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Loreto Women in Time - Inspiring Alumni


Loreto Women in Time – Inspiring Alumni celebrates the outstanding achievements of extraordinary Loreto College Ballarat alumni in a diverse range of fields and areas of endeavour. It recognises alumni whose service has made a significant contribution to Loreto College, our regional, state, national or global community, and who will inspire current and future students. 

Women in Time – Inspiring Alumni is an assembly of models of Loreto women who, in the spirit of Mary Ward and the Loreto Mission, have in their time come to do much. It is the College's preeminent means of recognising outstanding achievement and contributions by past students. Each Women in Time – Inspiring Alumni inductee will be presented with a memento and feature in a visual Women in Time – Inspiring Alumni honour wall publicly displayed at the College. 

Categories for nomination include Arts & Cultural Excellence, Sporting Excellence, Community Service Leadership, Academic & Professional Excellence, STEAM & Innovation Excellence, Young Achiever & Entrepreneur and the Verity Award. 


As a member of the Loreto College Ballarat community, we invite you to nominate alumnae you think should be considered for our 2025 Loreto Women in Time - Inspiring Alumni. Once nominated, nominees who meet the selection criteria will continue to be considered each year. 

Full nomination links are listed below via survey link or editable PDF. If you do not know all the information required please simply email [email protected] with the name of your nominee and any information you can share with us, and we will follow up the rest. All nominees must accept and approve their nominations unless they are posthumous nominations. 



Margot Serch (Podger)

Community Service Leadership

Class of  1955

Margot Serch (nee Podger) has dedicated her life to helping others. She attended Loreto Convent from 1942 to 1955 before going on to train as a nurse at St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne. Whilst nursing, Margot discovered that some patients had N.F.P.A. after their name. On inquiry, Margot learnt that this meant 'No Fixed Place of Abode'. Troubled by this knowledge, it led Margot to her lifelong passion to serve the homeless and underprivileged. 

 Margot worked for many decades as a volunteer with organisations including Hanover Welfare Services, De Paul House and Wellington House where she helped rehabilitate people with alcohol use disorders. She spent 25 years volunteering for the St. Vincent De Paul Soup Van and became known as a 'Special Vannie'. Through love and kindness, Margot helped the homeless and less fortunate, even opening the doors to her own home, and worked to break down the barriers of isolation and loneliness. 

 Margot's compassion for others earnt her the 2010 Caroline Chisholm Award for volunteer services to the community.

Andrea Dennett

Community Service Leadership

Class of  1981

Andrea Dennett is a generous, respected, and multi-award-winning leader, educator and facilitator in community service, environmental protection and sustainability. Her extraordinary volunteer leadership and contributions to the Bellarine Peninsula community and beyond are in addition to her significant 30-year career nursing in Acute Psychiatry, Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Extended Care. 

 Since 1999, she has led environmental programs on the Bellarine Peninsula including Clean Up Australia Day, National Tree Day and established 'ReMoonahation', to increase awareness of the indigenous Moonah tree by offering to plant the trees in householders' gardens. She also works to protect local mangroves and has effective membership with groups including Friends of Moonah Park, and Friends of the Bluff. Her commitment to BirdLife Australia's Beach-nesting Birds project, to protect the endangered hooded plover, has been pivotal in engaging and supporting volunteers, raising awareness and making the conservation of these birds possible on the Bellarine. In addition to her ongoing organising, she moderates Facebook pages, sits on committees including the Bellarine Catchment Network and Friends of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve, and participates in fundraising events including the Great Cycle Challenge for the Children's Medical Research Institute and the Million Paws Walk for the RSPCA.   

Grace Mulcahy

Young Achiever

Class of  2016

Grace always knew her love for science and mathematics would help her pursue a career full of adventure. Her life as a Surveyor has already taken her around Australia: building train tunnels in Melbourne, mining for gold in rural NSW, and now exploration in the WA Pilbara. An average day at work often includes flying drones, hiking mountains, wading rivers, crunching numbers and making maps. 

