Outstanding women recognised at awards

March 20, 2022 BY

The impressive contributions and leadership of women in Greater Geelong have been recognised at the annual Women in Community Life Awards.

More than 20 women were nominated across seven categories for their outstanding achievements in areas including disability rights, women’s health, climate action, education, human rights, and leadership in the community as a First Nations Woman.

This year’s awards, delivered as a virtual event on Wednesday evening, featured a question-and-answer session with special guest, ABC journalist Annabel Crabb.

Hosted by the City of Greater Geelong in partnership with the Women in Community Life Advisory Committee, the awards celebrated International Women’s Day.
The 2022 award recipients were:

Meagan Howell – First Nations Woman in Community Life. Meagan is a proud Arrernte woman who was born and raised on Wadawurrung Country. She is a Koori Education Support Officer with the Department of Education and, in her work, prioritises cultural connection for members of the Aboriginal community, engaging both children and their families.


Meagan Howell.


Noreen Nicholson – Women in Community Life for Climate Action – Disaster and Resilience. Noreen has served on the Committee of Management at Geelong Sustainability, developing and coordinating numerous community engagement programs. She is a passionate climate activist committed to mitigating the effects of climate change and achieving a fast and fair transition to a net-zero carbon future for Geelong.


Noreen Nicholson.


Leah Alstin – Women in Community Life for Disability Rights. Leah is the owner of ruby seven, an organisation that sells sustainable, user-friendly coffee mugs and tumblers suitable for people with fine motor difficulties. As a teenager she was diagnosed with the neuromuscular condition Friedreich’s Ataxia which has driven her to organised fundraising events, initiate campaigns and donate $5 from every cup sold to FARA – the Friedreich Ataxia Research Association.


Leah Alstin.


Leah Irving – Women in Community Life for Education. Leah is the service learning coordinator at St Joseph’s College Geelong. She has been the catalyst for many innovative community events and social justice initiatives for the school and the wider community. Leah brings a feminist perspective to the classroom and to her daily interactions with staff and students.


Leah Irving.


Fiona Threlfall – Women in Community Life for Human Rights. Fiona Threlfall has been a volunteer with Share the Dignity since it commenced in 2015. Share the Dignity collects and then distributes period products to charities supporting women and girls experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, or otherwise doing it tough.


Fiona Threlfall.


Dr Bianca Forrester – Women in Community Life for Leadership in Times of Crisis. Bianca is a GP who has lived and worked in the Geelong community for 15 years. She is a senior lecturer in Primary Care at The University of Melbourne and is also a lecturer at Deakin’s School of Medicine. In March 2020, Bianca initiated the development of a COVID-19 pandemic response learning network with the Western Victorian Primary Health Network.


Dr Bianca Forrester.


Renee Owen – Women in Community Life for Leadership in Women’s Health. Renee was born and raised on Wadawurrung Country and is a member of the Yorta Yorta and Taungurung Nations. As the manager of Aboriginal programs at Barwon Health, she has displayed outstanding leadership by showcasing health career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. She has also developed culturally appropriate maternity services at Wathaurong Health Services and advocated for family violence initiatives.


Renee Owen.

Geelong deputy mayor Trent Sullivan congratulated all the women on their nominations and fantastic achievements.

“There are so many women in the Greater Geelong region who have worked tirelessly and made extraordinary contributions to the community, and these awards provide well-deserved acknowledgement of all their hard work,” Cr Sullivan said.

“All of the women have such inspiring stories and have shown remarkable dedication in both professional and volunteer roles to help others and make our communities a better and more inclusive place for all.”