Sunday, November 09, 2008

strong women of the hills were out in force

Today I went to a fabulous event at Burrinja organised by the Dandenong Ranges Music Council, Strong Women of the Hills, to celebrate 100 years of the vote for women in Victoria. The event linked schools, community music, arts and historical groups together to acknowledge the achievements of strong women and reflect upon the issues of then and now.

I was honoured to be speaking at the event. My address talked about an impressive woman in local government, Cr Violet B Lambert. She was elected to the Shire of Ferntree Gully in 1931 and remained elected unopposed for the next 27 years. She was also elected the first woman Shire President in 1947. Violet was a champion of infant welfare, pre schools and pre natal clinics and was instrumental in bringing many community services to the Shire of Ferntree Gully.

From left to right: me, Tracey Roberts - local singer/songwriter, Rochelle Dennis - founder of Circus Folk, Helen Wositzky - daughter of Clare Wositzky, founder of Amnesty International in Australia, Gwen De Lacy - project coordinator with the DRMC, Bev McAlister - DRMC Coordinator and Yvonne De Lacy - history researcher for the project. This is a small sample of the performers and contributors on the day but they all made great contributions to make the day a very special celebration.

Violet's story really resonates with me as the issues she progressed are intrinsically issues that women care a great deal about. I then went on to talk about my journey to local government which started as a bid to save long day care in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

I’m pleased to say that my continued advocacy on behalf of children has seen the reinvestment in children’s services and the building of a Children’s Hub for the community in the Dandenong Ranges.

I personally feel I owe a strong debt of gratitude to those women, the suffragists, who really put themselves on the line to secure the vote for women 100 years ago. If it were not for their personal strength and tenacity I could not enjoy the very direct role I have in democracy today as the Lyster Ward councillor.

The day included a wide variety of speakers and performers and was a celebration of strong women, the suffragists and women today. My congratulations to the organisers who put together an extensive and impressive line up, it was a very memorable occasion.

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