Published on 07 March 2023

She who shines

Onkaparinga is home to its fair share of skilled, knowledgeable, selfless and inspiring people.

With International Women’s Day (8 March) just around the corner, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the incredible women in our community.

They are people from all walks of life—business owners, elite athletes, volunteers, leaders, and courageous individuals.

They are unique in their own way, but every one of them is breaking down barriers, driving positive change and forging better paths for others. They show courage, passion and commitment to making a difference in their industries and communities.

International Women’s Day—celebrated across the globe on 8 March every year—was officially recognised by the United Nations (UN) in 1977.

The day is an opportunity to recognise the achievements of all women, shed light on the various challenges and the unseen struggles women face, and encourage conversations and actions to help secure a gender-equal future.

It also serves as a reminder of the battles for women’s rights that have been—and continue to be—fought while cultivating stronger, more courageous, united, and empowered communities.

Onkaparinga Now posed two questions to 19 local women:

  • Who are two women who have inspired you and why?
  • What do you think is the biggest issue facing women and young girls in our community and how do you think we can tackle it?

Here’s what they had to say.

Question one: Who are two women who have inspired you and why?

Raelene Hall - community member and participant of Reynella Neighbourhood Centre

“Angela Mastroyannis is an 81-year-old woman who has been taking an exercise class called Easy Moves since 2006. Her fitness level and motivation to ensure over 50s can enjoy exercise is amazing. She is an inspiration to me and others for the importance of keeping "the muscles working" as I age.

In the later years of my career as an enrolled nurse I was inspired by the female Residential Care Manager at the facility where I was employed. She encouraged me to take more of a leadership role. This gave me the opportunity to work closely with the residents, their significant others, management and other health care workers. We all worked together to ensure standards were being met within the facility.”


Janet Piens - Volunteer at Reynella Neighbourhood Centre

“Annie Long — wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, a worker and volunteer. Annie immigrated with her family to Adelaide from the UK in 1955. She worked full time while raising her family. She became involved with the South Australian Ballet Company ballet—it was her youngest daughter’s passion—and later joined the Cecchetti Ballet SA branch and was secretary for more than 30 years. As the secretary she organised the regular ballet exams for students across the state, arranged accommodation for interstate judges, organised the pianist, helped with conferences, attended the exams and provided lunches, plus lots more. 

Amanda Rishworth, the current Minister for Families and Social Services. She’s been a politician for 15 years, during which time she has been very active in our community and a very approachable lady who has endeavoured to attend as many activities as she can. She has organised a number of seminars on ageing.”


Huijun Zhu, Art history student, University of Adelaide and one of Onkaparinga’s newest Australian citizens

“My mum is the person who made me realise how important independence was for a woman. We have an interesting idiom in our native tongue, which is ‘if you always lean on a mountain, the mountain will collapse. If you always rely on other people, he or she will run away from you’. And therefore, my mum encouraged me to learn various skills from an early age (and I am still learning) and to be independent in my life. 

American poet Emily Dickinson has inspired me for her poems that discuss the soul, passion and truth, which I think every woman is in search of. Here, I would love to share with you a segment of one of her poems:

‘I am afraid to own a body —

I am afraid to own a soul —

Profound — precarious property —

Possession, not optional —’”


Alanna Maurin - Teacher, Aberfoyle Park High School

“Two women who have inspired me throughout my adult life are both fellow South Australians—my best friend and local business owner Nadia Couzner and 92-year-old poet Nan Witcomb.

Nadia has been an inspiration to me from the moment I met her over 20 years ago. At the tender age of 20 she had a well-established vintage clothing store in the heart of Glenelg. Her award-winning business thrived for over 14 years and I always found inspiration in her creativity and ability to help people from all walks of life find their own unique style and confidence. She is woman of true independence, now running another small business in the Onkaparinga district, Radicool Reptiles, where she shares her passion for and love for these beautiful animals with thousands of people every year. Most of all Nadia is inspiring because she is always evolving her businesses and dreaming up new ways to bring joy to others whilst also supporting herself and her family.

Nan Witcomb is a woman who inspires me because her poems are full of wise words about life, love and friendship. I have turned to her books throughout many stages of my life and her poems, although short and simple have deep and complex meaning that can change depending on your frame of mind. There are many volumes of The Thoughts of Nanushka and each is filled with words that have over the years provided me with comfort, encouragement, a firm kick-up-the-bum and of course inspiration. Among my favourite words of wisdom are ‘To learn self-love without self-indulgence, is to find the secret key to happiness’.”


Joanna Giannes - Project Coordinator, Leadership Onkaparinga

“There are countless women in my life who have inspired and continue to inspire, however I have to share three women who have influenced and shaped me. My Mother Argiro Giannes, Psychoanalyst Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes and our late Senior Kaurna Elder Nangki Burka Mekauwe Georgina Williams.

