Port Stephens Council names scholarship recipients at Salamander Bay Rotary luncheon for International Women's Day

Female leaders in the Port Stephens community were recognised and celebrated in Soldiers Point on Thursday for International Women's Day.

More than 160 people including business leaders, prominent community members and volunteers, councillors and council staff turned out to Salamander Bay Rotary Club's eighth annual International Women's Day luncheon at Soldiers Point Bowling Club.

Salamander Bay Rotary Club's incoming president, Ina George, said she was "over the moon" with the turnout to this year's luncheon.

"This is the largest turnout we've had in eight years," she said. "We had 162 people here today. It's so nice."

Before helping to announce Port Stephens Council's first International Women's Day scholarships, Mayor Ryan Palmer spoke on the importance of the day and what it meant to him as a husband and father to a daughter.

"We should be treating every day like International Women's Day and that's what this year's theme, press for change, is all about," Cr Palmer told the gathering.

"My wish is to support all women to have equal opportunities, support and recognition. I want women to feel valued for their contribution to our community, whatever path they choose to pursue."

Guest speaker - Melissa Edyvean 

Corlette resident and Bondi Chai co-founder Melissa Edyvean was the guest speaker to Thursday's luncheon.

She spoke about her and partner Martin Buggy's jounrey from starting Bondi Chai in 2005 to its operation now, touching on topics such as setting goals, resilience and self belief.

Ms Edyvean also spoke about challenges women face in business.

Bondi Chai co-founder Melissa Edyvean was the guest speaker to Salamander Bay Rotary's International Women's Day luncheon on Thursday.

Bondi Chai co-founder Melissa Edyvean was the guest speaker to Salamander Bay Rotary's International Women's Day luncheon on Thursday.

"As women in business we may feel that we are up against challenges just because we are women," she said.

"I found I could lessen the impact that had on me by changing my mindset.

"In the early days most of our meetings were with men in the role of purchasing. I think most of them thought I was either Martin's secretary or girlfriend. 

"But rather than take offence I would use that to my advantage – because being underestimated actually gave me power because my ability would catch people by surprise.

"Martin would make the sales pitch but once the conversation got going and they needed to know how things worked that was my area of expertise – the stunned look on their faces when they realised I was an equal partner in our business was precious."

Ms Edyvean encouraged women to set goals and take steps in achieving them.


Mayor Ryan Palmer and councillors Sarah Smith and Jaimie Abbott each announced one of the three winners of Port Stephens Council's International Women's Day scholarships.

The scholarships, initiated by Freeman of Port Stephens and former councillor Sally Dover, are worth $1000 each and will be used to help their work in the community.

Before announcing the winners, Cr spoke about the amount and calibre of women who applied for the scholarships.

"It was a very hard decision for the committee to come together on," he said.

Allissa Hassett, Skye Swan and Jackie Dujmovic were announced as the winners.

Allissa Hassett and Skye Swan are two of the inaugural recipients of a $1000 scholarship from Port Stephens Council, as part of International Women’s Day celebrations.

Allissa Hassett and Skye Swan are two of the inaugural recipients of a $1000 scholarship from Port Stephens Council, as part of International Women’s Day celebrations.

The scholarship funds will help Ms Hassett, an art therapist and community support worker, establish an art therapy support group for Port Stephens women in crisis, or who are rebuilding their lives.

Ms Hassett said the scholarship was an "amazing opportunity" and thanked those who helped to establish it.

Ms Swan, a yoga and pilates instructor, will use the funds to establish Frontline Yoga classes in Port Stephens.

Frontline Yoga is a non-profit movement that offers yoga to police, firefighters, paramedics and healthcare workers, particularly those with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"PTSD is something I hold in high regard and very close to my heart," Mrs Swan said.

"It's quite exciting to know that Frontline Yoga will be taking place in Port Stephens."

Classes will be run at Core Central in Corlette beginning in April.

Mrs Dujmovic was unavailable to attend Thursday's luncheon as she was in Sydney for the 2018 NSW Women of the Year Awards.

The co-founder of Hover UAV, Mrs Dujmovic was one of four women nominated in the NSW Business Woman of the Year category.

While she did not win her category, Mrs Dujmovic said she was "honoured to be a finalist".

Mrs Dujmovic will use her scholarship to continue connecting people with technology, in particular drones.

Ms Hassett is seeking members for her Rest, Restore and Rise support group. Any women interested can contact her at info@allissahassett.com.au.

Proceeds from the luncheon

Money raised from the luncheon will be donated to Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Service and other Port Stephens-based services that help women.

About than 50 Bags of Hope containing feminine hygiene products, toothbrush, comb, tissues, soap, shampoo were donated at the luncheon.

Salamander Bay Rotary Club is aiming to collect 300 bags, which will be donated to Port Stephens services that help women and men who may be homeless or in crisis. 

Other IWD events

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington and Paterson MP Meryl Swanson will host breakfast in Heatherbrae on Friday, March 9 for International Women’s Day.

“Meryl and I being the state and federal representatives locally, we understand that it’s an important part of our roles to show leadership,” Ms Washington said. “We’re very aware of the role model responsibility we have and take it seriously.

“We’re really excited to hold this event, and hopefully establish it for years to come. It’s also important that there is an event at the other end of the electorate. There’s hasn’t been an event on this side for a long time.”

The breakfast will be held at Hunter Regional Botanic Gardens. Student leaders from schools around Raymond Terrace have been invited to attend. 

The breakfast, open to men and women to attend, will begin at 7.30am. Tickets cost $5, which will go to the Gardens. Any additional money raised on the day will be donated to Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Service.

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Jackie Dujmovic, Allissa Hassett and Skye Swan have been named as the inaugural recipients of Port Stephens Council scholarships on International Women’s Day.

The brainchild of former Port Stephens councillor and freeman Sally Dover, the scholarships are designed to support the recipients in the valuable contributions they make to the community.

Those contributions include, but are not limited to, the arts, culture, environment, business, community, health and sport.

“From technology and innovation, to mental health and art therapy, to yoga as therapy, these three women have demonstrated a strong passion for their chosen fields and it’s wonderful to be able to help them achieve their goals with this scholarship,” Mayor Ryan Palmer said.

“This is the first time this scholarship has been offered by Port Stephens Council, and I was very impressed by the high calibre of all the applications we received – it was a really tough decision in the end.

“I want to thank former councillor Sally Dover for making this scholarship program a reality, and I’d like to thank the Rotary Club of Salamander Bay for their support.”

The scholarship recipients were named at the Rotary Salamander Bay luncheon on Thursday, March 8 – International Women’s Day.

Mrs Dujmovic was not able to attend Thursday’s lunch as she was in Sydney for the 2018 NSW Women of the Year Awards, of which she was an award nominee.

Elizabeth Akerman, the council’s acting community development and engagement coordinator, said the council is proud to support women in Port Stephens.

“There are so many worthy women across Port Stephens who deserve recognition, so this is a great way to show how much we value their contribution to our community,” she said.

“I’m excited to see how our winners will use their scholarships to achieve their goals,” she added.