MEET YOUR WOMEN OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
OUR MOST INSPIRING LOCALS REVEALED
FROM the Gold Coast’s toughest fighters to our most tender carers, the Harvey Norman Gold Coast Women of the Year award has helped shed light on the city’s most outstanding women.
A panel of judges has had the tough job of short-listing more than 300 nominations to a few dozen finalists, announced in today’s Gold Coast Bulletin on pages 86-87.
For Viki Hayward, a Champions of Education finalist, the experience has been humbling.
A senior teacher at Arcadia College, Ms Hayward has dedicated her 29-year career to assisting children, with a focus on those who have disengaged from the conventional schooling system.
“Working with these children is my absolute passion,” she said.
Ms Hayward has worked in schools across the Gold Coast but found her calling when volunteering at Arcadia College, a not-for-profit education program.
“I started volunteering and then begged them to let me work there,” she said.
“There is nothing more rewarding than watching these students evolve.”
The teacher, who is also a trained counsellor, has most recently been working with some of society’s most vulnerable youths including LGBT children, and teenage girls who find themselves in violent relationships.
“There are a lot of women out there who do amazing things for our community. It is great we get a chance to celebrate them. I feel very humbled to have been nominated,” Ms Hayward said.
For Gold Coast MMA and Muay Thai athlete Chelsea Hackett, the fight for change has taken a different form.
A finalist in the Sporting Superstar category, Hackett has represented Queensland and Australia in her sport, winning two gold medals at the world championships, and has opened her own gym.
The 20-year-old said her biggest challenges were fought outside the ring.
“If I can just pass on one message to young girls, it is that women can be powerful too,” Ms Hackett said.
“The biggest challenge I faced starting out was the judgment of other people as a female fighter.
“It is looked on as a very masculine sport so there is a lot of negativity and questions about your femininity.
“You get told you shouldn’t look that big, look that strong or shouldn’t get your face banged up because you are a girl. That has been hard to overcome but I do see the trend changing.”
The Reedy Creek local has run her gym, Hammer Fit, successfully since she was 17.
IF I CAN JUST PASS ON ONE MESSAGE TO YOUNG GIRLS, IT IS THAT WOMEN CAN BE POWERFUL TOO CHELSEA HACKETT
Women of the Year finalists Claudine Anderson, Linda Monro, Amanda Ramsay, Viki Hayward, Cris Beer and Chelsea Hackett.