Monday, 19 September 2016

Towards equality in local government

NCW Victoria’s partnership with the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) Victoria in the annual My Vote My Voice program for school students at the Parliament of Victoria, has its origin in a report on Intergenerational Issues prepared by Cr Coral Ross after her return from a trip to Canada. 

ALGWA runs a nationally accredited program called the 5050 vision for gender equality. Cr Coral Ross now , National President, Australian Local Government Women’s Association says … the program is designed to encourage Australian councils to improve gender equity both within the organisation and among the elected representatives. It can be accessed by all councils, regardless of their size, location or progress on gender equity. Councils from across Australia have registered for the program, which have three levels: bronze, silver and gold. 

Councils needed to do a number of things to achieve the Gender Equity Awards. These included a commitment in the corporate policy; policies and strategies to demonstrate commitment, plus actions, and a project which has addressed gender equity issues. Councils also needed to supply gender ratios, which will provide an up-to-date picture of local government. The entire program is strongly based on resource sharing and networking. Last year at our State of the Nation” conference in Barossa, a number of councils showcased the projects they had implemented. Among the featured councils were Devonport City Council in Tasmania; Broken Hill City Council in NSW; Central Highlands Regional Council in Queensland; City of Ryde in Sydney; Holroyd City Council in South Australia and Darwin City Council in the Northern Territory. The contract with LGAQ, who were the 5050 project coordinators, finished in December. Last year the ALGWA Board agreed to take over the program and are in the process of finalising the changeover. 

Today 31.58% of Australian councillors are women. NSW has the lowest percentage of female councillors at 27%. Leading the country is the Northern Territory with 36%, closely followed by Victoria on 34%. In March, Queensland moved into third place with 32.5%, Western Australia is just behind on 31.6%, Tasmania is at 31% and South Australia is the only other state below 30% with 29%.Those States which have a higher proportion of women councillors in turn have a higher number of female Mayors and female CEOs/General Managers. Our data proves having women at the table makes a difference in selecting a woman. Last year in Victoria 35% of Mayors were women, 34% in the Northern Territory compared to 19% in NSW. More than a quarter of the CEOs/General Managers in the Northern Territory are women and 17% in Victoria compared to 7% in NSW.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Where are the women?

The Women’s Leadership Institute Australia is based at the University of Melbourne. Carol Schwartz AM Founding Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute, recalls that she had asked a conference of business leaders in 1990 “Where are the women?” In 2015, speaking about the women who are more than half of the graduates in law, medicine, economics and humanities she asked again why high achieving women are not seen on a basis of equality in leadership roles in government, corporate boardrooms, universities and other institutions?

Australia’s involvement with the International Council of Women-CIF began 120 years ago, initially in Sydney, and since then NCW Australia and the Councils of Women in the States and Territories have adopted a partnership approach to challenge the barriers that prevent women from having equal opportunity to achieve, advocating more equal participation of men and women in public life and leadership roles, both in Australia and internationally. The Women’s Leadership Institute Australia notes Creating equal opportunity for women to reach leadership positions is a complex equation that requires deep cultural change. However as WLIA suggests one element in creating change will be achieving the equal recognition of women in the Australian Honours system.

National Council of Women in Victoria has been attentive to the need to find ways in which attention can be drawn to women’s achievement for example through nominations to the Victorian Honour Roll Women’s since it began in 2001. The VHRW records the achievements of almost six hundred women leaders whose work had impacted for good in many fields in Victoria, Australia & beyond.

As a way of educating our members about ways in the way such achievements could be better recognized, from 2004-2009, NCW Victoria used its Dame Phyllis Frost Award program identify individuals who had made a significant contribution to the enhancement of the status of women and girls in Victoria, had shown long term commitment to such a cause or causes, and made an especially significant voluntary contribution above and beyond that required in the nominee’s employment.

Our July 2016 Council meeting has been designed to enable members to gain a better an understanding of the Australian Honours system with presenter and Melba Group member Jenny Standish. The challenge set out in the Melba Groups Awards Training Program is Aim personally to nominate one woman every year.

Learn more about Advancing Women:

Women and the Order of Australia (2011) Available as a PDF from

Women’s Leadership Institute Australia

Victorian Honour Roll for Women
To be notified when nominations open in mid-2016,
For general enquiries please call Anushka Restuccia on 9651 1032

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Women, Faith Communities, Family Violence

Since the Royal Commission on Family Violence delivered its lengthy report at the end of March, the community has been slowly coming to terms with what is involved in implementation of the more than 200 recommendations, including measures to enable victims to remain safely in the family home. Part of the report that hasn’t had much publicity so far relates to the role of the religious organisations a number of which have had long involvement with NCW Victoria. 

Yet as the report says “Faith leaders and organisations have direct and influential contact with many members of the Victorian community, and their guidance and intervention are often sought when family violence is being experienced” As a body that brings together women of diverse backgrounds, NCW Victoria needs to be attentive to the RCFV recommendations specific to faith communities. We have been following with interest for some years now the Think Act program initiated by Dr Ree Bodde of Anglicans Helping to Prevent Violence against Women. This program has been acknowledged as an excellent model of the way that building a culture of equal and respectful relationships can work in organisations and local churches, signalling the way primary prevention can reduce the prevalence of violence.

