Department of Family and Community Services
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2016 Rex Airlines Regional Woman of The Year Finalists

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The Rex Airlines Regional Woman of the Year Award celebrates women from regional NSW who have made significant achievements in areas that are important to regional or rural communities.

Mrs Kelly Foran

Kelly Foran
Finalist

Kelly created Friendly Faces, Helping Hands following the diagnosis of her own brain tumour and a relapse of her son's cancer. Friendly Faces, Helping Hands is a charity that assists regional families to access health services and provides support to families in hospital. Despite much adversity in Kelly’s life, she has used her experiences to empower not only herself but her local community. Kelly embodies the essence of community spirit and kindness. Through her work she is known for her constant display of dedication offering support to regional families who need to travel for treatment and health care. Kelly has a positive effect on the lives of thousands of people in regional NSW. One of her biggest achievements is her commitment to helping others, selflessly inspiring and providing much needed support.

Ms Jodie McRae

Jodie McRae
WINNER

Jodie is a single mother who owns five successful small businesses in the Lismore and surrounding area. Jodie was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of triple negative breast cancer in May 2013. After being told she was cancer free in December 2013, Jodie was subsequently diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in September 2014. Jodie continues to fight the disease to this day. Despite a poor prognosis she founded Jodie's Inspiration, a not-for-profit organisation. She raised over $100,000 from her first fundraiser and purchased two cold cap therapy machines for a local oncology unit so that patients were given the opportunity to prevent chemotherapy hair loss.

Jodie’s relentless public education has assisted local women in finding cancerous breast lumps early. Jodie provides support through fundraisers, technological resources and emotional guidance for cancer sufferers. Her well-respected community profile and impressive business acumen stems from her kind nature to selflessly give back to the community time and time again.

Ms Karol O'Brien

Karol O’Brien
Finalist

Karol is the General Manager of the Willing and Able Foundation in Port Macquarie and has worked with people with disability for more than 15 years. Starting as a volunteer in disability support, Karol has since set up several innovative businesses to support work for the intellectually disabled, including a second-hand clothing shop, a recycling business and a recycling building materials business.

These businesses have helped support employment in this regional community. Karol is an open-minded regional business woman who is always seeking out business improvements, new innovation and better ways to support the development of her staff. Karol’s Foundation plans to create more businesses with the vision of employing more adults with intellectual disabilities in roles that provide meaningful employment.

Ms Annette Steele

Annette Steele
Finalist

Annette became CEO of Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council in 2010 and has grown Council services from $130,000 per annum to $3 million per annum. Her tenure has resulted in employment of 30 Aboriginal people, 39 student placements, four community services and welfare student places, and 10 conservation land management student places. Annette has also assisted in the development of successful tripartite partnerships with Broken Hill Land Council and Deniliquin Land Council to conduct the Ability Links Program for Aboriginal communities funded through Aging Disability and Home Care Services. Annette was successful in securing the tender for Going Home Staying Home package for Adults and Families, funded by Family and Community Services.

Annette is an asset to the Aboriginal community and is well-respected in the broader community. Her major achievements include implementing a range of projects and strategies that will sustain education, job opportunities, health and housing into the future for Aboriginal people across regional NSW. Annette is considered a positive role model in the region and is most recognised for her leadership, passion and dedication.