From TV personalities to sportswoman and philanthropists, these Aussie ladies make us proud
International Woman's Day is a time to not only reflect on how we can continue to move towards gender equality, but also to reflect on how far we've come already. And here in Australia, there's no shortage of amazing women who have contributed to the cause.
So, to celebrate IWS, we've rounded up 20 inspiring Australian women you need to know about. From TV personalities to sportswomen and humanitarians, these women have not only achieved incredible things in their fields — but they fearlessly campaign for causes that are close to their hearts.
Ita has forged a long and illustrious career in the media industry. As well as editing some of Australia’s biggest magazines, she has authored 9 books and appeared on the panel of numerous TV talk shows. In 1988, she was given the honourable title of an Officer of the Order of Australia, and in 2017 was recognized for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement at the Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism. Ita has always used her platform to champion important causes like AIDS, women’s rights and Alzheimer’s.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman with a more inspiring approach to life than mining engineer, humanitarian and motivational speaker Turia Pitt. After getting stuck in an out-of-control grassfire while competing in a marathon, she suffered extreme burns to 65% of her body and lost 7 fingers — and was told she would never walk again. Against all odds, she did, and that’s just one of her many accomplishments. The 31-year-old now teaches others to achieve incredible things with her School of Champions program.
Poh Ling Yeow
Since coming in second on the 2009 season of Masterchef, Poh has become one of Australia’s most-loved TV personalities. Her recognisable and ever-smiling face has graced countless TV shows —including her own series Poh’s Kitchen and Poh& Co —and she's authored 5 books. As well as her cooking career, Poh is also an accomplished painter, making her a true inspiration for women with multiple passions in life
The Hon Julie Bishop MP stands her own in the heavily male-dominated field of politics, and that alone makes her a major inspiration. The politician, who served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2013 to 2018 and deputy leader of the Liberal 2007 to 2018 is a champion for important causes, including public health, education, advancements in science and technology.
After becoming the youngest ever Australian magazine editor at the age of 21, Lisa’s career has gone from strength to strength. Appearing as a journalist and TV present on Seven Network, then Nine for a decade and finally Network 10, her formidable presence has graced our TV screens for over 14 years. In 2016, Lisa was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2016, to honour her remarkable contribution to media, as well as to youth and women's health issues.
She’s half of one of Australia's best-known power couples and Susan Carland has a long list of accomplishment to rival husband Waleed Ali’s. She’s an author, media presenter, feminist and academic with a special focus on Muslim women and Muslims in Australia. What we love about Susan (apart from her intelligence and drive) is her sense of humour, which shined through in her sketch show Salam Cafe and as the host and quizmaster on Child Genius.
Rising to the top of not one but two sports, Ellyse Perry is easily one of Australia’s most inspiring young sportswomen. The ultimate all-rounder made her debut for both the Australian cricket and the Australian women's national soccer team at the age of 16. Since then, she’s scored a wonder goal in the football World Cup quarter-final and helped Australian win the cricket world cup with a broken ankle in 2013. Oh, and in case all that wasn’t enough, she’s even written children's books to inspire young woman to get into sport!
Carrie’s career may have started almost by accident — her first media gig was a newsreader on 92.9FM in Perth, when she began as an emergency fill-in for a sick colleague — but her enduring success is no coincidence. Her undeniable talent and sense of humour have see her go from ‘that funny chick’ on Rove to one of Australia’s most recognisable TV personalities on The Project. After sadly losing her late husband Greg to a brain tumour, she has campaigned relentlessly to help find a cure — raising over $5 million for her foundation, Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer.
Joh accomplished a remarkable amount during her short time as a competitive swimmer, winning a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games and receiving the world record for 50-metre backstroke at the Australian Swimming Championships in 1993. After her swimming was cut short due to chronic fatigue syndrome, Joh pulled off an impressive career pivot — swapping the speedos for speaking roles. Joh has been an Australian TV favourite ever since, hosting House Rules, Better Homes and Gardens and countless sporting events.
