Not-for-profit CEO from Queensland is Australia's best business woman

Media Release, 27 November 2014

Anne Cross, the CEO of UnitingCare Queensland was tonight named the 20th Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year. It is the second year in a row that a Queensland woman has taken out the prestigious national award.

Ms Cross, a former front-line social worker and champion of the not-for-profit sector, has reshaped the way healthcare, community and aged-care services are delivered to hundreds of communities and the thousands of people UnitingCare helps every day.

Ms Cross said the win, while being a great personal accolade, would hopefully help to profile the important role the not-for-profit sector plays and help attract even more high-achieving people to offer their skills and talent to valuable community based organisations.

“The health and community services sector is a significant contributor to Australia’s social and economic fabric,” Ms Cross said.

“UnitingCare Queensland is a significant business. As one of Queensland’s largest employers, much of what we do is world class. Hopefully this award will highlight our role and importance in society.”

Within a year of her appointment as CEO in 2003, Ms Cross used her business nous to lead the transformation process, consolidating more than 100 separate organisations into four service groups – Blue Care, UnitingCare Health, UnitingCare Community and Australian Regional and Remote Community Services.

Under the four umbrella groups, Ms Cross oversees 16,000 employees and 9,000 volunteers across 400 locations. The organisation has a sharp focus on being people-centred and delivering digital services.

In 2012, she cemented a partnership with the Commonwealth Government to construct Australia’s first fully integrated digital hospital at Hervey Bay, along the way extensively redesigning how clinicians and staff go about their work to deliver quality treatment for its patients.

Announced at a black-tie ceremony in Melbourne tonight, she joins other 2014 Telstra Australian Business Women’s Awards winners including: Kate Weiss, the owner of Victorian food company Table of Plenty; Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, the CEO and Managing Director of ASX50 property company Mirvac; Assistant Commissioner Donna Adams, Tasmania’s highest ranked female police officer; Andrea Galloway, CEO of the NSW not-for-profit organisation Evolve Housing; and Tina Tower, the young owner of franchise tutoring business Begin Bright.

Kate McKenzie, Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, said tonight we celebrate six truly brilliant women as national winners in the 20th year of the Awards.

“Australia’s economic future depends on the leadership and innovation of women like these and the inspiration they’re giving younger women,” she said.

“At a time of increasing momentum on gender equality and workplace flexibility, I’m proud to say through the Awards and other initiatives, Telstra is taking a leading role in championing the achievements of Australian business women such as Anne Cross.”

Ms McKenzie said the judges were truly impressed by how Ms Cross had brought together such a fragmented group to enhance service delivery for society’s most disadvantaged people.

“They said that her leadership of the organisation – which was authentic and based on strong values – has positively impacted many people including people with disabilities, the elderly and the Indigenous community,” Ms McKenzie said.

Winners of the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Women’s Awards are:

Business Owner Award
Kate Weiss Table of Plenty, Victoria

Following the birth of her daughter with a disability, Kate Weiss commenced researching food, nutrition and wellbeing. This led her to create her food company, Table of Plenty, which seven years on has products stocked in major local and international supermarkets. Her business also provides tens of thousands of hours of work for people with disabilities, which is a key part of the business mission and motivation. Telstra Awards judges said she had remained competitive through innovation and is at the forefront of the healthy eating trend that is now being adopted by major brands in the same category.

Private and Corporate Sector Award
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz Mirvac, New South Wales

In a career spanning 25 years, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz has scaled to great heights in the traditionally male dominated property industry. She led complex businesses and strategies for global property players, before being appointed CEO and Managing Director of ASX top 50 company, Mirvac. Since joining Mirvac, Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz has driven a growth strategy across its portfolio of residential, office, retail and industrial assets. Telstra Awards judges said she was an articulate, highly competent executive who had turned around the culture at Mirvac and won the support of initially sceptical fund managers with her strategy and financial improvement.

Community and Government Award

Anne Cross UnitingCare Queensland, Queensland

Business Innovation Award (two winners)
Andrea Galloway Evolve Housing, New South Wales

Drawing on her skills as a highly-ranked tennis player and corporate high-flyer, Andrea Galloway has helped not-for-profit Evolve Housing move away from total reliance on government funding, by creating new revenue streams and partnerships. As CEO, Ms Galloway also drove the design, construction and management model for providing much needed disability housing. Telstra Awards judges praised Ms Galloway for her resilience, demonstrated throughout her life since she was homeless at the age of 16, and vision and skill in managing the complex issues around getting people with extreme disabilities into private housing.

Assistant Commissioner, Donna Adams Tasmania Police, Tasmania

Starting with the police service at 19, Donna Adams progressed through the ranks to become the first woman to be appointed as an Assistant Commissioner in the 114-year history of the Tasmania Police. Highly decorated, she has received an Australian Police Medal for Distinguished Service, Commissioner's Commendation for her work on the Port Arthur massacre and has been recognised by the Australasian Council of Women in Policing. Telstra Awards judges praised her technology leadership in introducing tablets for front line police that have had a huge impact on their operational efficiency and ability to provide services.

Young Business Women’s Award
Tina Tower Begin Bright, New South Wales

In her second year of studying teaching, after switching from business studies, Tina Tower combined the two disciplines to start a tutoring centre. But she soon felt that the one centre was not enough to reach all the children she wanted to help. In 2008 she started licensing her school readiness and tutoring programs before establishing Begin Bright as a franchise, which is now in 17 locations across three states. Telstra Awards judges said Ms Tower was a courageous and determined business leader, prepared to put everything into backing her business, overcoming critics and setbacks as she licensed and then franchised her programs.

Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year
Anne Cross UnitingCare Queensland, Queensland

For finalists and winners across Australia, the Awards offer a share in $650,000 in cash and prizes.

More information on the Telstra Business Women’s Awards can be found at

No Fear of Heights – Inspiring Stories of Business Success, a documentary about six incredible Australian business women and Telstra Awards Alumni, screens on 7TWO at 6pm on Sunday 30 November.