Women Beyond Forty - Forth Edition - Theme: Sisterhood

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Issue 4


Cover Art - Sisterhood - Maggie Stephenson - Page 20

WB40 Magazine acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation upon whose lands we live, work and play. We pay our respects to Aboriginal elders past, present and emerging.


Magazine Issue No. 4 Sisterhood






Work - Sisterhood in work and life


Cover Artist - Maggie Stephenson


Fashion - Progress not Perfection


Food - Rhubarb Upside Down Cake


Subscribe | Prize


She Endevours


Top 5 | Kick ass shows about Sisterhood





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A time for healing - Life beyond HSV2


Sisters in Steel caps


Skate Mates


Gathering woman under One Roof | Sheree Rubenstein




Bootcamp Bonding


Sisterhood in the time of Pandemic


A Brand New Chapter | Forging a business with Passion


Felicity Abell | To the bush with Love


Pretty in Pink 30 ml Pink Gin 60 ml Cranberry Juice Top with equal amounts of Prosecco and soda Add a squeeze of lime juice Top with mint, lemon slices and raspberries


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irstly, I wanted to apologise that this issue of the Women Beyond Forty Magazine – Sisterhood has taken longer than expected. As a small team, the business end of the Magazine, or as I like to say ‘the magic’ happens here in Melbourne, and as some of you may know, the state of Victoria recently experienced the fourth lockdown, again with some pretty tough restrictions. No visitors to homes, masks to be worn at all times when leaving home and only leaving your home to buy groceries or to care for someone, or work if your work is deemed essential. Many businesses were shut during this period, including our wonderful printers. A photoshoot planned to be the main feature of this Issue involving many kick ass women and a rock star photographer needed to be postponed until later in the year when it is safer for all. Perhaps the biggest hurdle however was the psychological impact of being in lockdown 4.0, and feeling like those in Melbourne have shouldered the lion’s share of restrictions in order to control the numbers of this virus. Looking at the extraordinary Covid-19 numbers in many countries, Australia’s low numbers have been enviable but we are feeling for everyone who has been impacted directly by the pandemic. So many lives have been lost globally, as health care and front-line workers are breaking under the pressure. Personally, I felt I handled the first few lockdowns fairly well, although I definitely gained ‘Covid kilos’ mostly because I, like so many people, baked sourdough bread and then proceeded to eat it with lashing of butter. Quite often I was washing it down with too many glasses of wine, or a cocktail or two. Lock down 4.0 has felt different. It has felt like everything has taken longer than it normally would, almost like walking in quick sand. I have felt at times foggy, and aimless. I found myself staring at my blank laptop, or procrastinating. Being mindful that some of the incredible women involved in Issue 4 were also struggling, we decided to practice what we preach and encourage some self-care during this time. Our priority was to make sure we put people ahead of the publication.

I’m grateful for the WB40 Team and the women in my life who helped to keep me smiling and helped me to find optimism during this strange time! I am honoured to be part of the Sisterhood of women – those that I have met in real life, and those I am meeting along the way in this incredible community of women.

x y d n Sa



The Team Founder | Creative Director | Editor Sandy Lowres Design & Layout Michael Smedley | Sandy Lowres Food Editor Sandra Reynolds Fashion Editor Nikki Hind Career Columnist Amalia Chillianis Advertising Michael Smedley | Sandy Lowres Social Media

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completely free. We believe that your invaluable work for women should be supported. This is our way of paying it forward. For this edition we proudly support: The Bush Bundle https://thebushbundle.org/

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ISSN: 2652-9556 (Print) ISSN: 2652-9564 (Online)

We thank the writers who have shared their talent for both the Wb40 Magazine & for our website - wb40.com

Amalia Chillianis

Nikki Hind

Sandra Reynolds

Becky Paroz

Sandy Lowres

Susan Jarvis

Kylie Sahb

Carly Findlay

Kathy Blanter

Want to write or contribute for wb40? Head to the website for more details - https://wb40.com

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Dear Women Beyond Forty



Dear Women Beyond Forty Drop us a letter about Women Beyond Forty for your chance to win a beautiful candle from Flaming Flamingo! flamingflamingo.com.au

Editors Choice Letter Congratulations Susan you have won the candle by Karmaura Thanks for sharing your views!


ear Wb40,

Finally!! A serious and downto-earth PRINT (!) magazine for women that isn’t focused on cosmetics and trying to turn back the clock. Ordinary women doing great things for humanity...oh... and a little bit of sexy thrown in too. We liked that, verrrry much. We also love that the conversations from the mag continue over at the #podcast The Good Girl Confessional which makes for a multi-dimensional experience! It’s such great value…” Susan, QLD (via Instagram)


ear Wb40,

Loved the article on Inclusive fashion! So nice to read fashion stories that aren’t about being thin and young! I didn’t really understand Slow Fashion before but it’s really got me thinking about how disposable clothing has become. Fantastic insights! Nicole, Bentleigh, VIC


ear Wb40,

A friend of mine bought me a copy of the Magazine and I was blown away. I enjoyed every article but I was impressed to see the article around climate change (by Catherine Moran). It was well written and informative, with practical advice. I’m a Wb40 fan now! Michelle, Adelaide, SA



ear Wb40,

I’m an artist and Covid-19 has been tough on my community. Thank you for sharing artwork on the covers of the magazine, and sharing the stories of the creative people who made it. I also appreciated the article about Covid and the Arts (by Carly Findlay). It was so lovely as an artist in my 50’s to feel ‘seen’ and to know I am not alone. Thank you Wb40 Team – keep up the great work! Kat, Bayview NSW


ear Wb40,

Thank you for supporting women in small businesses! When I’m buying anyone a gift now, I got to the (She Endeavours) pages and check out small businesses first! What a great initiative! Maree, Carlton, Victoria

ear Wb40,

Wow! I am loving this magazine. It is so refreshing to not have to read gossip stories, and to read about actual women doing great things! I read Issue 3 from cover to cover, and can’t wait for the next Issue. So nice to see Queensland represented in the pages too! Thanks Sandy Davies for the lovely article. Rachael, Cairns, QLD

Thanks so much for everyone who sent us your thoughts! We love and appreciate your feedback! Email us at: info@wb40.com.au | Add ‘Letter to the Editor’ in the Subject line 11

"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and how you do it" Maya Angelou


W O R K - A - H O L I S T I C

By Amalia Chilianis Register via my website https://amaliachilianis.com Or email: amaliachilianis@gmail.com



in work and life BY AMALIA CHILIANIS


ork and life are inextricably linked and so in this article I expand my focus on both work and life and how the sisterhood is so important in both. I share a little more personally with you in the hope that it is illustrative, helpful and supportive in some way. One of the definitions of sisterhood in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences or concerns.” As women beyond forty there is no doubt we have many shared experiences and concerns even if our conditions are vastly different. In work and in

life we want to make a meaningful and satisfying contribution and we want to feel heard, valued and supported. Unfortunately, in many people’s experience their work lacks meaning and satisfaction and we’re often not heard, valued or supported. This is where the sisterhood demonstrates its power and worth. In my last corporate role, I was a General Manager with a small team in a relatively small but important organisation. The people were all very committed to the purpose of the organisation which provided an essential service for many Australians. However,


working with the Executive team was a very different experience and unique, not always in a good

“For some reason I have better luck when I work with women. I guess I have a good sense of sisterhood.” Dolly Parton way. I had recently moved to regional Victoria when I took on the job. My partner was not working so, in theory, I could commute and not worry about child


care responsibilities for my two beautiful daughters. Not worrying about my children is probably not in my DNA. Despite the promise of my new employer understanding my situation, there was a lack of flexibility, many last-minute demands made of me just as I was about to run for the train home and a demonstrated lack of trust whenever I was not in the office. These conditions were challenging for any Photo by: @domenicoloia Unsplash | Domenico Loia working mum, but I found them incredibly stressful and would often find myself with silent tears rolling down my face as the train would pull into the station on my morning commute. I decided to share openly with my manager my personal situation at home in the hope that it would help and improve my experience. We went to lunch (pre-Covid) to a small Japanese restaurant and I shared with her that my partner had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental health challenges. This meant that I felt I needed to be home in time for dinner and to be around more for everyone’s wellbeing. At the time she showed sympathy and an offer of support but while the intention was heartfelt and sincere, it didn’t result in a change to any of the conditions or work environment.

