9 February 2024

How one Dot can connect the community

| Dione David
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Dot Barclay

Dot Barclay is a director of Forrest Hotel and Apartments and a tireless promotor of tourism in the capital. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Dorothy (Dot) Barclay recently won the inaugural Natasha Watson Award for Women in Tourism, but says the reward is in the work itself.

“It’s about connecting, collaborating and building community, and that’s something I think we all need to get back to,” she says.

“It’s something I certainly grew up with.”

READ ALSO Up-and-coming Canberra icon named three times in 2023 tourism awards

Joan and her siblings were raised with a strong sense of community, by parents who led by example.

“I had a mother who really connected the neighbourhood and community, through her work with charity organisations, local businesses right down to volunteering for school fetes or tuckshop duty,” Dot says.

“As I result my brothers and sisters and I grew up surrounded by real community spirit, which functioned on the premise that in looking after others, you look after yourself. We lived in the kinds of neighbourhoods where the kids felt they could drop in; you were always seeing people you knew around you, rather than everyone always rushing around, never looking out for each other.

“We’re in a very different time now and those community supports may look quite different, but the need is just as strong.”

Dot’s true passion lies in connecting, collaborating and building community. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Dot’s parents bought the Forrest Hotel and later integrated the apartments. Today Dot is a director of Forrest Hotel and Apartments, but is a tireless promotor of tourism in the capital – hence her award.

“That award was named for Natasha Watson, who passed just over a year ago. It’s really about acknowledging her contribution, as well as other women in tourism, to the vibrant Canberra tourism community,” she says.

“What they do behind the scenes contributes in a big way to making our city what it is today.”

Among her many hats, Dot is a member of the Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum board and the National Arboretum Canberra Forrest Sculpture Garden Advisory Committee and a Lifeline support counsellor.

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Given where her passion lies, it’s fitting that Dot’s newest interest is Fearless Women. The brainchild of former Menslink CEO Martin Fisk and former Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, this not-for-profit provides support, guidance and wisdom to young women aged 10 to 25.

Using free mentoring, counselling and school talks and presentations, the organisation seeks to address issues of wellbeing, resilience, self-empowerment and self-value in the face of declining mental health among young people.

“The statistics are worrying, and we know that if we want to create equality in the world, we have to start young and start with education. The earlier young women are supported in building self esteem and resilience, the better it is for them personally and for the broader community,” Dot says.

“Fearless Women currently has 60 women in Canberra mentoring these younger women and they’re getting amazing results.

“It just acknowledges that everyone has challenges in life in one form or another, and we can help by supporting others through theirs and sharing ours.”

Fearless Women will hold its inaugural fundraising Fearless Trivia Night on Thursday 15 February from 6 pm at King O’Malley’s, 131 City Walk. Tickets cost $50 – book here.

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