National Older Women's Network

Welcome to NOWN

The National Older Women's Network Australia is an organisation run by and for older women.
NOWN promotes the rights, dignity and well-being of older women.
NOWN is a peak organisation embodying pragmatic knowledge and expertise on issues affecting women at an older age.
NOWN represents Australia on the United Nations Working Group on the Aged (OEWG).

NOWN Patrons and Ambassador

Quentin Bryce AC

The Honorable Quentin Bryce AC
Former Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia

"...that's one of the aspects of Older Women's Network that I love – the sense of fun, joie de vivre, the warmth and friendship that abounds – always underpinned by vision, strategy, a practical approach, solving problems with intellectual rigour..." (Quentin Bryce AC, 7th March, 2012)

Professor Gillian Triggs

Professor Gillian Triggs

Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs was the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. She was Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney from 2007-12 and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law from 2005-7. She is a former Barrister and a Governor of the College of Law.

Professor Shirley Randell

Professor Shirley Randell - NOWN Ambassador

Professor Shirley Randell AO, PhD, FACE, FIML, FAICD is the inaugural National Ambassador of the National Older Women's Network, Australia.

She is an award-winning global mentor, educator, trainer, author, company director, public speaker, change activist, ambassador, patron, and campaigner for human rights.

Shirley has provided specialist technical assistance to governments and agencies in Africa and the Asia Pacific Region over the last 20 years as a leading expert in public sector and institutional reform, teacher education, gender mainstreaming and human rights in developing countries. In 2010, with the encouragement of Rwandan women parliamentarians, she founded and was first Director of the Centre for Gender, Culture and Development at the Kigali Institute of Education.

Shirley was an Australian Inaugural Women of Influence in 2012, a TIAW World of Difference Awardee in 2013 and the 2018 winner of the IML John Story Lifetime Leadership Achievement Award. She gives public speeches all over the world. At 78 years old and with four children and their partners, 15 grandchildren and two great grandchildren she has a major interest in the life experience of older women.

NOWN Executive

National President Aloma Fennell

National President: Aloma Fennell
BA (B.Sc), MA (Adult Ed), CELTA+

Aloma is an experienced businesswoman, Board Director, University Lecturer and Chairperson. She has over 30 years experience, with her own business, consulting and recruiting for many major corporations, governments, and NFP sectors including UNICEF. Her extensive experience has been gained within a number of diverse countries.
She is the past Chairperson of the Council of the S.I.T (TAFE), National President of the Australian Institute of Training & Development, Board Director of the Mona Vale Hospital, and is a current Director of World Kindness China. She also continues to manage her own NFP organisation in Australia.
Aloma joined OWN NSW in 2011 following a project of working with the Board of a seniors’ organisation in Calgary, Canada. During this time, as she says, her eyes were opened to the plight of older women. To the economic inequalities, the elder abuse, the lack of social inclusion, the indifferences to their well being needs and much, much more which stands in the way of older womens' right to dignity and social standing in our society. On return to Australia she was determined to do something about this and OWN was the organisation she chose as most appropriate to make a difference. She was elected to the position of National President, OWN Australia in 2013.

National Secretary Sharan Tate

National Secretary: Sharan Tuite

Sharan joined OWN NSW in 2011 when she retired from a long professional career with the State Government. On joining OWN she became a member of the Macarthur group, which meets in Campbelltown. Her expertise and working experience was recognised in 2012 when she was elected to the OWN NSW Management Team, where she holds the positions of Secretary and Public Officer.
At the 2013 OWN Australia AGM, Sharan was elected to the National Council and, along with the positions, mentioned above, she was elected to the position of National Secretary.
Sharan is a tireless worker highly committed to upholding and ensuring the rights, dignity and wellbeing of older women are supported and upheld.

National Secretary Sharan Tate

National Treasurer and Public Officer:
Larissa Bergmann

After immigrating to Australia as a youngster with her family in 1950, settling and being educated in Geelong, and then at RMIT Victoria, Larissa moved to Sydney in 1966.
Her career has been varied over the years, starting with teaching in High Schools for the Education Department, then in the private sector in administration and management roles, and the last fifteen years as a bookkeeper.
Having seen the abuse and belittling of women in her youth where she grew up, and appreciating the wonderful opportunities this country has given her, Larissa wanted to give something back to the community, particularly women.
Larissa was a paid up member of OWN Sydney for several years before she became active in the organisation in 2013. In 2015 Larissa was elected as Treasurer to OWN NSW, and in October 2017, she was elected as Treasurer to NOWN, continuing to help and contribute to the rights and well being of older women.

About NOWN

Membership of NOWN Australia Inc. is open to all women over the age of 50(ish). We are the only peak body in Australia committed to promoting the rights and dignity of older women.

Our charter is to advocate and lobby for legislative and other reforms on issues affecting the quality of life of all women - including future older women.

