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Naval commander recognised for excellence in women’s leadership

In recognition of her leadership in the Royal Australian Navy, Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) has announced Commander Kelly Haywood as the ACT recipient of the 2021 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership.

CMDR Haywood said she is “incredibly honoured and humbled to receive the WLA 2021 ACT Excellence in Women’s Leadership Award.”

“What an absolute privilege it is to be recognised for doing a job I love and a role I am passionate about.”

CMDR Haywood joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1997 and has served on multiple Her Majesty’s Australian (HMA) Ships, deploying to the Middle East three times, performing numerous border protection operations, and serving on various peace keeping missions. She said she draws her inspiration from those she serves with in the Australian Defence Force.

“They make me want to do better and be the best I can every day,” CMDR Haywood said.

CMDR Haywood has been recognised for her leadership in the Royal Australian Navy.

“This award is a tribute to everyone who has believed in me and supported me on my journey and a dedication to everyone making a positive difference to those around them.”

Outside of the Navy, CMDR Haywood is a Lifeline ambassador and is passionate about raising awareness about suicide, depression and mental health. Through her initiative ‘Choose to Live, Love Your Life’ she actively fundraises and speaks in the community about her own personal experiences with suicide.

Suzi Finkelstein, CEO of WLA, said the Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership “are an opportunity to recognise women who, by virtue of their actions, create opportunities for other women to advance in society”.

“CMDR Kelly Haywood’s ongoing advocacy as the Women’s Officer in the Royal Australian Navy, and her continued work to champion women at all levels of the Navy, is unparalleled. We have learned from her for many years at WLA and I, for one, am constantly in awe of her passion, dedication and commitment to advancing women’s equity in the Navy.

“Through Kelly’s work, the Navy’s understanding of the historical gender normative barriers to inclusion for women is increasing, women in the Navy are gaining confidence and all Navy personnel are reaping the benefits of a more equitable and inclusive workplace. This has, and will continue to, influence retention of women in the Navy, building participation and shifting the balance toward optimising a culture of inclusion in the Navy.”

The Excellence in Women’s Leadership Awards were launched in 2014 to increase visibility of outstanding Australian female leaders and to build momentum for gender equity in leadership positions across all industries and the broader community.

Previous recipients of the ACT award include Georgeina Whelan AM CSC and Bar, Elizabeth Cosson AM CSC, Peta Credlin, Julie McKay, Sally Barnes, Major General Simone Wilkie AO and Virginia Haussegger AM.

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