On reflection, I think I felt even more let down because my manager and the CEO were both women. And while I didn’t feel as strongly as Madeline Albright when she said “There is a special place in hell for other women who don’t help other women”, I certainly felt very angry, sad and disappointed. Research indicates you only need one friend in the workplace to not feel lonely and luckily for me I had more than one. However, there is one woman who I became friends with in this workplace who remains one of my besties and has continued to love and support me through many more highs and lows since this time. While the work experience was one of many challenges, the sole fact that it brought her and I together means that if I had the chance to not experience what was a pretty awful workplace and experience, I would never choose to give it up. The sister that I gained and the extended sisterhood of

other women there, far outweighs the challenging experience. And these women continue to support me well after the memory of the role fades. If you find your work lacks meaning and satisfaction and you’re often not heard, valued or supported in work and in life, then safely rely on the sisterhood. Find that one sister to help you navigate your challenges and be open to the extended sisterhood who will also support and encourage you and who understands your experience, conditions and concerns. You’re now part of the WB40 sisterhood, so call on us for support or just to be heard.

About the Writer Amalia Chilianis is a coach with over 25 years of corporate experience. She is a courageous leader and an encourager of others who is determined that the next 20 years of work and life will be different to the last. Her book Work-a-holistic, A practical guide to changing your career is available now on Amazon and other online retailers. Visit her website for the links and more information. www.amaliachilianis.com


Your Body Your way

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A time for healing Life beyond HSV2 BY SUSAN JARVIS


aying goodbye to 2013 was one of the happiest moments of my life. I had finally extricated myself from a long-term relationship with a beautiful Bogan-man. Seven years of good times and lots of great sex wasn’t enough. My brain needed oxygen and I was starving. The last three years our relationship can only be described as flapping about like a goldfish gasping for breath before being put back in the tank (that’s code for great sex) only to jump right back out and start gasping again. I was the goldfish. In the end, it was easy for me to end that relationship but not for him. In between romantic, over the top gestures to ‘win me back’ there was childish petulance, anger and sobbing howls of “I love you, why can’t you love me?” I despised him for putting me through that emotional crap. I’d spent years telling him what I needed in our relationship and years suppressing my inner light and dreams so that I could maintain a level of sanity to be with him. In the end, I just couldn’t live his bong Bogan life anymore. I was thirsty for culture and intelligent conversation, sick of pretending to be something I wasn’t (a bogan) and I could not bear to watch life from a couch any longer. Time, gentlemen, time aka, Run, Susan, Run. Fast forward six months and I was living on my own and on the cusp of relocating my life from North Queensland to new adventures in Brisbane. I had

plans. Huge f*cking plans to reinvite myself and invest time in ME. I was looking forward to living a single life and taking a lover (or two!). I wasn’t looking for a deep relationship, I wanted a male friend (either straight or gay) to accompany me on day trips, music gigs, theatre, movies and comedy shows. I was also looking for someone to guide my journey of sexual exploration from vanilla to spice. I was a hot blooded woman on fire with excitement for her new future. So hot that I sizzled! I kid you not, I was glowing with happiness from the inside and out. I was finally going to live my life for me and do it my way. This was my new chapter and at the age of 47 I was going to embrace it and ride it by the fucking horns. And then, just like that, my life changed with a burning sensation in my vulva. My life was suddenly smashed sideways and the rug ripped under my feet. What. The. Fuck? I went straight to my wonderful GP, Dr Michelle. (Fuuuuck): ‘Susan, I’ll need to do a swab to confirm however I am sure that this is HSV2’. Me: ‘What, I’ve got a Holden in my vagina? I’ve always been a Ford girl!’ (That was me trying to bravely hold on to humour to stop me from bursting into tears).


Dr Michelle: ‘Yes, I’m afraid so. Herpes.’ (she was always upfront). What followed was shock, tears and three days of agony waiting for my pathology results. I was numb. I had NEVER had a cold sore my whole life (still haven’t) and now I have a cold sore on my fanny. I lamented to myself Who’s going to want to fuck me now? My hopes and dreams for my future self were the fuel for my inner light. I could feel it diminishing, and I became almost a ghost in my own shell as I questioned Who is going to love me now? The phone call came. Positive for HSV2. All clear for every other STI under the sun. I was sad but relieved. Now what do I do? I called one of my oldest and dearest friends and told her my fate. ‘It’s not a death sentence, Susan. Lots of people have it.’ Hearing those words gave me hope. It didn’t stop the tears though. I was only a month away from moving to Brisbane and I decided to contact my previous partner and anyone I had been intimate with to tell them about my recent diagnosis. It’s the honest thing to do, and part of me was angry that perhaps whomever gave it to me should have been a bit more honest too. However, I have since learned that HSV1 and HSV2 can lay dormant in your body for a very long time without showing symptoms. It’s also one of the most common viruses in the population. The World Health Organisation estimates that half a billion people are living with HSV2! According to the Australian Government’s HealthDirect website, ‘as many as 1 in 8 sexually active Australian adults have genital herpes’. Ummm….that’s a lot of cold sores on dicks and fannies out there and now I’m one of them! I decided to take time to reflect, retreat in to my celibate spirit and work this out, because I had one burning question: “Who the fuck is going to want to love and have sex with me again?” Jump forward into early 2014. I had relocated to Brisbane, started a new job and decided that while I would put my ‘sexual self’ on the backburner while I worked through my new ‘status’ there was nothing stopping me from enjoying all of the cultural offerings available in Brisbane. I had friends and family here so that helped maintain a social life. What everyone didn’t know was the turmoil and grief for the future I felt I had lost. How was I going to resolve this grief? How could I ever date again? I decided to tell my closest friends about my experience and they were all very supportive and under-


standing. I found the courage to tell my daughter because, as she was also single and dating, I wanted her to learn from my experience. It was Mother’s Day and I’ll never forget her response after she listened to my story, she gave me two thumbs up and with a cheeky grin said, ‘You can only get it once!’ I burst out laughing. Fuck I love that memory. So, feeling powerful after owning my HSV2 (but never driving it because I really do have an aversion to Holdens) I decided to test the waters by entering the online dating sphere. I already had a good my profile from when I was in North Queensland. I’d written that in such a way to filter out the blue singlet brigade and attract the right people (I warned readers that they would need six pack and a cut lunch to get through it – also a deliberate tactic to fuck off any wankers). My profile worked and I met quite a few nice guys for coffee or a drink however, being the person I am, I always told my potential lover that I was dating with HSV2. It wasn’t a surprise to me that 99% of my dates never called for a second coffee except for one guy, a nice Christian bloke who was exploring his sexuality. We ended up becoming chaperones for each other in the world of Fetish exploration. Both of us noobs or fresh meat. I am forever grateful for his acceptance and friendship. He was a light in a dark place. After six months of experiencing rejection, I had come to the realisation that it would take a significantly magnificent human to love me unconditionally. How do you find a diamond buried in a pool of egotistical dicks? I just couldn’t bear the thought of wasting time and energy with rejection so I decided to be upfront and save myself the pain. Towards the end of 2014 I wrote the following dating profile that identified my STI status to any potential suitors. My opening line was: “I’ve got HSV2... but thank god it’s not a Holden! About me: Passionate. Compassionate. Ethical. Sexual. Sensual. Goofy (sometimes). Style. Grace. Smartarse wit. I’ve been single long enough, I am looking for that special person to spend my time with. I want to find deep love...had it once, at least I thought I did. I miss being immersed in trust, it’s a wonderful place to be and I’d like to meet someone who is prepared to dig deep into developing a relationship that celebrates the sensuality and spirituality between two people... this requires someone who is confident in themselves and has a willingness to explore the depths of intimacy that develops when cloaked in trust. I am a BBW. I know I’m hot to some but not all, each

to their own. Before you start thinking with your cock please read further and make sure you pay attention. Please ONLY message me once you’ve fully read and understood what I say in the opening title. I can’t believe how ignorant people are about this. Forget about the arse picture, let some blood trickle back to your brain and comprehend what I have to say. It’s important. If you have no idea what the HSV2 reference is you better Google it - hopefully you will learn something. I am not going to invest my time and energy with people who are ignorant about it. Okay...here is my wish to the Universe. If you understand what my profile title means, either you also share this in common (my preference) or it is of no consequence because you understand relationships are built on more than just sex (though sexual fun can still be had) and if you are an accomplished gentleman nearing 6FT or taller, with a deep, earthy, sensuality; is a lover of nature; has an incredible smile that belies your kindness then I am your girl...BUT... only if you are prepared to accept a woman who knows her own spirit, strengths and weaknesses and that you accept that being true to herself will always be her number one priority, and that her integrity and dignity is more precious than you will ever be, then please...get in touch. Because if you can accept that then I know you’ve got the emotional maturity that I so admire and crave. If you want to contact me I’m here, send me a message. I will give you the courtesy of a reply but please make some effort with your message. If I’ve got the guts to put myself out here please have the guts to say something worthwhile and meaningful. Should there be trolls who read this, I will not feed you. You will only have my compassion and prayer that you never buy a Holden.”