Now the RCFV having met with leaders from faith groups - including Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian groups such as Anglican, Catholic, UCA and some Orthodox communities - has recommended that the OMAC (Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship) Multifaith Advisory Group and the Victorian Multicultural Commission, to develop training packages on family violence and sexual assault for faith leaders and communities within three years; That the Department of Health and Human Services consult with the OMAC Multifaith Advisory Group, the VMC and women from faith communities as part of its review of standards for specialist family violence service providers (including men’s behaviour change programs), to ensure that these standards take account of the needs of people in faith communities who experience FV within two years; and that faith leaders and communities establish processes for examining the ways in which they currently respond to family violence in their communities and whether any of their practices operate as deterrents to the prevention or reporting of, or recovery from, family violence or are used by perpetrators to excuse or condone abusive behaviour.

There seems to be limited data on the prevalence of family violence in particular faith communities; however it is agreed that such violence is causing concern among those communities and their leaders… As the RCFV report noted “Spiritual abuse and the use of faith to support or condone violence are concerns in some communities”. 

(We acknowledge the report on this topic prepared by Mark Brolly for The Melbourne Anglican

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

My Vote My Voice – The Right to Vote, the Right to Stand, Friday 12th August 2016

 My Vote My Voice August 2015 

PhotographerSophie Nowicka

This is an invitation from National Council of Women Victoria for students to take apart in our annual My Vote My Voice event run by Young NCWVic. Here is your chance to make a brief presentation on ‘The Right to vote; the right to stand – the involvement of women in local government in Victoria’ in Legislative Council Chamber, Parliament of Victoria on Friday 12 August 2016. 

Our 2016 event is designed to encourage students to investigate the level of participation of women in the community, particularly local government, past, present and future. The Australian Local Government Women’s Association has provided copies of ‘The Right to vote; the right to stand – the involvement of women in local government in Victoria’, for each participating school, to help students in their research. 

Students are invited to make three minute presentations on the 2016 theme, to the invited audience of students, community members and a panel of ALGWA members.

Although places are limited, we would welcome up to 6 students from your school, with no more than 3 to speak, and accompanying staff or parents to attend. We have arranged the half day program with on-arrival refreshments and photographs from 8.30 am, then students and guests will move to the Legislative Council Chamber for a program of speeches, student presentations and panel comments that will conclude at 12 noon. We hope some of your students will be able to attend on August 12th. 

Further details and photographs are available on the YoungNCWVic facebook page Students from participating schools and their teachers are encouraged to send some information about their preparation for the event via Young NCWV’s blog 

Please register your school group as soon as possible, not later than noon on not later than noon on Friday 15 July. via 
For further information, ph: 9421 1602/ 0447 351 234. 

My Vote My Voice 2016 has the support of the President of the Legislative Council, and the Education and Community Engagement Unit, Parliament of Victoria; Australian Local Government Women’s Association(Victoria), the League of Women Voters Bessie Rischbieth Trust and the Victorian Electoral Commission see: website       facebook     twitter

Volunteers - Let’s hear it for us

National Volunteer Week 2016 is 9-15 May gives us a chance to congratulate ourselves for our voluntary work and to thank others who willingly donate ‘time and talents’, service and skills, for the benefit of others, without being paid.

For National Councils of Women across Australia, and for our affiliated organizations, volunteering is what makes our work possible.  However staff in some enterprises seem rather dismissive of volunteers, and people from other countries seem to find our willingness to volunteer a strange thing to do.

One way or another, volunteering still seems a very Australian thing to do. From the 2010 Census, it appeared that 38% of women aged 18 years and over were volunteers compared to 34% of men. And Regional Australians (41%) were more likely to volunteer than Australians who lived in major cities (34%). While all capital cities have high volunteering rates compared to other parts of the world, Darwin shows the greatest percentage of volunteers (43%).

Willingly giving time to do work for an organisation or community group, on an unpaid basis, can be rewarding for individuals, young or old.

However care needs to be taken that the relationship between the volunteers and those they help, especially the organisations where they make their contribution, is based on mutual respect and common understandings about the work that is to be shared.

In this issue of NCW Victoria News we are featuring material from the Volunteering Victoria a great resource both for organisations looking to encourage volunteers, and for individuals considering becoming volunteers together with some fresh volunteering opportunity for you with NCW Victoria.

Ending Violence

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence has completed its task in a year and a month. The documents in eight volumes, total about 2,000 pages, and the RCFV website warns not to attempt to print the report using home office equipment.

Not surprisingly a number of our affiliates were at the read over provided to stakeholders on Wednesday 30 March. We were pleased to have secured a place at the briefing and that our Gauri Kapoor was able to be our representative.

