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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 768


Ms PARKE (6:40 PM) —I wish tonight to speak about an incredible Australian woman, former Senator Pat Giles, whose contribution to public life was acknowledged in the Australia Day honours list last month when she was appointed a member of the Order of Australia for services to the community, in particular her dedication to promoting the rights and interests of women.

Pat Giles was a qualified nurse when she founded the Women’s Electoral Lobby in Perth in 1973. From 1981 she served as a Labor senator for Western Australia for 12 years, during which time she was a strong advocate for issues related to women, including women’s rights in the workplace; women’s representation in parliament and within the trade union movement; health and education services for women and girls; and support for single mothers.

Pat Giles led the Australian government’s delegation to meetings of the United Nations Decade for Women, culminating in the end-of-decade conference in Nairobi in 1985, which was a turning point in the way that the United Nations and in turn member states recognised women in official statistics. After 1985 women became visible, with statistics such as their health, labour output and literacy levels now recorded alongside those of men.

Following her retirement from the Senate, Pat continued to be active in women’s rights, both here in Australia and internationally, serving three terms as the President of the International Alliance of Women. Pat Giles has always been a tireless campaigner for women and she is a dear friend who has always been supportive of me while I have worked for the United Nations and in my current role. I congratulate Pat on being appointed as a member of the Order of Australia.