Rex Airlines Regional Woman of the Year
Brenda Norman, a PDHPE teacher from Deniliquin High School, swam the English Channel in August 2018 to promote the importance of mental health in rural areas. Through her endeavour, she established Channel 4 Change, a charity to support mental health initiatives and services.
Brenda faced many challenges preparing for the world’s toughest ocean swim - the ocean is 4 hours from her home, the closest pool is a 150 km round trip during winter, and the only water source in Deniliquin is the Edward River that dropped to 8 degrees. While these challenges were not insurmountable, this however is not true of accessing mental health services in rural areas. There is no parity between metropolitan and rural areas in this regard and Brenda hopes that she can champion a Channel 4 Change.
Brenda hopes Channel 4 Change will continue to raise funds to support the delivery of much needed services, to decrease stigma and increase resources within the community. Support programs and events aim to encourage early help seeking behaviours, build resilience in youth and families, and increase the responsiveness in the community through the provision of evidence based education at no cost to the participants.
While Brenda was the solo channel swimmer, she has worked tirelessly on the ‘Change’ component of the charity as it relies on the entire community working together to make a difference.
Dr Louise Baker
Dr Louise Baker has provided more than 30 years of dedicated service as a GP Obstetrician in Cowra NSW. She has provided care to generations of Cowra families, including substantial medical service to the local Aboriginal community.
Louise is also Academic Coordinator and Senior Lecturer for the ANU Rural Clinical School, training and mentoring medical students and GP Registrars. Through this work she has put Cowra on the map as a great location to work as a doctor. In 2018 she receive the Peter Graham 'Cohuna' Award - the highest Award bestowed by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and Rural Doctors Association of Australia and in 2016, the Supervisor of the Year Award at the Western NSW Regional Awards by GP Synergy.
Louise has worked as a locum GP, set up the Central West Division of General Practice, and served in various roles with the Remote Vocational Training Scheme. She has also served on the Management Committee of the Rural Doctors Association of NSW for the past 8 years.
Louise has worked tirelessly for GP procedural training in NSW, and represents the Rural Doctors Association on the NSW Rural Generalist Program Statewide Council. She has also been involved in the Cowra pilot of the NSW Health Integrated Care Project, working to support local youth in areas including mental health. Louise is married to Steven and they have five adult children.
Edwina Sharrock is a registered nurse and midwife and founder of Birth Beat, an online childbirth education platform changing the way parents prepare for birth and beyond. Empowering women to have their best birth, Edwina is on a mission to better the birthing experience of all.
Edwina was inspired to take action and create Birth Beat in 2012 after the closure of the maternity unit in her hometown of Tamworth. Frustrated by the lack of options for women and their partners, she set about improving maternal health care education with face-to-face antenatal classes in Tamworth. The demand for Birth Beat classes grew, with parents travelling hours to attend her classes and Edwina saw the opportunity to expand her offering.
As a midwife, business owner, mother and wife, Edwina appreciates the complexities of modern life. She understands that parents-to-be are busy juggling the demands of careers and family. She also realises that traditional face-to-face antenatal classes can be inconvenient. Edwina wanted parents to prepare for birth in a way that was flexible to their needs – so she created evidenced based, obstetrician endorsed, fun and interactive online classes that can be accessed 24/7. Birth Beat launched its online portal in November 2017 and has now worked with over 1000 parents across Australia, helping them have their best birth possible.
Kate Loubet is an autotelic advocate, researcher, and the CEO of Heartfelt House from Wollongbar in the Northern Rivers of NSW. Her commitment to supporting adult survivors of historical childhood sexual abuse spans over 12 years, where she has professionally developed from volunteer to group facilitator, to now the CEO of Heartfelt House. In addition, she has extensive experience in the areas of domestic violence, child development and post-separation parenting. Recently, Kate was a panel member and presented to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on the topic of resilience and strength in the case study for the nature, cause and impact of child sexual abuse.
Kate is an active facilitator of community seminars and recently completed her Honours Degree at Southern Cross University. Her research explored how engagement in specialised group therapy programs for adult survivors of child sexual abuse impacts on participants’ social network. Kate’s determination and dedication to ensure ongoing funding for Heartfelt House has translated into successful submissions to the Federal Government. This has enabled the continuation of service delivery supporting and empowering group participants to realise their potential as individuals, partners, parents and community members. Kate’s passion for new knowledge is encapsulated in her heuristic ethos in work, parenting and drive for self-actualisation.