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Blackmores Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing Awards 2019

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Celebrating women who are helping improve the health and wellbeing of others. Who will you nominate in 2019?

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Recognise the outstanding women making a difference in your community

Blackmores is inviting nominations for the Blackmores Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing Awards 2019, with $6000 prize money and participation in a leadership mentoring program on offer.

These awards celebrate women in the Greater Sydney region who have made an outstanding contribution to the local community by improving people’s health and wellbeing.

Winners will be announced at an International Women’s Day Gala Dinner on 7 March featuring guest speaker Sam Bloom, the 2018 Women’s World Adaptive Surfing Champion whose inspirational story is told through the best-selling book Penguin Bloom.

“The Blackmores Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing Awards recognise women who make a positive difference through a health leadership, advocacy, or caregiving role in their community,” said Cecile Cooper, Blackmores Director of Corporate Affairs. “At Blackmores, we believe in empowering women on their personal wellbeing journey and supporting those building a healthier society for all.”

Blackmores, Australia’s leading natural health brand, is running the awards in partnership with CCNB, trusted advisors in community health, aged care and disability.

Community organisations play an essential role in supporting holistic wellbeing – including physical, mental, social and emotional health – helping to ensure that everyone gets the most out of life.

“Sydney is full of amazing women who are making a positive long-term difference for others. The Blackmores Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing Awards are one way to recognise the many women driving and supporting key community initiatives,” said Marika Kontellis, CCNB Project Leader.

Nominate here

Five award categories

Nominations are invited for the following categories, including a special youth category:

  • StrongBeing: Everyday women who have shown courage and determination to overcome adversity in their personal lives and inspire others
  • ChangeBeing: Women who through bold acts of leadership, advocacy and/or education have achieved positive health outcomes for the community.
  • CommunityBeing: Caregivers who work tirelessly for others including carers, health and community care professionals.
  • YoungBeing: Young women aged 16-22 who have achieved extraordinary social change for their community’s wellbeing through passion, commitment and vision.
  • Mercie Whellan WellBeing: This major winner will be selected from nominees across all categories (this is a new category for 2019).

Forty finalists and their guest will be invited to join Blackmores at a gala dinner on Thursday 7 March to celebrate International Women’s Day featuring special guest speaker Sam Bloom (pictured), the Women's World Adaptive Surfing Champion whose inspirational story is told through the best-selling book Penguin Bloom.

Winners will receive $1000 each, with the Mercie Whellan WellBeing winner receiving $2000. These five winners will also be invited to join CCNB’s The Leader’s Room© leadership mentoring program to help enhance their personal and professional development and support the valuable work they are doing in the community.

Five runners-up will each receive a $250 David Jones gift voucher.

Entries close on Sunday 24 February 2019 at midnight, so don't delay in nominating the amazing women in your community! 

Click here for terms and conditions.

Nominate here

2018 winners of the Blackmores Women+Wellbeing Awards

WWBA 2018 winners 2


StrongBeing - winner

Donna Meads-Barlow, Director of DANII Foundation

Donna and her husband Brian tragically lost their daughter Danii to type one diabetes. Danii was 17 and died in her sleep. After her death, they realised this could have been prevented using a continuous monitor. As Director of DANII Foundation, Donna has supported other parents who have lost their children to diabetes and raised funds for CGM systems for other type one diabetes children.

A powerhouse and inspiration to all, Donna is determined to see no other mother or family lose their child this way. Her DANII Foundation supports all people living with diabetes by raising awareness, lobbying government and industry to ensure the latest technologies are available and affordable, and alerting people with type one diabetes and their carers to life threatening hypo and hyperglycaemia.

Learn more about Donna's work here

StrongBeing - runner-up

Caroline Ghatt, Managing Director & Co-Founder of Play for All Australia

As a mother of two including a child with a significant disability, Caroline lobbied the local Northern Beaches Council to implement inclusive playgrounds. She co-founded the organisation Play for All Australia, passionately driving policy change to make inclusion the start of all playground design on the Northern Beaches so that every child could have the opportunity to equally participate and enjoy the cognitive, social and emotional benefits that only play can bring.

By bringing together parents, special educators, architects, therapists and creative industry, the team from Play For All Australia have since designed, manufactured & installed five inclusive and cost effective local playgrounds targeting identified developmental needs shared by all children and devoted to a different sensory experience. Caroline is proud to help build a world of play for all.

Learn more about Caroline's work here

ChangeBeing - winner

Lynne-Ellen Shori, Founder of Wantaim PNG

Sydney resident Lynne was born on the remote island of Manus in PNG to an Australian father and local mother. Exchanged for a stove and a sewing machine, she was formally adopted by her father at age three months. In 2007, Lynne visited Manus and was profoundly affected by the conditions of rural PNG which could have been her own – a lack of water, toilets and electricity. This led her to leave her corporate career and establish a charitable organisation.

Today Wantaim PNG (WPNG) is the only international, non-denominational community development organisation in Manus. Lynne's selfless dedication to WPNG is reflected in her many achievements, including an atoll farming project to improve local diets with fresh produce; the installation of dry composting toilets which is helping keep women and girls safe at night; and a feminine hygiene initiative teaching rural women how to sew reusable, long-lasting sanitary products to sell and generate much needed income.

