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Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2020: celebrating 25 years of progress

Telstra Business Women's Awards

Posted on September 4, 2019

4 min read

We want to celebrate women in business and thank the many who have paved the way and helped reshape the Australian business landscape for the better. That’s why the Telstra Business Women’s Awards are back for their 25th year.

25 years ago we awarded our first Telstra Business Woman of the Year to Sue Vardon for her work as South Australia’s Department of Correctional Services chief executive officer.

Sue said at the time that the award gave her the confidence, profile and credibility which helped her take the step to set up Centrelink. “It also gave me a chance to acknowledge the many others who had contributed to my success, in particular my mother,” she recalled.

“Most significantly, the awards continue to highlight women who may see themselves as ordinary by acknowledging and showing how extraordinary they are. Other women gain confidence and inspiration from hearing the stories, particularly when they see how others have persisted after hardship.

“They showcase to the larger community that success and excellence is not defined by gender and I know a lot of women are thankful for the path the Awards have helped pave,” said Sue.

Now, when you analyse women in business by the numbers, you quickly identify some key trends. Women now make up more than a third of all Australian business operators and there has been a 46 per cent increase in that number in the past two decades.

To Sue, and the many other trailblazing businesswomen, we say thank you. Thank you for giving other women a female leader to look up to; for not being deterred by the doubters; for standing up, speaking up and lifting other women up.

The progress is encouraging, but we know there remains much to do. The OECD and Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) recognise that women still remain underrepresented as entrepreneurs in this country. Specifically, the PMC identified this as a ‘key concern for policy’.

Corporate Australia also needs more female representation, with the number of women serving on boards at just 20.1 per cent of the ASX 200.

That’s why we want to encourage Australians to back our female leaders in business. We want to showcase and celebrate their great work and reward their tenacity in reshaping how Australia interacts with business.

We’re thrilled to mark 25 years – a quarter of a century of recognising incredible female leaders and progress.

At last year’s awards, an incredible disruptor in the field of aged care was recognised. Natasha Chadwick is the CEO of NewDirection Care at Bellmere. She took out the award in 2019 for forging her own path in a critical industry to better address the quality of aged and dementia care in this country. Natasha said after she won that the process of entering the Telstra Business Women’s Awards allowed her to articulate her mission well.

TBWA 2019 National Business Woman of the Year Award Winner - Natasha Chadwick

“I’ve got a very clear vision and goal of what we want to achieve, and we’ve always had that. Certainly, having to articulate what we want to achieve through the Telstra Business Women’s Awards process has made it even clearer. I now have the validation that we’re on the right track, and the extra encouragement to take NewDirection Care to the next level,” Natasha said at the time.

So what is the next level for NewDirection Care? Natasha says she’s using the Telstra Business Women’s Awards win to help propel her and her company to the international stage.

If you know someone like Natasha, Sue or the countless other incredible women we’ve seen enter the Telstra Business Women’s Awards over the past 25 years, now is your time to nominate for 2020. To nominate yourself or an inspiring businesswoman you know, visit the Telstra Business Women’s Awards nomination website.

Disrupting aged care for good

Business and Enterprise

Posted on May 24, 2019

5 min read

Natasha Chadwick, Telstra’s Business Woman of the Year 2019, wants to change the way the world looks at aged care.

As we age, the need for respectful and individualised care becomes paramount. But as aged care became industrialised, the needs of the individual were potentially overlooked in the pursuit of large-scale care. That’s why we founded NewDirection Care at Bellmere.

At NewDirection Care, my team and I are on a mission to flip the script on aged care for the better, and forever. Our work at Bellmere has been positive, and now we’re eager to expand our model of care internationally.

It takes a village

NewDirection Care’s philosophy is simple: rather than filling a large building with many residents to provide care, a small residential township is built to deliver care that focuses on the individual in a community setting. 17 domestic-style homes are created, which can house seven residents each. The community at NewDirection Care at Bellmere, Queensland is the first of what we call a “microtown™”.

Developed especially for the elderly and those living with younger onset dementia and complex care needs, the microtown™ community model gives back freedom to residents and is just like any small suburban town.

