Issues surrounding everything from mental health to childbirth were on the agenda for International Women's Day in Tamworth.

A panel of some of the region’s most influential women came together for an International Women’s Day function in Tamworth on Thursday.

Organised by Joblink Plus, the event at CH on Peel put the spotlight on some of the biggest challenges faced by women, not just in the workforce, but generally.

The panel touched on a range of issues, from mental health and childbirth to leadership. An advocate for indigenous education, Leanne King, spoke about the special challenges that confront those living in more remote areas.

Outspoken rural leader Robbie Sefton was keen to talk about the campaigns that have arisen around #metoo and Time’s Up, and how they relate to recent events in our own political spheres.

The matter of mental health also proved a conversation starter. There was concern that while we have the services in rural areas many people are not aware of them. 

Jess Barraket is a Project Officer with the University of Newcastle for GoodSPACE, a suicide prevention program.

She said it’s important to support one another and get the message out there about what is available to those who might be doing it tough.

More than 60 women attended the International Women’s Day function, which organisers hope will become an annual event.

Who was on the panel

Robbie Sefton is the Managing Director of Sefton & Associates, a specialist communications company based in Tamworth. She is a rural leader committed to the prosperity of rural, regional and remote Australia and is especially enthusiastic about the advancement of women in business.

Alice Cohen is a social worker with over 15 years of experience working with vulnerable children, families and communities. She recently moved to Tamworth with her young family and is already enjoying many of the benefits of the change in lifestyle. For the last 10 years, Alice has worked for the NSW Ombudsman focusing on the review, monitoring and investigation of complex service issues across the community and disability services sector. Alice is passionate about providing safe, compassionate and high standards of care to our most vulnerable

Elizabeth Diebold is the General Manager of RFBI Tamworth Masonic Village. Liz is a dedicated and passionate advocate for an aged care framework that gives dignity and quality of care to our older citizens. She inspires the same passion in her staff, and alongside her husband Dr Daniel Diebold has instilled the values of person-centred care in her children – all seven of them!

Edwina Sharrock is a registered midwife, founder and CEO of BirthBeat, an Inspiring Birds mentor and more. Recently selected to be part of HCF Catalyst, a health tech business program, Edwina is taking her small business to new levels of effectiveness and reach – from right here in Tamworth. When she’s not leveraging technology to ensure safe birthing for rural women, Edwina loves encouraging women to tell their stories proudly and without hesitation.

Jess Barraket was born and bred in Narrabri, and grew up helping her Lebanese father grow two retail outlets into successful businesses. She has a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of NSW, however her professional career has led her from Centacare New England North West to working as a Project Officer with the University of Newcastle for GoodSPACE, a suicide prevention program.

Leanne King – “I am an Aboriginal woman – a Dharug woman. My cultural connection is through the land of the Dharug people and connection to family. My experience as an Aboriginal scholar and university lecturer/coordinator and program manager has augmented a profound understanding of the contemporary and cultural issues of Indigenous communities, especially in higher education. I speak as a Dharug woman who has gained a range of experiences, with that said I acknowledge those Elders and ancestors who have been instrumental in me being who I am today. I completed the Bachelor of Education in Adult Education in 2000 and gained the Master of Arts in Indigenous Social Policy in 2002. I am currently a sessional academic with Australian Catholic University where I previously  taught for 7 years in the field of teacher education. Prior to this I lectured at University of Technology Sydney in Adult Education  and I then I went on to be Program manager at Tranby Aboriginal College.


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