as implement the commitments of the National Maternity Services Plan that were made 4 years ago, and deliver health benefits for Australian women and their families. Photo: (L-R) Andrea World (MCA Qld President), Jo Smethurst, Belinda Barnett, Lauren Kitchiner with Remy, Bruce Teakle, Ildiko Keogh, Leah Hardiman (MCA National President) with George and Naomi Homel


Photo:Accepting the Award are Leah Hardiman (MCA National President) with her son, George and Belinda Barnett, Consumer Representative.

See Leah Hardiman and Belinda Barnett accepting the SWECO Award on You TubeSee Leah Hardiman and Belinda Barnett accepting the SWECO Award on You Tube



Antoinette Braybrook: WINNER OF CATEGORY: Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women in a Community or Organisation in Australia 

Antoinette Braybrook photo1Antoinette has committed herself to the critical work of not only ensuring excellence of operational service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim/survivors of family violence but of informing governments, decision makers, communities and stakeholders about the disproportionate and decimating impacts of family violence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children and key evidence-based and appropriate strategic, operational and community responses.  During 2014, in face of devastating service resource cuts and sector reform ignoring the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls, Antoinette has taken up the leadership challenge of giving a voice to the voiceless to elected representatives and bureaucrats in Canberra, in the media, at International and National conferences, in front of the Productivity Commission, Senate Inquiries, National Forums and peak bodies.  She has been 'a force to be reckoned with' inspiring women from across the community and giving them a clear, articulate, brilliant and passionate role model. Antoinette has highlighted consistently that it is the responsibility of governments to be informed by on-the-ground experiences, especially where there are gaps and systemic failures. Without capacity to contribute to public discussion and policy processes, Australia risks continuing the development of policy, systems and services that do not reflect the needs of communities and individuals.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations must be engaged in determining and developing programs for their own communities. Antoinette has identified the need for resourcing early intervention and prevention programs in addition to crisis response services to address the already high rates of family violence in Aboriginal communities and provide urgent responses through well-resourced, culturally safe and secure crisis support services across Australia. Antoinette’s profile-raising activities supports the continuation and expansion of broader public awareness campaigns around family violence, its impacts on women, children and families, advocating for more targeted and culturally respectful information about violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children in the mainstream media and public domain.    

AntoinetteBraybrook AntoinetteBraybrook2 AntoinetteBraybrook3 AntoinetteBraybrook4

See Antoinette Braybrook accepting the Award on ACLW's You Tube Channel


Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC): WINNER OF CATEGORY: Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women in a Community or Organisation in Australia   

20141103 AILC 2

The Governing Girls Master Class series, developed in a partnership between the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC) and Ernst and Young (EY), is Australia’s first professional development series tailored for Indigenous women who have completed leadership or governance qualifications.  The ultimate goal of the Governing Girls series is to provide knowledge and skills that help Indigenous women transition from entry and middle-level organisational roles to more senior leadership roles.  The Governing Girls Master Classes provides advanced, practical development opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have completed an Indigenous leadership or Indigenous governance qualification, but want further knowledge, skills and networks in order to progress on their leadership journey. The Governing Girls series provides high level inspiration and insight from a panel of Indigenous leaders to a small group of participants – the intimate setting being essential to facilitate networking and effective learning experiences.  Two Master Classes held in Sydney and Canberra have established a new, practical form of professional development for Indigenous women who already are taking on leadership roles, but want to advance their skills, knowledge and career. Capacity crowds of 35 attended the event in Sydney and 39 attended the event in Canberra. Word of the series’ success has spread, with the Perth event in November booked out weeks in advance.  Anecdotal feedback has also been exceptional, with one participant saying, "Hearing inspirational talks from amazing leaders. That the challenges we face in the workplace are not in isolation. While it isn't good the challenges are there, it's comforting to know we aren't alone facing them. Of course I really loved the networking with other women."

