Dr Betsy Buchanan BA LLB has worked voluntarily for 40 years to improve the lives of Aboriginal people. In 1971, she worked as a graduate lawyer in the Crown Solicitors office. Unusually, she then chose to volunteer as a legal and social welfare advocate for Aboriginal people.

Dr Buchanan established the State’s first Community Law Centre in 1976 – there are now 30 such centres in WA. She has worked on cases involving housing evictions, the Handicapped Childs Allowance, the reporting of child sexual abuse and the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody. Dr Buchanan still works at the Daydawn Advocacy Centre offering legal and welfare assistance for Aboriginal people. 

Professor Arlene Chan has earned an international reputation for her ground breaking research at Breast Cancer Research Centre WA. More than 1,000 patients have been recruited by Professor Chan into 80 trials. Results from several of these trials have led to a world-wide change in standard of care for breast cancer.

Professor Chan also established the first breast cancer tumour bank in Western Australia with more than 2,000 samples able to be used for future research. 

Jan Cooper is the AFL’s National Manager of Female Football. She has been synonymous with female football development across the nation for more than a decade and has been instrumental in changing female football from a few small leagues across Australia, to having an elite competition for women; the Australian Football League Women.

Jan has led this by driving traditional stakeholders to be inclusive and welcoming of female opportunities in football. Cooper said she was happy to see people finally understanding the role women played in the AFL and reports having had goose bumps when the first AFL Women’s game was played earlier in 2017. 

Jenny Davis OAM is well known to anyone involved in theatre. She is an innovator in every sense. With her career, she has combined theatre, education and community health. Her arts program engages younger and older people. In doing so, she records our history and theirs and provides stimulus for those living with Alzheimers disease. Recently awarded an OAM, is living proof that retirement is an outdated concept. 

The Hon. Cheryl Edwardes OAM attained a Master of Laws in 1995 and qualified as a Barrister when few women were entering the legal profession. She served the WA State Government from 1989 until 2005 and was the first female Attorney-General appointed in Western Australia.

She contributed to the wider community with Ministerial appointments including: Minister for Women’s Interests, Parliamentary and Electoral Affairs, Minister assisting the Minister for Community Development with special responsibility for the Youth Justice Bureau, Minister for Justice, Minister for Family and Children’s Services, Youth, Seniors, Fair Trading, Minister for the Environment, Employment and Training and Labour Relations. Ms. Edwardes retired from Government in 2005 and has since held several positions in the Western Australian resource sector. 

Her Honour Valerie French is an inspirational role model to women in the legal profession. She has overcome the challenges posed to any woman working in the legal profession during a time which was dominated by males. Her contribution to the legal profession has been significant in each of her roles as a successful litigator, barrister, judge, and in 2006 was appointed Chair of the Parole Board. She has demonstrated the possibilities for women to progress their legal careers and have a family at the same time. 

Anne Leach OAM was a nurse with the Australian Army who served overseas. After training as a nurse at Royal Perth Hospital, she served in Palestine, Syria and Egypt with Allied Forces, and then nursed at the Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood before being discharged from the Australian Army with the rank of Captain.

In the 50s and 60s she was a volunteer nurse at Legacy Australia camps and in the 60s and 70s was President of the Returned Sisters Sub-Branch of the RSL. She is an honorary life member of the RSL. As a result of her army nursing and community service work with the Red Cross and other organisations, Mrs Leach received the Florence Nightingale Medal (1983) and the Order of Australia Medal (1994). 

Julie Shuttleworth AM has made an outstanding contribution to WA’s resources sector. Starting out as a Graduate Metallurgist, she progressed through a number of roles to be appointed General Manager at age 35. She has since been General Manager at four mine sites, including three in WA Barrick’s Granny Smith Gold Mine, and Fortescue’s Cloudbreak Mine and Solomon Mine. In these roles Julie was awarded the ‘Telstra WA Business Woman of the Year’ in 2012, and named one of ‘The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence’ in 2014. 

Diane Smith-Gander AO is Non-Executive Director AGL Energy, Wesfarmers Limited, Chair of Safe Work Australia, Asbestos Safety & Eradication Council, and Board Member of Keystart Loans, Henry Davis York, CEDA and Immediate Past President of Chief Executive Women. She has held a wide range of non-executive roles in the past including Chairman of Broadspectrum Limited, Deputy Chairperson of NBNCo, Non-Executive Director of the CBH Group, Commissioner of Tourism WA and Board Member of the Committee for Perth.

Diane’s last executive role was Group Executive at Westpac; a member of the leadership team of the corporation, responsible for all information technology, back office operations, global vendor management and property. Diane was a General Manager at Westpac for 10 years in the 1990s responsible for back office functions, retail networks and support functions. Prior to re-joining Westpac Diane was a partner at McKinsey & Company in Washington and New Jersey serving clients in diverse industries globally. Diane became a senior advisor to McKinsey in Australia in 2016.

Diane has been active in sports administration and is a past Chairman of both Basketball Australia Limited, the sport’s peak body, and the Australian Sports Drug Agency, the government agency responsible for deterring the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Diane holds an MBA from the University of Sydney and a BEc from the University of Western Australia (UWA). In 2015 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Economics from UWA. She is a Fellow of the AICD and Governance Institute of Australia and an adjunct professor of corporate governance at UWA where she serves on the advisory board of the Business School. She is also a Council Member of Perth’s Methodist Ladies College. 

Tammy Solonec is a Nigena woman, a human rights lawyer and an advocate for Indigenous people. She has worked to support Aboriginal people with law matters, justice issues, culture and the arts and housing. She is very strong on self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and advocated for this while a Director of the National Congress for Australia’s First Peoples. Through her role at Amnesty International, she is working to address the high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in detention. 

Paula Wagg was the first female jockey to ride against men in WA. The year was 1979. In one of the most male-dominated occupations, the courageous Wagg was able to provide the determination to radically overall a sport that needed overhauling. Paula went on to ride and train horses around Australia and Asia at the most elite level. A true role model, she has mentored hundreds of young women in a sport that now approaches gender equity.


Frederica Georgina Cooke. When Frederica’s husband died in 1904, she was left with five children and no skills to financially support the family. She decided to train as a midwife and went on to have a 34-year career. Practising in the Goldfields during that time was difficult due to the lack of water and unhygienic conditions. She retired at the age of 73 after attending the birth of over one thousand babies. In that time, she never lost a mother or a full term child. 

Roseann Fuhrmann MBE. Mrs Fuhrmann was WA’s first female Justice of the Peace in 1933. She was also the first female City of Subiaco Councillor taking on the role in 1945 and remaining a councilor for 18-years. Her voluntary work included 27-years with the Child Welfare Department. She was the Foundation President of the Soroptimist Club of Stirling Western Australia. Mrs Furhmann received an MBE in 1975 for her service to the community of WA. 

Olga May Goss. In 1934 Olga won the Science Exhibition awarded by the State and studied biological subjects at UWA. After graduating she remained working at UWA until finally working at Department of Agriculture for 35-years. Olga was an expert in plant pathology and in 1978 became the first Australian woman to be named the Australian Nurseryman of the Year. 

Judith Treby. Judith was the founding editor of Have a Go News and spent 24 years in that role working as an advocate for older people in WA to improve their lives. Growing up in the 1950s, she adapted to life as society changed and knew how to integrate her career and family life together. She also was a Trustee of an industry superannuation fund and achieved her Advanced Diploma in Superannuation. She sat on various boards and committees. She believed that all women were capable of doing anything they wanted to do, and she did. She passed away in 2016.