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Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Page: 2782


Mr HUSIC (4:16 PM) —On 8 March I was able to host a special breakfast for International Women’s Day. It is the first time I have been able to host such a breakfast and it is something I would like to host annually. More than 50 women from across the Chifley electorate attended, representing a broad cross-section of the community. There were people there from schools, charities, sporting organisations, cultural communities, business and government. It was special to be hosting the breakfast on the occasion of the centenary of International Women’s Day.

While it was nice to be able to provide a platform to bring women leaders together to network and share their time, I was also keen to bring some focus to the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, which is, ‘Equal access to education, training and science and technology: pathway to decent work for women.’ We were joined by Susan Hartigan, Director of TAFE Western Sydney Institute, and Councillor Alison McLaren, President of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, who were keynote speakers on the day. As an aside, we were able to host this breakfast at TAFE’s Green Skills Hub at Nirimba campus, an initiative supported by the federal government. Both Susan and Alison were able to provide reflections on the changing participation of women in the workforce and their past experiences of community attitudes, which had seen doors to educational opportunities closed to them.

There were two other special elements to this year’s breakfast. The first was that the breakfast was able to put a spotlight on the work of an important community group providing vital support to women in Chifley, Rosie’s Place. Rosie’s Place is a community based counselling service for women, children, young people and family members who experience domestic and sexual violence. The service was founded in 1983, originally to increase community awareness about the prevalence of child sexual abuse and to advocate for the establishment of specialist sexual abuse counselling services. On the morning we were able to raise $1,200 for Rosie’s Place. Catherine Want, the Manager of Rosie’s Place, thanked those who attended the breakfast for their generosity and said that the money raised would go to the establishment of a special sensory garden at the premises. In response to that, Susan Hartigan announced that the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE would make available students from their School of Horticulture to come out to Rosie’s Place to build the garden.

The second important element of the morning was that I was able to announce the establishment of a perpetual award named in honour of Coral McLean, who recently passed away and who provided over 100,000 hours of her own time to support people in the community. The Coral McLean Award will recognise women in leadership positions in the Chifley electorate, and I will be announcing further details about that later in the year.