Congratulations Deb!

Club member, Deb Mason, was honoured at a Rotary Club of Como event on 29 August when she received a Paul Harris Award for her magnificent contribution to helping families in crisis.

Deb established a charity called Starting Over Support (SOS) to provide furniture and household items to women leaving refuges – so that they could start their new lives with a furnished home. Over the years the program expanded from a shed to an industrial unit – from using cars with trailers to having a furniture truck funded by Lotterywest.

Deb worked tirelessly with SOS and has helped put hundreds of families back on their feet in times of crisis. Congratulations Deb – a well deserved honour!

Seeking a Quiet Achiever

Do you know a woman who has gone ”above and beyond” to help others in her community or profession?

A woman who has not been previously recognised by an award at the state, national or international level – but whose achievements you would like to see recognised?

A true quiet achiever?

If so, the Zonta Club of Perth would like to hear from you!

Nominate a woman today for the Zonta Club of Perth Woman of Achievement Award

We are seeking nominations for our 2020 Zonta Club of Perth Woman of Achievement Award.

This prestigious award is offered every two years. The successful awardee will be recognised at a special lunch event in Dunsborough on Saturday 7 November 2020.

Applications are now open and close on 5 October 2020.

Zonta International is a human rights organisation committed to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.

Zontians say YES to gender equality and NO to violence against women.

Find out more about the Zonta Club of Perth.

Birthing Kits at Home

Kate, Sue and Barbara had a lovely afternoon assembling birthing kits ‘at home’.

In these days of Covid-19 social distancing requirements, our Birthing Kit Assembly Days have had to be re-worked. We have replaced our large events that involved dozens of volunteers assembling hundreds of kits – with mini assembly days in member’s homes and workplaces.

Vera Riley has done a magnificent job organising members to assemble bundles of forty kits at a time. Vera drops off the kits, complete with instructions and video links so volunteers can learn how to assemble the kits and see where the kits go. Members meet in very small groups and assemble the kits. Vera collects the kits and sends them to Kit International for distribution overseas.

We can all keep socially-distanced, yet still experience the satisfaction of providing hands-on service to help women around the world.

If you would like to know more about the birthing kit program, visit Kit International.

Bruised but not broken

At our August meeting, guest speaker, Gracia Mukiibi, shared memories of growing up in a large family of 13 children – and how the family survived one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts in the Congo and sought refuge in Australia.

Left to right: Gracia Mukiibi with Club President, Mary Gurgone

Gracia is a contributing author in a book called – A Mile in Our Shoes that brings together the stories of nine high achieving, trailblazing women from around the world.

Gracia read excerpts from her part of the book and inspired members with her passion, drive, and grace. She is the consummate advocate for empowering women – she gives voice to the women who are oppressed, violated, sold as commodities, forced into early marriage – and those who have lost their lives in pursuit of equality.

She quoted an African proverb, “If you go alone, you’ll go quickly – but if we go together we’ll reach further” – a quote that beautifully captures the philosophy of Zonta’s collaborative approach to empowering women.

Thank you Gracia for sharing your story.

Opportunity Knocks to Help Zonta House

Angie Perkins, the fabulous Service Delivery Manager is leaving Zonta House after 7 years. Angie has made a significant contribution to the organisation, staff, volunteers, students and the women we walk alongside over this period. Angie has truly embodied and championed the Zonta House values of Care, Integrity and Dedication during her time with the refuge.

L-R: Kelda Oppermann (CEO) and Angie Perkins (Service Delivery Manager)

We are thrilled for Angie who will take on a new role working with youth and wish her the very best for her next endeavours in mid-September. Angie will continue to be dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives and contribute to a safer community. In the meantime the Refuge is continuing to focus on delivering high quality services to women and families it supports.

It also means that there is an exciting and rare opportunity to work with the refuge in a senior management role. Do you know someone who is dynamic and solution-focused to join the Refuge team in the Service Delivery Manager role. For more information please see the enclosed link

Applications close on the 21st of August. For a copy of the full Duty Statement please email

Kelda Opperman, the Zonta House Refuge CEO is happy to have a confidential discussion with anyone interested on 0429 008 911.

Please circulate this information through your networks.

