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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 10 March 2011) . . Page.. 781 ..

Each of these achievements should be celebrated in their own right. These large gains inspire women and demonstrate what can be achieved. As a Green, I take a holistic view and, when contemplating International Women’s Day, naturally think of my sisters around the globe—the women in Africa who still suffer female genital mutilation, those in the Middle East who fear honour killing and endure arranged marriages—and closer to home, those of our first people, some of whom live in communities that lack opportunities for their young and services for all.

Globally women still face abuse, violence and oppression. They are also overwhelmingly the carers, caring for the children, the disabled and sick and the elderly. Perhaps this is why there is also such hope, because when we support women, particularly in the developing world, it is estimated that, for every woman we support, she brings four others with her. Care Australia’s walk in her shoes program to educate girls to empower them from poverty demonstrates that women have the ability to be capacity makers and change makers; they are resourceful and resilient.

International aid agencies and community groups world wide provide millions of hours of work, often unpaid, to assist in improving the lives of women, providing essential healthcare, freedom from violence and a vehicle to have their voices heard. On occasions this work is totally transformative.

I instance the local women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, cited as the most dangerous place in the world, a place where 70 per cent of women have experienced rape and now the children of rape are enduring the same. Despite such extreme violence, aid workers risk their life to improve the lives of women and children.

Last night, I was very pleased to be able to host a screening of the Care Australia documentary, A Powerful Noise. This documentary explores the work of three women working against what most would see as insurmountable odds to improve their communities, including those ravaged by war, HIV/Aids and the lack of educational opportunities for girls.

In Australia there are thousands of women, a considerable number working as volunteers, that really deserve recognition and praise. And while I cannot name them all, I note their tireless and passionate work across sectors, particularly the community sector. One example is Liz Mullinar, a true survivor, herself sexually abused as a child. She sold her very successful casting agency, pouring all her resources into a centre for healing, Mayumarri in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. And Mayumarri now boasts three healing centres, one specifically for children, another for young women. And this is a place where survivors of abuse can heal for a nominal fee per week to cover food, and it is staffed totally by survivors.

One of the reasons I am passionate about supporting the community sector is that successful programs actually prevent much larger costs, both financial and social, in other areas such as the acute health sector, particularly mental health, and the justice system. I noted some interesting statistics on the Mayumarri website and they were that almost 80 per cent of people suffering depression have suffered abuse, 92 per cent of heroin addicts have suffered trauma and 94 per cent of amphetamine users have suffered trauma.

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