Sunday, 4 October 2015

My Vote My Voice – Beijing + 20 event at the Parliament of Victoria: How are we progressing towards gender equality?

Message received from Natasha Stott Despoja AM
Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls

Twenty y ears ago at the landmark Beijing World Conference on Women, 189 countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for gender equality. 1995 was a highpoint in international cooperation to secure commitments to women’s rights; we have not seen such an unequivocal statement of support for women and girls since.

However, in no area of women’s participation in economic or public life have we achieved what we aspired to in 1995. In no area of women’s and girls’ safety - at home, in places of work, or learning, or in situations of conflict - can we say our work is done.

We are marking this 20th anniversary in a spirit of both celebration and sober reflection. While we applaud the many gains made in 1995, and since, we also realise that we have a long way to go. 

Throughout this year, Australia has been working hard with other countries to ensure the progress we have achieved is not rolled back. I am encouraged that Australia’s efforts on the international stage are reflected in national programs of action, too, like “My Voice, My Vote” at the Parliament of Victoria. 

It is great to see young women reviewing progress made towards gender equality over the past twenty years and charting the path ahead. I can’t think of a more promising, untapped resource than the world’s young women. And there is no one better equipped to shape the future than the young leaders of today.

I commend you, and your schools, on participating in this important event; and I congratulate the National Council of Women of Victoria and the event sponsors for arranging this program.

The world cannot afford to wait another twenty years to achieve the goals we set in Beijing, and we look to our young women to take up this challenge, to build momentum to make the Beijing Platform for Action a reality.

I hope today’s event inspires you all to continue the work you are doing in your communities, your schools and beyond, to achieve gender equality.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Change, it’s a strong word. Change makers even stronger

This is an extract from an article written by Victoria Waid, a Year 12student. She is one of the brilliant young speakers at the NCWV student event My Vote My Voice 2015 at the Parliament of Victoria on Monday Aug. 10.

My name is Victoria Waid, and I am a change maker. My vision is to live in a world where all children can realise their full potential in societies that respect people’s rights and dignity. Change does not come to those that wait. Change happens when you put your heart and soul into everything you do, and everything you're passionate for. It happens when you go out into the world and bring about change.

On 30 September 2014, I had the privilege of representing Girl Guides Victoria and Plan International in Canberra, for the ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign that aims at unleashing the incredible potential of women’s empowerment. To celebrate the 2014 International Day of the Girl, I travelled to Canberra to highlight the importance of leadership for young women and girls and supporting their active participation in political, social, and economic spaces.

Educating and empowering girls to become leaders and change makers in their communities is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty and securing a better world for all. With the Millennium Development Goals finishing and a new set of goals being decided, right now we have a once in a generation opportunity to tell our leaders to put girls front and centre in our development priorities for the next decade and beyond. To do this, Plan Australia supported 25 young female advocates from around Australia, and from Pakistan, to stage a major parliamentary event in Canberra where we presented our call to action. Here, in Canberra, we presented to some of Australia’s top politicians, a book titled ‘Our Book of Ambitions’. This book is the heart and soul of our project. Contained in this book, is our declaration to include children's and women’s rights on the post 2015 agenda. Enclosed in this book, is the voice of Australia, and what they want to see change in the world.

Image courtesy Victoria Waid (centre) with friends, at the Because I am a Girl launch in Canberra, September 2014. Source:, Victoria’s story is also in the Girls Guides Victoria publication GGV Guiding stories:

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Next Generation of Women and Work

Even though there looks to be equality of opportunity in Australian universities and slightly more women than men are completing professional courses, it seems that rates of progress in the professions for male lawyers, doctors and other professionals vary markedly from those for women. Why is this so?

The Future of Work Conference held April 29 - 30 at the University of Melbourne, subtitled ‘People, Place, Technology,’ was a sell-out. Many of the presenters were strong on the need to re-think the idea of workplaces, emphasising the way new technologies lend themselves to virtual workplaces and that entrepreneurial approaches will be a platform for professional advancement in the future.

At the same time sources such as the Australia Graduate Survey suggests that higher proportions of young women than young men are still unemployed in their chosen field four months after completion of their course. In Queensland the current rate for underemployment of women is highest since recording began in 1978.

It is no surprise then that many of our affiliates have begun to look careful at the need for mentoring for the next generation of women seeking to enter a particular profession.

The Victorian Women Lawyers had VEOHR Commissioner Kate Jenkins launch their Flexible Work Protocols. This reminds us that the process of induction into a profession can be more problematic for those who have to overcome barriers of difference.