Innovation at our Hybrid Meeting

Lennie McCall and Wendy Atherden are presented with their District Heide Taylor Governor Award pins by incoming District 23 Governor, Sandra Burns

Our July meeting was a face-to-face meeting at St Catherine’s College with some members joining online via Zoom.

We enjoyed a full smorgasbord dinner in the university dining room before taking our wine into another room for our ‘hybrid’ meeting with online members. The July theme was ‘innovation in a new world context’ – with lively discussion on how we progress a range of club initiatives.

Members participated face-to-face and online at the hybrid meetings.

A few days before the meeting, voting for the ZI Convention was undertaken online by our club’s delegate, Carole Theobald, with alternate Sandra Burns and also Judy Gorton, ZI Director. They created a ‘mini Convention’ discussing nominations and bylaws to make sure that voting reflected the Club’s preferences. They explained at the July meeting that this was the first time voting had been undertaken online by Zonta International and was a very productive, enjoyable process. Judy described how, in her capacity as ZI Director, she had organised the ZI Convention’s Memorial Service that can be viewed online. Members were reminded to view the Zonta talks including the Future is Women featuring 7 former ZI Presidents.

L-R: Judy Gorton, Sandra Burns and Carole Theobald (standing) work through the online voting process.

Education Awardee

Congratulations go to Fatemah Etemadi who is the inspirational 2020 Zonta Club of Perth University Education Awardee.

Fatemah Etemadi was presented with her University Education award by Zonta International Director, Judy Gorton

At the June club meeting Fatemah described how she was born in Iran and spent much of her childhood in Afghanistan. Her father died when she was 12 and soon afterwards her mother bravely started a new life in Australia with her six children (3 girls and 3 boys).

Fatemah is studying Oral Health Therapy at Curtin University and in her spare time is a volleyball coach and bicultural facilitator. She helped to organise the largest blood donation group in WA as well as a fundraising run for the homeless. She is passionate about helping others especially cancer patients, disadvantaged children and vulnerable families. She intends to use her $2000 award towards the purchase of a laptop, loop glasses, dental instruments and a possibly a car!

Fatemah was joined for the presentation by her two sisters, Zahra and Marzieh.

Club members wish Fatemah and her sisters every success in the future studies!

Fatemah (centre) is congratulated by her sisters, Marzieh (left) and Zahra (right)

A Year of Contrast…

At our Annual General Meeting held via Zoom on 14 May,  Club members reflected on what a year of contrast it has been!  We started the year by embracing the world with our celebrations for the Centennial of Zonta International — and ended it in social isolation brought about by the global pandemic.

Kelda Opperman, CEO of the Zonta House Refuge Association was our inspirational guest speaker.  Kelda shared the challenges that she and her team had faced during the pandemic – and how they and their clients were adapting to life with uncertainty, no touching and services provided online.  Members were moved by her strength, care and passion.  In the dark days, she sought counsel from one of the Refuge’s founders, Di Annear, and was encouraged to persevere, persevere, persevere.    At the start of the pandemic, the Refuge was at the end of various funding cycles, and this added to the stress and uncertainty.  However, the team’s perseverance paid off and they are now on track with funding – but can always do with a boost so they can do more!  Donations to the Refuge are always welcome!

For one hundred years, Zontians around the world have said yes to gender equality and no to violence against women.  We have freely donated our time and talents to empower women through service and advocacy.   During this Centennial year, we focused on honouring and empowering women and were:

  • inspired by our awardees; the youthful visionaries and those that had overcome immense disadvantage, violence and poverty, to turn their lives around with education;
  • humbled by the migrant women who bravely shared their stories of adjusting to a new country, culture and language, rebuilding their lives after experiencing horrendous domestic violence, and trying to weave their ways through complex court processes;
  • awed by four of the world’s leading astro-scientists who had been called by the cosmos and who shared their ‘ground- breaking’ research with us in the Planetarium;
  • energized by the special Centennial Australia New Zealand combined districts conference in Brisbane where we launched our club’s centennial history, met the Zonta International President Susanne von Bassewitz and saw Sandra Burns installed as District 23 Governor Elect; 
  • educated by our speakers on training Aboriginal leaders, encouraging CEOs to do more about gender equity, promoting women and girls to do STEM subjects, caring for women at the refuge, honouring women through the WA Women’s Hall of Fame as well as Zonta updates at the Area 3 workshop;
  • entertained at our Quiz Night, and social events;
  • thrilled when Judy Gorton’s article on a hundred years of Zonta was prominently featured in the West Australian newspaper and Ute Schierhorn used her connections to get the club visibility in the newspaper’s popular Inside Cover section;
  • proud when Zonta International’s Centennial was honoured at a special event at WA’s Parliament House;
  • relieved when WA’s pandemic restrictions kicked in and members did not get sick; and
  • delighted when all members embraced the technology so that we could continue to meet online via Zoom.

