TWO of the region's strongest advocates for ending violence against women have been recognised for their work.
Julie Oberin and Margaret Singe are the joint recipients of the Zonta Club of Bendigo's 2019 Women of Achievement Award.
The award was yesterday announced at the club's sold-out International Women's Day Dinner at the All Seasons Bendigo.
Ms Oberin is the chief executive of Annie North and the national chair of the Women's Services Network.
She has worked in the domestic and family violence sector for more than 25 years and is involved in a variety of committees and boards.
Ms Oberin will attend the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations again this year.
Sergeant Margaret Singe chairs the Greater Bendigo Against Family Violence committee and is the family violence liaison officer at the Bendigo Police Station.
The Zonta Club of Bendigo recognised both women for their tireless work.
Also presented on the evening were a number of scholarships.
Catherine McAuley College Year 12 student Eva Jan was the recipient of the Zonta International Young Women in Public Affairs award.
The City of Greater Bendigo Youth Council member was recognised for her commitment to volunteering and student leadership.
Courtney Ramskill was awarded the Gwen Symons scholarship to assist in the completion of her VCE.
The Bendigo Senior Secondary College student aspires to study law at university.
"It's helped me out a lot - I can't wait to do well this year," Ms Ramskill said.
Barbara Lomas accepted the Ann Horrocks STEM scholarship on behalf of her daughter, Teagan Clarke, who was completing her first week of classes at Monash University.
Ms Clarke is studying an extended major in astrophysics with a minor in mathematics.
Madelaine Hawke was named as the recipient of the the Heather Winderlich Scholarship for Nursing.
MORE IWD COVERAGE:
Yesterday's dinner was the 28th the Zonta Club of Bendigo has run in honour of International Women's Day.
Guest speaker Dr Skye Kinder addressed one of the International Women's Day themes, 'Balance for Better'.
The 2019 Victorian Young Australian of the Year's speech highlighted both the opportunities and the challenges in her journey to become a doctor.
Dr Kinder said she was the first person in her family and one of only two in her class at Weeroona College to consider going to university.
She wanted to become a doctor, a choice inspired by her father's medical condition.
Her first experience at the then Bendigo Hospital was volunteering in the gift shop.
"I was so excited just to be in the hospital," Dr Kinder said.
She did work experience at Bendigo Health in Year 10.
It was then Dr Kinder said she first realised the world had imposed certain expectations on her based on her circumstances.
She said a visiting doctor was surprised to have a public school student assigned to them for work experience, and that she must have been particularly bright.
Dr Kinder also faced prejudice from her peers because she had used a rural entry pathway into her tertiary studies.
She was told on one occasion she never would have been enrolled in the course if she wasn't from Bendigo and that she had taken someone else's place in the course.
What people expected of her became one of her greatest assets, Dr Kinder said.
It was in that freedom - "the freedom to fail" - that she said she found the best opportunities.
Dr Kinder one day decided she wanted to do a research project with a professor from Harvard University.
She emailed a number of professors seeking an opportunity.
After the first couple of recipients declined, Dr Kinder said the sting came out of the rejections.
It was by asking that she had the opportunity to travel to Japan and realise her dream of doing a research project with a Harvard University professor.
The professor later told Dr Kinder her request had been the weirdest thing anyone had ever asked of them.
A similar approach landed her the opportunity to do further research in Pennsylvania.
In not being afraid to fail, Dr Kinder said she could ask for things she had believed were so far out of her reach, simply because no-one else had asked for them.
She believed it was important women sought career opportunities they might ordinarily believe to be beyond them, and said she had made a point of striving for positions that pushed her comfort zone.
"There is no reason why we can't learn on the job as well," Dr Kinder said.
She considered it important to acknowledge not only when things went well, but also when things didn't go so as well for her as she pursued her goals.
Dr Kinder said she didn't get accepted into medical school straight out of high school.
But she did become a doctor.
She emphasised the importance of mentoring, of supporting students from rural and regional areas to pursue their goals, and of sharing people's stories so others knew what was possible.
Having had the privilege of being supported by a scholarship to attend university, Dr Kinder was determined to give back.
She donated the sum she had been offered by the Zonta Club of Bendigo to cover her expenses in appearing on the evening back to the club's scholarship programs.
In closing her speech, Dr Kinder quoted author Virginia Woolf:
"I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in."
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