Winmalee’s Alison McLaren was named the winner of the University of Western Sydney’s 2013 Women of the West Award on Friday, March 8 for being “a tireless advocate for greater western Sydney and a trail-blazer driven by a strong sense of social justice”.
The former Blue Mountains City councillor — who was elected in 2004 aged 23 and served until the end of last term — joined the Western Sydney Region of Councils (WSROC) and became its longest serving president from 2008 until 2012.
Under her leadership, Ms McLaren was a vocal advocate for better services for the western Sydney region and led campaigns on issues as diverse as affordable housing, equity of health outcomes, employment growth and environmental sustainability.
The announcement of the win at UWS Parramatta campus came as a “complete surprise” to Ms McLaren, who now works as a strategist for Urban Growth NSW (formerly known as Landcom).
“I only found out I was nominated for the award three weeks ago, but to find out I’ve won it I’m absolutely shocked, because the calibre of the nominees was so high,” she said.
“I’m really pleased and proud — I think other women equally deserved to have won.
“I hope I can use this to promote western Sydney and the issues affecting women in western Sydney.”
Ms McLaren said many improvements were made in recent years in greater western Sydney, but there was still a lot of room for progress to ensure better educational and employment outcomes.
“They (women in western Sydney) should have the same opportunities as women in other parts of Sydney.”
UWS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janice Reid, said the awards were established in 2004 and coincide with International Women’s Day.
“It is inspiring to meet so many dedicated and extraordinary women who work so tirelessly, often without recognition, to make our community a better place,” Professor Reid said.