The Victorian Womens Trust

News and Events

January 2015 – Current – The Victorian Women’s Trust turns 30!

A very happy new(ish) year to you from all of us here at the Women’s Trust. We’re predicting a huge 2015. For a start, it marks our thirtieth year of existence, and we’re calling this cause for celebration. Later in the year we’ll be joining forces with our 1985 sister, the indefatigable International Women’s Development Agency, to celebrate in grand style. More news on this front as it comes to hand.

At the thirty year mark, we’re taking stock of how far we’ve come, and how far we’ve yet to travel. How have things changed for women since 1985? And how do they remain the same? We’ve had our first female Prime Minister; then watched a misogynist backlash of a magnitude even the most jaded pundits failed to predict. We’ve seen violence against women and children go from a secret shame played out behind closed doors to a broad-based public concern and burgeoning election issue; at the same time knowing it continues, unabated. We’ve seen the ranks of women parliamentarians grow; then contract in some quarters. We’ve enjoyed notable successes, and endured some failures. But we’re still here; we’re still fighting, and together, have achieved much. There’s plenty to acknowledge, honour and celebrate.

First and foremost, our 30th anniversary is an opportunity to honour the women and men who have made it all possible – our supporters. Without you, we’d literally be nothing. It’s an extraordinary philanthropic story and this year, we want to spread it far and wide. With a great deal of help from our friends, the Trust has turned a million dollar gift thirty years ago into more than five million dollars in progressive grant making, numerous major initiatives, countless events, an authoritative feminist voice on behalf of women and girls, a champion of society’s most vulnerable, and staunch defender of democracy and human rights. It is a remarkable achievement and it belongs to all of us.

February 2015 – Monster Climate Petition tabled in Parliament!

Back in July 2014, a conversation began with Judy Brett, Clare Wright, Dur-e Dara and Mary Crooks about their frustration with the inaction by our government on climate change.

They asked themselves – could we provide a mechanism for huge numbers of Australian women, men and children to give voice to their concern about the almost total lack of national leadership on securing a safe climate?

Well, they did and thus born was the Monster Climate Petition; a pen on paper petition calling on the Federal Government to begin immediate and effective action against climate change. The response from people all around the country to the Monster Climate Petition has been magnificent. Men, women, school students and children took up the petition with a vengeance!

Community organisations and people from everywhere gathered signatures from huge numbers of people and at many places – farmers’ markets, workplaces, schools, neighbourhoods, traders, families and friends – sent in their petitions, day by day increasing our tally by the thousands.

Organisations such as The Body Shop Australia came on board – all of their 91 outlets around the country promoted the petition, collecting a whopping 16,000 signatures.

In September, as part of a global climate movement, hundreds of thousands of people dedicated to the call of climate change action took part in the ‘People’s Climate’ Marches. Over that one weekend there were 2646 Climate March Events in 162 countries –200 of them in Australia. We did a call out to volunteers to collect signatures for the Monster Climate Petition, and that was answered with eagerness.

As stated, we said we would collect all of these signatures in time for the G20 Summit in Brisbane 14-15 November 2014. These signatures demonstrated to the world that Australians want effective action on reducing carbon emissions.

A letter was sent to all G20 leaders prior to the November Summit describing the efforts and enormity of the Monster Climate Petition. Our notable signatories included the esteemed and influential former Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce AC, Professor Ross Garnaut, Dr Germaine Greer, Professor Tim Flannery, former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, former Liberal Leader, Dr John Hewson, former Labor Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and former Greens Leader Dr Bob Brown,

By the end of November, we had received close to 72,000 signatures from dedicated and passionate Australians with commitment to the cause, making the Monster Climate Petition one of the largest pen and paper petitions ever taken into our House of Representatives.

On Wednesday 3 December 2014 on the Forecourt of Parliament House, Fiona Stanley AC, Mary Crooks AO, Judy Brett, Clare Wright and Pam Robinson handed the Monster Climate Petition to parliamentarians.