using the word clitoris FFS!). No, I was navigating my ship in the adult dating world. I lived with butterflies of anxiety bracing myself for a message from an ugly troll. I can’t say that I heard from trolls though I did get messages like ‘What’s wrong with Holdens?’ or ‘I’ve got a Maloo’ (I don’t think he was referring to his dick). I was fortunate to experience messages of support and encouragement which uplifted my spirit and confirmed for me that I was on the right track. As it turned out, 2015 was going to my year as my ship bumped into someone else on a journey and as I soon discovered, this person was a magnificent human being who loved everything I stood for and had an incredible smile that belied his kindness. I can happily say that this Ford girl now has a Ford Ranger parked in her garage and has journeyed full circle to complete nearly all of her dreams and hopes that she had for her future. As it turned out for me, HSV2 was my gift from the Universe because I would not have met my soon to be husband if I didn’t have the odd cold sore on my fanny. Jump forward to 2021, I find myself now a business owner advocating for positive and ageless sexuality as Susan, The Maven, founder of The Spicy Boudoir – Purveyors of Pleasure. I am choosing to share my story with Women Beyond Forty because I know I won’t be the only woman over 40 to experience a STI post relationship. I want other women to be wary of falling into the trap of stigma. Don’t. You are still worthy, deserving of a great sex life and relationship. You are not alone. I’ll stand with you. PS. Life is pretty fucking awesome and I still dislike Holdens.

As you might have twigged, I wasn’t dating on a sweet, sugary dating site like RSVP (I was banned for

About the Writer Susan Jarvis is a positive sex and body positivity advocate and is the owner of The Spicy Boudoir, an online sexual health and wellness store to celebrate the sexuality of people living with disability and for people aged over 50. Susan is also the host of podcast The Maven’s Private Diaries. thespicyboudoir.com 19

Cover Artist Maggie Stephenson

Born in Poland, raised in Germany, Maggie is a self-taught artist and illustrator currently residing in Florida, USA. Maggie’s art is heavily influenced by her European upbringing and travels, combining rich textures and vivid colors. “Line art has always been the essence of everything I create. These simple illustrations are the most personal ones - they stem from an emotion I have felt during a certain time in life, whether good, bad or somewhere in between.” maggiestephenson.com


The Future of Fashion

Progress not perfection BY NIKKI HIND

“… this moment was the most beautiful highlight of kindness and sisterhood - it made fashion week.” (Phoebes Garland )

Image: Nikki Hind. | Model Lisa Cox on the runway with designer Camilla at Australian Fashion Week


“While many stated that it was a heartwarming action from the designer (which is an issue in itself), both of these models shouldn’t have been put in these positions in the first place. (‘Fashion Journal’ Jasmine Wallis)”


was lucky enough to be sipping mini martinis in the front row, at AfterPay Australian Fashion Week’s closing showcase, to witness what has now become a controversial moment unfold. As iconic Australian designer, Camilla Franks, dashed to model Lisa Cox’s rescue; after she got her wheels jammed in the shredded-paper flooring. The reaction in the room was definitely one of joy, fun and triumph – from both the audience and the two at the centre of the scandal; Camilla and Lisa. At the industry after party, Camilla and Lisa were inseparable – laughing, checking out photos and videos of ‘the moment’ and generally having a ball ! Many people were saying it was their favourite AAFW moment … myself included !

So I definitely had to stop and check myself when I was asked to comment on some of the angry backlash in the media and on social media. I felt like I was letting ‘my team’ (the disability community) down, by not being outraged. But I wasn’t outraged, because I saw two women conquer a staging stuff-up. I didn’t see an ability and disability failure.

Let me take you back a few months, in order to bring some behind the scenes perspective to the incident. In November 2020, AfterPay’s Luke Dean reached out to ask if he could speak with me about how they could make AfterPay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) more engaging for those with vision impairment. Afterpay is the major sponsor for Australian Fashion Week for 2021 it was their very first year ‘strutting their stuff’, so to speak. Their intention was that inclusion be integral to AAFW, right from the outset. I was impressed and delighted that Luke had reached out to a disability leader, someone with lived experience. I told him I would be more than happy to help make the event more engaging for the visually impaired community; however, if they were serious about disability inclusion, what they needed were disability leaders being at the decision-making tables throughout the entire process. I offered to work with Luke and his team as an Inclusion Consultant. He took my proposal to an AfterPay management meeting the very next day; and they were immediately on board ! … But it wasn’t a done-deal yet. AfterPay had to sell the idea to the very traditional, entrenched event managers, IMG. IMG are a national and international fixture throughout the fashion industry - they manage the majority of the most iconic Fashion Weeks all around the world – they are a powerhouse, with unmatched intergenerational experience and expertise. A few months went by before Luke had the oppor-


tunity to run the idea of a dedicated Disability Inclusion Consultant past the Australian IMG team. I confess, I began to think that it would all fall through; that, for yet another year, genuine inclusion would fail to be a priority. Once IMG were approached with the idea, in January 2021, they too were immediately on board and genuinely excited. Lisa Cox & myself were engaged as the first ever Disability Inclusion Consultants for Australian Fashion Week. In this historic first year, our Inclusion Working Group only had four months of working together remotely. This, combined with the fact that, at this late stage, IMG had the majority of the event organised and locked in, meant we were always going to be limited in what we could achieve for AAFW 2021. We were primarily focusing on the consumer/guest journey.

showcase, my guard went down, my doubts softened and I started to melt into a magical experience that genuinely looked and felt like ‘The Future Of Fashion’. There was none of that pretentious exclusion. There was none of that scrutinising judgment around how tall you are, how much you weigh, how old you are, ‘who’ you were wearing, who you were ‘with’, how much you earn and whether you were one of ‘The Beautiful People’. These things alone are such ugly, passive aggressive barriers to inclusion. I was sitting front and centre for the spectacular closing showcase, and I was genuinely delighted – which I definitely did not anticipate ! There was organic, aspirational diversity woven all the way through the runway show itself. I saw models of different heights, size, culture, ability/disability, age and sexuality.

As disability leaders, both Lisa and I are well used to being ‘the token disabled person’ in the room. Like most disability leaders, we have well honed ‘bullshit-detectors’. From the very first meeting of the Inclusion Working Group, it felt open, safe and genuinely valuing of our unique lived-experience expertise. The energy and intent were undeniable. We were all on the same page and aiming for disability inclusion that blended effortlessly; with the same elevated, desirable feel befitting any AAFW guest. Upon arrival at the stunning venue, Carriage Works, the new inclusive elements that the Inclusion Working Group had introduced, were immediately apparent. The moment I walked into the exquisite, ethereal world of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week’s closing



the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that … There’s no turning back now !

It was, of course, obvious to me the moment I saw it, that the beautiful flooring was not wheelchair friendly.

Keely B | Fashion Journal Article instagram.com/k__eelz/

o address what has now become the elephant in the Inclusive Room - Indeed, I knew straight away that Lisa would get her wheels stuck in the divine, soft, magical flooring.

