Penny Davies has many awards, including the Order of Australia (AM), but an OBE is not among them, especially one from the British Empire. Penny's OBE stands for 'Over Bloody Eighty' and she is happy to join the many active, strong women who can claim that particular honour.
With three siblings and a mother who was proud that she was the 'homemaker', money was short and the children made to work before and after school. At age 13, Penny's first job was with Mr Masteika, a Yugoslavian migrant and cabinetmaker.
"I translated for him when he needed me to, and did the books for the business. I never saw a penny of the money though," Penny said.
At 15, still going to the girls school, Penny was sent to part time work in the local general store.
She caught a bus at 7am and worked for a couple of hours, ran down the hill to school and then clocked on again from 4pm for the afternoon shift, and then caught the bus home much later.
Two years on and with all her wages still going into the consolidated revenue of the household, Penny decided it was time to 'get out', and applied for a nursing bursary.
"It was one of the few ways nice girls could leave home legitimately in 1972. I graduated and four years later decided to take on a teaching degree.
"I was always happy to explore educational opportunities in various fields including the arts, health and education and to complete higher degrees. Studying gave me a great deal of personal satisfaction."
Life is too valuable and too precious to be dull and boring.Dr Penelope K Davies AM PhD History l M.Hlth.Sc.
Penny spent 10 years teaching in a secondary college, while raising her young family, a boy and girl. Both had cystic fibrosis so the challenges for this working mum were many and varied.
"Challenging and more often than I'd have preferred, extremely confronting, my life has been interspersed with sadness, opportunity and success. My life has certainly not been dull or boring, nor do I ever anticipate it will be. I don't have time.
"These days, I believe volunteering, paid or unpaid, is one of the most significant gifts one can provide to others. It brings with it the privilege to meet with and share life experiences with people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
"If I'm been able to provide comfort, support and the occasional gem of wisdom to others i will have achieved what I set out to do - to make life for myself and my loved ones worthwhile.
"Growing up, I've not felt that being a girl ever impeded what I wanted to achieve. The word in 2022 is pivot, and that's my life to a T," Penny adds.