Aged care innovator Natasha Chadwick has been named Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year and is using the platform to call for change to the industry.
The Telstra Business Women’s Awards aim to shine a light on women who have challenged the status quo, done things their own way and achieved success in business.
Ms Chadwick, CEO and founder of NewDirection Care, was announced winner of the 2019 Medium & Large Business award and business woman of the year at the ceremony in Sydney on Thursday night.
She said she looked forward to what she would be able to do now she had the business woman of the year platform.
“For me it’s all about getting the agenda out there around aged care and the need for us to make significant and wholesale change in our industry and in particular in the way we care for people who are living with dementia,” Ms Chadwick told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Ms Chadwick has been pioneering a new approach to aged care for the past seven years and officially opened NewDirection Care’s first microtown, a residential aged care community in Bellmere Queensland where residents can move around freely, in 2018.
The facility resembles a suburban community with 17 houses on six streets, accommodation for 120 residents and a town centre with shops, along with professional care teams operating 24 hours a day.
In her acceptance speech last night, Ms Chadwick said the Australian community needed to ask itself whether it was still okay to segregate and effectively criminalise someone with dementia from other people.
Change is possible but only if all stakeholders get involved, said Ms Chadwick who called on government, relevant agencies and the whole industry to take action.
“We need change and wholesale change, not just from the people who are delivering care but from every single part of our industry,” she said.
To her personally, Ms Chadwick said the award was recognition of her hard work and standing up when she felt alone and unsupported by industry.
“From that perspective it’s great to get that vindication that other people can see that we really do need change and that agenda has come to fruition,” she said.
Record-breaking number of nominations
The Telstra Business Women’s Awards, now in its 24th year, aim to empower Australia’s most successful women from small, medium and large businesses, for-purpose organisations and social enterprises, academia and the public sector.
The awards received a record-breaking 8,500 nominations this year.
The judging process to select the national winners involved in-depth interviews with a panel of high-profile judges, including Melanie Silva, managing director of Google Australia & New Zealand, Stevan Premutico, founder of Dimmi, and Tracey Spicer, journalist, author and founder of Outspoken Women.
Telstra’s group executive of transformation & people Alex Badenoch said the winners represented a diverse range of industries and backgrounds and that the judges were particularly impressed with their unwavering focus and determination to pursue their passions.
“Ms Chadwick has a strong vision for a sector that desperately needs change. Her model disrupts the status quo and addresses an issue that is gaining national attention. She leads this change with grit, resilience and compassion,” Ms Badenoch said.
Ms Chadwick’s message to other women leaders in aged care is to have the courage to stand up.
“Many of the other women leaders that I know in aged care want to see significant change as well and so I would say to them ‘do it’.
“Back yourself, back your organisation and start making those change because it can’t be anything but for the betterment of our industry,” Ms Chadwick said.
The Telstra Business Women’s Awards other winners were:
- Small Business Award: Jodie Silvester, managing director and founder, KAS Accounting Solutions (WA)
- Public Sector and Academia Award: Debbie Platz, assistant commissioner, Australian Federal Police (QLD)
- For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award: Dushyanthi Thangiah, CEO, Yumba-Meta Housing Association (QLD)
- Emerging Leader Award: Genevieve Clay-Smith, co-founder and CEO, Bus Stop Films (NSW)
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