On November 12, 2021 – we gathered upon Kaurna Country at the Adelaide Convention Centre for the SA Woman Awards, to celebrate the achievements of women in business in South Australia.

Our Founder, Carly Thompson-Barry began the evening in her trademark style – leaving more than 300 finalists and supporters feeling inspired, empowered and ready to celebrate and cheer as loud as they could for the heroes in the room.


Welcome to the 2021 SA Woman Awards

Welcome. Welcome to the SA Woman Awards.

As Kate said, I’m Carly, Founder of SA Woman.

To be standing here in front of you all truly has me pinching myself. Not just that after a hell of a year, we are actually all here together in this room. (I mean, really – can you believe it?!)

But that me, a little girl from Port Adelaide who simply wanted to find a place she belonged, with other women who understood her, is here standing in front of you today.

Like many great businesses, SA Woman was never imagined to be what it is today.

It was simply my joy project. My spark. My healing from burnout after my second son was born. My way of giving back. My opportunity to continue my passion without the pressure that my previous business had given me.

Great things can come when we are given the opportunity to follow our dreams, and supported by our villages at home, work or in our businesses to bring them to life.

The challenges I have faced along the way are no different to many others. And, I know it is that support I have had that’s made the difference.

A supportive boss in my work days.

A supportive husband in my business days.

A supportive community in SA Woman each and every day since.

As recent as last week though, I’m not going to lie – a casual job at a local homewares store was slightly appealing after a rough day. Thankfully for my husband, (who already thinks we have too many cushions), it was some wonderful women who helped bring me back to believe in myself again.

I know these are the same things many of our women have faced at some point during their business or career. It was in the applications and nominations. It is through challenge we can grow – when we have the right support to get us through.

And, it is for this reason we are here.

To shine a spotlight on the achievements, talent and contribution of our States women. To support them to greatness. To recognise all they got through to be where they are today.

On Monday I took my kids to the playground. To burn a little energy off in the hope of less wrestling matches between my boys and complete stubbornness from my daughter. No idea where she gets it from…!!

As we were walking, my youngest son talks to me about heroes. You know, the usual, Spider Man, Ironman etc.

He then asks me if they are real.

I pause and reply that they are not but are amazing stories to enjoy. And follow up with telling him who I believe are our real life heroes, like his teacher at school or our doctors and nurses.

And it dawned on me. All around us are heroes.

Everyday people, who underneath what we see, are kicking amazing goals and achieving great things in our community – but unless there are opportunities like these Awards and organisations like us to showcase them – we don’t hear about them.

Those women who when the kids go to bed, bring out their jewellery business and work to the wee hours.

The women who work a day job during the week, and their weekends with a kickass homewares store.

The women leaving high paying jobs, to make a stand for themselves and go on to follow a dream, a passion and to bring an idea to life.

The women on the farm juggling the books, the kids and growing their own business while their partner is out to harvest.

The women forging a path in a male dominated industry.

The women overcoming additional barriers and inequalities because of colour or disability.

The women on the frontline of our medical system and those supporting the physical and mental health and well-being of our state.

The women fighting for the rights of others.

The women running not for profits making a difference to others or working in organisations supporting the futures of the next generation.

The women who inadvertently become our counsellors and confidantes – hairdressers and trainers I’m looking at you!

The women just getting up each and everyday, putting one foot in front of the other determined to make a difference.

I could continue. There are heroes in all of us.

We just need the opportunity to put on that cape.

We can’t be what we can’t see – and SA Woman is here to open the eyes of everyone at the possibilities, opportunities and potential of women accross South Australia.

As our finalists come up tonight, I want you imagine they strut or wheel up that red carpet with their capes flying behind them.

Cheer for them like you would if you met, a marvel super hero.

Because these women are the real Wonder Woman.

And it’s time the world knows about our real heroes.

In the words of Alesso:

“We could hide away in daylight
We go undercover, wait out the sun
Got a secret side in plain sight
Where the streets are empty, that’s where we run

Every day people do everyday things, but I
Can’t be one of them
I know you hear me now, we are a different kind
We can do anything

We could be heroes
We could be heroes, me and you”

And today there is no more ‘could’. We are.

SA Woman is here to make sure there is no more hiding our women heroes. It’s time to soar.

Thank you.