These three women inspired me to have the courage to envision a world where social justice, active citizenship, equity and the alleviation of human suffering could be possible and to pursue it in an unapologetic way using the unique gifts we bring to the arena.”


Evelyn Roth - Community Artist

“Marilyn Wood - dancer and leader of international centre for celebrations. I met her in 1968 at a Californian workshop on dance and architecture and I joined her with dance sculpture and environmental installations in Tehran, Brazil, New York and Vancouver for 30 years.

Cedar Prest who I first met in 1979 when I was invited to Australia from Canada to install videotape jungle in the flyer of the Adelaide Festival Centre. Cedar has remained a true friend. She inspires me by her wisdom as a community artist in glass, her strength in overcoming cancer and two new hips, and her knowledge of Australian politics.”


Amiria Mahuika - Singer

“As a singer, I am hugely moved by both Rihanna and Beyonce. 

They both inspire me because they are successful, black and beautiful. As a woman of colour, it is so important that I see successful, black women in the media.

I am motivated by their aura, their confidence and their net worth. 

I see them and where they came from and it has become so easy to picture myself as a black, worldwide recording, multi-millionaire/billionaire artist and entrepreneur.”


Aunty Janice Rigney - Buandig Elder and weaver, Southern Elders Weavers Group/Southern Cultural Immersion

“The first would be my mum, just for being a strong Buandig woman, and that’s to do with teaching you. You learn from what her life was like growing up and you follow in those footsteps with being a strong-willed person.

The other would be my grandma. I had two grandmas and I loved both, but one in particular was a very strong Buandig woman who lived into her nineties. Older women like her inspired me and I think that’s why I took up weaving. She was a weaver from when she was a young girl back in the horse and cart days. I’ve carried on that tradition. She was a strong-willed person and she would stand up to anybody. When I started getting into cultural stuff I was pretty shy, but I always thought back to how she was, how she never let anyone stand over her.”


Sahara Benson - Student

“I have always been inspired by pioneer women like Frida Kahlo, Florence Nightingale, Maya Angelou and Marie Curie because of their part in the exposure of women in male-dominated industries and efforts towards gender equality and women’s rights.”


Question two: What do you think is the biggest issue facing women and young girls in our community and how do you think we can tackle it?


Indy Tahau - AFLW player, Port Adelaide Football Club

"From an elite sport perspective, the lack of time we have as part-time athletes directly impacts how professional we can be. The balance of study, work, family and footy is a huge challenge, and something that will hopefully improve over time. We're so lucky to have the opportunities we do in sport now, and Port Adelaide does an amazing job of supporting us across all areas of our lives, but we have got a way to go."


Dr Mango Parker - Research Scientist, Australian Wine Research Institute

“I think the biggest issue facing women and young girls in our community is having the power and courage to live our lives the way we choose. Girls and women need to be able to imagine fulfilling lives, and to be able to achieve their goals. A really important way to tackle the problem is to make sure our girls can see examples in our community of successful women. I’m very lucky to have the career and family life I chose. We must do all that we can to make sure girls and women understand maths and money to turn dreams into reality.”


Carly Gangell - Founder Females Fighting Forward and Pride Fight Series, and former professional muay thai fighter

“After years of working in an environment where people come to gain self-confidence, I'm going to say that I think the biggest issue facing women and young girls is body image and a lack of self-esteem. This is an issue that doesn't discriminate based on age or occupation - it affects young girls, teen girls, women pre and post birth and women across a variety of industries. The exposure young girls (and women) have to unrealistic expectations of body image on a daily basis is concerning. Body image issues can play a major role in mental health issues and overall self-confidence which in turn, can affect and stunt all aspects of someone's life - applying for a new job, relationships, life choices, engagement in sport, study, etc. 

I believe that social media and marketing have a large part to play in this issue but unfortunately it's not something that we can avoid or shelter future generations from. Greater education for young girls in our community would work wonders - programs in health and well-being in schools, sporting clubs and community groups would be an effective way to tackle this issue from a young age. Also marketing campaigns and popular brands using real, everyday people for advertisements to minimise the exposure our young girls have to unrealistic and edited images and ideals. “


Margie Goodwin - Director, Christie Downs Kindergarten

Women and young girls need equality as people in their own right to be whoever they want to be in this world without fear of rejection or favouritism of how young and pretty they are perceived to be.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women of colour have to deal with racism - covert and overt, institutional and personal on a daily basis

Change will come about through education of all children and adults of the issues facing women today. There needs to be opportunities through training and employment to secure future financial independence which is equitable for all.

