Newsletter – Sydney Sept 2016

Dear Friends shirley_2014As many of you have commented, I am enjoying a ‘partial’  retirement! I have so appreciated more relaxed time with family,  interspersed with travel and learning, including this current challenging camping African Safari Kiboko Adventures ‘Great Trek’ through South Africa (SA), Namibia, Botswana, finishing at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, even larger than the Augrabise Falls we viewed in SA. Before this trip I have been free to attend conferences, give lectures, and catch up and spend time with many special friends in Antibes, Paris, Devon, Leicester, Oxford, London, Japan, Korea, Rwanda and various Australian cities. I anticipate that this may be my last year of such extensive travel.


Bangladesh. There is overwhelming evidence that globally inspired terrorism has come to Bangladesh. The security situation I described in detail in my last newsletter has deteriorated further with the shocking torture and slaughter of 20 people in a favourite restaurant very close to my former home in the Gulshan diplomatic area. This organised machete murder by Islamic terrorists (ISIS has claimed responsibility) of seven Japanese construction workers on an infrastructure project, nine Italian business people in clothing and textiles, a Sri Lankan and three university students on holiday from US – two Bangladeshis and an Indian – has horrified both nationals and foreigners, who have always been made so welcome. Scarcely a week later there was another bomb attack and massacre. Bangladesh has learned to cope with repeated disasters of cyclones, floods, river erosion and wars, showing resilience and capacity to rebuild their lives, but this new disaster of horrifying and senseless killings is something new. People are targeted for being progressive, agnostic, followers of minority faiths, gay, anything that is offensive to the literalistic Koranic interpretation of ISIS’s religious leadership. The government seems powerless to know how to contain the violent extremism and deal with law and order challenges. The rule of law is being undermined by a deeply politicised, dysfunctional criminal justice system that allows suspects to be arrested and prosecuted without due process. Bangladesh urgently needs political stability to be restored, security ensured, the constitutional right to free speech and dissent respected, political interference in the justice system ended, and the criminal justice system modernised. Not only are these latest incidents a serious threat to internal security and people’s safety they are also disastrous for Bangladesh economic growth, business and future investment as other diplomatic posts follow Australia’s earlier lead of sending home volunteers and families of civil servants. (Australia has lifted its security warning for the whole country to ‘Reconsider your need to travel’). Many of my Italian, Sri Lankan and German friends in infrastructure and the garments industry who lost colleagues have left. No doubt those considering investment in the country will be having second thoughts. A happier Bangladesh-related highlight for me was my visit to Japan to stay with long-standing friend Baby Rani Karmarkar, First Secretary at the Bangladesh embassy following the International Rotary Convention in Korea. It was Baby Rani’s last weeks in Tokyo and I was privileged to attend her farewell parties. She is now back in Dhaka, promoted Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare & Overseas Employment. Rwanda. A great joy was the opportunity to squeeze in a short visit to Rwanda between participating in the Graduate Women International’s General Assembly & Triennial Conference in Cape Town and the Kiboko Southern Africa ‘Great Trek’. In seven days in Kigali I was able to renew friendships and undertake some activities in connection with two of my new roles in Australia. As Ambassador of the Women’s International Cricket League, I met with officials of the Rwanda Cricket Club to discuss planning for an education and opportunity coaching workshop for the four top women cricketers from each of six African countries, which we propose to jointly sponsor next year. I am now on the Board and Chair the Development Sub Committee of indigo foundation, a similar organisation to the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund in New York, from which I recently retired after nine years on the Board and its committees. One of indigo foundation’s most successful projects is its support for Club Rafiki that runs a very successful hip-hop dance school and teaches participants about sexual and reproductive health, including HIV and STD prevention. Situated in the Nyamirambo sector, 50% of adolescent girls who come to the Club are already pregnant. Early pregnancy is also one of the concerns mentioned to me by both the Minister for Education, Hon Dr Papias Musafiri and the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Hon Dr Diana Gashumba. Other recently appointed dynamic leaders are the Vice Chancellor University of Rwanda, Prof Dr Phillip Cotton and Deputy VC Ambassador Dr Charles Murigande who returned from service as Rwandan Ambassador to Japan, including Australia, part of an excellent executive team with huge challenges in consolidating quality in the amalgamated university. As a member of the Advisory Councils of Paper Crown and Akilah Institute for Women I was especially thrilled to visit with Akilah’s program manager and students and hear reports of continuing great progress. It