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3 incredible women awarded International Women’s Day Scholarships

Three Port Stephens women have been awarded $1000 to achieve their goals of connecting seniors, surfing on the world stage and creating inclusive programs for children and adults thanks to Council’s International Women’s Day Scholarships.


Nikita Austin, Elle Clayton-Brown and Bernadette Flynn were announced as the 2021 scholarship recipients at a ceremony this morning.

An initiative of Port Stephens Council, Mayor Ryan Palmer said the scholarships are a wonderful way to celebrate the women in our community.

“Our International Women’s Day Scholarships are designed to support local women and the valuable contribution they make to Port Stephens.

“It’s just one of the ways we can help change the future and celebrate those who are leading the way to an equal tomorrow.

“I want to congratulate our 3 scholarship recipients and all of the amazing applicants — I was overwhelmed by the calibre of women that applied.

“There are so many worthy women across our region who deserve one of these scholarships, so it’s hard to pick just 3.

“I also want to thank former Councillor Sally Dover for her hard work and perseverance to make this scholarships program possible 4 years ago,” he said.

Councillor Sarah Smith said it was an honour to announce the winners this morning.

“International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.

“These scholarships are a small way that Port Stephens Council is helping to create opportunities for local women.

“Nikita Austin of Salamander Bay is a speech pathologist and proud Indigenous woman who is creating inclusive holiday programs for children and adults with additional needs.

“Corlette’s Elle Clayton-Brown is a first year nursing student and competitive surfer who is pursuing her dreams of surfing on the world stage.

“Bernadette Flynn is a full time carer from Medowie who wants to connect and engage Port Stephens seniors through craft classes at retirement villages and aged care facilities.

“I want to congratulate our incredible scholarship recipients — I’m excited to see how they achieve their goals and do great things with their scholarship funds in 2021,” Cr Smith said.

About our International Women’s Day Scholarship recipients:

Nikita Austin, 24, is a speech pathologist from Salamander Bay and proud Indigenous woman who recently established her own practice called 'Eat. Speak. Repeat. Allied Health'. Nikita overcame significant adversity when looking to open her own practice, while identifying a significant need for more allied health services in the Port Stephens area. Nikita hopes to use the scholarship to create more inclusive holiday programs for children and adults with additional needs. Programs will include dance and movement therapy, sensory stimulation programs and craft workshops in sensory friendly environments.

Elle Clayton-Brown, 19, is a first year nursing student at the University of Newcastle as well as a competitive surfer. Hailing from Corlette, Elle is hoping to achieve solid results at World Surf League Qualifying Series events being held this year. The scholarship will help Elle achieve her goals both in and out of the water as she continues her nursing studies and pursues her surfing dreams on the world stage.

Bernadette Flynn, 52, is a full time carer to her husband and 2 foster children who have special needs in Medowie. Bernadette's project looks to connect and engage Port Stephens seniors through ongoing craft classes at retirement villages and aged care facilities. The scholarship will assist Bernadette in fostering connections among Port Stephens seniors with the establishment of regular craft classes, as well as contributing towards the purchase of materials for participants to use.

For more information about the Port Stephens International Women’s Day Scholarships, visit


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