Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) has announced the winners of its Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership in 2021. Natasha Stott Despoja AO, former Senator, Chair of Our Watch, member fo the UN Treaty Body CEDAW, has been named the National winner.

Dr Jeannette Young PSM is the recipient of the Queensland Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership, in recognition of her leadership as Queensland’s Chief Health Officer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Young said of the award, “The past year has been challenging but I’m fortunate to be Chief Health Officer in a state like Queensland, where people respond to emergencies with resilience and common sense – everyone watches out for one another. COVID-19 has tested the world, not just Australia, and I’m immensely proud of the way we as a health authority have responded to protect Queenslanders.”

Suzi Finkelstein, Chief Executive Officer of WLA, said of the award, “The Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership are an opportunity to recognise women who, by virtue of their actions, create opportunities for other women to advance in society. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have greatly admired the work that Dr Jeannette Young has done to lead the public health response in Queensland. Her calm confidence, expertise and compassion has been inspirational and has given women across Australia in the medical and public health sector a strong role model.

“As a Public Health Officer in Australia who was sadly subjected to violent threats, she always demonstrated grace whilst continuing to focus on keeping people safe during a global pandemic. Her adaptability and ability to make important decisions based on professional advice shows great leadership and I am delighted that she will be accepting this award.”

Previous recipients of the Queensland award include Ash Barty, Senator Larissa Waters, Commissioner Katarina Carroll, The Hon. Anna Bligh, Terri Irwin AM, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Dr Kirstin Ferguson.

Other Australian award winners this year include June Oscar AO for Western Australia, Kelly Haywood for ACT, Patricia Waria-Read for South Australia, Marina Go for New South Wales, Carly Findlay OAM for Victoria, Erica Gibson for Northern Territory and Belinda Hazell CF for Tasmania.

The awards were launched in 2014 to increase visibility of outstanding Australian female leaders and build momentum for gender equity in leadership positions across all industries and the broader community. The awards are nominated by members of the WLA community and presented to recipients at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposiums, which are held annually in every state and territory in Australia.

Readers also enjoyed our story about Marie Howard WiT