What a line-up of MP’s we had ready to receive it  – Anna Burke MP for Chisholm, VIC; Senator Lisa Singh, TAS; Melissa Parke MP for Fremantle, WA; Joanne Ryan MP for Lalor, VIC; Adam Bandt MP for  Melbourne, VIC; Clare O’Neil MP for Hotham, VIC; Terri Butler MP for Griffith, QLD; Alannah MacTiernan MP for Perth, WA; Warren Snowdon MP for Lingiari, NT; Kelvin Thomson MP for Wills, VIC; Senator Nova Peris, NT, Andrew Wilkie MP for Denison, TAS; Cathy McGowan, MP for Indi, VIC. Lisa Chesters MP for Bendigo, VIC and Gai Brodtmann MP for Canberra, ACT.

On 23 February this year, the Monster Climate Petition was tabled in Parliament by Cathy McGowan, Independent for INDI, Mark Butler MP for Port Adelaide and Adam Bandt MP for Melbourne.

Time and time again, people sent us messages with a simple ‘thank you’ – thank you for providing us with the chance to have a say on our children’s future. But on behalf of the twelve Australian women who backed the idea and the Victorian Women’s Trust, we thank you.

The other clear message we received was that there were more signatures out there to be

collected and it is for this reason that we have decided to keep the petition alive for a second tabling in August 2015 ahead of the Paris Climate Summit in November 2015.

We know that this is an issue that young people are deeply concerned about and we particularly want to give them a forum for expressing this concern and demonstrating decisively to the Abbott government that it is time it took notice and respected the will of the people on the most pressing issue of our time.

The website www.monsterclimatepetition.com.au has now changed to reflect this second phase. The process is the same; the only thing changing is the new end date to receive signatures – 30 August 2015!

October 2014 – Launch of Torn Apart – Rebuilding lives after family separation

The Dugdale Trust for Women and Girls, in conjunction with The Victorian Women’s Trust has created the documentary Torn Apart – Rebuilding lives after family separation to assist primary carers in dealing with the effects of family separation. Torn Apart – Rebuilding lives after family separation explores what happens when families break down, especially for the primary carers of the children, most of whom are women, who often experience the most severe impact.

Torn Apart explores critical issues such as housing, children’s well-being; grandparents and kinship carers, financial stress & employment, child support, family violence, legal processes and available support networks.

Many suffer from the effects of previous and ongoing abusive behaviours within the family environment. There is also increased financial hardship, economic insecurity, employment variability and housing stress, which can have a severe impact upon their children. This documentary explores these issues and looks at ways to navigate through this challenging and often traumatic time.

We would love to see people across the wider community watching this DVD and exploring what they think could be practical responses. It would be great, for example, if medical practitioners, counsellors, psychologists, and schools in your neighbourhood were aware of the DVD and reflected on its relevance to their work. It is important too that locally based Family Relationships Centres are aware of the resource; and that family lawyers who view it can ponder the question of flexible payment options.

Families and friends too can play a greater role – Torn Apart is a powerful reminder that we need to reach out, learn from others experiences, offer practical support, and advocate for change for the better where we can see social and economic inequalities.

Limited free copies of the Torn Apart documentary are available for collection. To order yours please email the Victorian Women’s Trust – women@vwt.org.au – or phone (03) 9642 0422.

August 2014 – MONSTER CLIMATE PETITION NOW LIVE!

Monster Climate Petition Logo OFFICIAL JPEG

It started with a conversation last month between Judy Brett, Clare Wright, Dur-e Dara and Mary Crooks. We were inspired by what Victorian colonial women did in 1891 to press their claim for voting rights (in what became known as ‘The Monster Petition’). We asked ourselves – could we provide a mechanism for a huge numbers of Australian women, men and children to give voice to their concern about the almost total lack of national leadership on securing a safe climate?

