TWO women with Cairns connections are among the 28 finalists in the 21st Telstra Queensland Business Women’s Awards.

Fiona Jose, of Cape York Partnership, competes in the purpose and social enterprise category while former Far Northern police chief Katarina Carroll is in the government and academia section.

Telstra chief operations officer Kate McKenzie said the awards, which will be announced in Brisbane on September 29, “not only celebrated women who had the courage to start their own business and lead their industries, but also offer them a platform to encourage others to challenge the status quo and think differently”.

“The 2015 Queensland finalists join a long list of successful business women, whose unique and innovative approaches to leadership at state and local community levels, and in some cases, globally, continue to impress and inspire the awards judges,” she said.

Ms McKenzie said Ms Carroll was a public safety trailblazer, the first woman to be appointed Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner and a former Queensland Police assistant commissioner based in Cairns.

“Detailed work preparing and managing security and safety operations for 26 world leaders at last year’s G20 summit was Katarina Carroll’s proudest career moment in her then role as Queensland Police assistant commissioner,” she said.

Ms Carroll said her achievements “establish the path for women to achieve as a norm, not as something unusual, paving the way for the belief that they too are as capable and skilled”.

Growing up in a community gripped with serious social problems, Fiona Jose, an indigenous woman from Cape York, is dedicated to empowering her people as general manager of Cape York Partnership (CYP).

“CYP is an indigenous policy reform and leadership organisation that has stood up to lead a comprehensive reform agenda,” Ms McKenzie said.

“Fiona deals with the tragic consequences of dispossession and passive welfare and the reality of domestic violence, youth suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, and severely disadvantaged children.”

Ms Jose said she dreamt of an Australia where there was “no exclusion based on race or gender”.

“Where people of indigenous heritage feel, not only included, but also valued,” she said.

READ: The Cairns Post