National Council of Women of Victoria

Past Events

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>> End of Year Luncheon
>> My Vote My Voice
>> May Forum - 3 May 2018
>> May Forum - 4 May 2017
>> Troubled Youth Forum - 24 May 2017
>> Australia Day Pioneer Women's Day - 18th January 2018
>> Australia Day Pioneer Women's Day - 19th January 2017
>> Pioneer Women’s Day Ceremony 2016
>> Celebrating 100 Years of International Women's Day
>> Book Launch celebrates the Year of Women in Local Government 2010 in Goulburn Valley
>> Are We There Yet

>> Rural Women's Voice
>> Migrant Women's Voice
>> Going to a City Hospital ? A Guide for Country People
>> Youth Initiative
>> International Women's Day
>> Tribute to Merrell Browne

58th Annual Australia Day Pioneer Women’s Ceremony 2019

Sally Capp with Elizabeth Newman, president NCW

Speech by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, the Right Honourable Sally Capp.

On behalf of the City of Melbourne, I would like to begin by acknowledging that we’re gathered on the traditional land of the Kulin Nation, and I pay my respects to elders past and present. I recognise and respect the continuing spiritual and cultural relationship our first peoples have with this land.

I’d also like to acknowledge: Paul Webster, Chairman, Australia Day Council, Victoria; Elisabeth Newman, President, National Council of Women Victoria; Janet Park, Vice-President, NCWV; Delegates and Members of NCWV and their guests; Past NCWV presidents and honorary life members; Future women pioneers. Welcome everyone.

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of today’s ceremony. How fortunate we are to be meeting in this tranquil place – a place for quiet reflection. It’s intimate, ornate and serene - the perfect backdrop for our event.More than 80 years ago, a group of Victorian women campaigned for civic recognition of the contribution of women – as part of the City of Melbourne's Centenary celebrations. And that’s what led to the creation of the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden in the Kings Domain – a garden that women and their families still enjoy today. It’s a wonderful legacy.

And this beautiful place has a story of its own. This garden was built in 1986 to commemorate the International Year of Peace. It was designed by a team of women. The plants were chosen to fit with the colours of the Women’s Movement — green, purple and white, and to symbolise remembrance — the peace rose, rosemary and olive trees. As well as a place of recognition and reflection, the Women’s Peace Garden is a place where women and families can join together. These gardens are now home to the National Council of Women of Victoria and the Australia Day Council’s Annual Australia Day Pioneer Women’s Ceremony.