We can and we have! It is called the Monster Climate Petition and you can view everything to do with the Petition right here: www.monsterclimatepetition.com.au

The Petition to our House of Representatives must contain pen and ink original signatures on paper. The website provides the Petition for downloading.

Our lead petitioner is Dr Fiona Stanley AC. As well, there are 11 other Australian women listed on the website who are lending their names in an effort to generate a massive popular response.

The signatures will be collected in time before the mid-November G20 meeting in Brisbane to show the world how many Australians care about climate change. It will then be presented to the national parliament.

Every one of us can sign our names, including our children. There are no formal eligibility requirements. Signatories do not have to be on the electoral roll. Addresses are optional, but they add legitimacy. The only people who can’t sign are current members of the House of Representatives.

July 2014 – ‘Trust Friends’ Event

We have just hosted our ‘Trust Friends’ event for 2014!

On July 31, we staged  a ‘Great Debate’ as the main feature of the event, with an absolutely STELLAR line-up of speakers – many who are regular Sheilas contributors (our national current affairs e-publication) – who explored the topic:

‘That there is a crisis of trust in Australian politics’

Thrashing it out was:

Clementine Ford – writer and commentator

David Yarrow – barrister, Native Title Act

Amy Gray – writer

Karen Pickering – writer and Cherchez la Femme presenter

Richard Denniss – Executive Director, The Australia Institute

Nelly Thomas – comedian and author

The debate was Chaired by former VWT Policy Manager and Sheilas Editor Sarah Capper.

A huge thank you to INFINITAS for making this event possible and for their continued support of the Victorian Women’s Trust.

logo infinitas

May 2014 – Safeguarding Abortion Law Reform

The Victorian Women’s Trust have released a paper encouraging women and men around the state to voice their concerns over any proposed changes to the 2008 Abortion law reforms.

Click here to download the document.

November 2013 – Credit Where Credit is Due Public Tribute to Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard - CWCD event - © Ponch Hawkes

On 10 November 2013, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former federal Independent Tony Windsor delivered landmark national addresses at the Melbourne Town Hall, streamed live to venues nationally and overseas.

This historic event came about from an extraordinary set of developments in our social and political history.

In late June 2013, the country’s first woman Prime Minister was defeated by Kevin Rudd in a leadership ballot. Rudd and his supporters had agitated covertly and not so covertly for the past three years for his return to the leadership – a campaign of destabilisation which added significantly to the attacks on the democratically-formed minority government that had been carried across large sections of mainstream media, in particular through News Ltd media outlets.

On 5 July 2013, thanks to the support of five women donors making non tax-deductible donations, the Victorian Women’s Trust placed full-page ads in four major metropolitan  newspapers – the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Herald Sun and The Australian, reaching an estimated readership of over three million people. Entitled ‘Credit Where Credit is Due’, the advertorial paid tribute to the minority government led by Julia Gillard, arguing that this term of federal government was a productive and relatively successful period with more than 500 pieces of legislation including landmark bills supporting disability care, climate change, education reform, the Murray-Darling River Basin plan, and the National Broadband Network.

The advertisement generated an extraordinary and overwhelmingly positive response from many women and men all over the country – suggesting a huge reservoir of Australians who had formed their own evidenced view of this period of government despite the line-up of forces that decried its ‘legitimacy’ and that of the country’s first female prime minister.

With this deep and profound sentiment in mind,  the Trust hosted a Melbourne Town Hall event on Sunday 10 November with Julia Gillard as keynote speaker. You can download a copy of her key note address here.

Former independent MP Tony Windsor also delivered a major address. The event showcased  a stirring rendition by 260 women of the Women’s Anthem, led by anthem composer, Kavisha Mazzella AM and a surprise performance by Bronwyn Calcutt of her Misogyny Song.

Tony Windsor’s address

Watch Julia Gillard’s Key note address

Watch Q & A with Julia Gillard and Lynne Haultain

Watch Bronwyn Calcutt’s video of The Misogyny Song