NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year

The NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year Award recognises NSW women who have excelled in their chosen career, field or passion. These women are exceptional achievers who have made a significant contribution to NSW and whose accomplishments make them a strong role model for other women.

Dr HalaZreiqat

HalaZreiqat grew up, studied and worked in Jordan before moving to Sydney to undertake a PhD in Medical Sciences – a decision that transformed her life. Today she is recognised internationally for her extraordinary contributions to regenerative medicine and translational orthopaedic research.

Hala is Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Sydney, where she founded the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Research Unit in 2006. Pioneering the invention of new biomaterials and biomedical devices, the unit’s work is giving NSW a place at the table in the highly competitive global orthopaedic market.

Described as a trailblazer in championing opportunities for women, Hala was the first female president of the Australian and New Zealand Orthopaedic Research Society. A Senior Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council for the last 10 years, she was also the first person in NSW to receive a prestigious Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard University. While at Harvard, Hala founded an international network dedicated to improving opportunities for women around the world.

Halais also recognised for her work in developing the younger generation and is an avid supporter of upcoming Australian researchers; having mentored many postdoctoral researchers and supervised almost 70 PhD, Masters and Honours students. While at Harvard, Hala founded a new international network called IDEAL Society, dedicated to improving opportunities and recognition for women around the world.

Hala lives in Chatswood.

NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year

The NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year award recognises Aboriginal women in NSW who have excelled in their chosen career, field or passion. These Aboriginal women are exceptional achievers who have promoted economic, cultural or social opportunities for Aboriginal people in NSW.

Julie Shelley

Julie Shelley is a proud Kamilaroi woman who has lived and worked in the Western Sydney Aboriginal community for more than 48 years. She has been married for 31 years and has four children and four grandchildren.

Starting out as a volunteer phone counsellor for WestCare in Penrith, Julie has worked as an Aboriginal support worker, liaison and in counselling roles for many years. She has worked at New Street Sydney Service as Aboriginal Counsellor for over six years.

Julie continued to work while obtaining her qualifications in Master of Social Work, Bachelor Health Science (Mental Health), Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Family and Community Counselling and has recently completed an Advanced Diploma of Specialist Aboriginal Trauma Counselling. She is an Accredited Clinical Counsellor for the NSW Child Sex Offender Counsellors Accreditation Scheme. Julie says, ‘I never want to stop learning. I believe education is the most powerful tool you can use to make positive and lasting change.’

A member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Julie has generously given her time and expertise to many working groups and committees organisations – too numerous to list – in roles such as national delegate, secretary, treasurer and vice chair. She has consulted to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Julie’s contribution to Aboriginal health hasseen her recognised with an Acknowledgement Award at the NSW Aboriginal Health Workers Forum, and she is the current chair of the Aboriginal Communities Matter Advisory Group (ACMAG) for the Education Center Against Violence.

Julie is a strong advocate for members of the Stolen Generation, of which she is a member herself.

Julie lives in Penrith.

NSW Business Woman of the Year

The NSW Business Woman of the Year award recognises excellence in business in NSW. These women provide outstanding leadership and inspiration for other women to succeed.

Kristy Chong

Kristy Chong, is a mentor, presenter, advocate for body positivity and the CEO, founder and creator of Modibodi.

Fashionable, sustainable, hi-tech, super-comfortable underwear, Modibodi replaces disposable hygiene products. For the one-in-three women with light incontinence, and for every menstruating woman, Kristy is positively changing lives.

Kristy’s goal was simple: revolutionise menstruation and incontinence and reduce the amount of single-use products ending up in landfill, damaging our environment. She is certainly doing exactly that, and then some.

From the outset, it was important for Kristy that Modibodisupports women in need. Modibodi is involved in initiatives such as Share the Dignity, a charity for women experiencing homelessness, the McGrath Foundation and School for Life. Kristy also established the Give a Pair initiative to directly deliverModibodi underwear to women in need and to raise funds through product sales.

Similarly important for Kristy was promoting body positivity for women and girls. Modibodi’s advertising campaigns represent women from diverse backgrounds and just as they are, that is, without airbrushing and retouching.

