Future Directions, Our Council Our Voice — Driving Cultural Change
By Lyn Buckley, NCWQ President
2017 NCWA MID TERM CONFERENCE
The strategic objective of the 2017 NCWA Mid Term conference, held in Canberra in June, was to create the opportunity for all people of all ages to come together and hear from national experts on the topics of:
- women’s economic empowerment
- women’s leadership; and
- women’s safety
The key presentations on older women and homelessness, economic security for older women, gender equality and domestic violence provided opportunities for attendees to take part in panel discussions and workshop to find solutions.
The speakers spoke on matters that are impacting our communities. Maree Crabbe, co-founder of Reality & Risk, a community-based project that supports young people, parents, schools, government and the community sector spoke on understanding and addressing the influence of pornography. Maree stated: “Professionals who work with young people are increasingly aware of – and concerned about – the extent to which young people access porn, including extreme and violent porn, and the influence this is having on their lives”.
Penny Leemhuis, social activitist and housing affordability advocate and representative of Older Women Lost (OWLs) spoke of her personal experience in being homeless. A true insight into the pathway to homelessness and the difficulties in finding safe and secure affordable housing.
Anusha Goonetilleke who is the Supervising Solicitor of Street Law, an outreach legal service in Canberra which helps people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including people escaping domestic/family violence. Anusha highlighted the need to help disadvantaged people to have access to justice, to know their legal rights and to have representation when faced with matters that bring before the courts and tribunals.
The Conference was opened by The Governor General, His Excellency the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) who spoke on the importance of recognising women’s contribution to all levels of community, business and government and encouraged everyone to nominate more women for the Australian Honours and Awards.
A number of resolutions covering a diverse range of topics were discussed. The following resolutions were passed by NCWA members:-
- The Federal Government to give priority to strategies combating global warming by reducing greenhouse gasses and promoting renewable energy while ensuring energy security, given the implication for Australia’s environment and such unique ecosystems as the Great Barrier Reef.
- More research required on gender differences in diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease including heart disease and recommends that heart healthcare has a greater focus on the different symptoms of heart attack and stroke in women and that NCWA support the promotion of this information among women and medical practitioners.
- Call for a House of Representatives Committee inquiry into residential aged care.
- Actions be taken to address the gender pay gap and women to be able to make superannuation contributions during times out of the workforce and that “no woman be disadvantaged at the time of retirement” be achieved.
- The Federal Government introduce a “Catch Up” promotional vaccination program, to be part of the Immunise Australia Program, to encourage adults over 20 to be fully immunised.
- State and Territory Governments put in place increased mandatory incentives and remove disincentives for affordable to housing to alleviate housing stress and homelessness.
- The Federal Government introduce adequate rental assistance to those in need to eliminate the risk of becoming homeless.
- Federally funded sporting organisations to provide general equality for travel, accommodation and remuneration for male and female sporting teams.
- The inclusion of free access to Herpes Zoster (shingles) vaccination for all older Australians (with the exception of those where it is medically contraindicated) by the Commonwealth Department of Health National Immunisation Program and adopt the Position Statement Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Vaccination for Older Australians”.
(The full resolutions can be viewed at www.ncwq.org.au/submissions)
Members endorsed the adoption at the earliest opportunity of a Modern Slavery Act by the Australian Parliament and the recommendations from the 14th Biennial National Rural Health Conference, held in Cairns on 26-29 April 2017 and supported their implementation and funding.
Action will now be taken by members to put the resolutions to members of Parliament and the State Councils will continue to lobby governments on these important matters.
Launch of National Council of Young Women of Australia
The National Council of Young Women of Australia was launched at Parliament House by Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash Minister for Women. The NCYWA is a new initiative of NCWA to provide opportunities for young women to have a voice on issues of concern for young women. National Council of Young Women will be established by each State Council to provide greater representation for young women to address gender equality and practical solutions within our communities.