Volunteer Week is occurring in May and it is timely for us to reflect on the way our volunteering can bring us together with these young people who are taking their first steps on career paths in a world of under employment, and virtual workplaces.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Working together on Family Violence

National Council of Women has welcomed the setting up of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and the appointment of the Honourable Marcia Neave AO as Commissioner in February 2015. Commissioner Neave has been a judge of the Court of Appeal and a professor at three Australian universities. She has always had an interest in the way the law responds to the needs of women, and we recall her work as Chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission which worked on projects including Defences to Homicide, Sexual Offences and Reproductive Technology. Commissioner Neave is being assisted by two part-time Deputy Commissioners, Patricia Faulkner AO and Tony Nicholson.

The Royal Commission’s terms of reference, outlines its objective of reporting early in 2016 on many matters that will foster a violence-free society and to developing practical recommendations for change.

The Royal Commission is currently seeking submissions from anyone directly affected by family violence and from any others whose experiences and ideas may assist the work of the Royal Commission in On March 31st the Commission released an Issues Paper to help guide individuals and organisations wishing to lodge a written submission. The Issues Paper includes a definition of family violence, and a brief summary of what is currently known about family violence and what has been done so far, including themes and questions to assist writers to provide valuable information about what works, what doesn’t work and what improvements should be made across the family violence system.

Written submissions are just one of the ways in which the Royal Commission is gathering views and information. It will also be examining more detailed questions through its research, site visits, community engagement activities and public hearings 

Stop Press: For the April 10 announcement, with information about the five Community Consultations in Metro Melbourne and across Victoria starting on April 20, and for other information, please go to the Royal Commission’s website at

The Royal Commission invites individuals and organisations to make submissions and lodge them by Friday, 29 May 2015. Anyone with questions about the submissions process or who requires assistance to make a submission, should call 1800 365 100 or send an email to If you would like to speak to the Commission in a language other than English, call 03 9321 5499. Or write to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, PO Box 535 Flinders Lane VIC 8009

We have formed the view that the very tight timelines for the lodging of submissions may well disadvantage those without access to high speed internet. The NCWV 2015 Forum on Thursday May 7th at 10 – 11.30 am will focus on HOW and WHAT to submit to the Royal Commission on Family Violence. Please join us on that morning if you would like to be better informed on the issues paper and on what will be included in the National Council of Women of Victoria submission.There are a limited number of places available, so please register by email by April 25th.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Our 2015 theme is 'Working together'

‘Working together’our theme for 2015 has to be the foundation of any real attempt to address the epidemic of violence in our society. At the March 5th Council meeting we had an opportunity to reflect on the capacity of faith based organisations to promote a more respectful society with speaker Dr Ree Boddé, Program Director for the Prevention of Violence against Women - an initiative of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne has been involved in an effective education program that has men and women working together for reform.

International Women’s Day events across Australia through March made reference to the 20th anniversary of the 4th World Conference of Women in Beijing in 1995. The review process reached its peak in New York at the UN Commission on the Status of Women CSW59/Beijing+20 (2015) from 9 to 20 March. Now representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are on their way back to their home countries.

What are the elements of the Beijing Platform for Action from 1995 that remain important today.What progress has been made? Critical area of concern in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action included 4: Violence against Women. At the Melbourne UN Women Breakfast on March 3rd, Board Member Catherine Walker told the guests that a major problem is still Critical Area 7: Women in power and decision making. Fewer than 20% of parliamentarians worldwide are women, and in our region only 1 in 15 MPs are women. The panel of speakers reflected on situation for women in our region twenty years after the Beijing Conference:In Samoa 70% of women have experienced violence; however next year a number of seats in the Parliament will be reserved for women. At the same event Irene Santiago, Philippines Peace Commission, commented that one sign of progress over the 20 years has been the bringing of women’s voices to the UN Security Council from the time SC Resolution 1325 and now countries are gradually adopting National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security as Australia and the Philippines have done. 

How to get the idea across? One great example is Emma Watson’s speech on “He For She” and this was subject of a post written by Yvette Wang for the blog to promoting our student event 'My Vote My Voice' now rescheduled for August 10 2015.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Our 2014 theme was ‘Young people our future’

Following discussion through December and January, especially after the announcement of the Hon Justice Marcia Neave AO to head the Royal Commission into Family Violence, we will be focussing on’ Working Together’. ‘Working together’ has to be the foundation of any real attempt to address the epidemic of violence in our society: men and women together, the old and young together, agencies together, in a holistic approach to reduce the impact of violence. 

