Rights activist Michelle Lancey has been named the 2018 Newcastle Local Woman of the Year.
She was handed the official award by state member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp, at a presentation at Nobbys beach on Monday.
Run by Women NSW, the awards recognise inspirational stories of dedication and achievement in the community.
As founder of Newcastle Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG), Ms Lancey was heavily involved locally during the marriage equality ‘Yes’ campaign.
Her tireless efforts and the eventual outcome were a significant milestone for her years of previous work with PFLAG.
The non-profit organisation aims to help and support families and friends of LGBTGI people with an overarching focus of keeping families together.
“It’s just fantastic to have that after a lot of years of hard work by a lot of different people,” Ms Lancey said of gay marriage being legalised in Australia.
“Too see that come to fruition and to see it come in our lifetime as well, it’s changing history and that’s really important.”
Ms Lancey, 60, says her award should be extended to all that she has worked with and hopes it can inspire others into advocacy work.
“It’s never just what you do, it’s a whole team of people who are incredibly supportive,” she said. “It is lovely to have the acknowledgement, I appreciate it.
“Just to highlight to young people, activism and advocacy is really important, this just doesn’t happen [on its own]. An ordinary person, like myself, can come along, get involved and make a difference.”
Mr Crakanthorp said Ms Lancey’s dedication to the community will not stop now marriage equality has been achieved.
“Michelle has been a strong advocate for the LGBTQI community,” he said. “Late last year Newcastle proved that they also support this community with almost 75 per cent ‘Yes’ vote in the marriage quality postal vote.
“Michelle is an inspirational woman who fights for equality and social justice. I look forward to seeing what she will tackle next.”