Rosie Batty is one inspiring woman who has turned trauma into triumph. After her son Luke was tragically murdered by her husband, she has dedicated her life to campaigning against domestic violence. The 2015 Australian of the Year set up the Luke Batty Foundation in her son’s name, but recently closed the organization and distributed the funds, to take some time out for personal healing.
Lee Lin Chin
It would remiss us not to include the iconic Lee Lin Chin on this list! The Indonesian-born Chinese-Australian newsreader kept us entertained with her quick wit and amazing fashion sense throughout her 27-year tenure on SBS News. While she's no longer a regular on our TV screens following her resgination, we thankfully still get to witness her hilarity through her social media presence.
Not everyone can say they won gold at the Winter Olympics less than 5 years after seeing snow for the first time But it’s safe to say Alisa Camplin isn’t just anyone! The same work ethic and determination that saw Alisa become an unlikely aerial skiing champion at the age of 27 also saw her become the executive at a multi-national company and raise over $1 million for her charity, Finns Gift. It’s not surprising that she now spends her days as an inspiring speaker!
Australian newsreader and Walkley Award-winning journalist Tracey Spicey isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions — and that’s why we love her. With a career spanning over 30 years, Tracey has been at the forefront of many important issues, including the #metoo movement. On a personal level, she’s an ambassador for organisations like World Wildlife Fund, World Vision and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research’s research into pancreatic cancer.
It's hard to think of a more kickass Australian woman than Tiffiny Hill—literally! The Former Australia's Biggest Loser trainer does far more than just get people in shape through her TiffXo program. She's on a mission to make women (and men) strong, confident, capable to defend themselves through her ninja-style training.
When Mary Donaldson married Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark after meeting him in a pub, she fulfilled every girl’s childhood dream of becoming a princess. But she hasn’t rested on her royal laurels, instead becoming a prolific spokesperson for charitable causes. She founded The Mary Foundation in 2012, to address the problem of social isolation. She’s also supported anti-bullying causes through the organisation STOMP bullying.
She's one of Australia's most successful modelling exports, but Robyn is far more than just a pretty face. Not only was she the first plus-size model to grace the cover of Vogue (although, its a label that doesn't sit well with Robyn), but she's a fierce advocate for body positivity and mental health. She also recently opened up about her struggle with the autoimmune disease lupus, which causes her to have seizures.
It's a decision no woman should ever have to make — choosing between your own life, or your baby's. But it's one entertainment report Elle Halliwell was faced with in 2017, when she received the devastating news she had Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) just 48 hours before discovering she was pregnant. Miraculously, she was able to give birth to a healthy baby boy and is now in remission from the disease. Elle now continues to use her incredible story (which she shared in her book A Mother's Choice) to help raise funds and awareness for cancer research.
Australia has been the launching pad for many succesful Hollywood careers, but Cate's is perha[s the most impressive. She's won countless awards — including two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and three BAFTA Awards — but has never forgotten her local roots. Back home, she's a strong supporter of Australian theatre, even serving as artistic director for Sydney Theatre Company for many years. She also received an Order of Australia in 2017, thanks to her artistic success and philanthropic work with organisations like UNCHR.
It's not hard to see why Mel has been dubbed the 'Queen of Australian Brekky TV'. With her warm smile and ability to put guests at ease, Mel has brightened our mornings since she first started on Sunrise in 2002. These days, she not only hosts Sunday Night and smoothfm Weekend Breakfast, but is heavily involved in charity work — acting as an ambassador for organisations like the Alannah and Madeline foundation.
Journalist, businesswoman, author....Zoe Foster-Blake is so much more than 'just' Hamish Blake's wife. The former beauty editor is the author of 7 books, one of which was adapted into a TV series — The Wrong Girl. These days, she spends her time balancing motherhood with her the wildly successful natural beauty range Go-To, as well as supporting causes like Look Good Feel Better and The Orangutan Foundation.