Our Club’s Annual Report will give you a taste of what our members’ combined efforts have achieved in 2019-20.  Special thanks go to Irvan Stanley and his team at IS Assurance for auditing the Club’s accounts pro bono.

At the AGM, four members were honoured for their Zonta service:

  • Lennie McCall – 49 years (Charter member)
  • Val Gandossini – 10 years
  • Vicky Nazer – 5 years
  • Linda Higgie – 5 years

Members thanked the outgoing 2019-20 Board for giving their time, talents and energy to lead the Club in this memorable year:

  • President:  Carole Theobald
  • Vice President: Val Gandossini
  • Treasurer: Ute Schierhorn
  • Secretary: Vera Riley
  • Directors: Kate Ellson, Tanis Jackson, Emma Stenhouse, and Gabrielle Walker.

Candidates for the 2020-21 Board were announced by Sandra Burns (District 23 Governor Elect), elections were conducted by ‘Tricia Summerfield (Club Parliamentarian) and officers installed by Judy Gorton (Zonta International Director) – with amazing speed. Electronic meetings certainly increase our efficiency!

Congratulations go to the 2020-21 Board:

  • President:  Mary Gurgone
  • Vice President: Ping Teo
  • Treasurer: Ute Schierhorn
  • Secretary: Emily Thomas
  • Directors: Kate Ellson, Val Gandossini, Natasha Kusmuk, and Emma Stenhouse.

The President, Mary Gurgone will receive her badge of office, gavel, and clapping sticks in the coming days.  Members look forward to supporting Mary and the new Board as we continue on our mission to empower women and girls through service and advocacy.

Many thanks go to all Zontians, family, friends, and sponsors for their magnificent support

Open for business – how you can help

The Zonta Club of Perth is still OPEN FOR BUSINESS and we are meeting via Zoom.
Currently, members are focussing on our local projects and advocacy where they can.
You are most welcome to join us at our next Zoom Club meeting by requesting the flyer for the meeting.

Here are some activities you can get involved with today:

Birthing Kits at Home
You can now have the materials to make 40 birthing kits delivered to your home – and the kits will be collected after you have made them – so you do not have to step outside.
Visit Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia) for more information. 
We expect over 6,000 women and more babies will die in coming weeks – so the impact you can make is considerable.  If you can encourage support amongst your friends to fund kits that would also be so much appreciated.  Remember that all donations to the Birthing Kit Foundation are tax-deductible.
Making Masks
This video from Czechoslovakia shows how their Covid 19 infection controls are some of the most effective in the world.  In Czechoslovakia it is compulsory for everyone to wear a mask when leaving home and the virologists and microbiologists support this approach.  On the web there are many designs, so have a go at making your own!
Keep breathing, keep smiling and keep taking precautions!

Coronavirus Actions

We are all facing challenging times and it is important that we look out for each other.

Given the speed of actions associated with preventing the spread of Coronavirus, the Zonta Club of Perth will be doing its best to help ‘flatten the curve’.  Our top priorities are to protect the health of our members and the wider community.

Therefore, we have agreed to cancel our monthly club face-to-face meetings and events until further notice.

We are working on how we can continue to further our mission through the use of electronic communication. This is a great opportunity for us all to learn new skills and be innovative in how we help our community.

We all have a responsibility to be sensible in stopping the spread. Washing hands, using sanitiser and keeping our distance—are actions that show we care for each other.

In coming weeks our challenge will be to look out for those in social isolation so they can keep connected. A phone call, an email or a note through the door is all it takes to connect to make sure they are OK.

Hopefully, the precautionary measures will work, the curve can be flattened and our health services will be able to cope.

We will keep you advised when normal club activities are able to resume.  Until then, keep breathing, keep smiling and keep taking precautions.