The Power of Regional Women: A Journey of Resilience and Advocacy - A conversation with Danielle Keenan

We’ve been yarning with Danielle Keenan, a Mum and Broken Hill local. Dan is the Director of Student Services with the Country Universities Centre, a Volunteer with JDRF Advocacy, and a passionate advocate for education support and services in the regions.

Welcome to the Queen Be Podcast, where we bring the stories of regional women to life.

In this episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with Danielle Keenan, a passionate advocate for equitable access to education in regional Australia.

Danielle, a born and bred local of Broken Hill, shared her experiences growing up in a remote mining town and her journey as a mother of a child with type one diabetes. Through her work with the Type One Foundation and the Country Universities Centre, Danielle has become a voice for change and a beacon of hope for regional communities.


Embracing the Challenges of Regional Life

Danielle’s upbringing in Broken Hill, a remote town in the far west of New South Wales, shaped her perspective on the unique challenges faced by regional communities. She highlights the isolation and distance from major cities, which affects access to healthcare and education. Despite these challenges, Danielle emphasized the strength and resilience of the community, which she believes is the heart of regional Australia.

“Broken Hill is a fabulous place to grow up and bring up my children. The people here make the community. It’s a mining town, and the primary industry is mining. We have a strong sense of community, and even though we are isolated, we support and uplift each other.”

Advocating for Type One Diabetes Awareness and Support

Danielle’s journey as an advocate for type one diabetes began when her daughter was diagnosed at the age of six. She shared the difficulties they faced in getting a proper diagnosis and the lack of information about the symptoms of type one diabetes. Through her involvement with the Type One Foundation and JDRF, Danielle has been working tirelessly to raise awareness and support for individuals and families affected by the disease.

“There’s a lack of information around type one and the presentations of type one. We fought really hard for her diagnosis. The health system itself didn’t know enough about diabetes to even diagnose her. We felt isolated and realized the need for support groups and education.”

Danielle’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, as she recently organized the first-ever JDRF One Walk in Broken Hill, raising over $10,000 for diabetes research. Her advocacy work has not only helped her own family but has also created a sense of community and support for others facing similar challenges.

Bridging the Education Gap in Regional Australia

As the Director of Student Services at the Country Universities Centre (CUC), Danielle is passionate about providing equitable access to education for regional students. She highlighted the importance of CUCs in supporting students in their higher education journey and addressing the unique challenges faced by regional communities.

“We wrap around students and build participation for them to progress to higher education. We provide academic support, administrative guidance, and a learning community that enables peer-to-peer and peer-to-community conversations. Our goal is to increase participation in higher education in regional areas.”

CUCs and Regional University Centres in general have shown promising results, with higher participation rates in higher education in the regions where these centers are located. The support provided by local CUCs has not only helped students succeed academically but has also empowered them to pursue their passions and make a difference in their communities.

The Power of Choice and Continuous Learning

Throughout her journey, Danielle emphasized the importance of choice and continuous learning for regional women. She encouraged individuals to be open to opportunities that align with their values and passions, even if they may seem daunting at first.

“Don’t feel like you have to be pushed down one way or another. Seek out opportunities that align with who you are personally and be proactive in pursuing what you want. Continuous learning, whether through formal education or professional development, is also crucial for personal and professional growth.”

Danielle’s own experiences reflect the power of choice and continuous learning. Despite not initially pursuing a career in social work, she found opportunities that aligned with her values and allowed her to make a social impact. Her journey serves as an inspiration for regional women to embrace their passions and create meaningful change in their communities.

A Bright Future for Regional Women

Danielle Keenan’s story is a testament to the resilience, strength, and advocacy of regional women. Through her work in education and diabetes awareness, she has become a voice for change and a source of support for regional communities. Her experiences highlight the challenges faced by regional areas, but also the immense potential and opportunities that exist.

As we look to the future, it is crucial to continue supporting and empowering regional women. By providing equitable access to education, healthcare, and support services, we can create thriving regional communities and bridge the gaps between regional and metropolitan areas. The power of regional women is undeniable, and their voices deserve to be heard and celebrated.