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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 195 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Helen always worked to the motto:

I am optimistic about the future because futures are made by creating the dream that you wish it to be, and working at getting it there. If you are not going to be optimistic about it, then it is not going to happen.

Everything that Helen put her hand to, or tirelessly helped others to do, was part of her ultimate goal to improve the lives of women and children. She was always, however, aware of how much more needed to be done. I am sure, Mr Speaker, that all members will join me in acknowledging Helen's great contribution to women's issues in Australia, and in expressing our sympathy to her partner, Judy Harrison, her son, Christopher, and daughters, Robyn and Carolyn Inman.

MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker, on behalf of the opposition I am happy to lend support to this motion of condolence to the family and friends of Helen Leonard.

As we have heard, she was a woman of quite remarkable ability, who spent her life involved in a very large number of issues, almost all of them affecting the welfare and advancement of women in Australian society. She was the national executive officer of the Women's Electoral Lobby, and she worked also as the national executive officer for the Women's Services Network. She was also involved in breast cancer endeavours, and in areas to do with Australian women in the media.

In this last area, she engaged in groundbreaking activity. As we heard, at that time only a small minority of people interviewed on television, in news and current affairs programs, were women. Women were not often selected by journalists and others as a source for views about different issues. She dealt with that perception in a very characteristic way: she set up the national women's media directory, which was designed to provide a list of women who would be available to speak to the media on issues about which they had some expertise. It was a tribute to the value of the idea that many women came forward to put their names down as people with a capacity to comment on particular areas of media interest.

Her involvement in a large number of organisations indicates that she was a woman who had a great desire to address injustice and need in the community. The variety of her activities across the field demonstrates that she was a person of quite exceptional ability, an ability often acknowledged and recognised by people with whom she worked.

The former Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Susan Halliday, said this of Helen Leonard after her death:

Helen Leonard was not only a woman who provided endless support to others, she was the type of person who made it possible for others to achieve, while never herself seeking credit. Her enthusiasm was contagious, her ability to motivate people inspiring and her willingness to look for the bright side, throwing caution to the wind, and get out there and make a difference when it appeared all had been lost, goes unmatched.

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