As mining and surveying are still male-dominated industries, it's important to Grace that she supports her fellow women however she can. Whether it's inspiring school students to pursue a career in STEM, or volunteering within the surveying community to better the profession, Grace strives to pay forward the support she has received from her peers and mentors so far. Her journey hasn't been easy, but she's determined to make the next young girl in survey feel even more welcome.

Although still a newcomer, Grace is a recognised and respected member of the surveying community. Her professional success proves that curiosity, grit, and a passion for learning will take you farther than you ever expected you'd go! 


Sr Trish Franklin ibvm AO

Religious and Social Justice Leadership

Class of  1968

Sr Trish Franklin ibvm AO, has demonstrated dedication to the poor and disabled, in her work in refugee camps and in Vietnam. Locally, she is an adored Loreto Community Leader and inspiring contributor to our College. 

Sr Trish worked in the Thai/Cambodia border camps, radiating hope to many refugees, and founded the Loreto Vietnam Australia Program (LVAP), helping over 90,000 poor, disadvantaged and special needs children to develop a love of learning and gain an education. Her courageous work with LVAP implemented programs across eight remote provinces where no other charities were operating, and saw her receive the highly prestegious Friendship Medal from the Vietnamese Government. 

The word, Saint, is an accolade that has been used when words fail to describe the wonder of Sr Trish's love. "If making other people happy is the source of happiness, then Sr Trish must be the happiest of all people." (Robin Scott, Loreto Province Archivist).

Michelle Payne OAM

Sporting Excellence, Gender Equity and Inclusion

Class of 2003

From a horse racing family, a career in the saddle always beckoned for Michelle Payne and she rode in her first competitive race at the age of 15. She famously won the Melbourne Cup in 2015 riding Prince of Penzance, where in one of the most emotional moments formally recognised in Australian sport, Michelle was greeted post-race by younger brother and strapper Stevie. 

Michelle Payne will forever be written into the history books as that rare kind of icon - one who lives with gratitude and humility, who inspires genuine equality. Her enduring love and support of her family, especially her brother Stevie, organically inspired one of the greatest stories of equality and inclusion in our time as featured in the Australian motion picture, 'Ride Like a Girl'. 

Following a challenging and decorated career as a jockey and sportswoman, Michelle became a successful dual jockey/trainer, establishing her own racing stables and operating at the highest levels in the equestrian world.

Olivia Sellars

Young Achiever and Entrepeneur

Class of 2015

In the highly competitive and challenging world of stage management, Olivia Seller's talent, skills, passion, persistence and entrepreneurial mindset have seen her rise rapidly to the top of the Australian Arts industry. 

Her ability to make the most of every opportunity available to her has landed her on the radar, and learning from the best in the business. Within three years of graduating from the prestigious Western Australian Academy for Performing Arts (WAAPA), Olivia secured the coveted role of Assistant Stage Manager for Opera Australia. 

Olivia has continued to go from strength to strength, reaching heights and industry recognition that would normally take years in the Arts industry. Olivia's dream is to work in theatre worldwide, and within only years of graduating from Loreto College, where she first set her starry eyes on the stage, Olivia Sellers is poised for global success.


Maria Myers AC

Arts and Cultural Excellence and 
Community Service Leadership

Class of  1964

Maria Myers AC has carried the Loreto values and traditions into her cultural, educational and conservation activities. A qualified social worker and lawyer, her active involvement in community organisations is extensive. 

Maria's involvement includes Loreto Education Board, Loreto Ballarat School Board, St Mary's College Council, Mary Ward International Board, The Trust For Nature, The Nature Conservancy and its Asia Pacific Council, The Burnet Institute, The Australian String Quartet, The State Library of Victoria and The Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra.   An introduction to indigenous rock art in the Kimberley led to her involvement with the people of the Kalumburu Aboriginal Community in WA. It also led to her 10 year leadership of the Kimberley Foundation Australia now Rock Art Australia as it initiated research into Australia's early human history. 

Kate Torney AO

Academic and Professional Excellence
Community Service Leadership

Class of 1985

Kate Torney AO is the CEO of Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation, supporting the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, home of Australia's largest cancer research group. Kate has extensive experience in philanthropy and Australian media, having spent 20 years at the ABC, including six as News Director, and six years as Chief Executive of the State Library of Victoria. 

