Trangie woman named in Australia's 100 women of influence

A Wiradjuri woman passionate about improving health outcomes and educational opportunities for Indigenous people, Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic Ms Faye McMillan, has been named one of Australia's 100 Women of Influence in 2014.

Faye McMillan.

Faye McMillan.

Ms McMillan from Trangie is Director of CSU's Djirruwang mental health program, which aims to increase the size of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workforce.

She has been named in the Local/Regional category of the 100 Women of Influence Awards, an initiative of the Australian Financial Review and Westpac.

"It's very humbling to be named on this list of inspiring women," Ms McMillan said. "You don't do this work to be recognised but it's good to see that your work is making a difference and to show others that it is possible to be a leader for positive change."

Ms McMillan said more than 80 students were currently enrolled in the Djirruwang program, a unique educational program for Indigenous students.

"I want to see better health outcomes for Indigenous people and strongly believe that greater access to education gives people the opportunity to make a real difference in the everyday lives of others," she said.

"The Djirruwang program combines the two and the graduates are mental health professionals whose Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage gives them empathy and understanding of cultural issues within their own communities."

Ms McMillan was nominated for the award by her colleague Ms Jane Havelka, who is the Djirruwang Clinical Co-ordinator.

"There are so many women such as Faye that just go about doing their work without doing it for the recognition," Ms Havelka said. "It is the passion and commitment to her work that makes her an inspiration to so many people."

The overall winners of the 100 Women of Influence Awards will be announced at an awards night on Wednesday October 22.

Ms McMillan is a Wiradjuri woman and joined CSU in 2011 as Director of the Djirruwang mental health program.

She took up the position 11 years after graduating from the university as its first Aboriginal pharmacy graduate. Djirruwang means 'light' in the NSW south coast Indigenous Tharawal language. The Djirruwang program offers a Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health), a tertiary level course within the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health at CSU in Wagga Wagga.