Some of the things we’ll be working on in 2015:
  • Continuing our attention to child and family issues, progress for woman and girls especially in progress for the world – beginning with Pioneer Women’s Garden event: How well does the machinery for parental and career support including government programs based on Dr Vera Scantlebury Brown’s pioneering work, still function in a more diverse society.
  • The 20th anniversary of the 4th World Conference of Women in Beijing in 1995 – the review process in New York in the Autumn and the actual 20th anniversary in our Spring (August/September) – this helps us link our concerns with wider media coverage on the anniversary. The question has to be which of the elements of the Beijing Platform for Action from 1995 still resonate today.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Special 2015 Event for Students at Parliament House!

Our ‘My Voice, My Vote’, Beijing + 20  event at the Parliament of Victoria will be on Thursday 26th March 2015 – Date to be confirmed

Young NCWVic is a group of young members of National Council of Women of Victoria. Our 2015 event will be held close to International Women’s Day and will celebrate 2015 being the 20th anniversary of the 4th World Conference of Women held in Beijing, China. (See )

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Annual Luncheon - Thursday December 4 2014

At this time of the year we pause, in the company of colleagues and friends, looking forward to the summer break and reflecting  on the successes - and failures perhaps - of our year’s work. Sadly as the three reports in this newsletter on ending violence in the community show, there is still work to be done when we return refreshed in the New Year.

We are honoured to have with us at the luncheon, our Patron in Chief, Mrs Elizabeth Chernov, wife of the Governor of Victoria, the Hon Alex Chernov.

The guest speaker is Elida Brereton FACE FACEL whose topic is ‘Adventures Along the Silk Road’.

Our fund raising at the Luncheon is generously supported by our affiliated organisations who have contributed to the table centre pieces forming a ‘Display of Festive Baskets of many nations’. Guests are encouraged to move round the room to look at the baskets and greet those at other tables.

Generous members and friends have helped us ensure that  a quarter of those in attendance are the young women who have helped our umbrella organisation during 2014 as volunteers, interns, Advisers and as members of short term working groups like the YoungNCWVic group who are preparing for the 2015 My Vote My Voice event in March as our contribution to International Women’s Day celebrations.

There is also an opportunity for donations to be made to support the Purple House Social Enterprise, health promotion projects of the Western Desert NWPT Aboriginal Corporation. Those of us who visited Alice Springs for the NCWA Mid-Term conference in May were able to visit the Purple House in Alice Springs, winner of the Ethical Enterprise Award in 2013. It is a non-government, not-for-profit, indigenous governed health organisation, established when Western Desert people who knew the need for remote area renal dialysis and health promotion programs, decided to ignore the lack of encouragement by the NT  and the Australian Government and raise their own funds.

See for further information.

Mrs Elizabeth Chernov lunches at Angliss

Mrs Elizabeth Chernov, wife of Victoria's Governor His Excellency the Honourable Mr Alex Chernov, attended a luncheon at William Angliss Institute.
Mrs Chernov was at the Angliss Restaurant for the Annual Luncheon of the National Council of Women of Victoria, an organisation for which she is the Patron in Chief. The National Council of Women of Victoria is one of the oldest women's organisations in Victoria and aims to encouraging the participation of women in all aspects of community life.
Angliss students prepared and served the luncheon which had a traditional Christmas menu and was held at the on campus Angliss training restaurant.
All in all it was a very successful event, and a great opportunity for Angliss students.

Originally published on the William Angliss Institute website.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Landscapes of Violence

Has there ever been another election in our State when the issue of gender based or family violence has been such an issue?

It is two years since Minister Mary Wooldridge introduced the Victorian Government’s whole of government strategy ‘Ending Violence’  in October 2012, and the member-based women’s and community organisations have worked hard to keep track of the many government and community partnerships for  reducing if not eliminating violence against women and children. What is working and what is not? What more needs to be done?

Focussed research and data collection has to be a key to finding better ways for dealing with what seems to be endemic violence in our community.  This is why the research project Landscapes of Violence: Women Surviving Family Violence in Regional and Rural Victoria’, authored by Amanda George and Dr Bridget Harris at the Deakin University’s Centre for Rural Regional Law and Justice, is really significant.

Landscapes of Violence is being launched on Friday 7 November, 9:45 for 10:00 am, at the Deakin University CBD campus, Level 3, 550 Bourke Street Melbourne and at five rural locations via videoconference: Bendigo, Churchill, Geelong, Mildura, Warrnambool. 

I am delighted to have been asked to speak at the launch along with Dr Patricia Hamilton, President, National Rural Women’s Coalition Ltd. A full report of the findings of the project will be supplied in the next NCWV newsletter.