Susi Prescott

08/09/2013

 
When a traumatic event changed my comfortable life forever, I decided to head off and follow my dream of making a difference to those in need.  It’s not always easy, but I try to keep in mind the big picture – providing education to change the lives of neglected, marginalized children living in situations of abuse and abject poverty.
Susi’s well-planned life as wife, mother, French teacher and writer in Sydney’s northern suburbs, took an unexpected detour with the end of thirty years’ marriage, two months before her fifty-second birthday. Turning the disaster into an opportunity, she ran - as fast and as far away as possible.

Leaving behind her four young adult kids, she set out for Nepal in 2006, to wander the highlands; she then spent three months in orphanage schools all over the country training teachers of English, who responded to her innovative Australian methodologies with joyful enthusiasm.  In 2007, she travelled to Rwanda, to help a remote community re-establish the local school, once again guiding teachers and children alike in both English and French.  Her living conditions were novel - atop a hill in a round cement house with no water or electricity; her bucket-shower brought in jerry cans up from the river by villagers. Each day she climbed a slippery track in hiking boots, with a crowd of curious admirers, to reach the collection of mud brick classrooms. Although the teachers seemed stunned by her hands-on approach, her conversation activities and singing, the children caught on quickly; indeed, walking home she would hear her French ditties floating on the air, as students laboured in the fields.

In 2007, she set out again from Sydney, this time over the Pacific for the Peruvian city of Arequipa. More than six years later, she’s still there, ensnared by this country of surprising contrasts; its culture, its people, its customs, its language, and the 250 precious children of ‘Elohim’, a school in the desert slums which has become her life’s work.  She teaches English, provides support in Spanish for children with learning difficulties, sits on the board of the school as International Advisor, and works within Arequipa to raise awareness and establish professional and social contacts.  Susi has raised enough funds from Australia, Europe, U.S.A. and Canada to build a new wing with classrooms, administration area, toilets, library and computer room.

Susi is currently working on her sixth book.

 www.susitraveller.com

Location: Arequipa, Peru
 
 
 

Wendy McCarthy AO

26/10/2011

 
I  encourage young women to say yes to opportunity and worry about the risk later.

Wendy McCarthy AO

Wendy began her career as a secondary school teacher and remains passionate about the power of education and its ability to transform lives. For decades she has been a teacher, educator and change agent in Australian public life. Wendy has worked with government, corporations and community based organisations in education, women’s issues, public health, heritage, and media and she has held national leadership roles in all of these areas. She has represented Australia at conferences on women’s health and leadership, education, broadcasting, conservation and heritage and for four years was Chair of the Advisory Committee of WHO Kobe Centre, Japan. Currently she is the Chair of Circus Oz; McGrath Estate Agents; headspace Youth Mental Health Foundation and the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund. She is a Non-Executive Director to GoodStart Childcare Limited.  In November 2009, after 13 years of service, Wendy retired as the Vice-Chair of Plan International and as the Director of Plan Hong Kong and Plan Australia. In 2005, she completed a decade as Chancellor of the University of Canberra and she was a founding member of the Australian Chancellors’ Conference. As well as being a published author, Wendy has held executive and non-executive director roles in many of Australia’s leading private and public institutions. Her advocacy for the rights of women and children and leadership have been recognised nationally and in 1989 she was appointed an officer of the Order of Australia for outstanding contributions to community affairs, women’s affairs and the Bicentennial celebrations. In 1996 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia and in 2003 she was awarded a Centenary of Federation medal for business leadership. Wendy thinks of herself as a tribal elder.

http://www.wendymccarthy.com.au/
http://www.plan.org.au/
http://www.headspace.org.au/


Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney
 

Sarah SH Lee

26/10/2011

 
It does not matter who you are now, it is who you want to be and who you become that matters…make decisions and take action – now.