I come from a background of both fashion and corporate event management. So, like Lisa, I am very used to the inevitable stuff-ups and all the incredible behind the scenes work that goes into such a massive event. I believe this was a very human mistake and the events that followed delighted the crowd and frankly provided a beautiful social and corporate learning experience. I was disappointed that the criticism around the flooring overshadowed the groundbreaking steps taken by AAFW. To the best of my knowledge, AfterPay and IMG have created global fashion history this year, by engaging disability consultants to join the decision making table - and that’s worth talking about, celebrating and encouraging. We don’t need things to be ‘perfect’ for us. We are very capable professionals, who can deal with all measure of very human mistakes. Conversations won’t be had, mistakes won’t be made and progress won’t occur, if we are not able to accept and celebrate the imperfect steps along the way. There were definitely some very important messages coming from leaders within the disability community. No matter where you sit on the ‘Sisterhood or Sham’ scale, there is no doubt that AAFW 2021 has started the crucial examination and evaluation of disability inclusion. We can of course do better, and we will. I can’t wait to see what we all achieve together next year … and


“What fashion week shows us about how we approach inclusion in Australian fashion, by Jasmine Wallis Disabled Creator and Activist”

“It isn’t inclusive if it isn’t accessible for disabled people. I don’t want to see disabled people struggle to use their mobility aids, that isn’t representation of disabled people. The Australian fashion industry has so much money behind them, but it feels like the inclusion of disabled people is just a second thought. They keep making attempts but continuously keep missing the mark. If they can’t even make a runway accessible, it’s scary to think about the wider inclusion in this industry. It really just shows that there isn’t any.” Model and Disability Activist Jason Clymo: “From experiencing the industry as a whole, if there’s not someone who’s asking or not someone who knows better behind the scenes… this stuff happens. That’s why the whole industry needs a shakeup in terms of their inclusion. Where are the creative directors that are people with a disability? Where are our disabled designers? Where’s our event managers that are disabled? And people who actually know better because they have lived experience.” Photo of Nikki, Lisa and Camilla at the AAFW After Party - photo by Rebecca Randall Film and Photography LISA COX (INSIDE RETAIL MAGAZINE) “My disappointment is not at IMG or the event itself. Rather, I was saddened by the commentary and negative coverage that followed. Essentially, assumptions were made about how I felt and that I

must have been angered or enraged. I was neither. While there’s no doubt the build-up of paper was a mistake, I would hate for this to overshadow all of the other excellent work that was done in the minutes and months prior to the event. I’ve chosen to maintain perspective about the mistake. Yes it happened but there is something much bigger that happened this year which deserves our attention. The inclusion of disability in AAFW 2021 was a long overdue first for the Australian fashion industry and something that should be celebrated. Assumptions were also made that I (a disabled model) was not consulted before the runway show, when in fact I had been consulted on multiple occasions. Yes, the mistake still happened but I’m not bothered by it. I moved on and urge everyone else to focus on what a positive this is for inclusivity. Sure, getting my wheels stuck amongst the paper decorations on stage wasn’t ideal, but these little things happen and it didn’t tarnish the incredible show. If anything, ticket-holders got a bonus when designer Camilla Franks herself ran onto the runway to rescue me!

I have been the tokenistic disabled model in runway shows before – ticking the diversity box – and this was certainly not the case at the finale. … In the strangest of ways, I think this mistake became quite a beautiful moment that exemplifies a possible direction for the future of Australia’s fashion industry.”

LUKE DEAN “Take note leaders - diversity is no longer a buzz word it’s a necessity and it’s today. Not considering inclusion from the beginning of a project is the only mistake we can make! Missteps or wheel jams will be inevitable but that’s ok! A huge thank you to Nikki Hind and Lisa Cox for sharing your very personal experiences, thought leadership, humour and talent to our #AAFW working group for 2021.”

Photo of Nikki and Luke Dean - photo by Rebecca Randall Film and Photography

Photo of Nikki, Lisa and Camilla at the AAFW After Party - photo by Rebecca Randall Film and Photography

About the Writer Nikki Hind, WB40’s Fashion Editor is the founder of fashion label Blind Grit, and is an Inclusion and Diversity Media Adviser, with a passion for inclusion in fashion. Nikki is Australia’s first blind fashion designer, and has a background in PR, communications and event management. www.blindgrit.com 25

Sandra Reynolds

o L er


d o o f f o ve


’m a sucker for a romcom, even though it rarely mirrors real life. In the midst of a grey Melbourne winter made extra cold by lockdown 4.0, a two-hour romance that has no resemblance to my normal life is an escapist guilty pleasure. You can write the script of course – They hate each other until that moment they don’t. Which brings me to rhubarb. Rhubarb is more of a polarising food than most – you either love it or hate it, there’s no in-between. If you hate it, you have my commiserations, for I think you have been given a poor introduction. Think of it as the Mr Darcy of the vegetable world – if you don’t approach it with proper care, you’ll likely find it off-putting, too tart, with not enough sweetness to overcome its astringency. But oh, how it rewards a second look. If you are now curious, or at least willing to try it one more time, can I suggest you give this upside- down cake a whirl. Of course, you could substitute the rhubarb for another, perhaps prettier fruit –

sliced pears work wonderfully – but this is all about giving an ugly and much maligned food the luxe makeover it deserves. Paired with brown sugar the rhubarb softens and sweetens, but the addition of a lemony syrup gives this sponge a soft stickiness to make you fall in love all over again. It’s best served with your choice of movie. No guilty pleasure required.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Photo by: Sandra Reynolds



INGREDIENTS ◆ Butter and 1 tbsp soft brown sugar for the base of the tin ◆ 1 bunch rhubarb (if you can, use thinner stalks) ◆ 4 eggs ◆ 380g (2 cups tightly packed) soft brown sugar ◆ 1 tsp vanilla extract ◆ 1 cup (250ml) white wine ◆ 1 cup (250ml) sunflower or other vegetable oil ◆ 2 cups (310g) plain flour ◆ 2½ tsp baking powder ◆ 120g fine polenta Syrup ◆ ¾ cup (185g) white sugar ◆ ⅓ cup (80ml) water ◆ ½ cup (125ml) lemon juice Glaze ◆ ½ cup apricot jam, mixed with 3 tbsp hot water and pushed through a sieve


METHOD 1. Preheat oven to 160°. Butter a 25cm springform tin and sprinkle the extra brown sugar over the base. 2. Cut the rhubarb into batons and lay them in an even layer over the base of the tin. Cover the entire base quite tightly if possible. 3. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until very light and creamy. Add the wine and oil and mix in gently. Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold into the wet mix. Add the polenta and mix gently. 4. Pour the cake mix gently over the rhubarb so as not to disturb them and bake in the oven for 80 minutes or until firm in the middle. 5. While the cake is baking, combine the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. 6. Remove the cake from the oven and turn it out onto a cooling rack. Prick the warm cake all over with a toothpick and use a dessert spoon to spoon the syrup, allowing it to soak into the sponge. 7. Brush the warm apricot glaze over the top of the cake to show it off. Place on a platter and stand back to admire your work. Serve with cream, romcom optional.

About the Writer Sandra Reynolds is a Melbourne based Cookbook Author, award-winning blogger, columnist and recipe queen who is the Founder of the $120 Food Challenge. Sandra has published over 1300 nutritious, low-cost and family-friendly recipes for her platform The $120 Food Challenge. Sandra’s passion is sharing her love of food with others. delishforless.com


Photo by: Daria Shevtsova from Pexels




steel caps BY BECKY PAROZ How does one write about sisterhood when referring to the masculine and male-dominated world of construction, mining, building, and the associated industries like trades, transport, and logistics?

The perception is that we either turn to our more masculine traits or turn away f rom this industry. While it is true that it is a very harsh industry to have babies and balance the juggle, it can and has been done by many amazing women I have met over the years while working on project sites. There is still a perception that those women are the exception rather than the rule. The media doesn’t help when it bangs on about that one woman who dared speak up over a rude and sexist



joke. Media and society as a whole tend to ignore the

developed in the industry are usually as fast and

many women who have risen above the stereotypes,

intense as the work itself. We recognise a soul sister,

harassment, innuendos, and doubt that all of society

a kindred spirit, a forever f riend very quickly when

gives to women who remain in the construction and

we come across them because we know what it

associated industries. How often do you hear stories

took for them to get where they are.

from the women who have been in the industry for over 20 years, 30 years, and beyond? Not nearly

I have a shared experience with a girlfriend from a

enough. It is very difficult when even in 2021 there

job where one of the guys came into our office and

are some women who think that women can’t and

dropped the stinkiest “social call” you can imagine.

don’t belong in the industry, because “heavy things”.

