Page 811 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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for help and support for those women who do not yet have access to the same opportunities.

Here in Australia women have made substantial efforts to improve their own status while at the same time enhancing the social, economic and cultural life of all Australians. Recognising the contributions that women make in a rich range of roles and capacities is an important part of this process. Still, too often, women’s achievements are not formally recognised. For example, less than one-third of the recipients of this year’s Australia Day honours were women. Also, when women’s contributions are recognised, they are often not portrayed in a positive way—or the most positive way.

Yesterday, as part of International Women’s Day, Senator Kay Patterson released an important report Women in Australia 2004, providing a profile of Australian women’s lives over the last 10 years. However newspaper reports used headlines such as “Women older and fatter, and sex more a turn off”—a disappointing statement in relation to a very important report profiling the lives of women over an entire decade summarised into a headline such as “Women older and fatter and sex a turn off”. I think it serves to reinforce an outdated and offensive gender stereotype.

In the ACT, women make up just over half the total population. It is vital that they are part of decision-making processes at all levels and that their wide-ranging contributions to the community are recognised. Representation and recognition for women in the ACT are key objectives of the ACT women’s plan released in September last year. As part of this objective, the government has put in place a range of mechanisms to ensure that women and girls are valued contributors and equal participants in community life. I would like to take the opportunity today to profile the achievements of some outstanding women in our community.

The ACT International Women’s Day awards, which were presented last night in the Great Hall of the Australian National University, provided an opportunity for the community to celebrate and highlight the achievements and contributions of women. The awards program also encourages the community to nominate women whose outstanding achievements have enriched the lives of others in our community. The recipients of this year’s awards have made significant contributions in a diverse range of areas including the arts, human rights, and services to people with disabilities, women and children in crisis, indigenous youth and the multicultural community.

For instance, Jan Brown, one recipient of the 2005 women’s award, has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Canberra over the past 50 years. Jan has worked as an artist, teacher, mentor and arts activist and was the creator of the much-loved group of kangaroos by the Nerang Pool in Commonwealth Park. Her tireless work to raise the status of the arts in Canberra is a key factor in the scope and diversity of artistic expression that we enjoy today.

Beryl’s Women’s Refuge was the proud recipient of the community award last night, recognising 30 years of service to the Canberra community, helping women and children in crisis to regain a more stable life. Beryl was the first refuge to be set up in the ACT, in 1975, and it is estimated that the service has assisted more than 3,500 women and their children in that time. The refuge has not only provided accommodation to women, and their children, escaping domestic and family violence but also has greatly enhanced the

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