RachelleTowart RachelleTowart2 

Photo:Accepting the Award is Rachelle Towart, CEO of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC) 


See Rachelle Towart accepting the Award on ACLW's You Tube Channel



Tracey Sawyer: WINNER OF CATEGORY: Empowering Women in a Community or Organisation Overseas  

Tracey SawyersmTracey Sawyer founded Testigo Africa to bring food and water to Masai women.  After successfully bringing running water to 12,000 Masai in Longido, Tanzania, Tracey introduced a Permaculture Training Project to empower Masai women to produce food and collect rainwater, become first-time farmers, improve family nutrition and enter the local economy for the first time.  This eight month long training program, through wet and dry seasons and complete growing cycles, includes Masai trainers who are illiterate Masai women and men who have been through the Permaculture Training Program and are now able to impart their knowledge and experience to Masai in other villages.  As a result of this Program, 100% of participants in 2013 in two Masai villages grew their own food for the first time in innovative and sustainable household plots and home made chicken coops.  Over 300 Masai women in four villages have been trained through the Permaculture Training Program which is currently being offered in additional Masai villages.  Tracey’s Permaculture Training Project is creating multi-generational first-time farmers, enabling Masai women to rise above poverty and hunger and provide for themselves and their families.  Tracey Sawyer continues to be inspired by these courageous and strong women, and is in awe of their resilience and ability to embrace the new skills, tools and opportunities through the Program.


Richard McKeon accepted the Award on behalf of Tracy Sawyer. 

RichardMcKeon RichardMcKeon2

 See Richard McKeon accepting the Award on ACLW's You Tube Channel


Matthias Tomczak: WINNER OF CATEGORY: Empowering Women in a Community or Organisation Overseas  


In 2003, listening to a speaker at Adelaide's Festival of Ideas who described the situation of women in Afghanistan as the worst in the world, Matthias Tomczak decided to do something that would help the women to free themselves from the shackles of a tribal misogynist society. Believing that women’s rights cannot be secured if they are based on a law system that makes women the property of men and considers them worth half a man in court, that women's rights can only be guaranteed under secular law and government and that the people who know the needs of the women of Afghanistan best are the women in Afghanistan themselves, Matthias searched for women's organizations in Afghanistan that empower women through education, training and information on human rights and promote equality before the law, freedom of religion and a secular state. To assist them in their work, he gathered a small group of dedicated people in Adelaide, who decided to join SAWA-Australia, the Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan that had been set up by a group of women in Castlemaine in 2004. Through dedication and unwavering effort Matthias developed SAWA-Australia from a small local initiative into a nationwide organization now incorporated as SAWA-Australia (SA) in South Australia and SAWA-Australia (NSW) in New South Wales. Working with OPAWC, the Organization for Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities, and AFCECO, the Afghan Child Education and Care Organization, SAWA-Australia (SA) today has over 150 members and 200 additional supporters. It funds a training centre for illiterate women in Kabul and a health centre in Farah province and provides scholarships to university students in Afghanistan. The Literacy Centre has received the highest scores from the Ministry of Education among NGOs working in the area of women’s support for four consecutive years; over 900 women have gone through its courses. It also offers English and computer classes, allowing women to prove to the Ministry's officials that, contrary to their expectations, illiterate women can learn to use computers and enter into well-paid occupations.  In 2013 when the old second-hand ambulance of the health centre reached the end of its life SAWA-Australia (SA) raised the funds to provide the health centre with a new ambulance. Through university scholarships for students from AFCECO's orphanages SAWA-Australia (SA) contributes to the education of Afghanistan's future professionals and political leaders, who will be instrumental in shaping an Afghanistan free of fundamentalist and misogynist tribalism.

MatthiasTomczak MatthiasTomczak2 




Jessica Barlow

Jessica Barlow

Two years ago, Jessica Barlow, a twenty-three year old full time Library Officer from Melbourne set out to change the landscape of women’s magazines for the better. At the time she had no idea that she would end up collecting over 22,000 signatures on a petition to include disclaimers in a magazine aimed at young women, or that she would go on to publish a 188-page full colour magazine for young women, by young women. Jess started by making a video about the impact of Photoshopping in magazines and the lack of transparency surrounding the moment when those images get published with no disclaimer to say they have been altered. Jess spread this online and connected with thousands of young women concerned about their perception of beauty due to the images they saw in the media. Jess harnessed this concern by delivering her petition to Cleo Magazine and using her own money to fly to Sydney in person for a sit-down conversation. Jess worked with people across the country and overseas to produce Brainwash Magazine – a publication that encourages girls to value what they can do and think about, rather than how they can look. Jess has gone on to supply schools with the magazine, run body-positive Photobooths at local events and volunteers her time to talk to community groups about the issue. She remains actively involved in discussions with major Australian Magazines and most recently encouraged Girlfriend Magazine to positively alter and print their Photoshopping policy online. Jess hopes to create a future in which young women (and men!) are not made to feel bad about their bodies by the unnecessary digital alteration of photographs in the media.


