Saturday, 6 July 2019

NCWV May Forum: Safe Streets for Women & Girls

Held on: 2 May 2019, 10:00-11:30am 
ICW-CIF theme: Social protection for all women and girls: Sustainable development for the world This Forum conforms with SDG 11 “… make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

The focus of the May Forum was on what makes a Safe City/Safe Streets. This includes wide streets, pedestrian malls, good visibility, good lighting and clear signage. Everything that is considered to be good planning. The Forum was very well received with positive feed-back, evaluation forms indicated the subject was interesting and topical. An outcome from the Forum for NCWV to pursue, would be the safety of bicycle trailers for children, raised in a question by Janice Latham. There is opportunity for us to monitor the movement and safety of pedestrians and cyclist in the City, also the city lighting to give feed back to the Town Hall. Members could note issues in their area for feedback to local Council.

Martin and Phuong, VicRoads presenters for Safe System Road Infrastructure Program (SSRIP), part of Regional Roads Victoria (RRV), outlined the improvements to accessibility and safety for pedestrians and cyclists being delivered through the SSRIP – Pedestrian Area program, Safer Cycling program and Safe Travel in Local Streets program.
On average there are 40 pedestrian deaths per year and over 500 serious injuries, almost half of which are female. Pedestrians aged 65 and over represent almost one third of the total, with females being just over 50%. This is far too high – we would like it to be zero, but there is a lot of work to do. To help promote active transport (i.e. walking and cycling), RRV encourages councils to:
  • Map out safe routes for walking and cycling to schools and shops in their communities;
  • Develop plans for improving the safety and amenity for active transport;
  • Improving quality of life;
  • Talk to RRV about how these plans could be implemented.
SSRIP developed a hot spot map to target areas with highest densities of fatal and serious injury (FSI) crashes, then contacted those councils to get as many involved as possible. There is a budget of $31 million over 31 councils for this program, including development and evaluation to be completed by 2020. Councils were offered access to funding for development, so that they could engage consultants to develop projects without budget risk.

These include Bayside roundabout crossings, Wombat crossings, Countdown timers, strategic cycling corridors, Protected intersections which provide a safer passage by enabling cyclists to hook turn, let cyclists do left turns more easily, and make it easier for drivers to see cyclists. There is also a Blind Spot Mirror Trial to help cyclists and drivers see each other better and reduce risk of trucks turning into cyclist.

Transport Accident Commission – TAC has made grants available to councils to help them provide better facilities for walking and cycling. VicRoads has grants for local community groups to promote road safety in local areas.

Hoa Yang, ARUP Design Consultant, outlined the findings from a research collaboration between Monash University’s XYX Lab and ARUP. Over the past year, they have analysed lighting measurements across 80 different sites in the City of Melbourne to find practical measures around how we can use lights to make our city feel safer at night time. This project uses a human-centred design approach to generate a framework to understand what lighting qualities give a perception of safety. The research data collected are the beginning of a knowledge bank that gives designers a better understanding of how light impacts urban experiences in Melbourne.

The rate of development in lighting technology in the past decade allows lighting design to be cost effectively customisable and tailored to the individual experience. The amount of design decisions that can be made due to these advances, position lighting as a key enabler of smart design.

New and retro-fitted lighting opportunities are happening all around the world, presenting an opportunity for city design to use light to curate positive experiences.

The current Australian lighting standards for pedestrians are based on pre-LED technology and are in need of a re-think. The standards revolve around the amount of light falling on a surface, and do not consider the perception of brightness and experience of the larger urban context by its users. The tendency in designing for public spaces to choose a worst-case scenario by stakeholders to de-risk, too often resulting in a poor lit outcome. This design approach often leads to over lighting spaces resulting in negative experiences of the space due to glare, also contributing to light pollution and excess energy consumption. Safe perceptions of spaces correlate generally with a higher level of colour rendering, suggesting that distinguishing shapes and colours more accurately makes people perceive spaces as safer. This validates current design principles where people feel more comfortable in warm coloured light. The research has created the largest sample of night time analysis known to the researchers globally.

The findings from the measurements have allowed definition of a baseline for the lighting qualities that contribute to a safe perception of space in Melbourne for young women and girls. Contact:

Nancy Pierorazio, Senior Policy Officer City Safety, Social Investment branch, City of Melbourne: Designing in safety for women, outlined City of Melbourne’s commitment to preventing violence against women, promoting women’s safety and advancing gender equality in the municipality and workplace. City of Melbourne projects include: “Women in the life of the city”, a partnership with Victorian Women’s Trust to develop a list of notable women to address the gender bias in street names. Since the introduction of this list, three new streets/lanes have been named: Warrior Woman Lane (Lisa Bellear), Hoff Boulevard (Dr Ursula Hoff), Bale Circuit (Alice Marian Ellen Bale).

“Girls Walk, Melbourne CBD”, Working with Plan International to pilot their Free to Be campaign in Melbourne: Hosted Girls walk of Melbourne CBD; Free to be digital mapping tool; Design thinking workshop (led by XYX Lab).

“Women’s Right to Walk Freely” Partnership with Victoria Police, Victoria Point Owners Corporation and Plan International to better understand safety issues and needs of women and girls who live, work and visit the Stadium Precinct and Docklands. Project involved: Day and night safety audit of precinct; Girls walk: Plan youth activists and local female residents took decision makers on a walk to share experiences; Safety audit report and recommendations provided to Victoria Point Owners Corporation and Development Victoria.

“Safe Nights Out for Women (SNOW)” Pilot of a gender and safety audit tool in five licensed venues to help identify design elements and management practices that may facilitate sexual harassment in and around licensed venues. “Equality (Art) Works” Commissioned female artists to deliver public art work by and for women:
  • “Princess” by artist Baby Guerilla in Russell Place
  • “Make every place equitable” by artist Klara in Equitable Place
  • “Throw like a girl” by Gert Geyer at North Melbourne Recreation Centre (partnership project with WHV)
“Guide to reporting sexist advertising” Helps people navigate process for formal complaints; provides links to online advocacy tools; encourages community to play an active role in challenging culture of violence against women.
Projects underway:
  • Fact sheet on how to design events that are safe and inclusive for women and girls.
  • Facilitating access to training on sexual harassment and bystander action for licensed venues.
  • Pilot walking tours and walking groups aimed at increasing women's safety and participation in public places.  Contact:
Q&A Session raised the following issues, responses included:
  • Safety around public transport: more officers are being employed to assist safe walking to cars etc. also development of infrastructure to reduce speed and isolate trams.
  • Children transported in carts behind/in front of bikes: VicRoads review allows these on pavements now.
  • Men in lycra using road as speedway: needs more monitoring and education.
  • Lights being checked regularly: there is a set schedule to check all lighting.
  • Need walking etiquette signs in city: CoM looking at using international symbols instead of words.
  • Overseas visitors driving concerns: VicRoads data doesn’t support an issue with this.
  • Protective officers not always obvious at night: Need to put in a complaint.
  • Some road signs are not visible due to vegetation or damage: alert VicRoads.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

58th Annual Australia Day Pioneer Women’s Ceremony 2019

                                          Sally Capp with Elizabeth Newman, president NCW

Speech by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, the Right Honourable Sally Capp.
On behalf of the City of Melbourne, I would like to begin by acknowledging that we’re gathered on the traditional land of the Kulin Nation, and I pay my respects to elders past and present.  I recognise and respect the continuing spiritual and cultural relationship our first peoples have with this land.
I’d also like to acknowledge:
Paul Webster, Chairman, Australia Day Council, Victoria; Elisabeth Newman, President, National Council of Women Victoria; Janet Park, Vice-President, NCWV; Delegates and Members of NCWV and their guests; Past NCWV presidents and honorary life members; Future women pioneers. Welcome everyone.
Thank you for the opportunity to be part of today’s ceremony. How fortunate we are to be meeting in this tranquil place – a place for quiet reflection. It’s intimate, ornate and serene - the perfect backdrop for our event.
More than 80 years ago, a group of Victorian women campaigned for civic recognition of the contribution of women – as part of the City of Melbourne's Centenary celebrations. And that’s what led to the creation of the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden in the Kings Domain – a garden that women and their families still enjoy today. It’s a wonderful legacy. 
And this beautiful place has a story of its own. This garden was built in 1986 to commemorate the International Year of Peace. It was designed by a team of women. The plants were chosen to fit with the colours of the Women’s Movement — green, purple and white, and to symbolise remembrance — the peace rose, rosemary and olive trees. As well as a place of recognition and reflection, the Women’s Peace Garden is a place where women and families can join together. These gardens are now home to the National Council of Women of Victoria and the Australia Day Council’s Annual Australia Day Pioneer Women’s Ceremony.
And today, we continue the tradition of honouring the legacy of pioneering women, as well as celebrating the great city and state that their efforts have helped shape.
The lives of women have changed significantly over the years. But some things never change – the admiration we feel for the pioneering women who contributed so much to early Victoria. As Lord Mayor, I’m a rare breed in Melbourne’s history. I’m one of only three women to have been elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 176 years, but I’m declaring the drought over. I’m confident there’ll be many more women to come, especially when I look around an occasion like this and see so many capable people who are making a contribution to our city – be it in business, community or civic life.
In fact, the more voices we hear and stories we share about women making their mark across all spheres, the more leaders - and networks of leaders - we’ll see emerge across the board. We really need women to stand up and take on leadership roles within their organisations and communities. And to support those willing to have a go, we need to support other women to take on these roles at all levels. Through this we will see a manifest change in how we shape our communities going forward.
I’ve had quite a few conversations, post-election, with some outstanding women I know and my advice is simple: put your hand up and have a go. There will never be a right time if you wait for it. Seize the moment and make an impact on the imbalance. To have a go and fail, as I have many times in my career, is not failure. Just the action of having a go must be claimed as victory because it changes your personal trajectory and adds significant impetus to the momentum for change in our society.
I recently had lunch with the two female former Lord Mayors before me - Leckie Ord and Winsome McCaughey – both of whom were NCWV patrons during their terms as Lord Mayor, and Leckie spoke at this same event back in 1988. It was only 30 years ago, but politics and public life were undoubtedly harsher and more hostile for them, not to mention Victoria’s first female state premier, the late Joan Kirner, and Lady Millie Peacock the first woman elected to Victorian Parliament before her.
These women campaigned publicly and paved the way for others through their example. These women broke through the hard, stony ground of politics to create the richer soil in which we are flourishing today. They had an enduring impact on Victorian public life. Their careers were often catalysts for reform and greater respect for women’s intellects and achievements. Times didn’t just change – they helped change the times.
Among a multitude of grand portraits of male mayors which look down from the elegant walls of Melbourne’s historic Town Hall, the faces of Winsome and Lecki stand out - and we must celebrate their legacy. These women were leading council at a time – in the late 80s – when Melbourne needed proactive and strong leadership. Our city had a population deficit. Just 100 residents lived in the CBD. Compare that to today. Now we have some 37,341 residents in the CBD alone. They were leaders when a transformational vision for Melbourne was imagined. Postcode 3000 was launched to repopulate the central city. It set out the urban choreography of Melbourne’s makeup, steering it away from what was termed ‘a donut city’ to become a 24-hour metropolis – a place where people want to be. And these two women were part of its imagining, its design and its implementation.
To be the first woman in any field today is still notable. When I look around the faces here this morning, I can see Barbara Abley, AM, who became the first female mayor of the City of Geelong in 2002. Gracia Baylor, AM, was one of the first two women elected to the Victorian Legislative Council in 1979. This was after she became Healesville Shire Council president in 1977 – the first female shire president in Victoria – after having been elected as a councillor in 1966.  We should celebrate firsts like this.
When people talk about their example it helps role modelling and helps others not to be fearful, which encourages others to have a go.
Female leadership in the numbers we are seeing now is a recent phenomenon in our national and indeed international experience. I am enjoying greater acceptance and legitimacy in my role than Leckie and Winsome did, and I suspect many of you are having the same experience. It’s very refreshing.
So here we are, in 2019, the wind in our sails. Attitudes and workplaces are changing around us - and we are actively changing them. Women are seizing this moment. In the past couple of years, we have begun to see and feel a massive turning of the tide for women. And for me, I’m particularly conscious of how differently we are viewing and treating female leaders in public life.
In a number of jobs I’ve had there hasn’t previously been a woman. People have to change their mindsets or environments and maybe think differently. Collingwood Football Club is an example of that, where I became the first female board member in 2004. And then in 2009, I became the first female Agent-General to represent Victoria overseas.
During my election campaign last year, one thing that really stood out was how important role models are for me - and that I was also a role model for other women. In my case, my aunt has been a federal politician, I am good mates with former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and have several girlfriends that are state politicians. They all provided great encouragement.
One of the standout role-models was Sue Morphet who will be known to some of you. Sue, who has many strings to her bow, is president of Chief Executive Women. She was wonderful because she campaigned to become deputy lord mayor in the last local government elections and failed in her bid. But she is still admired and respected for having a go which helped with my worst-case scenario planning! That’s why I took the election campaign on. I thought I’d get a lot out of it even if I didn’t win. And at the heart of it lies passion. I always have a go if it’s important to me.
I am encouraged daily by the words of Edward Hale that remind me that an individual’s actions can be powerful:
I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.
The roll call of pioneering women is a proud one for Victoria – in so many fields - and I take heart from the achievements of women in our past, and the extraordinary opportunities that lie ahead of us. Today is also about looking to the future and anticipating the wonderful achievements of coming generations of women.
The City of Melbourne is very pleased to support the National Council of Women of Victoria, and it is a privilege to spend the morning with you.  Thank you.
To view the program, click here

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Australia Day Honours 2018 – congratulations to these NCWV members

Beryle Frances Campbell Foster OAM was awarded a medal in the Order of Australia Medal in the General Division, 2018: “For services to women in Victoria”. Beryle has been a long time active member of NCWV since joining in 1967 NCWV Murray Valley (Swan Hill) Branch. She became the first woman to be elected a Councillor for the City of Swan Hill. Beryle and members of the Murray Valley Branch actively supported the formation of NCWV Sunraysia (Mildura) Branch in 1969, closing in 1975.

In 1986 Beryle joined NCWV as an Associate Member regularly attending bi-monthly meetings and holding many Associate roles. Whilst on NCWV Executive Beryle was a member of the Finance subcommittee (1993) and Functions/Fundraising subcommittee (1993). Her active interest in NCWV has not wavered. When NCWV was invited in 1993 to re-establish the Swan Hill Branch, Beryle along with NCWV member the late Alice Teague accompanied the then NCWV President Janet Galley OAM to Swan Hill to reactivate the Branch. It was wonderful to walk along Campbell Street in Swan Hill and see both Beryle and Alice being greeted by people who they had known when both lived in the district. At the Swan Hill City Council Civic Reception that evening Beryl and Alice knew most guests and the admiration and respect for them was evidence that their time in Swan Hill had been valued and appreciated. Beryle saw service in WW2. She is a member of the League of Women Voters and the Penguin Club.

                                      Beryle Foster                              Jan Kinloch

Janice Ann Kinloch OAM was awarded a medal in the Order of Australia Medal in the General Division, 2018 "For service to women and to the Community of Geelong". Jan's voluntary service is extensive, encompassing Scouting, St. John of God Hospital Auxiliary, The Order of St. of Jerusalem Knights Hospitaller Australia, and the National Council of Women Australia, Victoria and Geelong Branch.

During 30 years of scouting service, Jan has been recognised with the Medal of Merit, World Badge and Outstanding Service Awards. She is still a member and treasurer of the Geelong Scout Heritage and Archive Centre Team. Jan has been a member of St. John of God Hospital Auxiliary since 1989 and President for 20 years, supervising fund raising and the setting up of a staffed Hospital Gift Shop. Jan drives Oncology patients to and from their homes in the Greater Geelong region weekly.  Jan has been a member of The Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights Hospitaller since 2007 and has recently been made a Dame of Grace for her philanthropy.

Jan is an active member of National Council of Women Vic. Inc-Geelong Branch as President 2003-2007, Treasurer 2009-2018, made Honorary Life Member in 2017, Branch representative on Geelong Heritage Centre Advisory Committee and Osborne House Committee 2004-2018. Jan’s involvement with National Council of Women of Victoria Inc. includes Treasurer 2004-2007, on the Executive as Geelong Branch President 2003-2006 and continues as an active delegate. Jan served as National Council of Women of Australia - Board Co-ordinator of Standing Committees, 2006-07, and attended International Council of Women Conferences in Perth, 2003, and Rabat, Morocco, in 2005, also many NCWA conferences in Australia.                             Anne Parton, NCWV and Geelong Branch member
Johanna Hayter AO - Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia, 2018 "For distinguished service to women in the areas of gender equality and individual rights through leadership and policy development roles and promotion of global health, peace and security". Johanna is former head of International Women's Development Agency (IWDA) and a NCWV guest speaker. 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

May Forum 2018 Report

This Forum, held on May 3, 2018 was chaired by May Hu JP OAM, Coordinator of NCWV Standing Committees, with the Moderator being Elida Brereton, Executive NCWV and Board Member of Hester Hornbrook Academy, who also introduced each guest speaker.

                            Anne McLeish OAM, Dr Allison Cox, Liana Buchanan
Anne McLeish, CEO Grandparents Victoria. ‘Family Rights are being forgotten and need protection.’ Anne stated the importance of grandparents having their voices heard. Grandparents Vic is a member of NCWV.
Grandparents Vic didn’t commence until they worked out what they wanted to say about families. They have become more militant about family rights after spending years listening to family stories. They familiarised themselves with the United Nations Rights of the Child and taught families about their right to be treated with respect and that the rights are for ALL children and families on our shores.
In 2013 Kinship Carers Vic hosted a meeting in London, UK. It was attended by 15 representatives from seven organisations and countries. The Rights of the Child was breached in all of those countries, particularly in relation to poverty. E.g. Grandparents using super funds to raise grandchildren. Poverty is far worse in other countries. E.g. Foundation in New York to address poverty in African Kinship Caring.
In Victoria there is insufficient representation for children. E.g. children less than 10 years of age lost the right to representation in court. When Grandparents Victoria protested they were advised that DHS would do this. Research by a lawyer found that this isn’t happening. Furthermore, parents are being separated from children ‘too bluntly’. There is insufficient support to keep families together. This is a breach of family rights.
There are Federal and State campaigns to stop the use of cashless welfare as Anne believes it’s flawed.
60% of out of home care is kinship caring. DHS closes cases too early. Liana Buchanan added that adoption should not be rushed into from out of home care. Adoption needs much more information for parents and the rights of the child must be central.
Dr Allison Cox, child psychotherapist and occupational therapist. Berry St Director of Take 2 Program for traumatised children.  Berry St began in 1877, initiated by women who decided that young, pregnant women needed support. The majority left Berry St with their babies. Nonetheless, Berry St did also promote adoption, especially in the 1960s-70s.
Take 2 was established in 2004 to provide therapeutic services for abused children. Its aim is to achieve physical and emotional safety for children via work on attachment. This is because trauma is most often caused by primary carers. In 2015/16 there were 13,000 children in out of home care across Australia. 36% of them were indigenous. Intergenerational trauma is very difficult to stop.
48.8% of children referred to Berry St are impacted by family violence. It increases in likelihood with the age of the child. Nevertheless, decision makers have great difficulty believing that babies are violated and affected by it. Trauma occurs when a person is overwhelmed by experience(s) so that internal and external resources are insufficient to cope.  Children are impacted by lack of buffers, e.g., having to change schools. The younger the onset of trauma, the longer it lasts. Normal responses to threat are fight, flight and freeze. These are not available to repeatedly traumatised children. Berry St works with children to buffer adversity. It provides resources such as being a part of a community, an extended family and playing sport.
Liana Buchanan, Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People: ‘Human Rights in the home: Children’s rights to safety, care and protection.’ Australia ratified the UN Rights of the Child 28 years ago. Liana’s role is as an oversight to children’s services. This includes enquiries about individual children and systemic issues. This is automatic when a child involved with DHS dies. But what happens for children in need of protection? In 5 years there has been a 60% increase in the number of reports, but insufficient resources. This results in a crisis system, and being reactive rather than proactive, where referrals to voluntary services may not be acted on. It’s imperative that early intervention occurs.
There is a massive underestimation of danger to children in family violence. Mothers are often held accountable for keeping children safe when they can’t keep themselves safe. Some kids who are removed get the care they need. Many don’t. Children tell the Commission that they don’t know who to go to if they don’t like their care. They know how hard they can be to live with. In many cases they share concerns for the welfare of their carers and that carers don’t get the support they need. Lots worry that care finishes at 18 years of age. Conditions in residential care are ‘dismaying’, e.g., 400 reports of sexual exploitation of kids out of 420 places, lack of access to clothes, electricity turned off in rooms as punishment. 20% of kids in care are aboriginal when they are only 1% of the general population.

All three speakers were very open in stating the facts. Anne McLeish recommended a statewide symposium, with all relevant organisations and politicians included, to come up with positive recommendations. This was supported by Liana.  NCWV plan for this symposium to be linked to other NCWV Respect projects, particularly troubled youth.

Hon Dr Sharman Stone article for MV MV 2017

Hon Dr Sharman Stone, Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls.  
Article included in the 2017 My Vote My Voice Program

                                                             Dr. Sharman Stone
Any discussion about achieving gender equality in political representation, or women’s economic empowerment, or the elimination of gender based violence, is a most important conversation to have. As the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, I work to try to facilitate these outcomes, in particular in the Indo Asia Pacific region, but also at home.
Achieving gender equality is essential from a human rights perspective. Being born a girl should not mean she has diminished life chances. But research also shows that there is an increase in an economy’s productivity when women are educated and participate more equitably in the workforce. Shareholder value also increases when there is greater gender equality and diversity on a corporate board or in senior management. The U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security has also stressed the critical contributions of women and women’s organisations in conflict prevention, resolution and peace building.
In order to see Australian women and men equally sharing the policy making, resource allocation, responsibilities and bounties of our nation, we need to know why women experience a 15% pay gap for same work as men, are likely to have less than half of men’s superannuation at retirement, are hugely underrepresented as senior managers, CEOs and Board members in the private sector, are less than 15% of our Defence Forces, under 30% in our parliaments, are not evenly distributed in our highest earner or most commended lists and are under-represented in our media.
We are often told that not enough women: “put their hands up”, or know how to negotiate for higher pay or promotions, they talk too much or too little. Some women take time off to have babies, so they are less work-place committed and reliable, they are preoccupied juggling family and work, women don’t network well and are not connected into the most influential networks, women who crash through glass ceilings pull up the ladder behind them and measures such as quotas or reserved places for women or minorities will “dumb down” or destroy our “meritocracies” Catherine Fox in her recent book decries the notion that it is women who are to blame, as she systematically debunks the stereotypes and myths. (Stop Fixing Women: Why Building fairer workplaces is everybody’s business. Newsouth, 2017) She refers to all the research now completed: “… the great boon of having so much data available is that it makes it harder to argue that gender imbalance is simply the result of inherent deficiencies, or individual choices about jobs and caring”, (Stop Fixing Women p.116}. 

We need to abandon the deficit theories about why most women fail to be as successful as most men and instead strive to grow a more just society and a more productive, capable workforce. To do this we need men, as well as women to embrace and champion the cause. That requires many candid conversations.                                                                                                       24.08.2017