And today, we continue the tradition of honouring the legacy of pioneering women, as well as celebrating the great city and state that their efforts have helped shape. The lives of women have changed significantly over the years. But some things never change – the admiration we feel for the pioneering women who contributed so much to early Victoria. As Lord Mayor, I’m a rare breed in Melbourne’s history. I’m one of only three women to have been elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 176 years, but I’m declaring the drought over. I’m confident there’ll be many more women to come, especially when I look around an occasion like this and see so many capable people who are making a contribution to our city – be it in business, community or civic life. In fact, the more voices we hear and stories we share about women making their mark across all spheres, the more leaders - and networks of leaders - we’ll see emerge across the board. We really need women to stand up and take on leadership roles within their organisations and communities. And to support those willing to have a go, we need to support other women to take on these roles at all levels. Through this we will see a manifest change in how we shape our communities going forward. I’ve had quite a few conversations, post-election, with some outstanding women I know and my advice is simple: put your hand up and have a go. There will never be a right time if you wait for it. Seize the moment and make an impact on the imbalance. To have a go and fail, as I have many times in my career, is not failure. Just the action of having a go must be claimed as victory because it changes your personal trajectory and adds significant impetus to the momentum for change in our society. I recently had lunch with the two female former Lord Mayors before me - Leckie Ord and Winsome McCaughey – both of whom were NCWV patrons during their terms as Lord Mayor, and Leckie spoke at this same event back in 1988. It was only 30 years ago, but politics and public life were undoubtedly harsher and more hostile for them, not to mention Victoria’s first female state premier, the late Joan Kirner, and Lady Millie Peacock the first woman elected to Victorian Parliament before her. These women campaigned publicly and paved the way for others through their example. These women broke through the hard, stony ground of politics to create the richer soil in which we are flourishing today. They had an enduring impact on Victorian public life. Their careers were often catalysts for reform and greater respect for women’s intellects and achievements. Times didn’t just change – they helped change the times. Among a multitude of grand portraits of male mayors which look down from the elegant walls of Melbourne’s historic Town Hall, the faces of Winsome and Lecki stand out - and we must celebrate their legacy. These women were leading council at a time – in the late 80s – when Melbourne needed proactive and strong leadership. Our city had a population deficit. Just 100 residents lived in the CBD. Compare that to today. Now we have some 37,341 residents in the CBD alone. They were leaders when a transformational vision for Melbourne was imagined. Postcode 3000 was launched to repopulate the central city. It set out the urban choreography of Melbourne’s makeup, steering it away from what was termed ‘a donut city’ to become a 24-hour metropolis – a place where people want to be. And these two women were part of its imagining, its design and its implementation. To be the first woman in any field today is still notable. When I look around the faces here this morning, I can see Barbara Abley, AM, who became the first female mayor of the City of Geelong in 2002. Gracia Baylor, AM, was one of the first two women elected to the Victorian Legislative Council in 1979. This was after she became Healesville Shire Council president in 1977 – the first female shire president in Victoria – after having been elected as a councillor in 1966. We should celebrate firsts like this. When people talk about their example it helps role modelling and helps others not to be fearful, which encourages others to have a go. Female leadership in the numbers we are seeing now is a recent phenomenon in our national and indeed international experience. I am enjoying greater acceptance and legitimacy in my role than Leckie and Winsome did, and I suspect many of you are having the same experience. It’s very refreshing. So here we are, in 2019, the wind in our sails. Attitudes and workplaces are changing around us - and we are actively changing them. Women are seizing this moment. In the past couple of years, we have begun to see and feel a massive turning of the tide for women. And for me, I’m particularly conscious of how differently we are viewing and treating female leaders in public life. In a number of jobs I’ve had there hasn’t previously been a woman. People have to change their mindsets or environments and maybe think differently. Collingwood Football Club is an example of that, where I became the first female board member in 2004. And then in 2009, I became the first female Agent-General to represent Victoria overseas. During my election campaign last year, one thing that really stood out was how important role models are for me - and that I was also a role model for other women. In my case, my aunt has been a federal politician, I am good mates with former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and have several girlfriends that are state politicians. They all provided great encouragement. One of the standout role-models was Sue Morphet who will be known to some of you. Sue, who has many strings to her bow, is president of Chief Executive Women. She was wonderful because she campaigned to become deputy lord mayor in the last local government elections and failed in her bid. But she is still admired and respected for having a go which helped with my worst-case scenario planning! That’s why I took the election campaign on. I thought I’d get a lot out of it even if I didn’t win. And at the heart of it lies passion. I always have a go if it’s important to me. I am encouraged daily by the words of Edward Hale that remind me that an individual’s actions can be powerful: I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. The roll call of pioneering women is a proud one for Victoria – in so many fields - and I take heart from the achievements of women in our past, and the extraordinary opportunities that lie ahead of us. Today is also about looking to the future and anticipating the wonderful achievements of coming generations of women. The City of Melbourne is very pleased to support the National Council of Women of Victoria, and it is a privilege to spend the morning with you. Thank you.

To view the program, click here

End of Year Luncheon- for report see December newsletter
My Vote, My Voice - for report click here
May Forum - 3 May 2018

The May Forum, “Families: Support for Children”, held on May 3rd 2018 at Ross House, was well attended by NCWV members. This was chaired by May Hu JP OAM, Coordinator NCWV Standing Committee, and moderated by Elida Brereton, Executive NCWV and Board member of the Hornbrook Academy.

