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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2259

Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (12:31): I want to speak today about the activities and functions in my electorate last week to commemorate International Women's Day. This is an annual occurrence in my electorate. The University of the Third Age Hume, which is one of my favourite local groups, held an International Women's Day conference in Craigieburn on Friday. The event included many speakers, from a variety of fields, including representatives from Alzheimer's Australia, the McGrath Foundation and Victoria Police. They also were able to discuss financial planning tailored for women and also the ever present area of women's health. The Secretary of U3A, Aina Crawford, a survivor of having grown up with a very abusive father, shared that experience with the many women present. Women's groups tend to share their own stories as part of assisting with awareness and the healing process for other women. All of the speakers at the Hume U3A conference were focused on assisting and informing the women who were present.

Early onset dementia is a very big issue in my electorate. Alzheimer's Australia provided information about early onset dementia—learning to recognise signs and symptoms and knowing where to go and how to deal with people who may be presenting with these symptoms is critical. And empowering women and helping them to understand is critical to how the family members who may be affected are dealt with. I commend the University of the Third Age and its committee—including President Luke Peers, Vice-President Liz Munro, Treasurer John Druery, Membership Officer Ann Druery and the ever-active Secretary Aina Crawford—for all the wonderful work they do in the electorate.

The other big group of women in my electorate who were celebrating International Women's Day was the Australian Mesopotamian Women's Association. They held an event on Tuesday which was attended by some 300 women. They had guest speakers discussing the history of International Women's Day and looking at cultural diversity as a cornerstone of our women becoming involved in the overall integration process in the Australian community.

The Greek-Australian Recreational and Instructive League of Victoria also hosted a function. They are going to be launching a book titled The Odyssey of Women: The Migrant Story. It is a collection of personal stories from migrant women of Calwell, my electorate. It will detail their accounts of settling and adapting to life in Australia and their successes and tribulations in raising their families in a new home. This book will include stories of very successful businesswomen as well as the stories of women who have achieved excellence in their professions. The president of the league, Thekla Scarscella, who is a migrant herself, is the driving force behind this book. She is one of the most active women in my electorate.

I also pay tribute to the Northside Malayalee Community Club, which for the first time ever hosted an International Women's Day event. The event was named 'Empowering women: strength, courage and choices'. It was held last Sunday, 8 March, at the Greenvale Recreation Hall. The club secretary, Anita Dudhani, said it was the first time that they have celebrated International Women's Day and members enjoyed themselves. They had an array of topics and they are delightful women. They had many guest speakers who touched on issues related to domestic violence and gender equality. They provided women with a brief history of International Women's Day. They also had martial arts workshops which, I understand, proved to be very useful and enjoyable to all those women who participated.

In conclusion, I acknowledge the women in my electorate for the wonderful work that they do for our community. I look forward to sharing these activities with them next year.