We welcome you to join us in our activities - or create your own groups, wellness centres, seminars, conferences, projects or research.

We are here to support you.

NOWN already conducts a number of activities including theatre groups, seminars, conferences, advocacy and research. We support projects focused on the improved wellness, quality of life and opportunities for older women in the fields of:

  • Anti-discrimination
  • Education
  • Income Security
  • Appropriate health care
  • Participation in decision making affecting older women

With your help we can do more.

NOWN is for older women, by older women. We look forward to meeting you.

Whether you want to roll up your sleeves and help organise events and campaigns, or show your support by donating, your help is needed and welcome.

For more information on how to join or donate, please follow the "Join" link at the bottom of this page.

Thank you - and welcome!

NOWN Australia's Aims and Objectives:

  • Promote the welfare, rights, dignity and wellbeing of older women.
  • Recognise and utilise existing skills of older women and assist older women to develop specific skills, and to achieve recognition of the work and contribution of older women to society.
  • Advance the interests of older women through research, advocacy lobbying and networking.
  • Oppose ageism, sexism and racism and address issues of discrimination against older women.
  • Present a positive image of older women.
  • Promote participation of older women in the workforce.
  • Promote the prevention of violence against older women through research and advocacy.
  • Advocate for affordable housing for older women.

Our Origins:

The Older Women's Network was created in 1985 in Sydney (NSW) in response to the recognition by women members and workers of the Combined Pensioner's Association that needs of older women had not received adequate attention. They believed that political parties, Government forums, women's groups and some elements of the feminist movement, had not given older women encouragement and the necessary skills and avenues to represent themselves and their particular interests. Their perceptions were also reinforced by the common claim of women in the 50+ age group that they were socially invisible.

The initial aims of the Older Women's Network were to provide older women with access to education, information and support, and to enable them to challenge negative stereotypes of female ageing; as well as to encourage their participation in decision-making about matters affecting their wellbeing.

Several regions of NSW, such as Central Coast, Nowra and Blue Mountains, subsequently established OWN groups with the assistance of OWN Sydney. This provided the impetus for an intrastate meeting to define common aims, objectives and structure of the networks, thus forming OWN NSW. An Interstate Outreach program was conducted by OWN NSW members to all States and this resulted in OWN groups being founded in other States.

The growth of OWN groups across Australia prompted the need for discussion on the provision of a distinct national voice. In 1992 OWN groups held a National Think Tank over 5 days, reaching the following conclusions:

  • The majority of older people are women.
  • There was a continuous and significant growth of OWN groups around Australia.
  • OWN groups were increasingly involved in consumer organisations, influencing policy and initiatives affecting older women.
  • OWN groups' influence in the political sphere was noticeable.
  • There were increasing requests for involvement from Government and NGOs about future strategies at national level.

There was a clear need to pool ideas and knowledge that arose from each OWN group's diverse experiences. Given the predicted increase in the number of older women, it was vital that OWN be involved in and contribute to research, policy and directions. OWN Australia was born in 1993 following a Conference of State delegates who established OWN Australia's Governance, Aims and Objectives and Constitution.

OWN Australia became the National Older Women's Network (NOWN) in 2018 to reflect its role as a peak body of affiliated organisations.

NOWN Newsletters

Please select a national newsletter to view or download from the links below:


Newsletter: October 2018

Date uploaded: 17/12/2018


Affiliated Organisations

Click on map to get details in each State:

Map of Australia nsw qld vic SA TAS NT WA

Click on a State below to see the organisations affiliated to NOWN in that State or Territory:









The Older Womens' Network of NSW is based in Sydney.

Their website can be viewed on this link:



Other Affiliated Groups in NSW


The Older Womens' Network Queensland is based in Brisbane with branches in SE and regional Queensland.

Their website can be viewed on this link:


Contact details for the Branches can be found on the link below:



There are currently no Branches of OWN operating in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia or the Northern Territory.
If you are interested in participating in OWN in these states or the Territory - or anywhere else! - please call us on 0420 785 335. We are keen to help.


The Older Womens' Network of Western Australia has a group in Gosnells and
a Theatre Group at the Don Russell Performing Arts Centre.

Their website and contact details can be viewed on this link:



Click on the map above to see organiastions affiliated to NOWN in each State

NOWN Resource Library

This section of the website is a resource for the use of NOWN members and others interested in or working on issues affecting older women, particularly in Australia.

If you are the author of work that you would like to see made available in this library, please contact us to arrange for its inclusion.

Please select a resource item to either view on screen (if your browser will view PDF files) or download to view on your device.

Contact NOWN

Please use this form to contact NOWN Australia:


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Image Attributions:

UN Building: Steve Cadman CCsa

Australian Parliament House: Thennicke CCsa

UN OEWG9 in session: OEWG Newsletter

UN OEWG9 Working Group in session: OEWG Newsletter