The government needs to lead by example by ensuring that there is an equal representation of women in Parliament as elected members or in positions of power in government.

The Voice to Parliament will support a change for a fairer and just society. 


Beck Stevens - Founding Coordinator Happy Patch Community Garden and The Happy Pantry Community Food Co-operative

“I think one of the biggest issues facing women in our community is the lack of support, understanding, and flexibility for those who choose to be mums, as they transition from work to family care and back into work. For many mums, it's like being thrust onto a rollercoaster ride that moves at breakneck speed and gives you little time to adjust or catch your breath before entering the next bend! No profession can prepare you for the emotional journey of being a parent, but neither can anything prepare you for the metamorphosis that follows such an experience. It is one that develops a deep sense of empathy, maturity, and selflessness, and we are now seeing how such qualities bring balance to workplaces, when supported. Unfortunately, adjusting to the transition back to work is challenging and lonely for many mums, compounded by the pressure to perform, expectation to segment work and family responsibilities, and guilt associated with a change in priorities.

I believe we can tackle this issue by working together as a community of women that support one another and should include:

  • Mentoring programs that support women as they transition back to work.
  • Professional development and training courses that build confidence and provide opportunities to refresh skills in a safe environment without the pressure to perform.
  • Flexible work options that support and encourage progressive transition back to work, thus allowing time for families and workplaces to adjust to the change.
  • Recognition of the invaluable benefits that the motherhood experience brings to workplaces such as empathy, nurture and care.

The key to moving forward is working together as a community that respects, values, supports, and encourages one another, regardless of status, age, or belief. Together we can make a difference as we stand in the gap, offer a helping hand to our neighbour, and rise together to celebrate the collective strengths women bring to our communities and workplaces.”


Corrina Wright - Winemaker and Director Oliver’s Taranga

“Safety from violence is obviously a big challenge for our society as a whole, and one that I can’t even fathom why it happens, let alone know how to tackle it. It simply shouldn’t happen. Another big issue is one around ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’— so making sure that we have visible women representing in all facets of working life, politics etc. is crucial. Pay parity should be mandatory in 2023 and beyond.”


Diane Cass - Artist, writer and disability advocate

“Male privilege is the biggest issue facing girls and women today. This dominant discourse is pervasive and difficult to dislodge after centuries of an ingrained belief that women are 'less than' their male counterparts. We must change the narrative and how we speak about gender to make more significant changes. We can look to the 12 countries with the highest gender equality to see how to make changes ourselves.

According to a recent report, there are 195 countries worldwide, and only 12 have almost neutral equality. This is generous because privilege is difficult to see when we have it, and undoubtedly, most people drafting the report will be men. Considering that inequality is learned, starting on a path to safety should begin early. Children should be learning equity in all areas at primary school (and earlier if possible). Fair and reasonable justice should be given to those who commit violence against others; it should not matter if this were done in a home between family members or on the street between strangers. Violence is violence and should not be tolerated. Hiding behind religion or other 'clubs' should be illegal. No matter a person's background, if they have been violent, they should face the same level of justice as everyone. Allowing some men to seemingly 'get away' with horrific offenses results in all men feeling empowered to continue to commit these crimes. These changes can significantly impact how women and girls remain safe in society.”


Moira Were - Mayor, City of Onkaparinga

“Domestic violence continues to impact mostly on women and girls. All people need to be safe, unfortunately violence in the home and in intimate relationships remains too high, and almost one woman a week is being murdered. Our Watch has just released a national kit for local councils to use. We all know someone who is being affected and the more we can each do to make our homes and neighbourhoods safer the better. It is a shared responsibility between us all to speak up and stand up for anyone who needs this support.”


Theresa Francis - Operations Manager at Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN) Aboriginal Health Services

“Prior to the non-hospital based services – McCann Review – our women in the southern region attended the Southern Women’s Community Health Centre. The centre was considered a safe haven for our women. They were proactive with participating in the numerous health programs and health checks. However, we have seen an evolution with services and systems.

There continues to be gaps in services for our young girls and our women – lack of support in areas for employment, transport, accommodation health and wellbeing. Competing sports for women and young girls too – the cost of sporting registration, uniforms and equipment.

To help tackle this it’s important to consult with the community and hold listening posts to hear from our women.”


Nikki Govan - Owner, Star of Greece; Chair, Adelaide Economic Development Agency; Director, National Australia Day Council; Director, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

“We have come a long way in our State when it comes to women’s rights, but the journey to equality, equal pay for equal work is still to be achieved.  I am not a fan of quotas per se, and I hope that we won’t need an IWD to bring attention to inequalities in the future.”


Read more about International Women’s Day on the UN Women Australia website.



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Collage of local women - International Women's Day 2023