Pioneering NSW women recognised at the first Innate Power of Women Forum

BY RAM KHATRY I 3 MARCH 2020 I The inaugural Innate Power of Women Forum, a brainchild of lawyer and academic Pallavi Sinha, was held in Sydney yesterday with a number of NSW women recognised for their tireless work for “greater good”.

Speaking at the Forum held at the PARKROYAL Parramatta, Ms Sinha remarked that the objective of the Innate Power of Women Forum was “to provide a platform to educate, empower and enrich women to achieve their greatest potential”.

Pallavi Sinha speaking at the full-house Innate Power of Women Forum on 2 March I Photo: Harmohan Singh

“It was planned to coincide with NSW Women’s week which commences today & is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the economic, political, social & cultural achievements of women. We will be recognising some champions today, some who work tirelessly behind the scenes for the greater good, & we would like those champions to contribute on an ongoing basis,” the AFR & Westpac 100 Women of Influence said while addressing the sold-out event yesterday.

The Sydney University graduate, who regularly appears on national television passionately sharing her ideas and views on women rights and equal opportunity for Australians of all backgrounds, said that one of the key outcomes of Monday’s Fforum was the formation of a Working Group which will regularly meet and contribute to the development of policy and action plans in keys areas that women need assistance in.

The inaugural session of the Forum coincided with the NSW Women’s Week which seeks to highlight the condition of women in New South Wales. The Forum itself was envisaged to serve as a platform to celebrate NSW women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. Being the brainchild of a young and innovative advocate, the theme of “equal opportunity” is bound to be a key focus of the ongoing discussions within the forum.

I truly believe in the aims of the Forum and that together we can build and help women realise their innate potential, their resilience and capacity. All our programs for the last few years have focussed on helping women discover the strengths that lie within each of them. It is a matter of digging deeper within oneself. It is our responsibility to create an environment where this can be facilitated. During women’s week we celebrate the power of our women mainly from refugee backgrounds who have faced huge challenges already in their lives. It is a reminder for women to dig deeper and be able to share this with other women in Western Sydney. It is about creating a Culture of Sisterhood,” said Melissa Monteiro, the Chief Executive Officer of the Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC).

Panelists with an award winner at the Forum I Photo: Harmohan Singh

NSW Minister for Women Bronwyn Taylor, Member for East Hills Wendy Lindsay MP, Mayor Phillip Ruddock (former Fed Member for Parramatta) and CMRC Chair Warren Schweitzer also participated and expressed their views during the inaugural session.

According to Pallavi Sinha, participants of the Forum discussed ways to increase engagement and participation of women, specially at workplaces.


Grassroots Champion of the Year Award

Violet Roumeliotis

Violet Roumeliotis is the CEO of Settlement Services International, a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other vulnerable individuals to achieve their full potential. Member of the Order of Australia | 2017 Telstra Businesswoman of the Year and national winner of the For Purpose and Social Enterprise category | 2018 AFR 100 Women of Influence | 2018 In Style Women of Style Community Champion. Violet is committed to achieving equity and advancing diversity and inclusion in all forms. In 2020, she was made a member of the Order of Australia for outstanding service to the community. Violet sits on the board of the Australian Council of Social Service, Family Planning NSW and the NSW Domestic and Family Violence, and Sexual Assault Council.

Senior Champion of the Year

Bindi Shah and Susan Day are two inspiring women who work tirelessly for the betterment of children’s education and women’s health. They are both working mums but find time to raise funds for various charities. Over the last 10 years they have raised more than $149,000 by holding garage sales, themed night fundraisers, clothes and/or book swaps, making and selling candles and morning/afternoon teas.  They run this thru their initiative WISEKidsWORLD.

In March 2017, they both took part in the Sydney Coastrek 60km trek and raised over $9000 for the Fred Hollows foundation.

They both received the NSW Government Community Award and India Club Star award in 2017.

Young Champion of the Year

Mili and Khushi Dakshin are two sisters students at Macquarie Fields Selective School and they have been making a great impact to the society by using their unique talent of speed painting to raise funds and help various organizations and charities like Lupus foundation, NSW RFS, Rotary Club of Strathfield, Indian Australian Cultural Association of Illawara Inc, Canberra Indian Council, Ekal Vidyalay, Sewa Australia etc. They have raised almost $28,000 to date

Initiative of the Year (Individual)

Janelle Speight

Janelle Speight is a member of the Rotary Club of Wahroonga and Rotary International.  She is actively working with various organisations including CMRC, MICS (Multicultural Integration Community Support), HKMN (Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Multicultural Network), Novus Foundation and The Dish an organization run to feed the homeless and disadvantage in the Hornsby district.

In October 2019 Janelle organised “Flavours with Stories from Afar” in Turramurra to promote their cultures and traditions to the wider community. Persian, South American and Japanese communities were invited to participate.

Through MICS Janelle run a series of successful events connecting different cultures through film, food, art, music and teaching. She was the Event Manager for a Film and food cultural evening in Gordon in 2019. The film is titled “new Old Stories from Abroad” Persian, Spanish and Chinese culture were main participants in the program, but MICS also featured Korean musicians on the evening as part of the event.  The film participants were ageing migrants from CALD community local to the Hornsby area. This film will be screening again this year at Gordon Library as part of Ku-ring-gai Councils Harmony Day 2020.

Initiative of the Year Award (Individual)

Dalya Karezi

Dalya Karezi comes from a refugee background & is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. She has volunteered with organisations such as the Smith Family where she was a facilitator for the Little Kid, Big dream Program where she encouraged young people to pursue education. She’s also volunteered with Miracle baby’s foundation where she worked with mothers who had sick or premature babies.  Additionally, she worked as part of a youth team as a mentor to refugee and migrant youth.

Dalya has worked on several health related projects whilst completing her medical degree. She now works as a doctor doing great justice to her noble profession improving the lives health and well-being of women and the wider community.

Rural & Regional Champion of the Year Award

Khawlah Asmaa

Khawala Asmaa is using her passion, skills, and dedication to eradicate stereotypes and improve life opportunities and outcomes for young people.  Khawala is a member of the Young Highschool Leadership Team and active member of the NSW Regional TaskforceShe has an interest in mental health and raising awareness of mental health issues impacting young people living in regional towns of NSW.  Khawala is a true leader and a wonderful role model to other girls always encouraging others to strive hard to achieve positive outcomes. All this at only 13!

Initiative of the Year Award (Group)

Viji Dhanathyan is the founding member of the Tamil Women’s Development Group which was formed in July 2012 with assistance from Rugmini Venkatraman, the manager of Boronia Multicultural Services at the time.

The Tamil Women Development Group’s work is to assist Tamil Asylum seeker families, especially single women with children.  The work that the organisation is doing is all encompassing: from sourcing household goods to arranging individual tutors for the children whose education was interrupted for many years due to war to organising regular get togethers for women to alleviate social isolation, running workshops for women to help them integrate into the Australian community.

Initiative of the Year Award (Group)

Lisa Harnum Foundation

Aileen Mountifield is the founder and Executive Director of Lisa Harnum Foundation which is a not for profit organisation that supports and empowers families affected by domestic violence while striving to prevent and end the cycle of abuse through education and social change. The aim is to be part of a community in which domestic violence is eradicated for everyone by everyone.

Linda Lemon works tirelessly towards empowering women with knowledge and skills to be able to stand on their own and find a new life for themselves and their families.

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