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Georgeina Whelan Canberra’s Telstra Business Woman of the Year

Amanda Whitley

An established veteran with more than 30 years of military service and an impressive track record of leading health management programs has been named the 2015 Telstra Australian Capital Territory Business Woman of the Year.

Georgeina Whelan, Director-General, Garrison Health Operations, Joint Health Command for the Australian Department of Defence, is responsible for leading 54 military health facilities and 1,800 staff across Australia, providing healthcare to 56,000 full-time and 15,000 part-time Australian Defence Force (ADF) members.

During her career she has undertaken a number of overseas deployments including Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, where she commanded the ANZAC Field Hospital following the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. Her involvement earned her the Order of Australia honour and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove applauded her humility and leadership skills, praising her ability to inspire people to achieve extraordinary things under arduous conditions.

Brigadier Whelan also won the Government and Academia Award at tonight’s 21st annual Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards, which was attended by Yvette Berry MLA, ACT Minister for Women, at the National Arboretum, Canberra Village Centre.

Brigadier Whelan, who also has a Conspicuous Service Cross for her instrumental involvement in developing an ADF rehabilitation and mental health program in 2003, said her forte is the ability to manage, lead and inspire her team to achieve success. 

“I am not afraid to ask questions, champion new initiatives and encourage innovation,” she said.

“The world needs women who inspire commitment, loyalty, excellence and diversity to deliver great outcomes irrespective of the field they are in. I am passionate about ensuring that the ADF delivers high-quality care to our ill, injured and wounded personnel and I am driven to continually improve the healthcare services accessed by our members.”

Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Award Ambassador, Kate McKenzie, said Brigadier Whelan and all the Australian Capital Territory winners had achieved impressive results in their respective areas of business.

“The 2015 Australian Capital Territory winners are brilliant business women who are passionate, courageous and are willing to challenge the accepted way of doing things,” she said.

Ms McKenzie said the Telstra Awards judges commended Brigadier Whelan’s commitment to challenging the status quo and bringing transformation to the ADF’s healthcare services, as well as being an advocate of diversity and inclusion.

“Georgeina has completely reformed healthcare at the ADF. Her energy and commitment to putting our ill, injured and wounded soldiers first has not gone unnoticed. She has not only made them a priority but has evolved the way we take care of our officers and their families.”

The 2015 Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards winners come from various industries including science, health, employment services and communications. Jessica May of Enabled Employment, an online portal offering flexible employment for people with a disability or ADF members with post-traumatic stress and other injuries, received the Start-Up Award; while the Corporate and Private Award went to Sarah Valentine, Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Raytheon Australia.

The Young Business Women’s Award was earned by Joanna Richards for the innovative laundry detergent, Solution Solution and the Entrepreneur Award was picked up by Karen Porter, Owner of Solace Creations Double Glazing. Philippa Moss, Executive Director of the AIDS Action Council proudly went home with the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award.

The Australian Capital Territory winners will proceed to the national finals in Melbourne on Wednesday 18 November.


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author