Department of Family and Community Services

Harvey Norman Young Woman of the Year

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Andreena Kardamis

Andreena Kardamis believes in advocating for what you believe in, ‘Discover your intrinsic motivation and let that be your guide. Be strong and fierce’, she says. For her, this began in 2010 when she was selected as a Youth Councillor for the Lake Macquarie Youth Advisory Council.

She has been representing her peers locally and abroad ever since. Her advocacy has taken many forms: she has been Youth MP for Lake Macquarie, Shadow Youth Attorney-General for the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament, Youth Ambassador for Hunter Life Education, President of the University of Newcastle Law Students’ Association and she has traveled to Cambodia for the University Scholars Leadership Symposium, just to name a few.

Andreena has achieved this while studying for her Bachelor of Law (Honours) / Diploma of Legal Practice at the University of Newcastle, and she was awarded her Bachelor of Business majoring in International Business in 2016 (Newcastle). She has also been working in the legal industry for the past five years and taught statistics as a Peer Assisted Study Session Leader.

Andreena has been selected as the Youth Advocate for the United Nations for 2018. Based in Bangkok, Thailand until August this year, Andreena will take a seat at the table representing all young people, but with a specific focus on young women experiencing domestic violence.

Anna Hush

Described as an inspirational role model for young women due to her fearless support of the rights of marginalised groups, Anna Hush is recognised for her research advocacy and campaign work. She is one of the leading voices in the fight against sexual violence at Australian universities.

In 2016, Anna coordinated a campus-wide campaign against sexual assault as the Women’s Officer at the University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council. This led to a university inquiry, an overhaul of the reporting systems for sexual misconduct and a taskforce to investigate the culture of the university residential colleges was created.

Anna co-founded the not-for-profit fEMPOWER Workshops which has educated more than 3,000 high school students on gender, feminism, consent and violence against women.

In her work as Ambassador for End Rape on Campus (EROC) Australia, Anna campaigned to secure funding for a specialist hotline for survivors of sexual assault at universities. She also co-wrote a major report, Connecting the Dots: Understanding sexual violence at Australian universities, which was submitted to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Anna is now enrolled as a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales, and is researching university responses to sexual violence.

Dr Cathy Zhao

Dr Cathy Zhao is recognised for her significant contribution to the community and her research in dermatology, especially of metastatic melanoma treatments on the skin, a highly relevant topic in Australia.

Cathy is an accomplished academic. A popular lecturer at the University of Sydney, she has been awarded multiple scholarships to present her pioneering research internationally and has written 17 first-author journal publications. Cathy established the Westmead Clinical School Best Student in Dermatology Award to motivate students and organised the Westmead Hospital Oncodermatology Education Day, the first event of its kind, bringing oncologists and dermatologists together to discuss the effects of cancer therapies on skin.

In the community, Cathy enjoys being a speaker for the Cancer Council of NSW and at patient forums, giving advice on cancer prevention to melanoma patients, refugees and charities. She is a volunteer with Can-Teen, where she provides medical supervision to children with cancer. Cathy is also heavily involved in patient support groups. She organised a support day for Australasian Blistering Diseases Foundation which brought together patients with blistering diseases to provide support to each other and generate further understanding of their conditions.

Josephine de Costa

Josephine de Costa is a young leader devoted to improving the culture of medicine. She is passionate about global health, women’s health, and preventing gender-based discrimination.

A postgraduate medical student at the University of Sydney with an undergraduate degree in law, Josephine is currently completing an internship in maternal and sexual health at the World Health Organisation’s Africa Headquarters in the Republic of Congo.

Josephine is founder and CEO of Level Medicine, an organisation that aims to engage medical students, medical professionals, faculties and regulatory bodies to discuss gender-based issues in medical education and training. She has spent the last three years building the organisation from scratch. Through Level Medicine, Josephine has co-authored an Australia-first audit of gender representation in medical teaching, a submission to a Senate inquiry, and a position statement on harassment for the Royal Australian College of Surgeons. She has supervised multiple research projects and designed workshops. Similarly passionate about access to safe abortion, she worked on the End12 campaign to decriminalise abortion in New South Wales and is currently compiling a database on restrictions to abortion access across Africa.

Outside of women’s health, she is also a strong supporter of refugee and asylum seeker rights. She has volunteered in her local community and with Amnesty International to promote change in this area.

Shaza Rifi

Shaza Rifi is dedicated to building better communities, facilitating social enterprise and advocating for women and children to be free from domestic and family violence.

Shaza is an Australian Muslim of Lebanese descent. She finished her Bachelor of Civil Engineering in 2013 and has since been involved in the successful completion of more than 450 apartments while working for JAPM, E Property Services, Sekisui House and Link Marketing. In her current role with JAPM overseeing projects from concept to completion, she is working on mixed-use (residential, retail and commercial) developments that also include community facilities.

Shaza is also President of the Muslim Women Association (MWA). As a young girl and teenager, Shaza attended leadership camps run by the MWA. It was here she developed a strong sense of social justice, the importance of social cohesion and participation and the desire to empower women. These days, in her role as President of MWA, she is leading the improvement of services and support for women facing domestic and family violence. She is guiding health, wellbeing and capacity-building portfolios to empower young people to provide Muslim women in Australia the opportunity to be a part of and contribute to Australia's diverse community.