Anne McLeish OAM, CEO Grandparents/Kindship Carers Victoria spoke on ‘Family Rights’ saying it’s important that grandparents have their voices heard and that in Victoria there is insufficient representation for children.

Dr Allison Cox, Berry St Director of Take 2 Program, which provides therapeutic services for traumatised children to achieve physical and emotional safety for them via work on attachment.

Liana Buchanan, Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People spoke on ‘Human Rights in the home: Children’s rights to safety, care and protection’. She has an oversight to children’s services, including enquiries about individual children and systemic issues

>> click here to download and view the full report.

Program from the 57th Annual Australia Day Pioneer Women's Ceremony

Held at the Women's Peace Garden, Epsom Rd., Kensington on January 18 2018.

Guest Speaker: Emma Page Campbell: A Tribute to Pioneer of Women and the Peace Movement

To view the program, click here

Celebrating 100 Years of International Women's Day
by Eva Court

On Monday 7 March 2011, the National Council of Women of Victoria, in conjunction with the League of Women Voters of Victoria, held a function in Parliament House to celebrate the centenary of International Women's Day (IWD) in Victoria. The event was called Young People Speak and it was opened by the Minister for Women's Affairs, Ms Mary Wooldridge MLA.

The participants in this event were students from suburban and regional high schools in Victoria who had competed in Vida's Voices and the Legacy national public speaking competitions. Vida's Voices is a public speaking and leadership opportunity for Year 10 Girls and is an initiative of the Victorian Women's Trust.

Vida Goldstein (1869-1949) was a feminist and campaigner for the rights of women and children. Her tireless efforts helped to win the right for women to vote in 1908. She believed in the power of educated and articulate women.

Each year Legacy also holds a national competition for students aged 12 -14 years. About 2000 students participate across Australia. The aim is to enhance public speaking skills and to help the participants appreciate the ideals of Legacy, such as voluntary service, caring, comradeship and remembrance.

The Commemorative Programme and Notes on Outstanding Women are informative, attractively presented and a credit to those who produced them. The beautiful,grand venue gave a real sense of occasion to the day. The majority of the students were girls, but there were a few boys who were made welcome by the audience. The topics of the speeches ranged widely, from the situation of indigenous soldiers willing to give their lives for Australia, who were still discriminated against on their return home, the role of women in the second World War, outreach programmes for Afghan girls, to aiding disabled girls to live fuller lives. The speeches had not originally been written to celebrate IWD, but most were quite suitable. The male winner of the National Legacy award spoke about his heroes, including Mahatma Gandhi.

Posters were made to commemorate outstanding women of the past and present, and students then explained the posters which we were able to look at. Very pleasant refreshments were enjoyed at mid-morning. To end the proceedings, we were entertained by a vocalist from Preston Girls Secondary College.

I am sure all who participated and those who attended, would agree that it was a very worthwhile event to celebrate the centenary of International Women's Day.

References: The Websites of the national Council of Women of Victoria Inc., Legacy and Victorian Women's Trust and The League of Women Voters.

Eva Court : Arts Letters and Music Adviser, Member of the NCWV Executive Committee

Book Launch Celebrates the Year of Women in Local Government 2010 in the Goulburn Valley

A book celebrating Greater Shepparton women's involvement in local government was launched recently.

The book, titled "A Woman's Place … in Local Government" profiles the experiences of the 14 female councillors and one town clerk who have been involved in local government in the Shepparton district since the 1960s.

The Goulburn Valley branch of the National Council of Women Victoria (NCWV), with support from Greater Shepparton City Council, co-ordinated the researching, writing and publishing of the book as part of the 2010 Year of Women in Local Government celebrations.

Goulburn Valley branch president Barbara Brown said the project was a wonderful celebration of the contribution made by women as elected councillors and paid personnel in local government.