was a privilege to present awards to the Shirley Randell Best Masters Graduates for cohorts three (Jean Paul Safari) and four (Ambassador Soline Nyirahabimana -photo) of the Master of Gender and Development (MGD) program at a ceremony hosted by my distinguished successor, Director Dr Jolly Rubagiza at the Centre for Gender Studies. I met with the first Shirley Randell MGD Scholarship holder, Josephine Musabiyama who will graduate shortly. I also attended my old Rotary Club of Kigali Doyen, and spoke at the election of a reinvigorated Rwandan Association of University Women Council, with a new chair, Donatha Gihana, an MGD graduate who has won the 2016 Award for the most influential woman in Business and Government. In between these appointments ex-colleagues, ex-students and new friends hosted me for meals and African teas. Women in Politics. The Australian Government was very narrowly returned to office after one term and this election made history with a record of 73 women, four more women than the last Parliament, and six more than 2010. Women make up 32% of Australia’s federal politicians and the country is now ranked 49th in the world for representation of women in parliament. The Turnbull Government’s poor record of women in government deteriorated further – six women in Cabinet and 10 across the full front bench. Just 13 of the Coalition’s slim 76-seat majority are women. At a time when the number of women on major boards and in powerful positions around the world is increasing, the Coalition has its lowest representation of women in 20 years. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will have huge challenges balancing conservative and liberal views. He has announced a ten year gender diversity plan to meet the Liberal Party’s target of 50% female MPs by 2025. The plan includes mentoring and targets for state branches but no quotas. On the other hand, through its system of gender quotas, 40% for pre-selections since 1994 and standing women in safe seats, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has made serious and sustained progress in getting women elected. The majority of the 43 women in our 150-member House of Representatives will sit with Labor. Opposition leader Bill Shorten has announced his new front bench, 13 women and 19 men, as well as another seven female assistant shadow ministers in the 16 assistant shadow minister roles – 20 women across the full team of 48, with eight women in the shadow Cabinet. Victorian MP Clare O’Neil, a Harvard University graduate who once served as Australia’s youngest-ever female mayor, is on the front bench in the justice portfolio. Queensland MP Claire Moore takes on international development. Women ministers also have responsibility for disability and carers, primary, TAFE, vocational and early childhood education, women, foreign affairs, health, family services, ageing and mental health, small business and financial services, veterans’ affairs, and communications. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked why it was so important that his Cabinet was gender balanced he said, “because it’s 2015.” US democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has also declared half her Cabinet would be women. While the new frontbench line-up in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government features fewer women than David Cameron’s, she does have eight. In my opinion, only quotas will significantly change things for women in politics and on boards otherwise the power brokers will not give way. Merit still comes up as an argument against quotas, that people just want the “right person for the job” rather than somebody put there because of their gender. But in politics particularly, there seems nothing meritocratic about a system where success essentially relies on personal and professional connections or state or party/faction quotas. A welcome change is the Northern Territory (NT) Parliament where after the recent elections the ALP holds 18 of the 25 seats, eight of which are women. There are five independents, two of whom are women and two from the Country Liberal Party, one woman and one man; in total, there are 11 women in the NT Parliament or 44%. The Cabinet is made up of eight ministers, five of whom are women. As Chief Minister Michael Gunner said “This Labor Cabinet mirrors the diversity, aspirations and life experience of Territorians and is a watershed in Australian political history with over 60 per cent of Cabinet positions now held by women.” Women and Sport. Australian Winter Olympic teams have had at least an equal number of men and women competing in Vancouver and Sochi but for the first time ever we have achieved gender parity with more than half of our Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympic team represented by women (214:207). The eight female rowers that replaced Russian athletes at the last minute tipped the scales in favour of our women. It was also pleasing to see women in leadership roles this year, including our flag bearers Anna Meares (opening ceremony), Kim Brennan (photo-closing ceremony and gold medal rower), Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller, coaches and commentators. It sends a positive message to Australian women and demonstrates the variety of roles they can play within sport. While we have certainly come a long way, there is still much work to be done before gender equality in sport can be achieved, from the absence of women coaches, including rowing, and the pay gap between female and male