Sarah SH Lee

Sarah’s son, Ping Lian, is an extraordinary artist who is also Autistic. He is recognised by experts in the field as a prodigious savant - of which there are fewer than a hundred in the world today. Savants are people who possess one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance that are in contrast with their overall limitations. When he was a child, Sarah encouraged Ping Lian to trace and colour to strengthen his fine motor skills. Repetition led to obsession, ultimately developing his exceptional art talent. Recognising his potential, Sarah started to sell his intricate drawings and paintings, and word quickly spread around the world. His beautiful art serves as a source of satisfaction, income, development and growth for him, helping to minimize whatever limitations that might spring from his disabilities. And right beside him is Sarah – dedicated, determined and perpetually optimistic about his future. His artwork has been showcased in galleries, and his story documented in books and films. His success is a tribute to Sarah’s love and her belief in his abilities.


http://www.pinglian.com/
http://therockspopup.tumblr.com/

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: The Rocks, Sydney
 

Dr Sharron Flahive

22/10/2011

 
If you always do what you have always done then you will always get what you have always got.

Dr Sharron Flahive

Over twenty years ago, Sharron’s career as a Team Sports Physician commenced in the traditional heartland of New Zealand’s Polynesian rugby league in Wainuiomata. That was a time when doctors’ involvement in team sport was the preserve of men, forged through long association of family, club or friendship with the coach. However, Sharron was the first of a new breed of specialist Sports Physicians. Her team medical management and rehabilitation skills, aided with some sound pragmatism and humour, converted even her most entrenched critics. Twelve years ago, Sharron was appointed Chief Medical Officer for the NSW Waratahs Super Rugby Team and became the first female Chief Medical Officer of a Super Rugby franchise. Her honest and direct approach is sensitive to the fine line that exists between  doctor/patient confidentiality, the requirements of the player’s physical and emotional state, and the demands of the collective team. Through her pragmatic approach, Sharron has engendered an unqualified level of trust and respect from a generation of Australian professional players and coaches. Professional sports people are exposed to some incredible highs and some equally devastating lows and Sharron, by being involved in the medical care of these athletes, experiences a small part of that which in itself is challenging, exciting and, at times, heartbreaking.

www.nsosmc.com.au
www.sosmc.com.au
www.waratahs.com.au
 Charity: ‘Dress for Success’:  www.dressforsuccess.org/Sydney

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
 

Dr Leanne Piggott

17/10/2011

 
Education systems everywhere, in free and unfree countries alike, have largely reduced the education process to memorisation and recitation.  This is the opposite of real education. I want my students when they leave university to be imbued with the habit of questioning their preconceived assumptions, the determination and skill to research every question thoroughly, and the courage to base their conclusions on a rigorous analysis of the available evidence, no matter where it may lead them.

Dr Leanne Piggott

Leanne is a specialist in Middle East security issues, terrorism, counter-terrorism, and energy security. She is the author of the book, The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Timeless Struggle, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She began teaching Middle East politics some decades ago, with a focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was a subject that, in many cases, attracted students with pre-conceived assumptions about who was right or wrong, driven more often than not by their cultural and religious background. She learned quickly the importance of establishing an intellectual model for students that requires them to apply a critical lens to all narratives as a means of understanding why conflict exists and to challenge unexamined assumptions and biases that lie at the heart of all prejudices and, in the worst cases, extremist ideologies. Now located in The University of Sydney Business School, Leanne teaches about opportunities and risks in the business environment, including political and security issues.  Her research continues to examine the security environment of the Middle East generally and geopolitical factors that impact on global energy markets in particular. It remains a research realm that is largely the domain of male academics and policy analysts, who at times must struggle with their own set of perception biases as to what a woman might have to contribute to the world of security.  High on Leanne’s agenda is the need to provide research supervision for more women preparing to become professionals in the public and private sectors in the areas of international security and risk analysis.

http://sydney.edu.au/business/staff/leannep

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: The University of Sydney
 
 
I am motivated by the challenge of improving the lives of Australian children – the most vulnerable members of our society and our greatest future asset. My current work with Indigenous children highlights the fact that health, education and compassion are the greatest gifts we can provide to address disadvantage.

Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM

Elizabeth is a paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, dedicated to enhancing child health and wellbeing through clinical care, research, education and advocacy. She is Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Sydney and Founder/Director of the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit, which facilitates research on rare, debilitating childhood diseases, and instigated development of a national plan for rare diseases. She is Chief Investigator for the Lililwan Project –to address fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in the remote Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberley, WA. She holds a prestigious Practitioner Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Since 2005 Elizabeth has run education workshops for clinicians in remote Dien Bien Province in Vietnam to address high maternal and child mortality. She attended the Prime Ministers 2020 summit, was twice a NSW finalist in the Telstra Business Woman of the Year awards and in 2008 received an AM for service to paediatrics and child health. Community contributions include to the SMILE Foundation, Cure Kids Australia, Steve Waugh Foundation, Women’s College (University of Sydney), SCEGGS Darlinghurst, NSW Guides and the Hoc Mai Australia Vietnam Medical Foundation. 

www.apsu.org.au
www.thewomenscollege.com.au
www.girlguides-nswact.org.au
www.smilefoundation.com.au
www.sceggs.nsw.edu.au
www.georgeinstitute.org.au/marulu
www.nhmrc.gov.au
www.chw.edu.au
http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/hocmai/

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: The University of Sydney
 

Fay Nelson AM

12/10/2011

 
I was determined not to be a person who could be trampled on and ground into dust, which is what happened to many Aboriginal people in my youth. Being part of the Aboriginal Struggle for freedom and equality brings enormous pleasure to me, knowing leaders like Mum Shirl (Shirley Smith), Charles Perkins, Chicka Dixon and many others, following their lead to help people less fortunate. Who knows - without their leadership I may be still living in a dirt floor humpy on a riverbank. There is much work to be done still, including establishing an Aboriginal History Museum to honour the heroes who fought against oppression, acknowledging those who helped give me the freedom I have today.

Fay Nelson AM

Fay, an elder of the Banjin people, has always been passionate about bringing dignity and respect to the Aboriginal people, to their traditions and way of life. Armed with only a 6th grade education, Fay withstood the jokes and jeers as she pioneered her way into the art world, ultimately bringing Aboriginal Art to its now recognised place in Western society. Marketing Aboriginal Art to Westerners was a challenge as their traditional descriptions of art did not apply to Aboriginal Art – which is based on ancestry, ceremonies, songs, dance and land. Fay has lectured on art here and abroad, and managed exhibitions in America, the South Pacific and in Australia. She is a founding member of the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) and chaired this organisation for the first thirteen years of its life. It is from NAISDA that the internationally renowned Bangarra Dance Theatre was created – as Aboriginal dancers were not accepted into mainstream Australian dance companies at that time. Fay was also the Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, headed the Aboriginal Women’s Unit in the NSW Department for Women, and currently is the Business Development Manager and Community Relations Manager in her daughter’s company, Yarn’n Aboriginal Employment Services, which helps find jobs for Aboriginal people and advises companies and governmental agencies on best practices for Aboriginal employees. Fay is also in the process of developing a children’s picture book based on spiritual links to this land.

http://www.yarnn.com.au/
http://www.naisda.com.au/

Photographer: Diane Macddonald
Location: Redfern, Sydney
 

Bettina Arndt

12/10/2011

 
I have this funny slogan – “Never too much information!” – which is all about trying to get people to talk openly about sex.  So many people miss out experiencing the true joys of making love because they are ignorant and embarrassed about what should be a natural part of life.

Bettina Arndt

It was sex that made Bettina Arndt famous. As one of Australia's first sex therapists and editor of Forum magazine, Bettina spent her early career talking and writing about sex through the media. Her frank approach sometimes landed her in hot water – including a two year ban from live TV and radio. A trained clinical psychologist, she taught medical students, doctors and other professionals and talked endlessly about this fascinating subject to audiences all over Australia and overseas. By the 1980s she'd had enough of a good thing. She gave up sex - professionally speaking - and moved onto writing for newspapers and magazines about broader social issues. But after nearly twenty years, she has returned to her first love, spreading the word about what goes on between the sheets.   

http://www.bettinaarndt.com.au/


Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney
 

Rosa Alpert

12/10/2011

 
I chose this charitable activity because deafness is the easiest disability to fix. Call me an opportunist, I found the easier cause to help.

Rosa Alpert

Rosa founded the charity organisation, The Sound World, to raise money to provide Cochlear implants for deaf children in the developing countries where this help is not provided by the government. Her organisation also puts pressure on governments and educational authorities to provide a proper framework for much needed cochlear implants, post-operative care, rehabilitation and educational development. It started in 2007, with two children in Russia and now continues to Armenia with future plans of Afganistan and Palestinian Authority. The Sound World is the Australian charity with unique activities of providing ongoing post surgery rehabilitation to help children with hearing disabilities to integrate into their new sound world.

http://www.thesoundworld.org/

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney