Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2731 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
achievements, her numerous publications and her strength of commitment to improving this world of ours.
Betty established herself as a role model of the highest calibre through her encouragement of others, especially older women in more recent times, to participate in community affairs and to pursue the cause of justice. She continued to mentor and to encourage younger feminists. Long after others would have thought it time to settle into well-earned retirement, Betty continued as a passionate activist for the whole of her long life. Beverly Kingston's words, "The way forward for women and history lies in challenge rather than acceptance,"apply to Betty.
It is with the deepest sympathy that I, on behalf of the ACT government, extend condolences to Betty's family, acknowledging Betty's life and contribution to bringing about change for the betterment of us all and, in particular, women.
MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition): I rise on behalf of the opposition to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Betty Searle. The Chief Minister mentions her birth date, 8 July, and the fact that she was 87 this year. In fact, 8 July is the birth date of my twin daughters, and they were 17 this year. So, 70 years later it is interesting to reflect on the life of a great woman and how she compared what her mother did to what her daughters may have received as a legacy of the early suffragette movement.
I wonder whether to take it a couple of steps further, to the grand-daughters and the great-grand-daughters of those women-the generation of young Australian women today-and look at what they grow up in and what still challenges us about the relationship between the genders and whether equality does exist.
In that regard, we will always be able to look to Betty Searle as someone who accepted the challenge: a woman who was author, advocate, activist and academic; a woman who saw no limitations because of her gender; and, as the Chief Minister has already said, a woman who did what she damn well wanted to.
Betty Searle campaigned for women's rights throughout her life. She campaigned with Jessie Street for equal pay for women-a very important start to equality. She was a foundation member of the first Women's Liberation Group in Sydney, and in later life she lectured in women's studies at the University of Sydney. It is great to see her coming around full circle in learning and being the educator.
Betty was also involved with several community groups, including the Older Australians Advisory Council, the ACT Women's Consultative Council, the ACT Older Women's Network, of which she was president from 1993 to 1996, and the National Older Women's Network. Here is a woman who changed with her own personal time: as she got older she spoke on behalf of those whom she had the closest affinity with. In that regard she is again a model for us all not to get stuck in a rut but to continually evolve and grow.
In recent years, Betty focused on improving the status and welfare of older women, an area where we still need to do an enormous amount of work. Betty was an ideal model of encouragement, not only for women but for all members of a society that was truly