With international expansion on the horizon for Modibodi this year, Kristy will take her mission – to empower women and to raise awareness of the common health issues facing women – to the rest of the world.

Kristy lives in Gladesville.

Community Hero

The Community Hero award celebrates heroes and/or volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to the community. These women are positive role models who inspire others to contribute to the community too.

Dr RajiAmbikairajah

Dr RajiAmbikairajah is a highly values-driven individual, whose mission is to create a global, measurable, positive impact on the lives of others. She holds a PhD in electrical engineering and has spent most of her career in the technology start-up and venture capital sectors.

As the Chief Operating Officer of Women in Banking and Finance, Raji accelerated the organisation’s growth over a 24-month period to span four cities in Australia, achieving a 32 per cent increase in annual revenue and impacted over 2000 Australian women through the new opportunities she curated for the business.

Her deep-rooted belief is that a quality education is key to unlocking the door to potential and possibility. Raji is an Ambassador for Room to Read, a global non-profit organisation that provides children in low-income countries with access to education. Before this, Raji was Room to Read’s Sydney Chapter Leader for seven years. Under her leadership, the chapter reached 116,480 children, grew to be the biggest in the world in terms of volunteers and was in the top five for fundraising.

Raji is also an experienced board director and is currently a non-executive director of the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship.

Dr RajiAmbikairajah lives in Canterbury.

First State Super Lifetime Achievement Award

The First State Super Lifetime Achievement Award is new in 2018 and recognises an outstanding woman who has dedicated her life towards the advancement of women in NSW.

Norma Ingram

Norma Ingram is a Wiradjuri woman born in Cowra, NSW. She has lived most of her life in inner-city Redfern.

With a life-long passion for education and Aboriginal politics, Norma has been part of the Aboriginal political movement since the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs in the 1960s. A natural networker, Norma uses any occasion to share her culture with others and educate non-Aboriginal people about its importance in today’s society.

The first Aboriginal person to graduate from Harvard University attaining a Master’s Degree in Education, Norma continues to update her qualifications. She believes that education and healthy lifestyle is key for Aboriginal people and Norma has developed programs that focus on helping provide this for Aboriginal women. These programs are used in Aboriginal communities as well as in TAFE.

Norma has a rich and varied resume: she has been CEO of both the Metropolitan Local and the State Aboriginal Land Councils; she managed projects with NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and has run training programs at QANTAS, TAFE and the University of Technology, Sydney.

Norma has also shared her expertise sitting on numerous committees and boards of Aboriginal organisations. Her role as Chairperson of the Wyanga Aboriginal Elders Program continues to remind her that Aboriginal stories are essential to the continuation of Aboriginal culture and must be passed on to the younger generation.

Norma lives in Redfern.

Rex Airlines Regional Woman of the Year

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

Juliet Duffy

Nine years ago, Juliet Duffy started Regional Enviroscience, an occupational and environmental hygiene consultancy, out of her rental-property garage in Dubbo. Today, still the director, Juliet employs more than 23 local people and provides career opportunities for both young and mature-aged workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math’s (STEM).

The success of Juliet’s organisation has meant significant employment and economic gains for regional NSW. Importantly, it has also made the community safer by improving its access to specialised occupational and environmental hygiene expertise, normally limited to the high end of town metropolitan based consultancies and laboratories.

Juliet holds a Master of Sustainable Management from the University of Sydney and has been managing asbestos, hazardous materials and environmental issues since 1988, when the first national code was implemented.

Viewed as an expert, particularly in the field of naturally occurring asbestos, Juliet is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally and she frequently travels the state educating government organisations, including councils.

She takes her role as a leader in STEM seriously by mentoring young women and in her current voluntary board positions with Western Research Institute, and in the past with Regional Development Australia (Orana) and the Orana Arts.

Juliet lives in Dubbo.

Harvey Norman Young Woman of the Year

The Harvey Norman Young Woman of the Year award celebrates women aged 18 to 30 years who have excelled in their career or made a significant contribution to their community.


ShazaRifi 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.

Shaza lives in Granville.