Sarah McMahon, Director of BodyMatters Australasia accepted the Award on behalf of Jessica Barlow.



Lindy Chen

Lindy Chen 

At the start of her new life in Australia, the only goal that Lindy had was to manage to survive alone in a foreign country.  By her determination and some good fortune, in 2005, she established a start up company called ChinaDirect Sourcing Services.  As Founder and Managing Director of ChinaDirect Sourcing Services, through her dynamism and integrity in dealing with her clients, word soon spread about how ChinaDirect has made a difference in an industry that was in need of importing assistance with unquestionable reliability.  That unflinching drive to serve people in need, inherent in Lindy’s character, continues to spur her in assisting people not just in importing goods from China, but in building businesses and relationships as well.  Lindy has made it her life’s mission to helping develop stronger trade ties between Australia and China and empower women entrepreneurs in their businesses as well as their personal lives. 


Dr Jackie King 


Jackie King sm2

  Dr Jackie King is Founder and CEO of Project Deborah: Jewish Women’s Initiative. Project Deborah provides access to professional and personal development, with the aim of enhancing the capacity of women to thrive and to increase their communal engagement.  Project Deborah aims to enhance the capacity of women to fulfil their own ambition and to lead and affect change in the community and increase the collaborative leadership capacity of the women in the community through networks.  Project Deborah has made a difference to the participants as a result of their increased skills, knowledge and understanding, as well as their engagement with and connectedness to the Jewish community. The importance of having connectivity in the community, creating networks and channels of support was considered to be an important benefit of the Program for participants. Further, the plurality of the group was considered to be a benefit as it provided for diversity of experience, an independent forum for women from different religious background in particular to connect with others they would not otherwise meet. While it is still early days, increased engagement is evident via buy-in by participants continue to meet as a group and to co-lead different initiatives. A 12 month survey will provide evidence of the programs impact in terms of increasing lay leadership, increased numbers of female board members or professional engagement with the community.





Kath Mazzella OAM

Kath 1

Originally, Kath feeling ostracized and isolated by society in speaking out, set out to find someone who had experienced her own GYN cancer and found that there were one million Australian women with Poly cystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroids, menopause, STI’s, and Hysterectomies and that these were only a few of multiple GYN health issues many women were suffering in silence and isolation. After placing an advertisement in Women’s Day, the responses compelled her to create a support network, Gynaecological Awareness Information Network. Discovering GYN health was mostly modelled from a male perspective and that community women did not have a support network to be heard on a national level and realising that one cannot change thousands of years of programming that ‘good’ girls don’t talk about these things, Kath began her 20 year campaign to “keep on keeping on” to see the stigma dissipate and to see a positive preventative perspective in the way GYN health is perceived in society.  Kath Mazzella established the International Gynaecological Awareness Day (IGAD) to be observed on 10 September annually to break down the barriers and stigmas associated with gynaecological and sexual health; create an opportunity for medical professionals and general public to come together and talk about ‘all things gynaecological/sexual’ and promote a greater awareness to the men who often are in the dark and called upon to be the support crew for women who are enduring the limitations of these conditions.  Through IGAD, Kath has been able to give a voice to women who were not brave enough to speak out or have the knowledge to question about their Gynaecological health issues due to lack of public education. She has been able to break down some barriers and will continue her campaign until she sees her IGAD vision on a global level for women to be better informed.




Carole Shaw

Carole Shaw sm


Carole Shaw and colleagues set out to empower African refugee women to be able to develop increased capability in order to represent themselves, their families and their communities in  relevant socio political contexts in Australia, through gaining specific knowledge and skills including; advocacy and presentations. After training over 160 women across Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle over 3 years, a number of the women have grown in confidence to be able to access further education, develop networks, set up organisations and actively participate in community based programs and activities that improve the lives of resettled African refugee women.


Dr John Chislohm, Carole's husband accepted the Award on her behalf.