Gag worthy, which I promptly started doing. My very clever girlfriend had just been through the

The perception of these industries, and what it is

safety induction with its various codes for different

like to work in them, has changed somewhat over

safety alerts. She promptly named this event a

the course of my 30 years of experience. When I

“code brown” and so it remains until this day in our

first started, I was told bluntly to my face I didn’t

lexicon. That is the kind of humour that gets you the

belong, that it was a man’s world, that I needed

laughs on site, and creates lasting memories with

to fit in with them, and not expect it to change to

sisters f rom that environment. There isn’t much

fit me. That might sound confronting and rude

room to be precious on site when you are constantly

these days, but back then, it was “normal”. And

surrounded by high risk activities that endanger

I suppose I understood it somewhat after I got to

lives. It is why the industry has a reputation for being

know the industry better. It is hard work, with long

an outlier when it comes to charm, because social

hours, intense pressures, and on site it is dirty, dusty,

niceties come second to staying safe. And with that

thankless, and dangerous. And the men, before the

level of daily pressure, relief comes sometimes in

advent of women, had a place where they could be

the most childish of forms. Dark humour abounds

themselves, without the filter that the feminine can

because if we thought about how dangerous our

provide. I’m not justifying it, just trying to explain

work really can be, we might never laugh again.

that once we ladies started to infiltrate, it was

You’ve got to be in it to understand it. You’ve got

challenging to some who couldn’t comprehend

to love it to appreciate it. You’ve got to have spent a

that a woman would want to be involved, let alone

few years surrounded by the people in the industry

be good at it! Some of them still do feel it to this

to understand and value them.

day, but over the years, many have become more accepting as we women show that not only can we

I can tell you now, the truest and most loyal friends

handle it, we love it as much as the men do.

I have to this day come f rom the industry. Some of them I employed to be an assistant on my teams,

When it comes to what female friendships offer

some I met when we started together on the same

from one sister in steel caps to another, it comes

day, and some I have met through external agencies

down to understanding. Just as it can be difficult to

that connected us. What binds us all together is a

understand anything from outside, the f riendships

love of our industry and an understanding of the


lifestyle that comes with it. It can be hard for others

see you all, and appreciate your efforts.

to comprehend that we accept ten to twelve-hour days as our normal. That we take work phone calls

Sisterhood in the industry is precious and rare,

at 11 pm on a weeknight, and 7 am on the weekend

because, with less than 12% representation across

if we have to. These beautiful sisters of mine that get

the board, we are precious and rare.

their boots on daily with me understand that the job is frequently all consuming, and construction waits for no one. When it wants your attention, you need to give it.

They also understand the rewards that come with this kind of life choice – the lack of judgement on makeup and fashion choices, the support when the rest of life conflicts with the role, the toll it takes when you have that one guy who just won’t give up about you having a vagina on site and fails to understand we don’t actually use our genitalia in the conduct of our work, any more than they do. They get it because they live it daily with you.

We know how to laugh when we get asked (again for the thousandth time) to clean the kitchen when we are the project manager. Or when the room full of men assume you are there to take notes when you are the facilitator of the risk assessment for a $500 million project. Or when you get sent the eighth dick pic that day and start laughing because damn, girl, you’ve just got to laugh some days. They know how to help you shake it all off, and keep kicking the shit out of that concrete ceiling with those steel caps. I

About the Writer Becky Paroz doesn’t fit in, and she’s not sorry. She has worked for nearly 30 years in the construction industry, taking names and making one for herself. Bek makes her place in the world and has never waited for space to open up for her. She is a leader, the author of The Words of Bek, a coach, mentor, speaker and writer. She is a fan of other mavericks, rebels and non conformists. Becky is also the co-founder of Imaginarium 2.0, publishing other authors.


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Skate - Mates

BY CARLY FINDLAY 39 Photo by: Myekal Benham


ast year I was getting outside more than I had ever done. During the darkness of Melbourne’s lockdowns, we were first allowed out an hour a day for exercise, and then two. I genuinely loved the fresh air and movement - because there was nowhere else I could be. I kept seeing videos of women rollerskating. Black women; fat women; queer women; women wearing hijabs, a woman using a mobility aid. Skating seemed to be for everyone! They were skating in unused car parks and on quiet roads, with sunset filters and retro soundtracks. I could do that, I thought! And then, when a friend bought skates that looked like watermelons on wheels (coral and green), I searched for some too. There seemed to be a rollerskate shortage - everywhere was sold out! After hours of middle of the night searching for rollerskates (which beats doom scrolling in a global pandemic) I finally found a near new pair in my size on Facebook marketplace for $60. If I didn’t stick with this hobby, at least I didn’t pay a heap, I thought. I ordered a helmet and padding even before the skates arrived. My mint green skates with pink laces arrived, and I couldn’t wait to put them on. When my skates arrived, we were still limited to two hours out of the house, in a five km zone. And so I could only venture to a barbecue area - which was enough for me. I put them on, and I gave it a go. It was quite scary being on eight wheels off the ground. I held onto a pole a lot. When I did move, I was Bambi! I was so scared and slow. I had skated as a kid -I did rollerskating instead of swimming when I was in year 7, and developed a lengthy crush on a long haired teen who came to my rescue after my hire skate wheels fell off. I bought rollerblades soon after that, and I’d blade at the petrol station next to my houses after the sun went down. Rollerskating again wasn’t as easy as when I was a tiny 12 year old. Now I’m a giant five foot one, sixty kilos, it’s further and heavier when I fall. I was terrified. But I kept at it - progressing from the barbecue area to the museum forecourt and then to Princess Pier, netball courts and also at rollerskating rinks. I enjoyed the cool summer, going to the museum and pier to skate whenever I could. I loved breathing in


Photo by: Myekal Benham

the sea air. My husband and I have held hands gliding around on the skating rink. I had decreased my drinking during lockdown, but have still woken up with a hangover - giddy on doing laps to Living on a Prayer at the roller disco. A group of existing friends took up the hobby, and of course I made heaps more friends while out rollerskating. The friends I skate with regularly are mostly women over forty (I’m six months short). In addition to cafe and shopping meet ups, my friends and I now have skate meet ups. We dress very coloufully - we do this usually, but it’s way more fun on skates! My friends have bright orange, pink and blue skates. It’s become a weekly , sometimes twice weekly thing for me - my friends skate in their rainbow outfits more than I do! I’ve loved that most of the people I know who have recently taken up rollerskating are people my age, or older.And I’m also interested in the way it’s changed people’s lives. Forty year old Belle Hadiwidjaja has been skating since she was seven - when she wore strap on skates. She immersed herself in different forms of skating; inline hockey, ice figure skating, roller derby, and jam/ dance skating. Belle finds skating as a creative outlet and stress relief, and loves the feeling of gliding effortlessly. “After a good skate I always come home happy”, she says. The 2020 Melbourne lockdown made Belle pivot. Or should that be spin?! Ice rinks closed during lockdown, so Belle started doing roller skating around the

park with her kids (five and two) on scooters, She started off wearing normal clothes, and always carried a portable speaker to play music. Belle and the kids would stop at a Yarraville park, and she would dance skate to music while the kids played around me. Passers-by stopped to watch my skating and then clapped, or complimented her on how beautiful it was. She then had an idea - to skate in costume! Belle had a costume of Anna from Frozen from a dress up party years ago. And so the next day, she went to the park, dressed as Anna, and her daughter dressed as Elsa. She played songs from Frozen and rollerskated to it. Kids, adults and dogs stopped to watch, clapped and cheered. They said that it was very uplifting to see her performance, amongst the dark lockdown times. So I grew my costume collection and kept skating almost everyday. I did it because not only skating makes me happy, it made many others happy too.

far more steady and confident on my skates. I can go forwards, turn around, go backwards a little, stop, fall well and also do some on the spot dance moves. I’m not like any of those skating queens - yet, but I’m happy. Practice makes progress. A friend met me to skate recently. She also started in 2020 lockdown, but hadn’t skated as regularly as I have. And so I was showing her how to do a few things. It was so cool to teach her a little of what a learnt and see how far I’ve come It’s really hard to start something new as an adult, especially when it puts me at risk of breaking a bone! But as I say a lot, as I’m gliding along the museum forecourt, I’m doing it.

