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