Australian Women’s Sport and Recreation Association (AWRA)

AWRA Mentoring Program 001

Over 50% of sports industry employees are female but are predominantly in low to middle management positions. In addition, National Sport Organisation boards are 72% male and female CEOs are 17% (ASC April 2014). The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has a current policy of 40% females on boards by 2015 but this is failing. As a result, AWRA identified a need to assist women in sport, in particular middle managers who are aspiring to take the next step in their career to senior management. An e-Mentoring program was developed for women in sport using a supportive role model based relationship where a more experienced person guides, encourages and supports women to work towards identified aspirations and goals. The mentor has opened doors that might otherwise have been closed. Each relationship is customised to the mentee. Over the past three years, the program has evolved with over 80 women from within the sport industry being involved. The demand for the program continues to grow as a result of its success. Photo: (L) Julie Anderson, Vice President AWRA with Mentee Rhonda Snijders



Louise Evans, Board Director of AWRA accepted the Award.

AWRA LouiseEvans



Safe From Harm by Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre and Moonee Valley Legal Service

Safe From Harm program

The Safe From Harm project, funded by a Legal Services Board grant, set out to raise awareness about family violence amongst CALD communities in the public housing estates in Flemington and Ascot Vale, and to build trust between cultural groups and legal services. By focusing on building trust relationships with the communities on the estates and providing them with information about the law in Australia, we hoped community members would over time feel safer and more empowered to come forward and seek assistance. Our project has developed very strong links with women in local communities and increasing numbers of residents from both estates are now accessing our general legal services as well. The number of reports made to police about family violence incidents have increased since our project began, an indication that residents feel more confident in knowing their rights, engaging with the police and the legal system and feeling supported while they do so in order to protect themselves and their families.  Photo: (L-R) Libbi Cunnington  - Manager - Moonee Valley Legal Service; Lauren Hills – Family Violence solicitor - Moonee Valley Legal Service; Selina Neville - Family Violence solicitor – Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre; Trish Cameron – Manager - Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre



Photo: Accepting the Award are (left) Selina Nivelle from Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre and  Lauren Hills (Moonee Valley Legal Service). The Safe from Harm project is a joint project.



Dr Ruth Mirams and Mikaela Jade

Ruth MiramsMikaela Jade 2013 09 07

Ruth and Mikaela’s Digital Rangers is a female initiated, Indigenous led, prototyped and proven initiative which tells women’s stories and in the next phase will empower rural Indigenous women with employment opportunities.  Their digital story telling projects connect communities across generations to maintain the world’s oldest living cultures. Their initiative focuses on inter-generational cultural narrative mapping, training Indigenous youth in curating their own digital content, and enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in the digital economy. This is how Ruth and Mikaela describe the power of their initiative. “IMAGINE: Standing at a rock art celebrating Ruby Hammond in Reconciliation Place in Canberra. You hold your iPhone up to the rock art and a video of the story custodian pops out of your phone and tells you the significance of Ruby and her work towards reconciliation, in her language and yours. By connecting to the story in this way, you are creating sustainable opportunities for Indigenous communities now and in the future. You are so compelled by her story that you jump online and start having a real time conversation with the Indigenous Digital Ranger about your experience at their place - and you start making a personal connection with the Aboriginal people in your community. This experience is so life-changing that you can't wait to share this with your friends in the community face-to-face or via social media. When you have interstate visitors, this will be top of your list of Canberra-based experiences. This is Digital Rangers, and you can experience it now.”  Photo: (L-R) Dr Ruth Mirams, Mikaela Jade


Photo:Accepting the Award are Jade Mikaela (L) and Dr Ruth Mirams (R).

More Photos from the Event:

AMPA Students AMPA Students2 AMPA Students3

Talented Musicians from the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Rozelle welcomed everyone with their singing and music. Students are Keisha Fonua, Mariah Filoa, Loma Schaaf and TJ Tanuvasa on Guitar.

AILC AILC2  Patrons KathMazzella2 AntoinetteBraybrook5

guest Guest2 


Live tweets from Event can be seen using Twitter Hashtag: 


Press Release


Proud Sponsors of 2015 SWECO Award







St Vincents logo




Advance Personnel Inc Canberra




M&M Trophy Warehouse




Ki Print Logo