In the week that the 2020 Telstra Business Awards’ winners for each state were announced, New Direction Care CEO Natasha Chadwick praised the female leaders being recognised for their contribution to the world of business and the wider community. Here, she reflects on what winning the award meant for her personally.
There’s been a lot happen for Natasha Chadwick since she was voted Australia’s Telstra Business Woman of the Year. As the CEO of the Queensland aged care facility New Direction Care at Bellmere, she and those in her industry are at the coalface of the COVID-19 crisis.
Caring for our aged community is something Natasha is deeply committed to and you can tell in her voice that she genuinely cares about the welfare of her residents and the staff who look after them.
So, being voted the overall winner for the country’s most prestigious business award for women was a huge accolade, giving her and her team recognition for their work. It also meant a great deal to the residents and family of the facility, as well as the industry itself.
“The team and residents are really proud of our awards and we keep them all on display,” she said. “I thought maybe we were sending out the wrong message, but they said: ‘No we like seeing them’. It helps the family of residents to know that they have placed their parents or loved ones somewhere where they have a level of confidence and pride. It’s funny, you don’t think about those things, but the award does have an impact on other people.
“The aged care industry was pleased to see someone from the industry being recognised. That was really nice because initially I didn’t get a lot of support from the industry, when I first came up with the concept.”
Natasha believed it was time for a radical change of approach to aged care and as a result pioneered a new way for residents to live by creating a first-of-its-kind microtown residential community that brings together residents with a range of care needs and similar values and lifestyle preferences to live together.
She believes wholesale change is required to improve the way we care for people, particularly those who are who are living with dementia. And, winning the award has meant that Natasha has been able to campaign for change in her industry. She also plans to take her concept globally in the future.
Natasha said she has made numerous friends and built a strong support network with the alumni.
“We talk to each other and we send each other messages,” she said. “We had a lot of fun going to the Business Chicks’ Shakers and Movers conference, too. It’s blossomed into strong relationships, particularly with the Queensland winners. Among them are Dushyanthi Thangiah, CEO of the Yumba-Met Housing Association, and Debbie Platz, the Assistant Commissioner for the Australian Federal Police (QLD).
“Only the other day, we all checked in with each other to see how everyone is coping with COVID-19.”
Had we not been experiencing the current pandemic, Natasha would be at Harvard University taking part in a leadership course for women which was part of her prize for taking out the top honour. “It’s certainly something I’ll look forward to next year,” she added.
As for the new winners of this year’s award, Natasha praised them for their individual achievements and said while it’s disappointing for them they won’t be able to celebrate with their peers present, nothing can take away from the honour they’ve been bestowed.
The Telstra Business Women’s Award overall winners from each state are:
- 2020 Telstra New South Wales Business Woman of the Year: Sarah Pearce, Deputy Director, Astronomy and Space Science at CSIRO
- 2020 Telstra Northern Territory Business Woman of the Year: Bec Hammet, General Manager, SH Build
- 2020 Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year: Jo Thomas, Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director, Metro Arts
- 2020 Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year: Kerrie Campbell, Chief Information Officer, Flinders University
- 2020 Telstra Tasmanian Business Woman of the Year: Margaret Williams, CEO, Medea Park
- 2020 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year: Julie Hirsch, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Eloments Natural Vitamin Tea
- 2020 Telstra Western Australian Business Woman of the Year: Jodi Cant, Director General, Department of Finance
Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, Telstra said they will not be holding a nationals event for the 2020 Telstra Business Women’s Awards. This includes crowning a Telstra Business Woman of the Year. Therefore, the state winners are this year’s winners.