Congratulations to Madeleine Olney and Nicola Poulos in Year 10, who have recently placed in the top four at the annual 2019 ZONTA International Young Women in Public Affairs Awards*.  Nicola was awarded highly commended and Maddie as runner up. These results are impressive enough, but even more thrilling is that they were two of the youngest competitors in a group of seven impressive young women. “We are so proud of both of them for these results and their continuous hard work and efforts,'' said Mrs Daniela Clark, English Teacher and Year 10 Coordinator.

“Madeline and Nicola unquestionably impressed the interview panel at the annual presentation dinner, but equally awe-inspiring is their ongoing community service work. Just as we have been impressed by the selflessness they have demonstrated through their fundraising, awareness-raising and school uniform 'recycling' initiatives, so too were the judges,
Mrs Clark continued.

Both Maddie and Nicola said they enjoy participating in the ZONTA awards as it challenged them to think more deeply and, in turn, raise awareness about issues affecting women in our community.

Maddie was first introduced to ZONTA by her grandmother and she attended the 2018 Awards where she heard Emma-Lucille Blayney, Danebank's current School Captain, speak. She said that speech inspired her to get involved as soon as she was old enough. 

Maddie’s last presentation to ZONTA focused on domestic violence towards women in Australia and the role that advocates such as Rosie Batty and organisations such as Bravehearts have in supporting and empowering victims of domestic violence.

Maddie said she knows she has been

“fortunate to have had many leadership opportunities at school and outside school”.

From this, she has recognised the need to raise awareness of the lack of education for girls and women in developing countries and aims to educate others on the cultural barriers that hinder female education in many countries.

For Nicola, participating in the ZONTA awards reinforced her commitment to service and her goal to empower and engage others to do the same.

“I enjoy being able to be an advocate and raise awareness of issues relating to women,'' she said.

Nicola’s last presentation centered on her Pink Angels project which raised awareness about breast cancer at school and in her local community. She organised for a breast cancer survivor to speak at assembly, as well as a pink-ribbon fundraising project. The Pink Angel project also resulted in her being selected as one of three finalists at NSW’s Parliament House in the category of ‘Empowering Young Women’.

Nicola P raising awareness for Breast Cancer at Danebank

Both girls believe being involved with ZONTA and their public speaking experiences will help them reach their goals for the future. “Public speaking is an excellent tool for young women to develop confidence”, said Maddie, adding that having the opportunity to meet and spend time with senior ZONTA members, boosted her drive to do what she can to improve the lives of girls and women.

Although still young, both girls have visions of what their futures may look like and how the skills they are learning now can help them pursue these goals. Maddie is planning on a career in law, or maybe as a professional musician ... she’s trying to devise a way to be both! Nicola is hoping to pursue a university education in health study and later work in medical research, particularly in the area of cancers that affect women.

Danebank believes that each girl’s humanity is enriched when she awakens her ‘heart of service’. We aim to make service a practical reality. Our girls are encouraged to serve the needs of others and this includes service to each other and service to the wider world, through deeds which reflect generosity, consideration and compassion. Read more here about our commitment to service. 

*Zonta International's Young Women in Public Affairs Award recognizes young women between 16 and 19, who demonstrate superior leadership skills and a commitment to public service and civic causes. Zonta encourages them to continue their participation in public and political life. Find out more information here.