The Qantas and The Australian Women's Weekly 'Women Of The Future' awards were announced at a gala luncheon in Sydney today, presided over by former Governor-General, the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce.
The winner – as selected by the Women of The Future celebrity judging panel and receiving $20,000 in scholarship money plus a $10,000 Qantas travel bursary – is Laura O’Reilly: the Sydney-based, 28-year-old founder of the disability charity, Fighting Chance.
The winner of the People’s Choice award, as selected by the readers of The Weekly and receiving a $20,000 scholarship plus a $10,000 Qantas travel bursary, is Annabelle Chauncy – a 28 year-old Sydneysider who has built a school in Uganda with plans to educate some 1500 locals.
The Women of the Future awards, now in their second year, attracted more than 500 entries. Young female entrepreneurs, philanthropists, community workers, academics, scientists and business professionals from all over the country took part in the competition – each showcasing a project whose ultimate aim is to improve the lives of their fellow Australians.
Six runners-up each received $10,000 in scholarship funding plus a $5,000 Qantas travel bursary.
"The calibre of entrants in this year's Women of the Future competition was astounding," said The Australian Women's Weekly Editor-in-Chief, Helen McCabe. "The aim of this competition is to showcase the talent and dynamism of the next generation of Australian women. I'm pleased to say the future is clearly in very capable hands."
Qantas Head of Community, Arts & Ambassadors, Laura Berry, said Qantas was proud to partner with The Australian Women’s Weekly to invest in the futures of Australian women.
"Qantas is committed to supporting the achievements of women in our community and we congratulate the winners of this year's Women of the Future Awards," she said.
The judges of this year's awards were: Rachel Griffiths, Penny Wong, Turia Pitt, Lisa Wilkinson, Jennifer Hawkins, Jana Wendt and Ann Sherry.
The search for this year's winners took Women's Weekly staff on a cross-country odyssey, with thanks to Qantas – visiting every corner of the nation to meet, interview and ultimately uncover the young women who will help secure Australia’s future.
For a full listing of the Women of the Future winners and runners-up, click here.