Learn more about Lynne’s work here

Jessica Brown

ChangeBeing - runner-up

Jessica Brown, Founder & CEO of Life Changing Experiences (SISTER2sister)

As a high school music teacher, Jessica was shocked by the devastating impact of deeply entrenched intergenerational social issues on the learning, social skills and development of many teenage girls. She now leads the mammoth task of breaking the cycle of these social issues including abuse, neglect, poverty, addiction, mental health, domestic violence and teen pregnancy through her SISTER2sister program, a long-term mentoring, resilience building and educational program for at risk teenage girls.

SISTER2sister combines the support of a dedicated one-on-one ‘Big Sister’ mentor, ongoing counselling, emergency support where needed, after school one-on-one tuition, monthly educational life-skills workshops, fun activities and life changing personal development and career opportunities.  The SISTER2sister program sees real results and is truly life changing, and Jessica is a true inspiration to these future women of society.

Learn more about Jessica’s work here

CommunityBeing - winner

Wendy Ross, dedicated community caregiver

Wendy has generously and selflessly given much of her life to helping family, friends and others in need. She’s supported a next-door neighbour with terminal cancer, an ageing mother-in-law, and nursed her own husband through terminal cancer until his death. She’s also cared for an elderly gardener who after separating from his wife went through deep depression, and when he suffered a debilitating stroke, she moved him into her home to care for him until his death.  

Wendy has also volunteered with Meals on Wheels, at Mona Vale Hospital café, in a school tuck shop, served on the Parents and Teachers Association, and provided regular English classes to a Chinese neighbour. Now in her eighties and with failing health she is still always there to help people in need by driving taking them to appointments, shopping or whatever else may be required. Her capacity to help others is amazing.

CommunityBeing - runner-up

Danielle Begg, Co-Founder & CEO at The Yoga Impact Charity/ Co-Founder of the Refugee Yoga Project

Danielle founded The Yoga Impact Charity and Refugee Yoga Project to provide yoga programs to refugees healing from torture and trauma at no cost. Her trauma sensitive yoga program was evaluated by NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of torture and trauma survivors and was found to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. She has since trained other yoga teachers in the application of her learnings.

Danielle is a strong advocate of the inclusion of mind body therapies within health services and has presented at a variety of workshops and conferences globally. She recently completed Harvard Medical School's Global Mental Health Trauma and Recovery Certificate Program.

Learn more about Danielle’s work here


YoungBeing - winner

Elisabeth Goh, Community Engagement Manager at Art of Smart Education

Elisabeth is a young law reformer dedicated to advocating for people living with mental illness. As a Policy Officer at NSW Victims Services, Elisabeth advocates for victims of crime by contributing to significant policy and program reform for victims of crime.  In her spare time, she has grown the Art of Smart youth blog into a 500,000+ strong community where students can live, learn and flourish. She is also developing a mental health and wellbeing platform, Zenful, to deliver personalised advice for individuals to navigate challenges in life, work and school.

Dedicated to turning her vulnerabilities into strength and empowering women, Elisabeth mentors 12 young females in the Future Leaders Program; sits on boards and advisory panels for mental health organisations, including KYDS Youth Development Service, CCNB, Berowra and District Community Bank and Enactus Macquarie University; is an inspirational speaker at schools across Sydney; and a committed firefighter at the Hornsby Heights Rural Fire Brigade.

Learn more about Elisabeth's work here

About Sister Esther 'Mercie' Whellan

The Blackmores Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing Awards were started in 2018 and are named after Sydney Northern Beaches resident Sister Esther 'Mercie' Whellan, who trailblazed the path for women in health in Australia.

Born in 1922 in Rockhampton, QLD, Mercie began her early career as a registered nurse. At age 25 she accepted a job offer to work alongside Blackmores' founder Maurice Blackmore and under his tutorage later studied to become a naturopath.

Respected by all, Mercie steadily worked her way up at Blackmores. She held several significant positions including General Manager for many years and Director from 1962 until 1994 when she turned 72. She was one of the first female chairmen of that era.

Mercie is integral to the success of Blackmores today and we continue to be inspired by her achievements.


About Sam Bloom, special guest speaker

The blink of an eye, a heartbeat, a split second in time. That’s all it took for Sam Bloom’s life to change forever. Sam had everything she had always dreamed of. She’d travelled extensively, fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a nurse and was a happily married mother of three young boys. She spent her time raising her family on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and ran, swam, biked and surfed every chance she had. Life was bliss. Then, without warning, the dream turned into a nightmare.

On a 2013 family holiday in Thailand, Sam leant against a rotten balcony railing falling through it and crashing six metres onto the concrete below. She was lucky to be alive and had suffered devastating injuries, including severe damage to her spinal cord that left her completely paralysed from the chest down. Broken and hopeless, Sam reached her outer limits of physical and mental suffering. But with courage, determination and a little help from an unlikely feathered friend, she made her way back from the edge, scarred but undefeated. Her message – never, ever give up.

Learn more about Sam here


Sam Bloom - World Adaptive Surfing Champion 2018