It has 17 homes, plenty of outdoor space, BBQ areas, a retail precinct with shops, a café, cinema, wellness centre, barbers, beauty salon and much more. Residents are encouraged to pursue hobbies and passions in the community and socialise with other residents.

Traditional aged care facilities are built around a regimented structure. Meal times, activity hours and sleeping periods are often mandated for residents in large scale care facilities. We saw an opportunity to flip this model around: instead of regimented schedules, NewDirection Care supports the autonomy of its residents.

Residents decide when they get up in the morning, when they go to bed in the evening, when they eat and when they socialise so as not to oppose personal autonomy. Use of outdoor spaces is encouraged, and freedom of movement for residents is paramount to NewDirection Care’s success as an individualised care community.

Residents are supported in their homes by personal carers called House Companions™ who provide relationship-based support and personalised care for each individual’s needs. Pets are also welcomed into the community and embraced as great companions.

Focus on the individual

The NewDirection Care model recognises that each resident is an individual with wants and needs that go beyond a simple diagnosis. The microtown™ model is built around respecting the individual and allowing them to flourish, rather than segmenting and segregating them inside a rigid, diagnosis-based structure. Residents are encouraged to lead an independent life and contribute to their community, which in turn supports them.

This focus on the individual is key to success. I believe that prioritising the needs of the individual in all of our business interactions increases the inclusivity of our business overall.

Some of my greatest mentors also prioritise the importance of the individual and I’ve had some amazing mentors in my journey. My business partner Arthur Brotherhood always championed me as a woman. Even though we were equal partners, people would come to him with questions and for answers. Instead of answering, he would always refer them back to me and honour the fact that we were partners.

From the microtown™ to the world

The theme for this year’s Telstra Business Women’s Awards program was literally about ‘undoing business’ – taking traditional mindsets and turning them upside down. Each of us has to look at our own industries, to not settle for the status quo, and instead step out of the shadows and spearhead the world that we want to see, so that present and future generations benefit from what we have to offer.

I believe that’s exactly what I’ve done with NewDirection Care. We’ve taken a traditional sector, a whole industry, and demonstrated that you can actually turn it upside down to change the way we provide aged care to people living in our communities. It can be much better than what it currently is.

I’ve got a very clear vision and goal of what we want to achieve, and we’ve always had that. Certainly, having to articulate what we want to achieve through the Telstra Business Women’s Awards process has made it even clearer. I now have the validation that we’re on the right track, and the extra encouragement to take NewDirection Care to the next level.

My role now as founder and CEO of NewDirection Care is to grow it into a national and international aged care brand. Through partnerships and licensing that ensure that NewDirection Care MicroTowns are built across Australia and around the world, allowing ageing people and those living with dementia, brain diseases or injuries both here at home and around the world to live a much better life.

I have proven with our new model of care that everyone can have a life of freedoms, not restrictions, no matter what their diagnosis. At NewDirection Care, we offer a life of equality, of respect, compassion and empathy, with every individual continuing to be a part of our communities, not shut away.

It’s so much more than a business for me – you can probably tell it’s my passion, and it’s my mission. I’m absolutely thrilled that winning this award will now shine a spotlight on my mission at NewDirection Care for radical change across the aged care industry, not only in Australia but around the world.

Introducing the 2019 Telstra Business Woman of the Year

Business and Enterprise

Posted on May 17, 2019

4 min read

The 2019 Telstra Business Woman of the Year is Natasha Chadwick, CEO of Queensland aged care facility, NewDirection Care at Bellmere. She was awarded the honour at a gala event in Sydney overnight.

I had the absolute honour of being on the judging panel and hosting the 2019 Telstra Business Awards last night, and what an incredible evening it was! Everyone was buzzing with excitement and in awe of our amazing finalists from around the country who are the best in business. 

Telstra Business Women of the Year winners are known for challenging the status quo and achieving success in business by forging their own path, and Natasha Chadwick is no different. Her tireless efforts to improve access to quality aged care for older Australians cannot be understated.

The rise in cases of dementia is a global crisis and one that touches many of us, whether in our own family or with someone we know. And Natasha has been pioneering a new approach for residents over the past seven years by creating a first-of-its-kind microtown™ residential community that brings together residents with a range of care needs and similar values and lifestyle preferences to live together.

