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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 14051

Ms O'NEIL (Hotham) (13:54): Mr Deputy Speaker:

Girls of today are bombarded with images of unattainable beauty. Through all these provocative and sexualised pictures it's difficult to find depictions of positive body image and to find strong, confident female role models. For some girls, just fitting in is a struggle, for girls that are athletically motivated it can be even worse.

These words are not mine, though I do wish I had written them. They are the words of Bria Raso, of Heatherton Christian College, and I would like the House to join me in congratulating Bria, who is the senior winner of the Hotham Writing Prize.

I launched the Hotham Writing Prize earlier this year because I wanted primary and secondary school students to understand that, even though many of them do not vote yet, I am their voice in the federal parliament and I am really interested in understanding the issues that affect them and raising them with you, my colleagues in this House.

Bria wrote me an incredibly passionate, well-argued essay about gender equality in sport. Bria is a very talented soccer player. She plays most days. But she is very frustrated that she sees more attention, resources and focus given to boys, even when they are playing at the same standard as girls. She thinks we need to encourage the participation of girls in sport, and I could not agree more—not only so that we see equal treatment on the sporting field but also to make sure that girls around this country have plenty of attainable, healthy role models for body image, something that women struggle with a great deal. We need to do more to make sure that girls and women are treated equally and sport.

Bria, congratulations. It was a really important issue that you raised with me, and it is an honour to be your voice in the House of Representatives.