Thank you very, very much.  I am very pleased to be here this evening representing the Minister for Health and the Minister for Sport the Hon Sussan Ley MP to celebrate the wonderful achievements of Australian women in sport.

As sporting champions you are in a unique position to inspire women from across Australia to reach for the stars and to achieve their sporting goals, whatever they may be.  Your efforts, your triumphs and your disappointments have shown us your commitment and passion and you have inspired us.  Thank you so very much.  So congratulations, not just to the winners this evening but to all of you who have been nominated.

The Australian Government is committed to increasing participation for women in sport and in recreation. This is one of the reasons we are proud to have supported the I Support Women In Sport Awards since 2012.

These Awards encourage participation in sport by all and promote the importance of healthy lifestyle, particularly for women.  By highlighting and recognising the achievements of women in sport, these Awards also promote positive female role models.

The Australian Government is proud to support women to participate in sport from grassroots through to elite levels as well as to take on leadership roles.

We are committed to gender balance on boards and providing practical assistance and mentoring to female leaders across the sport sector.  Not just here in Australia but across the Pacific.

The winner of this year's Outstanding Woman in Sport Award is an inspiration on so many levels.

Against the odds, she produced a performance of truly historic proportions.  She then charmed us with her candour, her passion and her integrity.

On that first Tuesday in November last year in "the race that stops the nation", Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup riding the six-year-old gelding, Prince of Penzance, at the incredible odds of 100–1.

The Melbourne Cup has only ever seen four female jockeys compete.  And last year, Michelle was the first woman to win the iconic event in its 155-year history.

Her triumph came after almost 15 years of competing at professional level that has seen her overcome severe physical injuries, including a fractured skull in 2004 and a torn pancreas in May this year.  This showed remarkable inspirational determination and perseverance.

And It gives me great pleasure to present this year's Outstanding Woman in Sport Award to Michelle Payne this evening.  Congratulations!

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