The Ladies Have Have Been Named As The Most Influential Women Of South Australia

Four inspiring South Australian women are being celebrated at the 100 Women of Influence Awards.

It’s been a great year for women, from the groundbreaking worldwide Times Up movement to smaller but notable events happening in our state like the Women in Wine series at Electra House. In the same vein, four inspiring South Australian women are being celebrated at the 100 Women of Influence Awards.

Alongside the likes of household names such as Tracey Spicer, Naomi Simpson and Rosie Batty to the next generation of emerging leaders, including teenage scientist and inventor Macinley Butson and Sharon Hunneybell, CEO and co-founder of Gold Coast Innovation Hub. Four South Australian women are in the finalists for the awards this October and we’ve got some background info on their impact.

Rachel Healy, Co- Artistic Director, Adelaide Festival

Previously at Belvoir St Theatre where she helped build its reputation as Australia’s most dynamic and socially engaged theatre. Her tenure was one of sustained financial health (company reserves increased eight-fold from 1997-2006, subscribers increased by 163% and annual attendances doubled from 46,000 to 92,000) while simultaneously growing the company’s programming, touring and community activities.

She is driven to forge new connections between artists and audiences, create focused environments for artists to do their best work and to strive for the arts to be a meaningful part of the everyday lives of all Australians.

Kate Swaffer, Dementia Alliance

A married working mother of two teenage sons, Kate was diagnosed with a rare form of younger onset dementia at the age of 49, 10 years ago. Since then she has worked to create social change for people with dementia and their families, initially working locally and nationally in Australia, then globally. After being advised by health providers to “give up work and university, to get her end of life affairs in order, and attend aged daycare monthly to get used to it”; she instead co-founded a global social enterprise not for profit charity, Dementia Alliance International, for people with dementia, empowering and supporting others to live positively with this progressive, chronic and terminal disease. As Chair/CEO, she has taken it from eight members in three countries, to a membership base representing 47 countries. Their last Annual Report (2017) outlines this work, on a minuscule budget, done without paid staff.

Taryn Brumfitt, Body Image Movement

Taryn’s journey of influence began when she struck a chord with thousands of people online regarding body image, after she posted a photo in 2013. After receiving over 7000 emails from people describing the devastating relationship they had with their body, she wanted to do more to help people. She wrote a book – “Embrace, my story from body loather to body lover”. Then she made a documentary, even though she had no experience in filmmaking. Using crowd-funding platform Kickstarter she raised $331,000 making it Australia’s most successfully crowd-funded documentary. 8909 people contributed to the campaign, including Ashton Kutcher, Rosie O’Donnell and Ricki Lake. It took 2 years to make Embrace. The film premiered at The Sydney Film Festival in 2016 and has generated over $4 million in revenue at the international box office. It has been seen by millions of people through cinema screenings, itunes, Netflix (in the US) Foxtel and free to air. Some of the Embrace highlights include: Going #1 at the German Box office beating blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy.

Jana Matthews, the Australian Centre for Business Growth

For the past two decades, Jana has been a strong advocate for entrepreneurship; teaching CEOs how to start and grow companies through her experience in business and education. Her personal mission is to help CEOs/MDs and their executives build companies that enable employees to perform at their best, create innovative products that customers value, and develop jobs that contribute to the economic growth of Australia. Jana moved to Australia in 2012 to direct one of the first startup accelerators – the first corporate sponsored in Australia: ANZ. She taught 32 startup founders how to grow and then learn to be a CEO who leads and manages growth. In 2014 Jana joined the board of StartupAUS, and began advocating for Australians to focus on scaleups, as well as startups.


The 100 Women of Influence span business leaders and social activists creating change across a range of industry, innovation and local communities. Examples include Shukufa Tahiri, an advocate for the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum. Born in Afghanistan, Shukufa’s family was forced to flee the Taliban. Shukufa is in the young leader category. Also coming from a refugee family, Jenny Taing’s journey of influence is particularly special as she is the first member of her family to attend university. Based in Melbourne, Jenny is one of Australia’s youngest board directors and is in the board and management category.

The 100 Women of Influence winners will be announced on Wednesday, October 17, at a gala event in Sydney.

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