athletes remaining high, to the failure of many sporting clubs to offer women their own changing rooms. The Victorian Government has taken a lead by offering grants of up to $100,000 for sports clubs to improve their female-friendly facilities. Gina Rinehart is one of very few female billionaires in the world who is a generous supporter of a select group of sportswomen and men. She was seen at various venues across the Olympic Games including swimming, volleyball and rowing. Rinehart’s reportedly gifted at least AUD5million to four teams and several athletes, and is clearly a big fan of seeing Australians compete on the world stage. Her favourite sport seems to be synchronised swimming, as she flew the team to Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island to perform at her daughter’s wedding in June and then for workers at her Roy Hill mine. Tokyo will host the 2020 Games and the city has just elected its first female Governor, Yuriko Koike, former Defence Minister who will take on the responsibility of preparation and has said she will ensure that both men and women will shine. Less than 10% of members of parliament are women in Japan’s lower house. In other women’s sporting achievements, the Rugby Sevens won gold in the Olympics (photo) and Chloe Hosking won the women’s Tour de France. A Coxless Crew, of four women aged between 25 and 40 rowed from San Francisco on a 29- foot bright pink rowing boat ‘Doris’ for the 15,640-kilometre odyssey to Australia. They rowed 24 hours a day in two-hour shifts, stopping only in Honolulu in Hawaii and Apia in Samoa for up to a week at a time to re-stock before setting off again, spending 235 days at sea. British aviator Tracey Curtis-Taylor, 53, single-handedly piloted the 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane for 27,000-kilometres across 23 countries over the course of three months from UK to Australia. She flew across the Mediterranean Sea to Jordan, over the Arabian Desert, across the gulf of Oman to Pakistan, through India and on to Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia before crossing the Timor Sea and landing in Darwin. The flight was modelled after Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1930. In women’s cricket, Ellyse Perry polled 33 votes to claim the Belinda Clark Award ahead of two-time winner Meg Lanning (20), who led the Southern Stars for runs and wickets in a 10-match voting period. 25-year-old Perry scored 375 runs and took 17 wickets for Australia in 2015, while she captained the Sydney Sixers in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League season. Cricket Australia (CA) has signalled that “diversity will continue to be an area of strong focus” for the sport moving forward, especially given the significant rise in women players over the last few years, now comprising nearly a quarter of cricket’s playing base. CA has recognised that as such they are entitled to a fairer slice of the pay pie: $4.23 million is to be spread among 120 women cricketers, and has contributed a $4 million funding boost for female cricket, particularly focused on teenage participation. In women’s football, this month’s All-Stars women’s game between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne delivered bumper television ratings, with an average of 746,000 viewers (metro and regional) tuning in nationally, peaking at 1.05 million viewers and won its timeslot across all key demographics in Melbourne, where it averaged 387,000 viewers. It was the largest overall average audience in Melbourne of any game during the 2016 home and away season and also featured on social media, taking Twitter by storm. The highly entertaining clash showcased the best women’s talent ahead of next year’s inaugural National Women’s Football League. The Australian Football League (AFL) reports that female participants comprise 25%, there are 629 dedicated female football teams, and the number had grown 27% over the previous period. 163 new female teams were developed in 2015. AFL has increased women player’s pay – $5,000 salary for the vast majority of the players but it is still way behind the men’s. That amount includes training (which is capped at 9 hours per week because otherwise the amount will fall below the minimum hourly wage). Players are also expected to pay for their own health insurance, estimated to be $2500, and, because nobody can live on $5000 a year, the amount will also be taxed at a higher rate as it will be a second income. Meanwhile Netball is seeking to cement its status as the number one Australian sport for women by signing a pay deal that offers landmark family-friendly conditions and pay. The new National Netball League next year will see 80 players share a pool of almost $5.5 million and it is hoped the sport could become fully professional within five years. