Inspirational women of Warwick
Inspirational women of Warwick

International Women’s Day: 10 Warwick women who inspire us

Warwick women are celebrating International Women’s Day doing what they do best, by breaking barries and creating change.

That’s why the Warwick Daily News has chosen to look at some of the region’s most inspirational.

Here they are, in no particular order.

HISTORY-MAKING: Matilda Sly was crowned the 2021 Warwick Showgirl. / PHOTO: KC Boutique Photography
HISTORY-MAKING: Matilda Sly was crowned the 2021 Warwick Showgirl. / PHOTO: KC Boutique Photography

MATILDA SLY

2021 Showgirl Matilda Sly made history last month by being the first married woman with children to be awarded the title.

Breaking an antiquated tradition, the young Warwick Showgirl said she hoped to inspire other women to break barriers.

“It’s a great feeling to know I can show my kids in the future their mum did it,” she said.

“These changes will bring the Show Society to the modern age and express inclusion and equality.”

Southern Downs Community Relief Group secretary Sally Edwards
Southern Downs Community Relief Group secretary Sally Edwards

SALLY EDWARDS

Bettering the Warwick community is a passion project for this Warwick woman.

Former president of the Jumpers and Jazz in July committee, Ms Edwards played a pivotal role in drawing an estimated 60,000 people to the region each year for the festival.

She also became secretary of the Southern Downs Water Relief group, co-ordinating tens of thousands of litres of water during the height of drought.

Alongside this, she is community director of Rotary Warwick Sunrise.

Lorna Fanning has been elected to the board of the Australian Stock Horse Society.
Lorna Fanning has been elected to the board of the Australian Stock Horse Society.

LORNA FANNING

This dedicated volunteer made waves when she became the first Queensland woman chair for the Australian Stock Horse Society.

With over 40 years of grassroots volunteering under her belt, she assumed the leadership role in 2019.

“I had never thought of going for chairwoman of the national body but was approached to stand this week,” she said.

Tracy Dobie
Tracy Dobie

TRACY DOBIE

The former Southern Downs mayor broke glass ceilings for women in leadership.

Elected to SDRC in 2016, following 25 years service with the Australian Army and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mrs Dobie promoted the region and liaised with all levels of government during unseen drought hardship.

Now she is the successful Warwick Chamber of Commerce president, promoting the wonders of Warwick in a new way.

Warwick Safe Haven Inc. president Bette Bonney.
Warwick Safe Haven Inc. president Bette Bonney.

BETTE BONNEY

Raising awareness for those women in need has been a passion project for Bette Bonney.

As president of Warwick’s Safe Haven, Mrs Bonney has helped shed a light on the domestic violence and a lack of services available rurally.

She also has brought joy to the community through her role as Jumper and Jazz’s media and marketing co-ordinator.

Lizzie Gaitskelle
Lizzie Gaitskelle

LIZZIE GAITSKELLE

Reverend Lizzie Gaitskelle made history in 2019 when she became the first woman ever to lead St Mark’s Anglican Church.

While her dad was a former curate, Rev Gaitskelle never thought she would end back in role in a renowned role.

“I grew up in a household where my father most of my life had been a minister, it was full of boys and there was never a moment where I was told that because I was a girl, there were things I couldn’t do,” she said.

\Share the Dignity’s Julie Unwin
\Share the Dignity’s Julie Unwin

JULIE UNWIN

Through her work with Share the Dignity, teacher Julie Unwin has become a brave face of women’s equality in Warwick.

Spurred by seeing students unable to come to school because of a lack of access to basic sanitary items during their periods, Mrs Unwin has tirelessly run drives and fundraisers to support these young women.

“Our girls — our next generation, our future, are missing out on school for something as simple as not having access to sanitary items,” she said.

”I’m a mum of a daughter as well, and you have to stop and think how easily it can happen.”

Anita Bolton says her biggest advice is to find a work life balance and reset after a day's hard work.
Anita Bolton says her biggest advice is to find a work life balance and reset after a day's hard work.

ANITA BOLTON

The health of women and rural community members has always been a priority for Warwick Hospital director of nursing Anita Bolton.

Having taken on the prominent role in 2015, Ms Bolton was inspired into her path after raising her children alone, two of whom are disabled and strong matriarchal figures.

“Empowering women and keeping women safe are my two passions, ”she said.

“One of the things I’m acutely aware of in this role is that it’s not just a service for the here and now in Warwick, but that what I do impacts people in 10 or 20 years’ time.”

Adele and Stella Leslie
Adele and Stella Leslie

ADELE AND STELLA LESLIE

Two of the youngest changing Warwick for the better are Adele and Stella Leslie.

The sister duo started Scrunchables, a business collecting a week’s worth of scrunchy plastic and 10c cans from their neighbours, to promote plastic waste awareness.

“People don’t realise notice how much plastic they’re using,” Adele said.

“One thing I want to do is steal their recycle bin and sort it out into one big garbage bin and one for recycling.”

Stella also was selected to represent Queensland at the National Plastics Summit in Canberra last year.

Melissa Close Chalmers with her Indigenous family history.
Melissa Close Chalmers with her Indigenous family history.

MELISSA CLOSE CHAMBERS

This indigenous woman’s tireless fight for the rights of her community to be recognised is insatiable.

Melissa, alongside her family and the Queensland Native Title Services, meticulously combed through her heritage and found strong connections to the land we’ve come to know as the Southern Downs.

A formal application was lodged to register the tribe’s claim to Native Title, which acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ special rights over land occupied by their ancestors at the time of European settlement.

“Schools teach the true history of other countries, so why not here?” she said.



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