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CatholicCare advocate Lynda Edwards wins NSW woman of the year 2023

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CatholicCare advocate Lynda Edwards, with Jodie Harrison MP Shadow Minister for Women and Hon Bronnie Taylor MLC. Photo: NSW Government
CatholicCare advocate Lynda Edwards, with Jodie Harrison MP Shadow Minister for Women and Hon Bronnie Taylor MLC. Photo: NSW Government

CatholicCare advocate and passionate campaigner for the financial rights of First Nations people, Lynda Edwards, has won the prestigious 2023 NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year award.

The proud Wangkumara and Barkandji woman took out the title after having won her category, NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year Award.

She has now been officially recognised as one of the state’s most inspiring women for 40 years of tireless advocacy for the inclusion, fairness and resilience of the indigenous community.

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She has been credited with sparing countless indigenous Australians the stress of extreme financial hardship through her work as a financial literacy worker.

Ms Edwards told The Catholic Weeky she was “completely overwhelmed but totally honoured.”

In presenting the award, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said her work had resulted in significant improvements to the financial support provided to Indigenous people across the central west and beyond.

“Beginning her career as a financial capability worker and then as a financial counsellor, Ms Edwards shared her expertise of the financial sector to educate and increase the financial literacy of the First Nations community.”

“Ms Edwards is a dedicated voice and volunteer for her community, as well as a passionate advocate for the financial rights, fairness and inclusion of First Nations people across NSW and Australia,” he said.

“Ms Edwards’ work in the financial sector over 17 years has resulted in significant improvements in the way financial services engage with, assist and support First Nations people.”

Beginning her career as a financial capability worker and then as a financial counsellor, Ms Edwards shared her expertise of the financial sector to educate and increase the financial literacy of the First Nations community.

Prior to this, she worked as an Aboriginal liaison officer with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and then an aboriginal community liaison officer with NSW police.

Ms Edwards then took a position as an Aboriginal financial literacy worker with CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes, leading campaigns to call out out unethical sales tactics and building financial health among people in her region.

She is now a CatholicCare company director, and said it was her work with the Catholic agency that provided a platform to make real change in her community.

CatholicCare advocate Lynda Edwards with family members Carl Ebsworth and Shirley Ebsworth. Photo: NSW Government
CatholicCare advocate Lynda Edwards with family members Carl Ebsworth and Shirley Ebsworth. Photo: NSW Government

“Women are the backbone in many communities and we make a lot of sacrifices,” she said.
“I dedicate these awards not only to my children and grandchildren who missed out on a lot of times with me because of my work, but also to CatholicCare Wilcannia Forbes, who gave me the opportunity to build my capacity and act in positions I never thought I would be able to.

“My faith has always been strong but since working with CatholicCare I have seen first-hand what our incredible Catholic community does on a wider scale and not just within a family.

“It’s why I always want to stay on the board of CatholicCare and have that linkage to this wonderful organisation which really does care about the communities they work in and in particular with First Nations people.

“A few years ago, I did some work with Project Compassion and visited some schools and spoke about my heritage and family and was just blown away by what they were teaching kids about respect and culture in regards to social justice.

“I think Catholic schools not only offer great education but also the social justice aspect, which is what the church means to me.

“It’s the willingness [of the church] to take in the culture of First Nations people within its service.

“My faith is very important to me, and knowing that if anything were to happen to me, I have it to back me up and make me strong.”

“We’ve had some wonderful priests in our area who really do look at First Nations parishioners and how they can get more people from our community back to church.

“My faith is very important to me, and knowing that if anything were to happen to me, I have it to back me up and make me strong.”

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes CEO Anne-Marie Mioche congratulated Lynda on the awards and said the organisation was thrilled her important work had been recognised by the premier.

“Lynda is a dedicated advocate for First Nations people in the financial sector,” Ms Mioche said.

“Her work has contributed significantly to fairer financial outcomes for First Nations people.

“Her valuable contribution to our community in western NSW also includes serving in the voluntary role of director of the CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes board.”

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