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Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award

The Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award (formerly known as the Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award), recognises an outstanding woman who has made a  significant contribution to the community. The Award is part of the Australia Day awards and honours and is jointly coordinated by the Australia Day Council of South Australia and the Office for Women.

The award is  provided by the Minister for Human Services, the Hon Michelle Lensink MLC, who is responsible for the Status of Women portfolio.

 If you need assistance writing your nomination check our out our selection criteria and tips for nominating

Award Categories

  • Inspiring SA Women’s Award
  • Emerging Leader’s Award
A Commendation Award may be bestowed to encourage the future potential of the nominee


    Nominees must:

    • Be an Australian Citizen
    • Work and reside in South Australia
    • Have made an outstanding contribution  to the community


    Selection Criteria

    • Achievement in their field
    • Contribution to the community
    • Acting as an inspirational role model


    Process of nomination

    • Explain the nominee’s achievements and the reasons for the nomination
    • Provide background information and any supporting materials.
    • Outline how the nominee has made an  outstanding contribution  and their service to the community. This can be but is not limited to the areas of education, health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initiatives, charitable and voluntary services, multicultural initiatives, arts and media, prevention of violence, sport and recreation, disability, science and medicine, business and environmental impact

    Individuals and organisations may submit nominations
    Sitting state and federal politicians and current vice-regal officers are not eligible

    Nominations should include a written submission from the nominating person or organisation of between 500-2,000 words.


    Process of Selection

    • The Selection Panel will consist of representatives from the Office for Women, a community member from the Premier's Council for Women and the Australia Day Council of South Australia
    • The Award will be announced and presented by the, Minister for Human Services, Hon Michelle Lensink MLC, at the Australia Day Awards Ceremony at Government House
    • Receipt of all nominations will be acknowledged formally on Australia Day


    Nominations closed 1 November 2020

    Inspiring South Australian Women Award 2020 Recipient

    Helen Marshall

    A medical clinician researcher and National Health and Medical Research Practitioner Fellow with specialist training in child health, vaccinology, and public health, Professor Helen Marshall has dedicated her career to practicing and leading medical research at the forefront of the global fight to stop meningococcal disease.

    Having advised State and Federal Health Ministers on vaccine related issues, Professor Marshall continues to advocate for better access to vaccines for the public at all levels of government, particularly for vulnerable and at-risk groups. 

    Professor Marshall has recently received funding to further measure the benefit of meningococcal B vaccine for adolescents in the Northern Territory, after having prevented an estimated  12 cases of meningococcal disease in the “B part of it” study providing free meningococcal B vaccine to year 10, 11 and 12 students in South Australia.

    Recently listed as a ceiling smasher for SA Women in Science, Medicine, Innovation and Space who have changed history, Professor Marshall is making ground-breaking progress in infectious disease prevention and making life-saving contributions to the medical field, especially here in South Australia.


    Inspiring South Australian Women Award 2020 - commendation

    Carmen Garcia

    Giving over 24 years of service to multicultural communities and thousands of voluntary hours, Carmen is a trail blazing advocate for multicultural communities and an instrumental role model for multicultural youth and the Australian Filipino community in particular. 

    Relishing in challenging the conventional thinking to engineer creative solutions, she focuses on how migration can be leveraged to meet skill shortages in Australia.

    A role model for women who want to lead change, she has proven to be a prime example of how investing in yourself and purpose, by going above and beyond, you can make a profound social impact and transform the lives of others who need someone to stand up and say ‘I believe in you’.


    Inspiring South Australian Women Award 2020 - Emerging Leader

    Arundhati Banerjee

    At the young age of 16, Arundhati has put South Australia on the global map of dance competitions after winning several international competitions and being invited to perform in Canada and Hollywood. 

    Arundhati has used the art of dance to raise awareness for several causes such as children and young adults suffering from down syndrome, dyslexia, cancer as well as thematic presentation towards supporting LGBTQ, raising funds for women who are victim of domestic violence and several others.

    In the midst of her secondary school studies, Arundhati managed to co-founder the Adelaide Indian Dance Academy – Bharatanatyam with her parents, train several artists locally and internationally and perform in national and international festivals.  In 2019 she was titled the first South Australian Miss Teen Diamond Australia, received the International Young Star Award 2019, and was facilitated by Seven News -Young Achiever Award.


    Past Recipients


    Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award 2019 Recipient

    Emmah Evans

    Cystic Fibrosis is the most common life threatening, hereditary illness effecting primarily the lungs and digestive system and this year’s Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award recipient is a proven Cystic Fibrosis fighter. Emmah Evans is an inspirational role model, as well as being a wife and mother, who is committed to changing lives for the better and is proof that a disability should not define you.



    Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award 2018 - commendation - Margaret Hampel

    Margaret Hampel has been an outstanding contributor to the South Australian Country Women’s Association. Margaret has been a member for over 60 years and has been a key member of the Loxton district, state wide and the Pacific region through the associated activities of the association and SACWA’s Women of the World activities. On many occasions she has been the friendly face of the organisation, assisting women experiencing domestic violence, during times of bushfires as well as encouraging women to learn new skills and connecting them to other women in the organisation in order to draw support. Margaret was instrumental with her Loxton District Branch Members in the making of 55 quilted rugs for the APY lands all from donated fabrics. As State Treasurer for SACWA in 1996, she was the overseer of a complete overhaul of the organisation’s financial structures to ensure the increased efficiency and financial coherence of the organisation so it could more readily respond to women and children across the State.


    Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award 2018 - Sarah Gun

    Sarah Gun is a passionate advocate and entrepreneur who established Gogo events as a social enterprise with the explicit aim of training homeless and disadvantaged people to produce décor items and event materials, then employ these trainees to install their events. Through her work with Gogo events Sarah goes to significant lengths, by committing to environmental and socially sustainable practises in all areas of event design. Gogo events are a pathway to employment partner and in the first 6 months of 2016-17 together with the Hutt Street Centre they created 100 plus paid work opportunities. Through her work and the partnerships she has created, Sarah is changing lives and empowering people to build their confidence and capacity. Sarah as a Committee member organised Gogo Events 7th Big Lunch, raising funds for the Big Issue. She acts as a broker between corporate clients who value corporate social responsibility, the agencies supporting disadvantaged women and has been instrumental in creating paid and meaningful work for people experiencing homelessness. It is Sarah’s desire to create lasting social change to the event industry and tackling entrenched disadvantage that has been inspirational.


    Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award 2017 - commendation - Lisa Lumsden

    Lisa Lumsden is an advocate in her local community of Port Augusta, standing up for those in regional areas and making a difference. Generously donating her time she has been a key figure in the “Repower Port Augusta” campaign, working voluntarily to help transition her community from coal to concentrating solar thermal power generation. She is also an influential Councillor on the Port Augusta City Council who has demonstrated leadership in many areas, being a key advocate for children’s services and having a larger community involvement in council decision making. She played a key role in establishing the ‘Our House’ community clubhouse in Port Augusta, a place that is offering much needed peer support and activities for people with mental illness and their carers. Lisa is also a voluntary member of the Port Augusta Communities for Children Steering Committee, advocating for the most disadvantaged young children in Port Augusta and the ‘Our House’ Community Clubhouse Management. All in the midst of this she is raising two young boys and has started a business showcasing her own custom artwork creations. Lisa is working at a community level proving that one person can make a difference and help inspire future generations. 


    Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award 2017 - Sandra Dann

    As an advocate for women’s rights Sandra Dann has been a tireless campaigner especially for those without a voice or another to be their advocate. Sandra’s entire professional life has been devoted to the service of others. She is the current director of the Working Women’s Centre, a role she has held since 1998. Whilst being passionate about many aspects of women’s rights, Sandra has been a key campaigner in the prevention of violence against women. Raising awareness of domestic violence (DV) as a workplace issue and the vital need for DV leave. She is accredited to deliver the SA Government’s White Ribbon Organisation Training to SA Government agencies and is the only South Australian accredited to deliver the University of NSW’s Safe at Home, Safe at Work program. Her influence has reached a global level with Sandra establishing the first and only Working Women’s Centre in Timor-Leste where she remains an ongoing advisor to the Board and staff. Sandra is a very worthy recipient, having inspired so many people with her passion and advocacy for Women’s Rights.


    Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award 2016 - commendation - Judith Wirtz

    Judith is an incredible person who is celebrating her 25th Anniversary of volunteering for the Warradale Branch of Meals on Wheels and has also served on the committee as the Client Welfare Officer since the early 1990s. Judith is a great example of selfless volunteering for the betterment of ones community.


    Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award 2016 - Tara Fatehi

    Born into a Kurdish family in war-torn Kurdistan, Tara Fatehi fled her homeland at the age of three. After migrating to Australia, Tara was determined to give back to her community. A PhD student studying medicine, Tara has founded the Adelaide Kurdish Youth Society with the aim of helping her community promote its rich culture and forge strong ties within Australian society. She also co-founded the Kurdistan Health Project and is an Australian Ambassador for youth-led charities such as the Wham project which aims to create the largest English library in South Kurdistan and Iraq. Passionate about social justice, Tara uses her education, knowledge and experience to help migrants and refugees build a better life in Australia.

     For more information about this award please contact the Australia Day Council on (08) 8212 3999 or

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