Natasha developed her radical new take on aged care because she believed there was an opportunity to improve the traditional way of delivering care. Developed especially for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, she pioneered the microtown™ community model that gives back freedom to residents.

This model allows residents to have control over their lives while residing in an environment that is both familiar and safe. Residents in the community are treated as individuals, and are not bound to a set schedule of meals and care. The focus of microtown is all about establishing a sense of community. 

Upon reflecting on our winner and this year’s theme of celebrating women who are ‘undoing business’, I feel whole-heartedly that this is exactly what Natasha has done. She has been challenging traditional mindsets and turning them upside down, approached a whole industry with a view to improve it and demonstrated that you can actually change the way we provide aged care for the better.

Natasha joins a renowned group of Telstra Business Women’s Awards alumni, who for years have been sharing wisdom and advice with winners to help them take their businesses or not-for-profit organisations to the next level.

TBWA 2019 - Emerging Leader Award - Genevieve Clay-Smith
TBWA 2019 – Emerging Leader Award – Genevieve Clay-Smith
TBWA 2019 - For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award - Dushyanthi Thangiah
TBWA 2019 – For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award – Dushyanthi Thangiah
TBWA 2019 - Public Sector and Academia Award - Debbie Platz
TBWA 2019 – Public Sector and Academia Award – Debbie Platz

Now in its 24th year, the Telstra Business Women’s Awards shine a light on women who have challenged the status quo, done things their own way, and achieved success in business. The program empowers Australia’s most successful women from small, medium and large businesses, for-purpose organisations and social enterprises, academia and the public sector.

TBWA 2019 - Small Business Award Winner - Jodie Silvester
TBWA 2019 – Small Business Award Winner – Jodie Silvester

The national winners were awarded following a rigorous judging process, which involved in-depth interviews with a panel of high-profile judges, including Melanie Silva, Managing Director of Google Australia & New Zealand, Stevan Premutico, Founder of Dimmi, and Tracey Spicer, journalist, author and founder of Outspoken Women.

TBWA 2019 - Noni Vassos and Mikayla Lynch
TBWA 2019 – Noni Vassos and Mikayla Lynch

The full list of the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards national winners are:

  • Small Business Award: Jodie Silvester, Managing Director and Founder, KAS Accounting Solutions (WA)
  • Public Sector and Academia Award: Debbie Platz, Assistant Commissioner, Australian Federal Police (QLD)
  • For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award: Dushyanthi Thangiah, Chief Executive Officer, Yumba-Meta Housing Association (QLD)
  • Emerging Leader Award: Genevieve Clay-Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Bus Stop Films (NSW)
  • Business Woman of the Year Award and Medium & Large Business Award: Natasha Chadwick, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, NewDirection Care at Bellmere (QLD)

We congratulate Natasha on her win, as well as all the category winners and the nominees in this year’s national awards – all of whom are doing their utmost to make Australia and the world a better place.

Championing women doing things differently at the Telstra Business Women’s Awards

Telstra Business Women's Awards Business and Enterprise

Posted on February 26, 2019

3 min read

Today we announce the state finalists for the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards. As a woman in business myself, and proud ambassador of this year’s program, I share the excitement of all the women who have been recognised for doing things differently.

Now in their 24th year, the Awards empower Australia’s most successful women from small, medium and large businesses, for-purpose organisations and social enterprises, academia and the public sector.

This year we had an incredible number of nominees and a competitive calibre of talentedh women. Our judges were inspired by women from around the country who are smashing through stereotypes to transform the status quo, championing inclusion, innovation, and leadership.

Holley Somerville Knott - Tell Someone Who Cares - Telstra Business Women's Awards

One finalist is a young woman from New South Wales with big ambitions. At 15 years old, Holley Somerville Knott is the CEO of Tell Someone Who Cares (TSWC) and is taking on the fight against large corporates by providing an alternative to products containing palm oil. With a deep passion for sustainability, Holley provides customers with the opportunity to create change with their everyday purchases.

