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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 724 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

and we should not be opposing for the sake of opposing. We should be responsive to the community." I did not comment on that. It was merely an aside between two legal colleagues. I think that is indicative that quite a number of people in the legal profession are more than happy with the legislation. They see it, as would any sensible person in the community, as good, commonsense legislation that protects the community and assists in dropping the crime rate.

I am delighted to see these figures, I am delighted to see the downward trend and I am delighted to hear continually from people in the community, including the experts at the coalface, the Australian Federal Police, that the improvements to the Bail Act are contributing in a very significant way to the drop in crime.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Dunne ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Women in the community

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Ms Gallagher proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The recognition of the role of women in our community, especially on International Women's Day.

MS GALLAGHER (4.18): International Women's Day comes about on 8 March each year. It is a day to celebrate the wins of the women's movement and to recognise the task ahead. As chair of a Select Committee on the Status of Women in the ACT, I welcome the opportunity to present this matter of public importance.

International Women's Day is an important and relevant day for women across the world and here in the ACT. In 2002 the need for women to organise for their own empowerment against institutionalised disadvantage is still as relevant as it ever has been. We have an environment this year marked by encroaching racism and the devaluing of human rights. These broader concerns have a significant impact on women and their right to choose, whether they are in detention centres or the workplace.

As we struggle for rights for all women we should reflect on the long history of the women's movement in Australia, recognise the victories and draw strength, inspiration and lessons. To quote the Australian Women's Constitutional Network:

Today a call is going out to the women of Australia through International Women's Day events to use 2002 to build women's power.

I fully support this statement.

The women's movement has a collective history to be celebrated. It is a long and diverse history. Over the years International Women's Day has been host to breakfasts and conferences but has always prioritised a march to ensure that the spirit of protest which has resulted in so many advances is maintained.

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