Ms Brown said the profiles covered the period before amalgamation - when people in the Shepparton district were served by the shires of Shepparton and Rodney and the City of Shepparton – as well as the current council.  

"The district's first female councillor, Alice Mcleod, was elected to the Shire of Shepparton in 1969," Ms Brown said.

She said the state average for the proportion of female councillors on council was 30 per cent. 

Women have done better in becoming elected representatives than in attaining senior management positions," Ms Brown said.  Pat Gibson was the only woman to have held the top position in management, town clerk - now known as the CEO - in the City of Shepparton from 1976 until 1981. 

Ms Brown said the book was the culmination of months of research and writing.

 "It's been a terrific project for all involved," Ms Brown said.

"The women's stories are personal recollections with each woman telling her own story in her own way."  

Copies are available from the Goulburn Valley Branch, NCWV, PO Box 6258, Shepparton 3632 or the Greater Shepparton City Council - Ph. 58329700 or write to General Manager, Community Development, Locked Bag 1000, Shepparton 3630.

"Are We There Yet"

"Are We There Yet" a Commemoration a  Centenary of  Women's Franchise in Victoria in conjunction with the VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. This event includes a major art exhibition, a keynote address, two curator and artists talks and a publication. It will be held at the VCA from mid June to mid July 2008.

Rural Women's Voice

This project was carried out through a Women's Community Leadership Grant with the support of a department for Victorian Communities, Office of Women's  Policy. The project consisted of a series of group and individual interviews from across Victoria over a 12 month period. Women were accessed through our regional branches and affiliates. Issues important to them were raised and discussed. A report was written with recommendations and submitted to government.

Migrant Women's Voice

This project was conducted with the assistance of a Victorian Multicultural Commission Strengthening Multicultural communities Grant. The project format was similar to the Rural Women's Voice however focused on the experience of migrant women.

Going to a City Hospital ? A Guide for Country People

This brochure was developed in conjunction with Barwon Health to assist women and families when faced with immediate transfer from a country hospital to the city. Advice was provided on what to bring, where to stay and so on. This has been successfully transferred to other states.

Youth Initiative

In conjunction with Carwatha Secondary College year 9 and 10 girl students and over a 4 year period, young women from a wide variety of backgrounds, nationalities and socio economic levels learned how to work together to bring an issue of importance to them to the attention to the relevant people. This included making a verbal submission to the to the "Family and Community Development Committee of Parliament Inquiry into Issues relating to the Development of Body Image Among Young People and Associated Effects on their Health and Wellbeing", setting up an Amnesty International group at the school, developing and running workshops on Animal Cruelty and Body Image.

International Women's Day

International Women's Day is marked on March 8 every year. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women.

International Women’s Day 2013 was celebrated by NCWV on 4th March at Parliament House Melbourne.

On this day we celebrate and encourage our young people and promote “Empowerment, Leadership and Involvement”. NCWV are highlighting the students of “The Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award (LJPSA)” and YWCA’s “ASISTA” mentoring programme.

Sandie de Wolf AM, CEO of Berry Street will be lead speaker discussing Berry’s Street’s work with young people. This is followed by seven exceptional young people from the Victorian LJPSA who will present their winning speeches from 2012 award competition. The award is nationwide and is aimed at enhancing the oral communication and public speaking skills of secondary students aged 12 to 14 years, and helps young people appreciate the ideals of Legacy – voluntary service, caring, mateship and remembrance. Once again a Victorian won both the state and the national award in 2012.

Speeches by two of the talented young speakers winners in ‘The Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award’ are available now. 

Tiffany Shih’s speech “Looking Beyond the Lines” was the national winner of ‘The Legacy  Junior Public Speaking Award’.   
>> Click here to view Tiffany Shih's speech

Edmund Coleman was the runner-up of the state and national finals of the Award with his speech “The Southern Swastika”.
>> Click here to view Edmund Coleman's speech