International Women's Day Mackay
International Women's Day Mackay

Mackay region women passionate about inspiring others

Here are four women with a passion for encouraging others.

And they aren't the only ones.

The Mackay region is full of incredible women who inspire, mentor, teach and pave the way.

Today is International Women's Day - globally it's about celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women; locally it's about celebrating those grassroots women who help to inspire you each day.


Antoinette Morton, of Fisher Dore Lawyers.
Antoinette Morton, of Fisher Dore Lawyers.

Respected, hard working, driven - these are three words that accurately describe Mackay criminal solicitor Antoinette Morton.

The mum of three laughed that she was a late bloomer as a lawyer, initially completing an arts degree and working as a sponsorship officer before she began studying law through QUT in 2001 when her eldest daughter was nine months old.

Ms Morton said her original plan was to work in the not for profit sector, but she fell in love with criminal law during work experience while studying.

"And I've been doing it ever since," she said.

After moving to Mackay in 2009 Ms Morton established her own firm and the only criminal-centric law firm in the region before merging with Fisher Dore in 2017.

"It doesn't matter what workplace or what genre of work you're doing, I think it's always important to have strong role models of both genders," she said.

"But for women in particular there are so many challenges that we have because we bear children.

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"We put this expectation on ourselves (to be) superwomen.

"We expect ourselves to be able to be parents, and work full time and study and develop and have amazing careers and be the mother who gets our children to all the extra curricular activities.

"So I think it's really important to have someone who has been through that and experience their own journey who can understand and support your experience and your journey."

Ms Morton said it was not only encouraging to see more female law graduates, but also women in the upper echelon of the judiciary.

"We have these incredibly strong women in our local community who are real beacons for all of us to aspire to," she said.

These women, she said, included Magistrate Bronwyn Hartigan and prominent law firm founder Jenny Hamilton as well as many other women who are managing partners, name partners and partners of firms in Mackay.

"I think it speaks to the regional centre as well … (and) I think it speaks to that change in guard from this concept of a boys club," Ms Morton said.

"I do think one thing that women do well is support each other."

Ms Morton is also heavily involved in regional junior hockey.

"That's more about providing kids with a really safe space to work in a team and grow and learn," she said.

"And we have some phenomenal volunteers and amazing coaches."

The busy mum is also involved with community organisations including the Mackay Hospital Foundation and YIRS One Stop Youth Shop.


Crossfit 4740 coaches Tash Bovenkamp and Tenneille Kattenberg have a passion for inspiring and encouraging others to be their best possible self.
Crossfit 4740 coaches Tash Bovenkamp and Tenneille Kattenberg have a passion for inspiring and encouraging others to be their best possible self.


For Crossfit 4740 coaches Tenneille Kattenberg and Tash Bovenkamp, every day is about encouragement.

Both fell in love with the sport, which then transitioned into wanting to help others to become their best.

"It's great when you help someone achieve something they weren't able to do before," Ms Kattenberg said.

"Coaching is very rewarding because you see people progress."

Ms Kattenberg said it was awesome to see more women joining and dominating in what was once considered a male-dominated sport.

"As women, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves," Ms Bovenkamp added.

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"This day and age women are very unkind to themselves and other women can be unkind to each other.

"I think encouraging all women is good."

Both ladies agreed having female coaches encouraged other women to step up and step out of their comfort zones.

"We are seeing a lot more broader demographic coming through," Ms Kattenberg said.

"You're in the same position as them. Being in a male dominated sport, it's good to have women so we can relate to each other and help each other," Ms Bovenkamp said.

Through encouragement the pair said they were able to help lift someone up and keep them centred.

"You have the ability to bring people together," Ms Kattenberg said.


Melissa Westcott started her own business because she wanted to be able to buy shoes that fit. The Moranbah mum and three-time business owner now helps others with their business.
Melissa Westcott started her own business because she wanted to be able to buy shoes that fit. The Moranbah mum and three-time business owner now helps others with their business.


Moranbah business owner Melissa Westcott is living proof of someone turning a single idea into a thriving reality.

The former teacher and mum of three started Big On Shoes in 2009 because she could never find nice footwear in her size.

"It was sort of a business that was created out of my own personal need," she said.

And it evolved from an online store to larger size show hub that designs and manufactures its own range and exports internationally.

"It was never planned to be what it is today," Ms Westcott said.

"It was always going to be a small at home business and see how it goes … and I don't think I ever imagined that 12 years later I'd still be doing it."

Now she and her husband also own Moranbah Blooms and Events and Fox and Frank.

"The reason we've gone to other businesses … our clothing shop and our florist, is we had to diversify to survive," Ms Westcott said.

"In a very small regional town we had to do a lot of things to make it work for us."

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In fact social media giant Facebook were so impressed with her efforts the Australian team coached the Moranbah mum as a Facebook Community Trainer. She is also on the Facebook Small Business Advisory Council.

For the last three years she has travelled the country to help community business with their digital marketing.

"For me I always take it back to the real world and this is what works for me … and making it very relatable," Ms Westcott said.

"Having people to talk to and having someone that understands those ups and downs is ridiculously important so that when it's good you can celebrate the good and more importantly when it's hard you've got someone to talk to and help you through those times."

A very detailed planner, Ms Westcott said she loved to have a full schedule.

The busy mum was also on the boards of the Moranbah Early Learning Centre and C-Res, the national chair of Local Buying Foundations in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia, the Moranbah Smart Transformations Advisory Council as well as a range of volunteer roles and committees across Isaac.