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Nornie Bero smiles while standing in the doorway of a restaurant

5 exceptional women changing the world this International Women’s Day

March 5, 2024
March 7, 2022

From taking climate action at work to providing pathways into employment for newly arrived refugees and speaking out against animal cruelty, these five women are creating meaningful change for people, animals and the planet.

Lucy Piper is helping people take climate action at work

Headshot of Lucy Piper standing behind a black backdrop, smiling

It’s one thing to reduce your personal carbon footprint at home, but how do you go about decarbonising your workplace? WorkForClimate, under the leadership of director Lucy Piper, provides workers with the information and tools they need to influence their company’s stakeholders to facilitate the shift to renewable energy.

“It’s easy to become numb to the enormity of the climate crisis,” Lucy says. “But we, as individuals, have more agency than we think when it comes to solutions. If you work within a large organisation, you – as an employee – can build a case for ambitious climate initiatives, like switching operations to 100% renewable energy.”

Rather than focusing on the climate crisis, Lucy prefers to put her energy into climate solutions. “Solutions are about taking actions, and action is a powerful antidote to the anxiety so many of us experience when we think too much about a problem,” she says.

Through, which provides a range of articles, playbooks and workshops to help accelerate a company’s climate goals (including the upcoming 10-week WorkForClimate Academy), Lucy and her team are helping individuals make climate their day job – without having to quit their day job.  

“It starts with a single person stepping up and being brave enough to offer a solution,” she says. “You don’t need to be a climate expert; you just need the energy to step up and start proposing solutions. We all have this power to effect change.”

Nornie Bero is championing native ingredients in Australian kitchens

Nornie Bero smiles while standing in the doorway of a restaurant

Nornie started cooking as soon as she was tall enough to reach over the stove. Growing up on Mer Island in the Torres Strait, she’d spend her days hunting, fishing, planting food, and cooking with her family.

This love of food and connection to culture is what lead her to becoming a professional chef, which she’s been doing for over 20 years. Nornie’s passion is native ingredients, which take centre stage at her Mabu Mabu tuckshop and Big Esso restaurant in Melbourne. In fact, she’s on a mission to get native ingredients into every cupboard in Australia.

“Multiculturalism is shared through food, so why not do that through Australian produce as well?” she says. “I would love for someone to come here from a different country and ask ‘What’s your native cuisine?’ and for someone to say ‘You need to try our saltbush or our wattleseed!’. That would be the coolest thing. That’s our Australia, it’s what comes from our home. That should be part of our national cuisine.”

Shatha Hamade is fighting for a kinder world for animals

Shatha Hamade sits on a blue armchair

“I always thought the law protected all animals equally, because they all suffer in the same capacity,” says Shatha Hamade, Legal Counsel at Animals Australia. “But then I realised we only protect them according to their value to humans; whether we choose to eat them, wear them, or adopt them as our family members.”

That sense of injustice prompted Shatha to join the Animals Australia team. Since 2013, she has worked tirelessly as a legal advocate across multiple court jurisdictions to provide representation and protection to animals suffering within factory farming and other industries. She has also been a driving force in exposing the cruelty of live animal exports through investigations, legal actions and public awareness campaigns.

It’s a challenging space to work in, but Shatha has learned that ‘success’ isn’t just about increasing protections for animals; it’s about activating the hearts and minds of those around you.

“I feel comforted to know that I have an opportunity to plant seeds in this space every day,” she says. “I believe that animals are our teachers. They uplift our ability to feel kindness and compassion, thereby they help us to evolve our consciousness.”  

Hannah Brennan is providing pathways into the hospo industry for refugees and migrants

Scarf members at a meeting

Co-founded in 2010 by Hannah Brennan and Jess Moran, social enterprise Scarf gives people who’ve recently arrived as migrants and refugees the skills they need to thrive in the hospitality industry. By facilitating regular Scarf dinners at participating Melbourne restaurants, Hannah and her team work with people to provide them with hands-on experience and the confidence to get industry jobs.

“I was meeting so many people from refugee backgrounds who couldn’t get a foot in the door because they didn’t have experience or anyone to vouch for them,” Hannah says. “I didn’t think this was fair so I wanted to use my hospitality background and networks to make it more equitable for these resilient, talented and motivated young people to get a job.”

On days when Hannah feels frustrated by inequity and injustice in the world, she relies on her strong sense of hope. “Things need to be better, they can be better and I believe we are moving in the right direction when it comes to making a fairer, more just society,” she says. “I find great motivation in looking back at the many Scarf graduates who've overcome huge barriers and are now living full lives. One of our graduates, who'd never had a job in Australia before coming on board as a paid Scarf trainee in 2015, studied to be an operating theatre technician and he told me he recently bought a house. Things like this push me to keep going.”

Kim Rollason-Nokes is empowering young women from culturally diverse backgrounds

Headshot of Kim Rollason-Nokes, standing behind a wooden fence smiling

When Kim started working in the refugee settlement sector and saw how young women were being affected by power imbalances in the workplace, the gender pay gap, sexism and racism, along with family and cultural expectations, she decided to dedicate her life to cementing change. Thus, Ethni was born.

Ethni, one of Bank Australia’s Community Customer Grant recipients, is a social enterprise providing support, training and employment opportunities to young women from culturally diverse backgrounds. Since Kim launched Ethni is 2017, the program has evolved into a hub where women can feel safe to share stories and drive change in their communities. Kim describes it as a powerful sisterhood.

“Ethni is my small part to addressing the issues I see on a global scale in a local way,” she says. “I may not be able to change what is happening for the millions of people who are displaced or seeking refuge around the world, but I can ensure that when a young women arrives here, they have the best possible opportunity to thrive and become the leaders we need.”

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