At the State Library, Kate led an $88 million redevelopment project, including generating about $30 million in philanthropic support to reimagine the library's services and historic spaces. During Kate's time at the ABC, she had oversight of 1,400 reporters and production staff across Australia and globally. She also oversaw the major review that led to the ABC's successful re-orientation towards digital platforms, and the launch of the ABC News 24 channel. 

Sr Cynthia Wright ibvm

Religious and Social Justice Leadership

Class of 1953

Sr Cynthia Wright ibvm attended Loreto Convent Dawson St from 1940 – 1951 and died on 08 July 2015. For 57 years, she was an enthusiastic, dedicated and joy-filled member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ibvm). Mission was at the heart of Cynthia's passion and the pursuit of social justice was integral. She was a gifted teacher, an inspiring, innovative and much loved Principal, a leader, a counsellor, a mentor and loyal friend to many. Sr Cynthia met every challenge with confidence in God. A woman of her time, a strong leader and guide, always accepting each new challenge with positive energy and a deep faith in the future. 

Sr Cynthia was an inspiration to many people, near and far and her religious and social justice service saw her work in various locations in Ballarat, Melbourne, Broome and Perth.  Sr Cynthia had great faith …… Nothing is hard, because Jesus is always with me.


Young Achiever and Entrepreneur

Class of  2010

Dr Ebony Monson is a young scientist who has become an expert in virology. Unsure what to do when she graduated from Loreto College in 2010, Ebony opted for a degree in Biological Science; trusting that continuing to focus on what she loved was the right choice.  

Over the past 10 years Ebony has completed a Bachelor and First-Class Honours degree and a PhD in the field of virology with a focus on immune responses to viruses by cells; uncovering novel mechanisms by which our bodies respond to viral infections which she hopes will contribute to new antiviral treatments. Her research has been internationally acknowledged and published in multiple international journals and now she encourages and inspires the next generation of young scientists.  

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Academic and Professional Excellence

Class of 1970

Dr Margaret Heffernan OAM, PhD has established herself nationally and internationally through her spotlight on reducing the public health disparities that vulnerable First Nations and migrant women experience. Margaret's sustained success as an activist, has led to building respectful reciprocal relationships with diverse communities. Her acknowledged role as a strong and independent advocate, mentor, educator, author and academic researcher ensures she engages with and influences policy makers to reduce women's health inequalities across Australia. 

The resources generated from Dr. Heffernan's work led to many people now empowered and able to give informed consent to what can be without adequate knowledge mystifying public health initiatives. Currently an academic in the College of Business and Law, RMIT University, the legacy of Margaret's energetic advocacy for women's health has resulted in many awards, including in 2006 an Australian Government Order of Australia Medal, and continues to benefit the general public. 

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Community Service Leadership

Class of 1981

A champion for women's health and change-maker, Jane Hill is making a significant positive impact on people's lives both in Australia and internationally. Jane is determined to change the ovarian cancer story, like those who have changed the story of breast cancer. 

Jane's career spans over 20 years of community service as a not-for-profit CEO and company director. Jane is currently CEO of Ovarian Cancer Australia, a national organisation, providing care and support for those affected by ovarian cancer; and advocating for improved services and research investment. She works to shape national health policy to increase cancer survival rates and the quality of life of cancer patients.

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STEAM and Innovation Excellence

Class of 1991

Professor Michelle McIntosh is a pharmaceutical scientist with an international reputation in the fields of pulmonary delivery and global health. Her research is aimed at improving drug delivery systems with an emphasis on translational research projects aiming to improve patient healthcare outcomes. Specifically the development of inhaled delivery of oxytocin, designed to prevent unnecessary deaths in the developing world due excessive blood loss in child birth. 

Michelle's work has been acknowledged at the highest levels and she maintains a strong focus on cultivating the next generation talent by providing opportunities for emerging scientist to develop highly valued specialist skills. 

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2021 Women in Time - Inspiring Alumni Inductees Interviews