Key Address Michelle Richards MVMV 2017

Pam Robinson OAM, Past President and Life Member ALGWA and Michelle Richards, Fire Recovery Coordinator (Moorabool & City of Ballarat), Keynote Speaker at the 2017 My Vote My Voice event, Parliament of Victoria
I would like to thank the National Council of Women for inviting me to take part in this prestigious event and I’d also like to thank Councillor Edwards from Moorabool Shire Council for supporting me here today. I feel tremendously honoured and excited to have the opportunity to speak with our next generation of leaders today and I hope that my story will inspire each of you to strive towards being the best person that you can be, both professionally and personally.
I grew up in the small town of Creswick, which is just outside Ballarat and recently I was visiting at my parents’ house when my Mum dug out this piece of paper from my grade 6 graduation which detailed what each of we students wanted to be when we grew up. To my horror, mine said when Michelle grows up… she wants to be a biscuit. Obviously, my career prospects were looking pretty bleak at that stage.
Thankfully, at the age of 17 I was lucky enough to pick up a business traineeship with the State Government Department of Regional Development, Victoria and afterwards progressed into the role of Grampians Region Project Officer. From there I moved into a community development role with the Northern Grampians Shire Council. It was there that I discovered my true passion for working with communities to build their capacity to function on their own at high levels.
I can remember the exact moment that my true career path became clear to me. It was in St Arnaud, where a small group of community and council staff had gathered for a ministerial announcement. The announcement was for funding that I had recently acquired which was for security lighting at the Queen Mary Gardens to deter vandals from defacing the Gardens that the committee worked so hard to maintain. The committee of the Gardens was beside themselves with joy at the news. So much so that when the Minister made the announcement the President of the committee let out a whimper… and fainted.
Now that is probably the smallest grant I have acquired throughout my career, but that moment will stay with me forever as it demonstrates that sometimes what we might perceive as having the smallest of significance is in fact of the upmost importance to the community.
After my position at NGS, I moved between State Government departments. At DEECD I managed pre-accredited program delivery and even did a stint at the Supreme Court as a Jury Manager. I commenced my role with Moorabool Shire Council in 2013 and have had some fantastic opportunities to develop myself professionally. In 2014 I managed the community leadership program, in 2015 I commenced my Masters Degree in Business and for the past two years I have been managing the community recovery for the Scotsburn Fires for both Moorabool and the City of Ballarat.
It is important to note that I have also faced many challenges in my career. I have been discriminated against, told that I was not good enough for a position and I’ve even had my personal brand threatened for questioning an internal process. I was once told by someone that an MBA was too advanced a study path for me. I’m now delighted to say that this year I won the 2017 ALGWA Bursary, which is awarded to an aspiring female leader in local government studying at university. I’m also proud to say that I’m on track to complete my MBA in two months and I’ve also achieved a Grade Point Average of 7 (high distinction).
Whenever someone tells me I’m not good enough, or that I can’t do something… it just fires my determination to prove them wrong. No one can determine your own self-worth but YOU.  I will always challenge the status quo, I will never standby and allow myself or others to be treated poorly and I will strive to inspire others in their own personal journey to success.
Throughout every job I’ve ever had I’ve been fortunate to have been mentored by some very strong women. These women have acted as key supporters, taking the time to encourage and inspire me and to develop my leadership skills, paving the way for me to follow in their footsteps. It is as a direct credit to those women that I can celebrate my successes to date. And I say to date because there are still plenty more to come.

Thank you for listening to my story and I look forward to hearing your take on the Victorian Local Governments Women’s Charter’s three principles. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Intergenerational Feminist Meeting, Dr Deborah Towns

Graduate House recently hosted the Melba Group’s meeting, convened by Jenny Standish. It brought together women leaders from many spheres of influence in the Victorian community who were from different generations. The Melba Group’s first meetings were held in the 1980s and members continue to focus on activities bringing about social and cultural change for women. Two members, Lynne Selwood and Kay Oke, were congratulated as recent recipients of Queen’s Birthday Honours. However, Jan Harper explained that women continue to be underrepresented in the national honours system.  She introduced a plan to nominate more women to be considered for future honours awards.
A special guest was University High School’s past student Sara Draca who won the Pat Goble Award for her speech at the My Vote My Voice event in 2016 conducted by the National Council of Women of Victoria (NCWV) at the Parliament of Victoria. She was presented with the Award by Dr Deborah Towns, vice-president of the League of Women Voters, Victoria (LWVV) which funds the award and Sheila Byard, immediate past-president of NCWV. The award honours the late Pat Goble, who was a local, national and international human rights activist. Sara’s notable speech was eloquent and thought provoking and she shared a summary with the Melba Group’s members. 
Sara described how today we live in a world where feminism can be commodified; it can be a t-shirt with a feminist logo, made by mistreated workers, and packaged and sold to us as a commodity. ‘Feminism’ she said, has been stripped of its radical and progressive roots’. She added, ‘corporate feminism - ‘if such a thing exists’ -has never truly helped them.’ Reflecting on feminist activism Sara advised, ‘I think, on our own small scale, it’s quite easy to be productive; all I ask is that you are always conscious as a feminist. That means critiquing your own actions, critiquing those of the feminists around you, and never ever settling for the ‘lesser evil’. For me, solidarity is the only way forward-to take care of the people around you, like those who don’t have the same privileges as you do. We need to open ourselves to new perspectives and critical thinking.’ Sara explained how honoured she was to participate in My Vote My Voice.
Now we are looking forward to this year’s My Vote My Voice, organised by the NCWV to be held on Friday 1 September, in the inspirational Legislative Council Chamber. Then we will be privileged to hear from secondary students from government and non-government schools. Responses will be provided by a panel representing the Australian Local Government’s Women’s Association, Victoria. It’s another opportunity for current and future community leaders to engage with feminist ideas and activities designed to bring about greater leadership opportunities for women.