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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2263

Ms SAFFIN (PageGovernment Whip) (12:46): On Valentine's Day, my home town of Lismore joined in the global campaign called One Billion Rising. Its aim was to get one billion women standing up across the world and dancing in rising events. They also invited men to join in the campaign. I was due to speak on the day in this place, but the adjournment debate was cancelled so I could not. I promised the local women and the women's organisations that I would still do so—hence my contribution today, a few weeks after Valentine's Day. It also comes, appropriately, after a week of activities to celebrate and mark International Women's Day, concluding with a wonderful breakfast here yesterday morning, hosted by UN Women with guest speakers Minister Bob Carr and shadow minister Julie Bishop, who both gave great speeches demonstrating a global commitment to women in development and to stopping violence against women everywhere, including Australia. It was very good to hear.

Locally, there were many events in my area but three that I was invited to. There were two I could not get to. One in Yamba involved the View Club—it went over most of the day and it was well attended. They included a whole range of different cultures in their celebration. That was principally organised by Anne Dinam and Joy Lauder of View Club. Ballina Chamber of Commerce and the Ballina Shire Council always have a mega-event on International Women's Day—over 250 women attend. They always say that they have inspirational speakers—they never tell you who they are so you get a surprise on the day. I could not go to that one, but two of my staff went—Carmel and Lee. I got to one function in Casino that night. It was a wishing well art exhibition hosted by the Lismore and District Women's Health Centre celebrating the lives of a group of courageous women from local Northern Rivers communities and it was, in a sense, therapy through art. They had the artwork and I launched the art exhibition. It was wonderful for women who have mental ill-health and obesity, and it was working with the Lismore and District Women's Health Centre and using art. It was a really wonderful event.

Back to One Billion Rising, the Lismore and District Women's Health Centre, managed by Sandra Hendley, who is really active and creative in her management, in partnership with the Lismore City Council, led by our wonderful mayor, Councillor Jenny Dowell, hosted the event. Sandra said it was an event that they could not not do given the focus of their work and the large number of women subjected to violence.

Reading a little bit out of our local Northern Star newspaper that gave it coverage—it was a young local journalist, Marnie Johnston—and quoted here is Sandra saying:

"It is something that we see in our work every day—the affect of violence and women who are affected by violence—and we thought this was a positive way to bring this issue to life."

…   …   …

Miss Handley said the event was not just for women. "There are great men who stand up against violence so we really encourage men to come down and rise up and join us. We need men and women to stop violence against women."

The event was dancing in the street on the corner of Molesworth and Magellan streets. My office is in Molesworth Street. I said if I had been there—I was still in this place—I would have danced with them.

It was followed with an event that a lot of people attended; it was another public event. It was a well-known international play at the Star Court Theatre in Lismore, and it was to draw attention to violence against women. The play was called The Vagina Monologues by supporter and issues writer, Eve Ensler. It was performed at the Star Court Theatre and a lot of women attended that. One of my other staff members, Lee, attended. The staff in my office were very active around these events.

At the same time a group of men and women in the community lined up against abuse. They encouraged everybody to get involved, and the state member for Lismore, Thomas George, joined in. They lined up: there was Rob Garbutt, Stewart Hannah, Sonny Hannah, Monty, Thomas George, Andy Parks—from one of the local newspapers, the Northern Rivers Echo—Nigel Hayes, Morgan Montague-Elliot and Soenke Biermann. They encouraged— (Time expired)

Question agreed to.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 12:52