Belle thinks that rollerskating became popular in lockdown because people were looking to find fun and exercise in places they don’t normally look. “Their usual exercise venues were closed, so roller skating became very appealing because it can be done anywhere, socially distanced, and it is inexpensive”, she says. “Most importantly it looks FUN, making non-skaters tempted to try it.” Belle told me that post 2020 lockdown, it was very hard to have a day job, be available for her children, AND have a passion project. She recently quit her office job - so she can have more time to look after her kids, and also teach rollerskating to kids and adults. I’ve been getting lessons from Belle, and it’s helped with my confidence a lot. Skating brings me joy - it feels good to move, and I am also doing something that scares me a lot. And it’s fairly low impact, even when I fall. Every time I fall, I realise that my bottom isn’t as padded as I thought it was! As I write this, I’ve been skating for eight months. I am

Belle Hadiwidjaja | Photo by: Sammi Leigh

About the Writer Carly Findlay OAM is an award-winning writer, speaker and appearance activist. She also works part time as Access and Inclusion Coordinator at Melbourne Fringe. Her first book, a memoir called Say Hello, was released in Australia in January 2019. She is also the editor of Growing Up Disabled in Australia, released by Black Inc Books in 2021.



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Sheree Rubenstein Gathering women under One Roof BY SANDY LOWRES Sheree Rubinstein has a burning passion to bring women together to network and raise each other up. A former corporate lawyer turned entrepreneur, she is the Founder of One Roof; a digital membership supporting female leaders and entrepreneurs. One Roof used to be the leading co-working operator for women in Australia but after six years, everything changed. Sheree, who was pregnant, questioned whether she could keep the business running when the lease for

the business ran out and she was given only months to vacate so the building could be demolished. While she managed to find a new space and raised the capital to fit out the space, she was again set back when Covid-19 hit. Realising she couldn’t fit out the building with so much unknown, she returned the capital and instead, pivoted the business. Acting swiftly Sheree was able to change her business model from face to face to a digital membership. Such is her determination and 43

her entrepreneurial spirit. In just over seven months One Roof has already on-boarded over 400 members across Australia, hosted over 200 masterclasses, co-hosted the largest virtual female founder pitch night in 2020 and seen great success amongst the One Roof community. A huge bonus of changing her business to an online offering was the ability to work from anywhere. She moved with her baby, and her partner, also a business owner, from Melbourne to the beachside town of Byron Bay in NSW. Living on the beach has allowed her to spend more time to her daughter as well as being able to practice meditation and calm her mind, but she admits that it’s difficult to switch off as a business owner. “I’m trying to get better at switching off and finding balance. It feels like a certain kind of freedom to be here, and working on the business from such a lovely place. It changes your perspective on things. I’m surprised myself by how much I enjoy it.”


Never one to rest on her laurels, Sheree is very clear about her vision for the future of One Roof. “We are building a community of women across Australia and globally who are really ambitious, courageous, smart, but really time poor who can back each other and support one another. We’re shortcutting paths to the right advisors, investors and clients. Surrounding yourself with women who are going to help you and elevate you is so important for all of us in business.” Sheree is a regular public speaker on topics related to women in business, leadership and entrepreneurship. Sheree is a Telstra Business Women’s Award Finalist, Australian Financial Review 100 women of Influence and won the Victorian Young Achievers Leadership Award. She is a mentor and advisor to many women and is a board member for the Victorian Women’s Trust. www.weareoneroof.com

p i h s d en

i r F



hese women and I have forged a friendship over 20 years of parenting. We met through various stages of our intercountry adoption journey. We thought the pre-parenting, adoption process days were super tough and emotionally exhausting but, like John Snow, we knew NOTHING back then. Now all our children are teens or young adults and we have been through the fun days of playgroup at each other’s homes, watching our toddlers play over endless cups of tea and cakes; through day care, primary school and high school woes. There have been parenting challenges of every variety. There have been relationship highs and deep, deep lows. But our friendship, our support of each other, our love and respect for each other is deep and all encompassing.

We have talked and talked, shopped, cleaned, cried and laughed, how we’ve laughed, together. I don’t really think any of us had an inkling that 20 years ago we would not only still rely on each other for parenting support but truly, madly, deeply love and respect each other for the strong, smart, no bullshit women that we each are. Romantic love is the stuff of books and movies but female friendship is the bedrock of society as far as I am concerned. If you’re lucky enough to have a tribe of kick ass women, strong, resilient, kind and big hearted, you have everything. Image: Kathy Blanter, Claire Gingell, Therese Goshorn, Melani Kypri

There is very little, if anything, we don’t know about each other. Over many regular dinners, girl’s weekends and drop in cups of tea at each other’s kitchen benches we have shared every crevice of our selves.


Photographer Portraiture | Weddings | Press/Headshots Events | e-Commerce 46


p m a c t o o B g n i d n o B BY KYLIE SAHB

Front : Maryanne Eve, Kylie Sahb, Nicole Pearson Back: Lisa Rush , Anita Gatto, Fiona Tanner, Merrin Ellen-Colclough , Katie Gould


t’s hard to put into words just how special this group of women are. Words like inspirational, supportive and encouraging just don’t do our group of women justice. We all came together for one goal, to improve our fitness. Through Tone It Up Bootcamp with Fiona Tanner, we have formed an amazing group that have come from all different backgrounds of life, fitness levels and health, but have bonded and always straighten each other’s crown without hesitation or need for acknowledgment. We have shared many laughs, our goals, our obstacles and have always been supportive of each other. With all the lockdowns and restrictions Victoria has had over the last year, having this group as a weekly constant in our lives has been invaluable to all of us (even if by Zoom on occasions) They say to surround yourself with like minded individuals and this is what the Tone it Up group are all about.; and it is not just about us women. The men in this group need a special mention too. They support us and each other just as much as us women do. It’s so very rare to have so much support from such a large group, but kudos goes to Fiona for creating this amazing group for the ‘real’ people- no posers, or fakes here, just real, honest and hard working people. To many of us, it is the best 45 minutes of our day. It is spent with a group of inspirational and motivated people that train hard, laugh harder and just look out for each other. We are like our own little cheer squad, always lifting each other up. This group gives us all the warm fuzzies. The negativity and fear of judgement is left at the door and a welcoming hug and the supportive “you’ve got this” is heard echoing long after our sessions have finished. From the exercising to the weekend get togethers, this is a group that makes our hearts full. Who would have thought exercising had the added benefits of crown adjusters, spirit lifters and friendships that mean the world. Together we are stronger than we are as individuals. When women support each other, incredible things happen! Being a part of this group that love fitness yet don’t judge and allow people to be at their own level, has helped me find my way back to me. 47

Sisterhood in the time


Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko from Pexels 48


Recently, during the binge watching of so many streamed shows due to lock downs and restrictions brought on by the Pandemic, it was heartening to see so many female led series emerging across many platforms. The Handmaid’s Tale, How to Get Away with Murder, Good Girls, Killing Eve, Dead to Me, Grace and Frankie, Shrill, Why Women Kill and Glow. One though really stood out for me in terms of embracing the complexity of female friendships - Firefly Lane. The series was created by Maggie Friedman, based on the novel of the same name by Kristen Hannah. Focusing on female friends from different sides of the tracks that spans from the 70’s to the here and now. Starring Katherine Heigl (Tully Hart) and Sarah Chalke (Kate Mularkey), this series could have been dismissed as a flippant Netflix series based on the premise, but it digs deeper into the nuances of long-lasting friendships that for many struck a chord. While here in Melbourne we faced lockdown 4.0, and indeed other cities around the world applied various restrictions also, the Pandemic highlighted how important and meaningful our human connections have become. We may have lost the ability to meet face to face, but the pandemic saw many women continuing to have Friday night drinks via zoom, starting book clubs or watching the same movies or streamed series to discuss the content later. Women in community groups on social media, supported one another. Friendships are often built through such mediums, regardless of not meeting in real life. We certainly haven’t lost the opportunity to share our incredible stories of friendship and sisterhood and what those relationships have meant in our lives. Being part of the Wb40 team that hosts a magazine that celebrates building a community of women, it was easy to start thinking about how powerful relationships with other women can be throughout life. While years ago the term ‘Sisterhood’ would have been applied to biological siblings, since the women’s movement of the 1970’s, the term has taken on a layered meaning. In fact the Cambridge Dictionary describes sisterhood as “a strong feeling of friendship and support among women who are involved in action to


