The Zonta Club of Brisbane Advancement of Women award recognises a person who, through their leadership, work or advocacy, is progressing the status of women by either creating new pathways for women, facilitating women’s advancement along existing pathways, or advancing the interests of women through other endeavours in social, community, economic, academic, political or work environments.

The Zonta Club of Brisbane Advancement of Women Award is aims to target persons of any gender who are already on the path of helping women and who can use the funds to leverage the effect of their work. It seeks nominations from a broad base. For example, the recipient could be an administrator, scientist, teacher, business or industry leader, police officer, community worker, fundraiser or a pioneer in their field.

The Award provides $5,000 to the winner who will also be offered a year of collaboration with members of the Zonta Club of Brisbane Inc.

Photo caption: 2021 Encouragement Award winner Maggie Shambrook and 2021 Advancement of Women Award winner Thelma Schwartz. Photo: Bobby Rein

Background and History

To mark Zonta’s cententary year in 2019 the Zonta Club of Brisbane established the $5000 Advancement of Women Award to assist other women now and in the future.

This is an biennial, gender neutral award that recognises a person who, through their leadership, work or advocacy is progressing the status of women. This may be by either creating new pathways for women, facilitating women’s advancement along existing pathways, or advancing the interests of women through other endeavours in social, community, economic, academic, political or work environments.

The Club aims to reward persons from a broad base. For example, the recipient could be an administrator, scientist, teacher, business or industry leader, police officer, community worker, fund-raiser or a pioneer in their field.

This is an biennial award with nominations opening in July and closing in September.

The award is funded through  the Advancement of Women Fund set up in 2018 inaugurated with a living gift from charter member of the Zonta Club of Brisbane, Dr Joan Godfrey OBE. This fund will  grow with ongoing capital donations and bequests from members.

2021 Advancement of Women Award winner

Thelma Schwartz is the principal legal officer of the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS), an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisation providing legal and non-legal support services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims and survivors of family violence and sexual assault in Queensland

Thelma identifies as of Torres Strait Islander heritage alongside her German, Samoan and Papua New Guinean heritage. She has more than 21 years post-admission experience working in commercial litigation in the Northern Territory and Queensland, in criminal law defence extensively across the Far North Queensland region representing men, women and children across multiple courts. In 2018, in recognition of her work in regional and remote Queensland, Thelma was the award recipient of the Regional Woman Lawyer of the Year 2018 by the Women Lawyer’s Association of Queensland. Thelma has extensive practice experiences working with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in the provision of legal services in regional, rural and remote Queensland.

Thelma appeared as a witness before the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and Inquiry into Family Domestic and Sexual Violence. She is a member of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce.

Judge’s citation

Members of the panel were very impressed by what she has achieved in her legal career providing services to many victims and survivors of family violence across the state. But it is her ongoing and tireless advocacy against the national crisis of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and their children that is at the heart of this award. Thelma has taken this to a national level, serving on taskforces, committees and panels as well as appearing and speaking out in the media while always remaining grounded in the lived experiences of First peoples women and children.  Thelma wants to use the award to extend QIFVLS program for young people. She and a colleague are aiming to create a culturally appropriate framework and model to deliver the Love Bites training package for 60+ ATSI communities across Queensland. 

We believe her work is crucial to supporting safe pathways out of violence for Indigenous women and their children. And there is still much to do.

2021 Encouragement Award winner

Maggie Shambrook

Maggie Shambrook is a founding member of the Housing for Older Women (HOW) network. She has a long and impressive record working in the area of homelessness and housing for vulnerable people. A community development practitioner with post graduate qualifications, Maggie raised her three children as a single mum but later in life found herself in precarious housing situation.

Maggie applied her considerable skills and practice experience to advocating for older women in similar circumstances.

Judge’s citation

The selection committee were impressed with Maggie’s commitment to older women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Maggie has brought together her community development experience, her astute analysis of social issues and the need for solutions at policy, practice and lived experience levels.

She has advocated for and supported many women to share their experiences and to contribute to finding housing and living solutions for themselves and others. Working in partnership with other organisations and groups, this growing movement has brought the crisis of older women’s homelessness into the public spotlight and on to the policy agenda.   

2019 Advancement of Women Award winner

Cathy Hunt

Cathy is co-founder of Of One Mind, a not for profit company behind the development of the Women of the World Festival in Australia. She was chosen as the winner of the Advancement of Women Award in  recognition of her outstanding 20-year track record creating programs to empower women in addressing gender inequality, engaging a wide range of communities of women in Australia and internationally creating new pathways through art and cultural efforts including your directorship of the WOW Festivals.

Funding and donations

The Advancement of Women Award is funded through the Advancement of Women Fund set up in 2018 inaugurated with a living gift from charter member of the Zonta Club of Brisbane, Dr Joan Godfrey OBE. This fund will grow with ongoing capital donations and bequests from members.

Donors to the Advancement of Women Fund

Donor categoryNameAmountYear
Foundation DonorDr Joan Godfrey$50,0002018
2020
Member DonorsMs Susan Hocking (in memory of Lesley Hocking)$20,0002018
 Ms Susan Davies (in memory of Anne Davies)$20,0002019

If you want to donate to the award please contact info@zontabrisbane.com.au