MEET YOUR WOMEN OF THE YEAR FI­NAL­ISTS

OUR MOST IN­SPIR­ING LO­CALS RE­VEALED

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - KIRSTIN PAYNE

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

Pic­ture: TERTIUS PICKARD

Women of the Year fi­nal­ists Clau­dine An­der­son, Linda Monro, Amanda Ram­say, Viki Hay­ward, Cris Beer and Chelsea Hack­ett.

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