Penny Blazey

Penny Blazey has run a successful nursery, supported Victorian and East Timorese women, and advocated for sustainability on the Mornington Peninsula.

Honour Roll

Running a successful nursery and tourism venture based at a National Trust property is a major achievement in itself. But for Penny Blazey, this work has been just a part of a much bigger set of achievements that have supported and linked women in Victoria and East Timorese women, and preserved and extended the environmental heritage and sustainability of the Mornington Peninsula.

As one of the first few women councillors on the Peninsula, she championed initiatives that provided new and practical services for some of the most vulnerable members of the community, including the victims of domestic violence and people with disabilities. Her role as an honorary probation officer made her an important local support person for many young people and their families. This was a particularly vital role given the minimal of support services available on the Peninsula at the time.

Her advocacy and her representations to governments have been widely cited as contributing to the increased levels of services now available in the area. In addition to the successful Diggers Seeds business she has helped to develop at Herronswood, she has used open days at the historic property to raise more than $200,000. These funds have been donated to women's support organisations in Victoria and to assist in the purchase of sewing machines, fabric and motorbikes for women's groups and small businesses in the eastern regional centre of Los Palos in East Timor.

Her commitment to sustainability has helped develop an innovative nursery business based on heritage, non-hybridized, plant varieties. Plants that not only form an important part of our environmental heritage, but produce viable seeds are of particular significance in areas using subsistence agriculture. Through her work in the National Trust and with other community groups, she has contributed significantly to the preservation of sites of historic and environmental significance on the Peninsula. This has included the elevation of Point Nepean to National Park status, the recognition of Indigenous heritage in the many walking tracks of Arthur's Seat, and the successful nomination of the Mornington Peninsula as the first UNESCO recognised urban biosphere in Australia.

She draws on her huge admiration for women who battle overwhelming and hostile environments and attitudes - whether it's someone in Australia like Beatrice Faust speaking out about feminism and abortion, or the women of Los Palos in Timor suffering under occupation".