Changes at the helm of Australian War Widows Inc

A message from Australian War Widows Inc (AWW)

It was with great pleasure that we introduced members to our new AWW Council late last year.

Congratulations to new National President, Jenny Gregory and new National Treasurer (and WA State President) Emily Cook. See profiles below.

We also welcomed new NSW State President, Queen Dunbar, Qld State President Judy Smith, SA State President Diane Carr and welcomed back ACT State President Robynne Mitchell to the Council.

Portrait photo of older woman wearing Order of Australia Medal

We farewelled Rhondda Vanzella OAM (left), the outgoing National President, and thanked her for her contribution to AWW over the past two years. Rhondda will remain as an observer and mentor on the Council.

Rhondda was NSW State President from 2016 until 2022. She is also a member of the Australian War Memorial Council, a member of the Remembrance Driveway Committee, an Ambassador on the NSW Government Centenary of ANZAC Council, member of the RSL Ladies Auxiliary, an affiliate member of RSL Bundanoon sub-branch and President of the RSL Rural Commemorative Youth Choir. Previously, Rhondda was Vice President of the Kangaroo Re-enactment March from Wagga Wagga to Sydney and spent 15 years as Electorate Chief of Staff and confidant to Dr Brendan Nelson AO.

This newly elected National Council is 100% focused on matters affecting all war/Defence widows and families in Australia. Not-for-profit organisations, by nature, have extremely low profit margins, if any at all, and rely on small grants and private philanthropy. It is especially difficult for national bodies to obtain funding and it is our intention to attract donors and corporate sponsorship.

To meet the challenges facing all ex-service organisations (ESOs) today, hard questions need to be asked about leadership, vision and the direction in which we intend to take our organisation. We know we can never be sure we have all the answers. 

However, our strategic plan has been formalised and sets out our vision for the future.

As President, Jenny is responsible for helping shape government policies that affect war/service widows and their families. She is keen to stay in touch with the veteran family community as much as possible, by making speeches, meeting and greeting, and generally being visible in and to that community.

One of the biggest priorities for 2023 is to continue the momentum initiated by AWWQ and AWW NSW to celebrate War Widows Day on 19 October and work towards having a National War Widows Day on this date each year.

This date is the birthday of Mrs Jessie Vasey OBE CBE, the Founder of AWW in 1945.

AWW advocates for all war/service widows in Australia and invites any widow who does not belong to an ESO and who needs support to contact AWW. We can provide you with more information about the services and benefits you are entitled to. 

  • Phone 0411 512 310 or 0427 735 871
  • Email: wwidowsnat [at] ()
  • Website:

AWW’s motto is:

‘We all belong to each other. We all need each other. It is in serving each other and in sacrificing for our common good that we are finding our true life.’


Jenny Gregory

Portrait photo of older woman

Jenny joined Australian War Widows Queensland shortly after her husband’s death in 2013 and became State President in 2016. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Nursing Science and a Graduate Diploma in Health Services Management. Jenny has worked for many years in aged care and understands many of the issues that face our widows as they prepare for residential care and the sometimes, complicated process of obtaining home care.

Jenny’s passion in the aged-care space was working with people with dementia and she became the inaugural President of Alzheimer’s Australia ACT (now known as Dementia Australia). At the tail end of her nursing career, she was a nurse educator in the field of dementia care.

Jenny’s husband was a veteran who served in the Army in Malaya, Vietnam and Singapore. When he transitioned to civilian life, he had a very successful private investigation business. They travelled the world together as he worked with many international colleagues on some very interesting cases. It was a very full life.

Jenny is passionate about her role as National President and working with the National Council to advocate for, and support, all Defence and war widows.


Emily Cook

Portrait photo of older woman

Emily became WA State President in June 2020. After completing a Diploma in Secretarial Studies, Emily worked at the Royal Perth Hospital as a shorthand typist.  Emily continued her career at Royal Perth Hospital for 46 years.

It was while working at the hospital that Emily met the love of her life – Warren. Warren had served in the Royal Australian Navy for 21 years. After retiring from the hospital, Warren became an advocate for the Vietnam Logistic Support Veterans Association WA, working out of an office at RAAFA Bull Creek. He continued to do this until his passing in 2017.