improve women’s rights” while the Oxford Dictionary describes it as “the close relationship of trust between women who share ideas and aims.” Being part of a female friendship group myself, made up of eleven women that has existed for over 40 years, has given me a unique perspective on how important sisterhood can be, not just for me but to so many. Meeting at high school – I was only 11 years old – we have been on a journey together that has seen us support each other through budding breasts and periods, first dates, first kisses, first heartaches and some seriously bad 80’s hair styles! We have all been there for one another as we navigated the highs and lows that life is prone to throw at people. Graduations, career paths, marriages, pregnancies, miscarriages, financial highs and lows. While some of our group have had long marriages, others have not been married, and some have been divorced. Some have even married for a second time. There are those that are parents of adult children, some who didn’t have children and some raising young teenagers. Being part of the ‘sandwich generation” many of us have lost parents; others have lost siblings and loved ones throughout these years. Our lives haven’t always been parallel, nor have we always agreed on everything, but the one consistent element to the friendship was knowing there would always be the support of your sisters when you need it. We are each other’s confidants, co-conspirators of life’s twists and turns, each other’s champions, and reassurers against the tides of insecurities. We are the keepers of secrets, shoulders to cry on and rocks in times of need. We have an intimate connection that has nothing to do with physicality. The Pandemic saw us jumping into zoom chats, walking with each other when restrictions allowed, and forming group chats in messenger to support one another. While the large number in this friendship group may be rare, women sharing long friendships isn’t. Female friendships can happen at any age, and at any stage. Of course all of us have built other important friendships outside of this group. We all have lives beyond one group, which is important given we are all quite different from one another. There is something

however comforting about knowing there are people who simply know you, and know your story. In coming together for parties or over lunches that always include wine, cocktails and laughing, there is never a pressure to explain who you are as a human being. We haven’t just accepted the differences in each other, but embraced them, which is why it continues to this day. We love one another warts and all. Close knit friendships are important for everyone but for women, building female friendships can be especially important. Women understand other women in ways that men can’t and vice versa. Female friendships are often complex and layered because most women are exactly that. In building strong female friendships, we gain a comradery that allows us to be supported in our strongest or most vulnerable moments. Knowing someone has your back is powerful for women. To offer and accept help and advice from other women, and to give that in return can be life changing. For many women, feeling like they belong to a larger community makes us feel safe, acknowledged, respected and seen, especially as we get older. While not everyone might have a friendship group that spans decades, research has shown that even having

one close friendship can improve our health. Hanging out with our gal pals promotes more oxytocin – the love hormone! In fact an extensive study by UCLA back in 2002 showed that women have a much larger behavioural repertoire than just fight or flight. Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., who was part of that study said at the time, “It seems that when the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress response in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead.” We may very well be biologically hard wired to invite other women into our world. Of course not all women need, or want, a large group of female friends to feel like they are a part of the sisterhood. For me, I am enormously grateful to group for their friendships, their strength and their encouragement. Knowing them has enriched my life and allowed me to boldly jump into taking risks in my life knowing that even if they don’t succeed, there will always be someone who has my back. I am equally grateful for the continuing female connections I have made through this community. Every day I am reminded that there is nothing equal to the warmth and support of other women.

Back: Paula Lienert, Jann Casale, Rachel Kelsey, Sandy Lowres, Belinda Aquilina, Valmai Walker, Rachael Bucci Front: Trudi Ragusa, Tracey King, Patsy Bucci


A Brand New Chapter Forging a business with passion BY SANDY LOWRES


hen Western Australian Kerry Ridley suddenly found herself on the end of a work place redundancy from her admin role, she was understandably in shock. Like many people who face workplace downsizing, she simply didn’t see it coming. “It took me a month of drinking copious amounts of bubbles and having what I call a pity party,” Kerry smiles widely, “But I’m at that age where I really needed to think about what I wanted to do.” Kerry found herself thinking about what actually brought joy to her life, and two things stood out above all else. Marrying her two passions – books and travel - she discovered her entrepreneurial spirit and created a business no one else had thought to do before. My Little Book Shop is Australia’s only travelling bookstore and although Kerry had no previous retail experience, that has gone from a hobby


to a successful business in only a few years. While she originally thought about a horse float to house the books, Kerry found a 22-foot vintage caravan on Gumtree and spent three months renovating the mobile shop now affectionately called Audrey. “There was a lot of swearing involved but it was actually a lot of fun.” No stranger to travelling around to remote places, when Kerry was twelve years old, her parents packed up the family for an adventure, heading across the Nullarbor and around Australia. Her partner Simon is also a FIFO* worker and over the years they have lived in many places, included Laos for a period. Kerry reached out to family and friends asking for any books they no longer wanted. The business

however expanded and became a retail book store rather than second hand, and Kerry decided to stock and promote Authors from her home state. Several authors have happily signed copies of their books to sell along the way. She is always excited to show case the many talented authors that hale from her home state. “It’s always exciting to discover new books by local writers, and promote them in a way that some mainstream book shops don’t do.” In 2019, Kerry joined several online women’s business groups and listed her business in one. Within hours, someone from The National Trust contacted her which resulted in her first gig at the Rock and Read Children’s Reading Festival in Freemantle. There she met many W.A. based writers and authors who all loved what she was doing. Selling many books to teachers, and to Libraries in small towns has become a joy for Kerry. Even Freemantle Press have asked her to do events. She now stocks approx. 2500 books, a combination of children’s books, Young Adult fiction, Adult fiction and non-fiction, and coffee table books.

“Everywhere we go becomes an event, with storytelling or high teas! Libraries are purchasing books they don’t normally get to see and schools in regional towns reach out when they are having events.” As we meet virtually, Kerry is planning a five-day wheat-belt tour going to community centres and creating a pop-up shop. “The most beautiful part is the connections you make and the people you meet. Country people are wonderful! Young families after Covid-19 have come back to books. The sales of kid’s books have gone up. Bringing books to small towns means that can happen.” My Little Book Shop has led Kerry to other opportunities. She has a slot each month on WA based Foxtel show The Couch, talking about her top five books which she thoroughly enjoys. She always showcases three books written by W.A. authors, one international book and a children’s book.

“I now feel like I’m part of the book industry.”

Kerry is extremely proud to have changed careers and built a business as a woman over fifty. As the mother of three adult daughters, she was determined to show them that getting older is no barrier to following your dreams.

Deciding which towns to visit started as a pin on a map to anywhere Kerry hadn’t been before but these days Kerry networks with Councils, Shires, Farmer’s Markets and Women’s Groups. She explains that the smaller towns love when My Little Book Shop comes to visit.

To any women contemplating a career change, or having one forced upon them, Kerry offers this advice, “The sun will always come up tomorrow. It’s okay to take your time and think about what you want to do. Don’t overthink it, decide and then go for it!”

Kerry Ridley with comedian Ben Elton


Felicity Abell To the Bush with Love


BY SANDY LOWRES After the birth of her second child, Felicity Abell picked up a life coaching book and stared at the questions about where she hoped to be three years from then. She realised she would be turning forty but had no idea where she would be or what her life purpose was. She put the book away leaving the questions unanswered. While she knew her life had a bigger purpose, it took her awhile to formulate a plan.

They are consumables that I could pick up in the suburbs for a few dollars and do so without even thinking about it. Flavoured tea tags and coffee satchels, hand creams for after a hard day, lip balm to help in blistering heat or freezing winds, a new face washer, a handmade hand towel for the kitchen, a pair of hand knitted bed socks to walk the cold wooden floors at night in winter, chocolates and lollies.”

Witnessing the devastation faced by so many farmers and people living in small towns during 2020 due to drought, bushfires, shutdowns caused by Covid-19 and floods, Felicity discussed her idea with two women – one a successful Not-For-Profit Founder and the other a farmer. Although she had never met these women in real life, they were more than happy to consult with her. After months of planning, Felicity founded The Bush Bundle.

Even the packaging of a shoebox is understated and made from recyclable materials which is an important factor for The Bush Bundle. Even their stickers used on the bundles are recycling.

Using donated complimentary items, Felicity bundles them into shoeboxes and sends them to individuals and families living in bush towns. The purpose of The Bush Bundle is to reach as many Australian Farmers, Farm Help or rural town folk as possible to gift them a few items that they may have wanted to buy at a shop but just couldn’t because of budget constraints.

With a shared love of travelling to rural areas with her husband, they enjoy hand delivering packages and learning from the Farmers they meet. Witnessing the devastation of the drought while travelling Queensland over the past few years, Felicity asked a group of Australian Farmers a question, essentially looking to validate her concept. The question she posed was, “When was the last time you bought something you wanted as opposed to something you needed?”

“Sometimes it could even be that their local shop doesn’t stock certain items so they couldn’t buy it even if they somehow could justify the spend,” Felicity explains, “and these ‘complimentary items’ are not superficial and glitzy.

“We’re all about reduce, recycle and reuse. Farmers generally don’t like waste, and many have no use for fancy packaging.”