Sue Keay - CSIRO’s Data61 - Telstra Business Women's Awards

Another finalist is pursuing a cause that I’m personally very passionate about. Sue Keay is recognised as one of Queensland’s most influential people and a ‘Superstar of STEM’ by Science and Technology Australia, and leads cyber-physical research at CSIRO’s Data61. She is inspired to raise the profile of female voices in technology and increase the number of female researchers.

Renee Wingfield - Company and Creative Director, Fliptease - Telstra Business Women's Awards
Photograph by: Johannes Reinhart

And from Western Australia is a businesswoman who really knows what it’s like to jump through hoops. Renee Wingfield is Company and Creative Director of performing arts company, Fliptease. Aerial performances, water installations and circus spectacles are all part of Renee’s day-to-day, not to mention the skills she needs to run her business.

For a full list of 2019 finalists, please visit the Telstra Business Awards website.

Being named a state finalist is an important moment of recognition. It shows women they are on the right track and their hard work is having an impact. By shining a light on women’s successes, and their individual stories, Telstra can help them thrive.

Previous winners often tell us the program provides a rare opportunity to take stock and improve their business or organisation. I encourage the finalists to make the most of the network they have joined to share experiences and seek advice to take their business or organisation to the next level.

My three tips for women in business

State category winners and overall State winners of the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards will be announced around the country in March and April. State and Territory winners will be invited to Sydney for the National Awards judging on Wednesday 15 May, and a national dinner celebration on Thursday 16 May.

Telstra Business Women’s Awards: inspiring women who are driving change

Telstra Business Women's Awards

Posted on September 27, 2018

3 min read

Women are dramatically changing the landscape of Australian business with improvements in technology and flexible working options. These changes are helping drive opportunities for women to balance work and family.

In fact, more than a third of Australia’s small businesses are now owned by women. That’s a 46 per cent increase in the number of female business operators in the country over the past 20 years.

In recognition of Australia’s leading women innovators, we are calling for nominations for the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards – a program which aims to shine a light on women who are taking their own unique approach to achieving business success.

By pushing through the glass ceiling, by embracing technology, by being incubators of new concepts and new ways to serve customers; women are bringing fresh ideas to business like never before.

As we encourage the Australian public to get behind their women in leadership, we want to reflect on some remarkable women who are continuing to break down barriers and make change for good in their respective fields.

Violet Roumeliotis, chief executive of not-for-profit Settlement Services International, won the 2017 Telstra Business Woman of the Year. Her community organisation and social business supports newcomers and other Australians to achieve their full potential.

One year on, Violet says the business has gone from strength to strength.

“Our Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative, established in 2013 to support fledgling refugee entrepreneurs to build or expand their own small businesses, has hit a milestone – onboarding over 100 new businesses, with the help of business mentors, enterprise facilitators and volunteers from the local community, said Ms Roumeliotis.

“This program is also now being rolled out in Queensland and from September, in partnership with the Canadian Government, we will be training their NFP’s so migrants in Canada will also benefit from our innovative small business start-up model.

“I am very proud of this self-funded initiative that has now been recognised as world-leading.”

Since winning the 2017 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year, Michelle Gallaher has successfully sold her start-up, The Social Science, to a US-based public company.

“This was my first and principal start-up and I’m delighted to see this milestone occur within the 3.5 years since establishment. I’m still with the company managing the Australian operations for the global group within which The Social Science now sits,” said Ms Gallaher.

Elise Apolloni is managing partner at Capital Chemist Wanniassa, having worked in pharmacies since she was 14 years old. Elise won the 2017 Telstra Australian Young Business Woman’s Award.

“We are celebrating 40 years as a community pharmacy this year and I have accepted the opportunity to become a partner in another pharmacy as a mentor partner which is very exciting,” said Ms Apollini.

“Our pharmacy continues to innovate and grow, and develop new female leaders too. I have accepted two board positions since the end of last year and I am having my first baby in December – a big year!”

There are so many incredible women in leadership positions doing extraordinary things – and these are women that deserve to be acknowledged for their hard work, courage and persistence.

Participation in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards starts with a simple nomination. Anyone can nominate – friends, family, employees, colleagues, clients, customers or even yourself. Nominees then submit a completed online entry form. Nominations are open until 8th November.

To nominate yourself or an inspiring business woman you know, visit the Telstra Business Women’s Awards nomination website.