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International Women’s Day: Manjimup’s Susan Dawson Vidovich a strong advocate for inclusivity and diversity

Melissa PedeltyManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Susan Dawson Vidovich.
Camera IconSusan Dawson Vidovich. Credit: Melissa Pedelty/Melissa Pedelty

A Manjimup woman’s strong commitment to sport, inclusivity and her community has sculpted her into a fantastic role model for future generations of country women.

Susan Dawson Vidovich — who started on the Manjimup Netball Association committee when she was 12 — is a strong advocate of increasing community diversity and inclusion and believes passionately in the power of sport to drive this in all communities.

Ms Dawson Vidovich has spent more than 20 years contributing to her community, particularly through netball.

“My mum is a life member of MNA so it was just normal to me to be always contributing and doing that kind of community work through netball,” she said.

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“You can’t go past sport. There are obvious health benefits to it but the community building aspect of participating in a sport is just a tremendous thing and I think we can build our communities and consolidate the diversity of our communities through sport.

“That’s something that I’m really passionate about because I think sport should be a non-threatening way to bring people together.”

The mother-of-two is heavily involved in State netball and has held two positions with Netball WA over the last few years, in the past as a membership co-ordinator and now as South West officials co-ordinator where she is responsible for the 11 associations across the South West in terms of umpire development from Bunbury to Manjimup.

“I love it, I guess my dream job because there was no way that I would ever have imagined that I could work for a State sporting organisation,” she said.

Ms Dawson Vidovich said a huge reason she got involved in netball and higher level involvement in the sport in the first place was because she felt that it was a great way for women to do build opportunities and capacity to do things for themselves.

“One of the reasons I got so involved was because it was terrible for me that there would be girls that turn up at footy every week to watch their brothers and boyfriends and they really didn’t do anything for themselves,” she said.

“Even when I haven’t been in an umpiring co-ordinator role it gives me great pride to watch the mentoring and upskilling of young women, them developing themselves and finding confidence in themselves, and seeing them achieve things that they didn’t ever think they could.

“I was made a life member of Manjimup Netball Association in 2016 and it was something I was really proud of because it’s really been a pleasure to have done that work over the time.”

The former teacher dedicated more than 10 years to teaching at Manjimup Senior High School and continues to contribute to education through her role on the MSHS Board in her capacity of Shire of Manjimup councillor — a role she commenced nearly four years ago.

Ms Dawson Vidovich said she was drawn to the council position not long after giving birth to her son, feeling a real need to contribute to her community, particularly after the contentious Southern Forest Irrigation Scheme was released and the growing concern for it within the community.

“The last four years have been a very steep learning curve and it has been very interesting and I’ve learnt a tremendous amount along the way that has been extremely worthwhile,” she said, “I’m really glad that I’ve done it.”

In her time on the council, Ms Dawson Vidovich has been chair of the Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee, a member of the Manjimup Recreation Advisory Committee, and Proxy on the Rea Park and Collier Street Advisory Committee.

“That’s certainly one of my big priorities is to think about inclusion and diversity and that is actually something that crosses over into my work in netball as well, not just in terms of access and inclusion — wheelchair access — but looking at ways to include more people in the community across various ways and increase diversity,” she said.

“That’s really important to me.”

Ms Dawson Vidovich — who recently found out that she was accepted onto the Australia Sports Commission Women Leaders in Sport workshop series, and selected for Netball WA State Umpire Performance Program and into the umpiring pool of the 2023 Australian Mixed and Men Netball Championships — said her biggest advice is to be brave and to persevere through adversity.

“Just be brave — I say it to my daughter quite a bit ... we can do hard things it’s just being brave enough to take risks along the way and supporting each other,” she said.

“I’ve been working hard for the last 18 months so it’s clear perseverance pays off.

“This year is shaping up to be a wonderful year.”

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