2020 Cessnock Local Woman of the Year – Sonia Sharpe

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State Member for the Electorate of Cessnock, Clayton Barr, MP is pleased to announce Mrs Sonia Sharpe is the 2020 Local Woman of the Year for the Cessnock Electorate.

The NSW Woman of the Year awards were held in Sydney on Thursday 5 March 2020. The annual awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution made by women across NSW to industry, communities and society.

Sonia Sharpe’s nomination recognises her outstanding dedication to ensuring Aboriginal people have a voice at all levels in the community.

Sonia helps local schools and families with school policies and works as a conduit between schools, parents, the community and organisations to best help children to achieve educational goals.

Since 2007 Sonia has been President of volunteer organisation Cessnock Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG), helping families/communities with their children’s education in the Cessnock and Kurri Kurri area and working to promote an understanding of Aboriginal culture and education programs. Sonia also held the position of Regional AECG President, working with local AECG’s across the Hunter.

Sonia recognised the lack of Aboriginal student voice within primary schools so she established the concept of Aboriginal Education Teams (AET’s) in our local schools, a first in NSW. This program has now been adopted across the state with Junior AECG’s now running in primary schools along with the traditional high school settings.

Sonia has formed close relationships with many other organisations within the community, including Hunter New England Health. In partnership with Carmen Burgess, HNEH Dietician, they established the Deadly Cooking for Kids program which teaches students healthy cooking using traditional ingredients where possible. In an area such as Cessnock, with a low socio-economic status, this has been a vital program.

In 2019 Sonia was chair of the Cessnock Walks Kawuma Peaceful Walk that was held to raise awareness of the impact of domestic and family violence in the local community. The walk was followed by an awareness afternoon which was widely received by the community with over 600 people, including many local school students attending and pledging their support.

“Sonia’s drive to help all people across the community is inspiring, she is truly a remarkable woman who is an inspiration to not only Aboriginal women in our community but to all women” said Clayton Barr State Member for the Electorate of Cessnock.

“It is truly a privilege to be able to acknowledge Sonia’s hard work and her success,” Mr Barr said.

For more information on the 2020 NSW Women of the Year awards visit www.women.nsw.gov.au