Remarkable women shine at NSW Women of the Year Awards 2019

Rachel Chappell and her mum, Jane Stewart
Rachel Chappell and her mum, Jane Stewart

On the Eve of International Women’s Day 2019, the NSW Women of the Year Awards were presented at a breakfast ceremony for over 400 guests at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour. Now in its eighth year, the Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution made by women across NSW to industry, communities and society. North Shore Mums Founder Rachel Chappell attended the event, as the winner of the Local Woman of the Year Award for Hornsby.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian chose journalist, author and broadcaster Tracey Spicer for the top award, the NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year.

Ms Berejiklian said Tracey had worked tirelessly against sexual harassment in the workplace through the #metoo campaign. “Tracey is a true inspiration who is using her personal experience and platform to drive change for women in our workplaces,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian

After winning the Award, Tracey shared on her Facebook page, ‘This award is dedicated to everyone who’s experienced sexual harassment, indecent assault or rape, and suffered in silence. It’s also for the many volunteers who built NOW Australia, and the tireless workers in the women’s sector across the state. The original founder of Me Too, Tarana Burke, says this movement is about joy – the extraordinary catharsis of telling your story. However, it needs to move from the privileged realm of the media and entertainment sector, to assist those in the most low-paid industries, from marginalised communities.

I commend the NSW government for its sexual assault strategy, and thank Premier Berejiklian for these important awards, especially highlighting the work of women in rural and regional communities. Here are six suggestions for whoever wins government in NSW on March 23:

  • Bring in affirmative consent laws.
  • Extend the statute of limitations for civil claims.
  • Raise the archaic cap on compensation.
  • Boost funding for legal aid and women’s services.
  • Strengthen the work, health and safety act.
  • Collaborate to reform defamation laws.

On a personal level, I shed more than a few tears this morning when Grace, Taj, Jase and Dad said they were proud of me. Nothing is possible without the loving support of family. And I am fortunate to have some bloody brilliant people in my corner.”

NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year, Tracey Spicer

2019 Winners

  • NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year, Tracey Spicer AM – recognises NSW women who have excelled in their chosen career, field or passion. These women are exceptional achievers who have made a significant contribution to NSW and whose accomplishments make them a strong role model for other women.
  • NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year, A/Professor Faye McMillan – recognises Aboriginal women in NSW who have excelled in their chosen career, field or passion. These Aboriginal women are exceptional achievers who have promoted economic, cultural or social opportunities for Aboriginal people in NSW.
  • Community Hero, Dr Leng Tan – celebrates heroes and/or volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to the community. These women are positive role models who inspire others to contribute to the community too.
  • Harvey Norman Young Woman of the Year, Dr Angelica Merlot – celebrates women aged 18 to 30 years who have excelled in their career or made a significant contribution to their community.
  • Rex Airlines Regional Woman of the Year, Dr Louise Baker – celebrates women from regional NSW who have made significant achievements in areas that are important to regional or rural communities.
  • NSW Business Woman of the Year, Leanne Heywood – recognises excellence in business in NSW. These women provide outstanding leadership and inspiration for other women to succeed.
  • First State Super Lifetime Achievement, Shirley Smith – recognises an outstanding woman who has dedicated her life towards the advancement of women in NSW.

Local Women of the Year

NSW Local Women of the Year

The NSW Local Women of the Year are chosen by Members of Parliament. These 72 local women are recognised for their outstanding contribution to their local community as businesswomen, role models, volunteers, leaders and mentors. See the list of winners.

NSM Founder Rachel Chappell was chosen by MP Matt Kean as the Local Woman of the Year for Hornsby.

Rachel Chappell & Matt Kean MP

Rachel shares, “It was an absolute honour to be chosen as the Local Woman of the Year for the Hornsby area, and I was delighted to attend the ceremony this morning with my amazing mum. As we needed to be at the International Convention Centre by 7am, we decided to turn it into a special mummy-daughter night – booking a night in a hotel the night before and going out for dinner. It was lovely to share the experience with my mum, who is a wonderful role model for me – she’s done an epic job of raising three children (and always cooking such delicious meals!), whilst working hard as a radiographer and mammographer. Thank you, Mum!

“Before I created North Shore Mums, there simply wasn’t any online communities or websites aimed at local parents – and I’m delighted to say that North Shore Mums has fundamentally transformed how local mums connect and discover all the wonderful attractions, events and services that exist on the North Shore for families. It all started with our Facebook group, which I created almost seven years ago, purely for my own need to get local recommendations and advice… and the quick growth of the group showed that there were many other women who wanted to connect with other mums too.”

North Shore Mums is always there to support women through relationship issues, medical diagnosis, infertility, miscarriage, childhood bullying, mental health issues, divorce, affairs… and through to the everyday issues all parents face like sleep & feeding issues, challenging toddler behaviour, recommendations for local trusted services and of course just general banter about everyday life!

Our driving objective with the Facebook group is to provide a safe, supportive and positive environment for local mums to seek and share advice and recommendations. With over 30,000 members and sometimes polarising issues, we’re proud to be able to provide this for the vast majority of the time. If a post is getting heated, our active community members are always quick to report it, so the moderating team can deal with the situation efficiently.

We also offer the free service of posting anonymous questions for members, for sensitive issues where they cannot have their identity revealed. This has helped many women during times of crisis.

This Award isn’t just for me. There’s a huge number of awesome local mums who make North Shore Mums what it is – the amazing moderators who keep the Facebook group a safe and supportive online community, the incredibly talented ladies who keep the website packed full of relevant & entertaining content, the ladies who run North Shore Mums Smiles2U, the awesome mums in our online community and all the businesses who support it by advertising.”

Read more about how the award came about, and how North Shore Mums has changed the lives of so many local families.

Rachel Chappell and her mum, Jane Stewart


Jess Fox (Olympic Medalist), Rachel Chappell, Jane Stewart and Matt Kean MP

Congratulations on all the incredible women who were nominated, finalists or winners at the Women of the Year Awards 2019!

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