The overwhelming response was, “I can’t remember.”


Although born in a small town, Felicity and her family moved to Brisbane when she was young but she has always had a love of the country and enjoys visiting family and friends in the bush. When she was growing up, Felicity’s Aunty owned a farm in Clifton, Queensland. “Their land was huge, there were many animals but I was fascinated by their home. The external paint was flaking, the interior was hot and cramped. My dad told me that all their money went back into their farm. Their house was simply a roof over their head to sleep in.” Felicity’s reverence and respect for the Farmers she meets is so apparent. “Farmers don’t stop. They don’t get days off and they are living through drought, fires and floods. They are amazingly resilient. They learn fast, they are crafty, they love the land and their hard work feeds us and clothes us. When I am travelling along the long, open rural roads I often look at the scenery and am amazed of its beauty, and its harshness.”

who travel to more remote places, and are happy to deliver some of Felicity’s bundles. Felicity also places the bundles with the Country Women’s Association who can deliver the bundles to families that need them. “If I can deliver a Bundle of goods to the Bush and put a smile on a hard-working Farmer’s face or one of their Farm Helpers, or a remote rural neighbour, even for one minute then it’s worth it,” Felicity smiles, “To let them know that someone admires and appreciates their work and to reach out for care and connection, I will continue working and building The Bush Bundle.” If you would like to know more about The Bush Bundle, or to donate or send a Bush Bundle to a Farmer, please visit the website www.thebushbundle.org

Recently The Bush Bundle partnered with Queensland Drought Runners, a group of volunteers


Dr Mia Schaumberg

Do you know a Farmer who is having a hard time? Do you miss your Mum and Dad who live away on your old family farm? Maybe one of your Farm Workers might need a little cheer? Or do you just want to say thank you to a supportive neighbour but not sure how?

The Bush Bundle. Delivering a Bundle of goods to the Bush.

h thebushbundle.org | = thebushbundle@gmail.com  PO Box 411, Burpengary, QLD 4505 f The Bush Bundle | l thebushbundle 57

She Endeavours

Wb40 is shining some love on female owned micro & small businesses that make our heart sing because as we all know, when one woman rises, we all rise. Please support these women in business.

Vanilla Beach Natural Soaps Handmade in small batches with Essential oils added to create fragrance. Clays and Botanicals to nourish and provide natural colour. vallabeachnaturalsoaps. com.au

Fair Dinkum Dogs Fair Dinkum Dogs is a family run business handmaking quality waterproof dog coats to fit any breed, shape or size of best mate. Due to our coats lasting 15yrs and longer we have expanded on our product range and now also sell Australian made and owned all- natural dog treats and soap. fairdinkumdogs.com.au

Honey Bee Hives HoneyBee Hives are commercial beekeepers located in the Clarence Valley, NSW, who were adversely affected by 2 bushfires late in 2019. With an uncertain future ahead, they diversified into creating range of all-natural beeswax-based balms which are lovingly hand-crafted using superior quality ingredients, including beeswax from their apiaries, organic butters, oils, herbs, & flowers & 100% pure essential oils. They also specialise in the creation & sale of boutique honey & honeycomb products , as well as live bees & beekeeping equipment. Together with the recyclable or biodegradable packaging, their products are a healthy choice for you, your family & our planet.



She Endeavours Beezwax Wraps PPNBW We became aware just how toxic our throw away society is, so it became our mission to reduce the impact. The biggest contributor is throw away plastic. Each of our products are designed to be both reusable and made from only 100% natural renewable materials. This minimises both the cost on the planets resources and it ends up costing each of us a lot less then non renewable alternatives! Our beeswax wraps last for a long time, with good care we can get 6-12 months out of them! beezwaxwrapsppnbw.com

Me Time. Just for Me Sue Brabender is the Founder and Head Me Timer at Me Time. Just For Me. Her (not my) passion is to encourage and (not &amp) educate you to stop, take a breathe and (not &amp)have some Me Time. She (not I) does this through a luxe range of products including apparel, candles, journals, gift boxes and much more.. Metimejustforme.com

Soul Clay Studios Soul Clay Studios is a purpose designed fully equipped pottery studio in Gerringong on the South Coast of NSW. It’s the first of its kind on the South Coast, offering one-off pottery workshops for large groups, weekly classes and specialty workshops for experienced potters. The studio is managed by Zeynep and Marcus Testoni. Zeynep Testoni is a small batch ceramic artist and experienced teacher. She believes that clay has a way of tapping into the core of who we are - essentially we’re all just ‘big kids wanting to play in the mud’. Zeynep found her ‘soul clay’ in her late 40s after attending a pottery class after work and has now left her day job to create a thriving community of pottery creatives on the South Coast since 2017. Her one-off workshops and weekly sessions provide the perfect opportunity to Centre, Create, Connect with your soul clay. zeyneptestoni.com.au/workshops


5 Kick Ass shows about Sisterhood to Netflix & binge

The Pandemic gave lots of us an opportunity to be live streaming and it is heartening to see so many amazing binge worthy female-led shows that celebrate the power of sisterhood and friendship. Here’s five shows we loved!


1 Grace

e i k n a r F d n a

What’s not to love about Grace and Frankie? Starring Hollywood icons Jane Fonda (Grace Hanson) and Lily Tomlin (Frankie Bergstein), this is the story of two women who start out as rivals and form a friendship that is as deep as any love affair when they find out their husbands have been cheating…with each other. Grace and Frankie are thrown together after their marriages break down, and they form a brilliant bond despite being completely different. Grace is a retired cosmetics mogul while Frankie is a hippie artist. While we’re mindful of spoilers, let’s just say these two queens eventually start a business to help their older sisters find some ‘self-love” ! Launching back in 2015, there are currently 6 seasons of this show to binge watch with a 7 th season to be filmed as of June 2021. By the way, Ms Fonda is 83 year, and Ms Tomlin is 81. 61


s l r i G Good

Good Girls is a crime-comedy-drama focusing on three suburban Michigan mothers, two of whom are sisters, who are having a hard time trying to make ends meet. So what would make these three decide to pull off an unlikely heist by robbing a supermarket? You guessed it – friendship. Of course things don’t go quite to plan and they find themselves getting in deeper. Starring Christina Hendricks (Beth), Retta (Ruby) and Mae Whitman (Annie), this is a story about going the extra mile to support your friends. There are currently 4 seasons for you to sink your teeth into.



s m o M orking


Canadian production Workin’ Moms is a comedy that centres on PR Executive Kate Foster (Catherine Reitman) and her best friend, psychiatrist Anne Carlson (Dani Kind) who join a judgemental mother-and-baby group, and make unlikely friends in Real Estate agent Frankie Coyle (Juno Rinaldi) and Val Szalinsky (Sarah McVie). This is a show that celebrates female friendship while juggling parenthood in your 40’s, careers and relationships. The show was created by Catherine Reitman and has a fantastic female cast. There are five seasons to check out.



e M o ead t


Dead to Me is a dark comedy about a friendship that blossoms between Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini). Jen is a recently widowed real estate agent trying to come to terms with her loss through therapy, exercise, and other methods. She uses anger and resentment as an outlet for her grief. She meets Judy in a grief support group. Jen mourns her husband, who was killed by a hitand-run driver, while Judy claims she is grieving for her fiancé who died of a heart attack. Judy is in fact hiding a huge secret. It is fairly obvious that Dead to Me was created by a woman (Liz Feldman). The writing is sharp and the characters are well rounded. There are two seasons available. 64


e n a L irefly


Firefly Lane is an adaptation of the novel by the same name by Kristin Hannah. Starring Kathrine Heigl as Tully Hart, a famous host of a daytime TV show, and Sarah Chalke as Kate Mularkey, Tully’s best friend since they were 14 years old and a housewife who is trying to get back in the workforce while going through a divorce. This is a lovely show on the surface, with a deeper story line beneath. Great performances also by Ali Skovbye as a young teenage Tully and Roan Curtis as Young teenage Kate. Season one is worth the binge session, as a second season has been announced. 65

The Good Girl Confessional



@thegoodgirlconfessional facebook.com/GoodGirlConfessional The Good Girl Confessional Podcast 67

Sisterhood: A strong feeling of friendship and support among women who are involved in action to improve womens rights Cambridge Dictionary

AUD $14.90(Print) AUD $7.99 (Digital) ISSN: 2652-9564

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