For the second year in a row, a Bellingen Shire resident has won the Coffs Coast Woman of the Year award.
On Friday morning, Urunga's Shelley Lowe passed the crown to Bellingen's Lily Isobella at the breakfast event marking International Women's Day organised by Zonta Coffs Harbour Inc., BPW Coffs Harbour and Coffs Coast BWN.
Lily Isobella is the chief executive officer of The One a Day Project, an organisation she founded that aims to change the destiny of one young person every single day.
As a herbalist and counsellor, Lily found many of her female clients had been affected by sexual abuse, rape, violence and trauma. Thinking about how to restore their health, vitality, body sovereignty and mental wellbeing inspired her to start writing and speaking about how individuals and society can change to reduce violence against women.
In 2016 she ran a pilot of Courageous Conversations in Bellingen, a program that helps parents and children discuss sex, love, self-esteem and respectful relationships. "We have a huge knowledge gap when it comes to healthy sexuality, bodily autonomy and understanding consent," Lily said, adding unfortunately it is often online pornography that fills the gap for young people.
She now takes Courageous Conversations all over the country, to parents, schools and community groups.
Her latest program, Get Up Girl, began in 2018. Described as "a kick ass program of self-defence, self-esteem and self-respect", it goes beyond the physical into the realm of mental and emotional strength.
"We work with girls and teach them some fun, easy street smarts," Lily said. "We talk about what it is to be a loud, proud and strong woman in the world, to walk with safety and stand up for yourself.
"Get Up Girl is a combination of the things that helped me as a young person. I did martial arts and boxing and the physical capacity of those things gave me back my confidence."
This program runs in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen, but Lily hopes to branch it out further.