Passion for tackling domestic violence recognised

Published: 06 Mar 2020

A passionate advocate for combating domestic violence who has spearheaded services to support survivors and championed policies for change has been named the 2020 Cairns Woman of the Year.

Presented at today’s International Women’s Day Breakfast, Amanda Lee-Ross was named recipient of the Woman of the Year award, which recognises outstanding achievement and contribution to the community by a local woman.

At the helm of the Cairns Regional Domestic Family Violence Service for the past 18 years, Ms Lee-Ross is also a founding member of the Cairns Collective Impact on Domestic Family Violence.

Mayoress Claire Manning described Ms Lee-Ross as a tireless champion for the prevention of domestic and family violence.

“Amanda has given a voice to some of the most vulnerable and at risk people in our society,” Mrs Manning said.

“She is a woman who is not afraid to speak out and through her work with Cairns Regional Domestic Family Violence Service and Cairns Collective Impact on Domestic Family Violence she has campaigned for change.

“Unfortunately domestic violence remains a blight on our society and recent tragic events, reported widely in the media, have highlighted that much more remains to be done.

“I applaud the work done by Amanda and her dedicated colleagues to shine a light on this issue, their fight for policy change and their support for women and children affected.”

Ms Lee-Ross will stand down as CEO of the Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service in July, having grown the service one site with four staff, to five sites with 25 staff servicing the Cairns, Tablelands and Douglas communities.

Local wildlife warrior and founder of The Agile Wallaby Project, Shai Ager, was named Young Woman the Year and winner of the inaugural People’s Choice award.

An ecology graduate and dedicated wildlife carer, she is most notably known for her volunteer work in helping rehabilitate agile wallabies from the Trinity Beach area.

Ms Ager has also recently returned from Kangaroo Island where she volunteered to help rescue and care for injured wildlife following the devastating bushfires.

Kate Boylan-Ascione was named recipient of the $2000 scholarship, which aims to help a local woman access learning and networking opportunities to benefit her career or other endeavours.

A local film maker, singer and musician, Ms Boylan-Ascione uses the arts to raise awareness about human rights, social justice and climate challenges on the international stage.

“An ambitious and passionate storyteller, Kate has used film to draw attention to major societal issues, including climate change action and family violence,” Mrs Manning said.

“This scholarship will help Kate to focus on film making through her own company and continue making an impact through this storytelling medium.”

The International Women’s Day Breakfast was presented by Cairns Regional Council with support from Cairns Central, Channel 7 Queensland and Cairns Hardware.

Award recipients

WOMAN OF THE YEAR – AMANDA LEE-ROSS

Leading the Cairns Regional Domestic Family Violence Service for 18 years, she is also a founding member of the Cairns Collective Impact on Domestic Family Violence. A strong advocate for survivors of domestic and family violence, she has campaigned for governments for investment and policy change. Amanda is a tireless champion for the prevention of domestic and family violence, and improving regional services. She will retire from her CEO position with Cairns Regional Domestic Family Violence Service in July, having grown the organisation from one site with four staff to five sites with 25 staff services the Cairns, Tablelands and Douglas Shire communities.

SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT – KATE BOYLAN-ASCIONE

Kate is a local film maker, singer and musician who utilises the arts to raise awareness about human rights, social justice and climate challenges on the international stage. As an ambitious and passionate storyteller she has studied film and media production (currently completing her honours), and has completed internships at SBS and The Story Boxes production company. Kate focuses on the major societal issues including climate change action and family violence. She has also been engaged to run film making workshops in Missouri next month.

YOUNG WOMAN OF THE YEAR & PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD – SHAI AGER

A local wildlife warrior and founder of the Agile Wallaby Project, Shai is also open about the mental struggles as a wildlife rescuer and encourages people to seek help when needed. Shai is best known for her work in rehabilitating injured wallabies in the Trinity Beach area, and her aim, through the Agile Wallaby Project to relocate wallabies away from the area.  Shai has recently returned from Kangaroo Island where she was volunteering her time rescuing and caring for injured wildlife following the bushfires.

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Last updated: 06 March 2020