The Australian Women's Weekly [Women of the Future Awards] honour young Australian women [achieving incredible things]. From charitable entrepreneurs to scientists and inspiring teachers, it's clear there's some phenomenal women making Australia a better place.
With a panel of equally groundbreaking women - Lisa Wilkinson, Ita Buttrose, Lucy Turnbull, Julie Bishop, Olivia Wirth and Yassmin Abdel-Magied - the winners are three standout females who'll blow you away with their ambition, talent and selflessness.
Judges’ Choice winner
Saskia Hampele, 33, from Melbourne, Victoria. Founder of Gift Box, distributing tampons to homeless women in Australia.
As a young actress fresh from a three-year stint on Aussie soap Neighbours trying her luck in Los Angeles, Saskia was shocked by the extent of homelessness in the US. She soon became aware it was also [prevalent in Australia], and the situation for 46,000 homeless women was particularly dire.
"I was appalled to find homeless women were using newspaper, old rags and socks and even dead leaves to manage their periods," says Saskia.
She had an idea that if she could create a brand that donated tampons one-for-one to homeless women, the problem would be solved. Gift Box organic tampons was born.
"Every monthly subscriber to Gift Box directly provides tampons for another woman," explains Saskia. "If you knew you could help a woman in need simply by switching your tampon brand, why wouldn't you?"
Since launching in February, the enterprise has donated almost 75,000 tampons to homeless women.
"The Women of the Future scholarship will let us market and advertise Gift Box, which means more subscribers, and more women we can help," says Saskia. In the future, Saskia plans to provide other products, such as nappies, baby wipes, pads and more, to homeless women worldwide.
"I'd like to raise awareness for the homeless period, and the tampon tax that exists in Australia," she says. "Feminine hygiene is not a luxury."
Judges’ Special Mention winner
Mikayla Ivanov, 24, Brisbane, Queensland. Co-founder of The Tippy Toe Co., dance classes for children with special needs.
Four years ago, Mikayla co-founded The Tippy Toe Co. – a ballet school for children who have special needs. The school teaches them to dance while also providing an inclusive environment.
"At The Tippy Toe Co. they get to socialise. The parents get to come together. They build this community."
Mikayla's dream is to open a centre that would offer a range of programs from musical therapy to cooking classes.
"My vision is to create an environment that emphasises fun and inclusiveness, and meets the physical and social needs of young people with special needs," she says. The scholarship will assist Tippy Toe Co. to train additional teaching staff, purchase equipment and introduce new programs.
People’s Choice winner
Emily Whish-Wilson, 32, from Melbourne, Victoria. Founder of Bustle Bags, therapy backpacks for children with autism.
Something as simple as going to the supermarket can be challenging for families of children with special needs.
A full-time special education teacher, Emily sees the struggles these families face and has witnessed first-hand the calming effect deep pressure therapy had on highly autistic and anxious kids.
"I thought it would be great to have something these children could use every day, with deep pressure therapy incorporated into it."
With its clasps to attach therapy tools, padded straps to mimic a compression vest, and a reinforced durable bottom, the Bustle Bag helps children with special needs fit in.
The scholarship will allow Emily to travel for research and development.