Women in Community Life Awards return

More than 20 Geelong women have been recognised for their extraordinary contributions by being named finalists in the Women in Community Life Awards.

Now in its seventh year, the City’s annual awards celebrate the amazing achievements and leadership of women who live, work or operate in Greater Geelong.

Awards will be presented in five categories in 2021, as part of the City’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations on Friday March 5.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher congratulated the 23 finalists and said the awards provided welcome acknowledgment of the depth of talent in the region.

These finalists are among the brilliant women who have led and transformed our community during the past extraordinary year.

They have challenged the status quo, positively impacted our lives and overseen clever and creative projects that have taken our businesses, organisations and clubs to the next level.

Sian Pritchard last year received the Leadership in Women’s Health award for her innovative treatment and support for people dealing with mental health and drug and alcohol issues.

While she has been lauded nationally for her nursing practice, Ms Pritchard said the Women in Community Life Awards had deeper significance.

This was extra special, to be recognised in my own city for the work I am doing here.

She also praised the connection and understanding that was forged at the awards ceremony, held on International Women’s Day last year.

I thought it was wonderful to celebrate women in the community who are doing great things, and to hear what they are doing in their respective fields.

We are often so busy in our own roles we do not get the chance to see the wonderful work women are engaged in across our community. It was truly inspiring.

On the front line of mental health services, Ms Pritchard has both dealt with and guided others through the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year.

We have been living in a very abnormal world. A world that has been very different to what we are used to.

Part of my work has been about normalising that stress; helping people recognise that a lot of what they may be feeling is because of the situation we find ourselves in.

Ms Pritchard has been a passionate voice for change during her 35-year plus career, combining her innovative private practice with advocacy and education efforts.

The biggest transformation Pritchard Health undertook in 2020 was the forced cancellation of in-person consultations.

Whether it was adapting to Facetime, WhatsApp, Zoom or the traditional voice call, Ms Pritchard had to assist her clients through a new way of working.

In recognition of the COVID-19 restrictions on the sector, telehealth consultations are being funded for the first time through the Medicare Benefit Scheme.

Ms Pritchard said it was vital that the funding arrangement, which is in place until the end of March, was made permanent.

Good things will come out of this flexibility. For some people, choosing a video consult from the comfort of their home – or being away from work for a shorter time than if they had to do it in person – has been very helpful to them.

It is important that clients have choice in how they access services. After all, healthcare should be driven by those needing the services and designed from a person-centred approach.

Due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, this year’s Women in Community Life Awards will be held virtually.

The event will be streamed online on Friday March 5 from 6pm.

You can register your attendance at https://virtualiwd2021.eventbrite.com.au

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