We understand that the Victorian Government is bringing forward the State Budget to avoid a clash with the Federal Budget, and that a specific Women’s section will be part of the Budget, with elements to begin to address the recommendations of the Royal Commission. We also know that Rosie Batty has accepted the role of Chair of the Victorian Advisory Committee to oversee the roll out of Victoria’s response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

The report is a very big read, and we are thankful that Grandparents Victoria has been kind enough to provide for us their two page summary of the matters addressed in the recommendations, and gives one some confidence that the recommendations might go some distance to resolving the complex problem that is Family Violence. The submission made by NCW Victoria, while recognizing that this type of violence can occur right across the community, stressed our awareness of the difficulties faced by women and children of diverse background, and the RCFV report appears to propose approaches and timeframes to address these issues.

The most hopeful sign is found in the 30 March media release from Georgie Crozier MP, Shadow Minister for Prevention of Family Violence & Shadow Minister for Women - Implementing these recommendations will clearly require significant additional funding. We cannot afford to waste another year. No Victorian should have to live in fear or grow up in an abusive home. The Liberal Nationals Coalition and Labor have a bipartisan approach to dealing with family violence and supporting victims and we are confident that the proper implementation of key recommendations will see improved outcomes.

Students Awards at Parliament House

On Monday 29 February 2016, students, guests and NCW Vic members came to the Legislative Council Committee Room, Parliament of Victoria, to present awards from the 2015 program and to talk about the 2016 My Vote My Voice theme.

Our host the Hon. Bruce Atkinson, President of Legislative Council, spoke to open the event and spoke about struggle for recognition of the right to vote and to stand for local government in Victoria. It was and it is challenging for women standing for local council. However, we can see now that there are more women elected to council and there will be even more in the future.

NCW Victoria Youth Adviser, Sarah Morgan, introduced students who were there to receive NCWV Civic and Citizenship Awards as individuals and school teams. Victoria Waid (Academy of Mary Immaculate), Diya John (St Monica’s College in 2015, now at Mac.Robertson Girls High School) and Rachel Rockman from Methodist Ladies College were individual awardees; and University High School, Melbourne Girls’ Grammar School and Ruyton Girls’ College were school awardees.

It was also exciting to hear from a young MP Joshua Bull, Member for Sunbury. He congratulated the 2015 Awardees and presented the Civic and Citizenship Award certificates and envelopes to the students and schools. Victoria Waid now a law student responded on behalf of the Award recipients.

After refreshments Diya John was part of the panel and talked about how she became a more confident speaker. Diya was a lead speaker at the 2015 ‘My Vote My Voice’ Beijing +20 event. She is now heading to New York for a week for this year's meeting of the UN Commission on Status of Women thanks to the assistance of NCW.

Other speakers on the panel were Cr Coral Ross, President of Australia Local Government Women’s Association, Dr Deborah Towns, University of Melbourne, and Pam Hammond, NCW Victoria. The 2016 theme is Women in Local Government: Past, present, future.

Report supplied by YoungNCWVic member and media intern, Yvette Wang.
Photographer: Sophie Nowicka

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

55th Annual Women’s Australia Day Ceremony

On Thursday 21 January, the National Council of Women of Victoria held their 55th Annual Women’s Australia Day Ceremony at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden. This was a free event, honouring women pioneers or ‘firsts and forerunners’.

This year’s speaker was Dr Liz Rushen of the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University, speaking on Frances Perry ’s legacy at the Royal Women’s Hospital. Frances Perry 1814-1892

Have you visited the Garden? Not far from the Myer Music Bowl, this cool space was created in 1935 by public donation as part of Melbourne's centenary celebrations, to commemorate women’s contribution to the city and the state. (Melway map reference 2G B5)

Over the years, many high achieving women have spoken at this annual Women’s Australia Day event, from Dame Margaret Blackwood and Dame Phyllis Frost through to May Hu, Senior Producer, Mandarin Program, SBS Radio (2011), Tania Chapman, 2012 RIRDC Victorian Rural Woman of the Year, Mildura citrus grower and Chair of Citrus Australia (2013) and Professor Kim Rubenstein on trailblazing women and the law (2014).

Download Dr Liz Rushen's Paper which was delivered at the the Australia Day Women's Ceremony

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

‘Respectable Radicals’ the history of National Council of Women of Australia

‘Respectable Radicals’ the history of National Council of Women of Australia is now on sale in all good bookshops. RRP $39.95.
We congratulate authors  Marian Quarterly and Judith Smart, and History Committee led by Leonie Christopherson AM, on the birth of Respectable Radicals: A History of the National Council of Women of Australia, 1896-2006. We hope to see coverage of our story in mainstream media, newspapers and relevant radio programs.  The book has its own webpage.

For much of the twentieth century, the National Council of Women of Australia was the peak body representing women to government in Australia, and through the International Council of Women, to the world. This history of NCWA tells the story of mainstream feminism in Australia, of the long struggle for equality at home and at work which is still far from achieved. In these days when women can no longer be imagined as speaking with one voice, and women as a group have no ready access to government, we still need something of the optimistic vision of the leaders of NCWA. Respectable in hat and gloves to the 1970s and beyond, they politely persisted with the truly radical idea that women the world over should be equal with men .Respectable Radicalsis being launched by Professor Marilyn Lake on 11 October as part of the NCWA Triennial Conference.