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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 4 March 2004) . . Page.. 760 ..

The people elected to government are there to represent the views and needs of those who elected them. To achieve this it is imperative that elected representatives reflect and are inclusive of the whole community. Women make up just over half of the population. It is vital that they are encouraged and supported to participate and contribute at all levels in the community and, in particular, as part of decision-making bodies.

The leadership of any organisation or group is enhanced by a diversity of styles and approaches. This applies to issues of governance. Any system dominated by a narrow spectrum of the community will always be limited in the extent to which the full range of interests and perspectives can be represented and progressed.

International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to look at the work of women at a local, national and international level. Locally, on Monday we will recognise and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women in the ACT with the presentation of the ACT International Women’s Day awards. These awards will provide an opportunity for the community to celebrate and highlight the often invisible and taken-for-granted achievements and contributions of our local women.

It was great to see last year the large number of women recognised for their dedicated contributions to our community. Take for instance the late Betty Searle. Betty was a foundation member of the first women’s liberation group in Sydney and was involved with several community groups including the Older Australians Advisory Council, ACT Women’s Consultative Council, the Older Women’s Network—as President from 1993 to 1996—and the National Older Women’s Network. Betty encouraged others, especially older women, to participate in community affairs and pursue the cause of justice.

Other 2003 award recipients included Estrella Chau-Pongsupath, who was recognised for her community volunteer work and her involvement with the ACT Multicultural Council; Linda Crebbin, for her commitment to the legal profession and the community services sector and her involvement with the Women’s Lawyers’ Association, the Conflict Resolution Service and the Domestic Violence prevention Council’s Criminal Justice Subcommittee; and Ann Proctor, who has shown leadership and inspired others to strive for excellence in community services, education and training at the Canberra Institute of Technology for almost 20 years. Not only have these women made a significant contribution to our community but their example also encourages others to get involved in the community.

Last year also saw the presentation of the inaugural Community Award. This award recognises that, in order to enhance the status of women, we need to work together as a community. It recognises a person or organisation that has made a substantial contribution to improving the quality of life of women in the ACT.

Appropriately, Females in Fitness was the 2003 Community Award recipient. FIT was recognised for its all-women’s training program and its important and unique contribution to girls and women of all ages. I look forward to this year’s awards presentation and am sure that, once again, outstanding women and organisations will be recognised on the day.

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