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the average salary for netballers will rise from about $40,000 to $67,500, and the minimum wage more than doubles to $27,375. The deal includes breakthrough conditions, like clubs paying for children under 12 months old and a carer to travel to games with players, private health insurance, income protection for up to two years in the event of injury or pregnancy. Indigenous issues. There were ten indigenous women in Australia’s Olympic team this year and diversity also improved in Parliament with three new Aboriginal members, including Senator Malarndirri McCarthy from NT and Hon Linda Burney, our first Indigenous woman to be elected to the Lower House and a former deputy leader in the NSW parliament, immediately taking the human services portfolio. She delivered her poignant and momentous political maiden speech as the Labor MP for the NSW seat of Barton. The National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) 2016 gala night, recognised ten outstanding people, giving the Female Elder of the Year award to MaryAnn Bin-Sallik, the first Aboriginal nurse graduate to begin her training as a nurse in Darwin at the age of 17 and the first to complete a doctorate at Harvard University. Professor Chris Sarra who began the Stronger Smarter Institute that aims to improve the delivery of Indigenous education and education outcomes while enriching cultural identity, was awarded Person of the Year. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Stephen Page for his work as Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre that began as a small Aboriginal dance company and is now an internationally recognised organisation. Among his achievements was the choreography of the 2000 Sydney Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. Talented opera singer, Deborah Cheetham, is the first indigenous woman to write and direct an opera – the poignant ‘Pecan Summer’ now showing at the Opera House and involving an indigenous cast. The production, tells the story of Alice, a cheeky Indigenous girl of 11-years-old, who is forcibly removed from loving parents to become part of the stolen generation. Women in Australia. Frances Adamson is the first female secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and one of the country’s most powerful public servants. She is a former Australian ambassador to China and has held positions all over the world, including in Hong Kong, Taipei and London. With Adamson’s appointment, we now have a record-breaking seven female department heads. Women make up just over a third of diplomatic posts, despite accounting for more than 50% of DFAT’s full workforce. The department launched a ‘Women in Leadership’ strategy in November last year to increase this with managers undergoing unconscious bias training along with a flexible work trial. It set a goal of having women in 43% of senior executive band one positions by 2020, up from 36%. Kym Peake’s appointment as head of the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria has doubled the number of female secretaries. Claire Rogers has been appointed first female Australia CEO of World Vision, Australia’s largest international development and humanitarian agency at a time of ongoing and significant humanitarian disasters across the world. Family. One of the great joys of this part-retirement life is having time with the family. I was delighted to be in Canberra with son Douglas at my grandson Nathan’s Bachelor of International Security graduation at the Australian National University. Chancellor Gareth Evans who I worked with in the 1970s officiated. Nathan’s mother Julie was in Ethiopia volunteering and his wife Kaylin in Wyoming still negotiating her visa to rejoin him in Australia. Three grandchildren, Isabella, Jessicca and Alicia viewed the Frida Kalo/Diego Riviera exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales with me and we have monthly family dinners with the two Sydney children Ellen and Adam and five grandchildren, including Emilia and Harry. Ellen took a crew to the Olympic Qualification Regatta in Europe but they were not fast enough for selection for Rio. Andrew’s crews did make it and he was in Rio for the Olympics, coaching the men’s double scull that won the small final – seventh in the world – and the reserve women’s single sculler who rowed in the Women’s Eight. After Rio he joined Vicky to look after Beatrix and Matilda (photo together again) while Vicky’s crew trained to perform in the Under 23 World Championships in Rotterdam where her single sculler came fifth in the world. They are now with Vicky’s family in England. I did not attend the Olympics to watch Andrew’s races this time as I was in South Africa for the Graduate Women International Conference in Cape Town and also attended a wonderful memorial service for cousin Ree Izett that celebrated her vast array of contributions to the arts in Victoria. After Erica’s Monaco art exhibition she took me to Paris and then the Lakes District in England where we had an amazing week together in that beautiful part of the UK. Ian has recently completed a book on the history of Aboriginal Art in Australia, Rattling Spears. I am settling back into Australia, visited The Sunflower Foundation, and assisted judging Indigenous participants and people with disabilities for the Australian Council of Leadership for Women 2016 Diversity Awards – I am patron for both organisations. I am also enjoying a new role as a representative of Women Chiefs of Enterprise on the Economic Security for Women Council, one of the Australian Government’s National Women’s Alliances. I have rejoined The Women’s Club, just a short walk through the fabulous trees of Hyde Park from my apartment, and am participating in some interesting ‘circles’ – discussion groups on the arts, politics, along with enjoying easy access to the harbour, opera house, art gallery, museum, cinema and film festival events. 16 September 2016 SRIA Rwanda Ltd Most of us undervalue the contribution we can make to a better world. We compare our humble efforts to the greater talents of others. We may feel we are not making enough progress, are ineffective or that our ordinary daily acts are insignificant. The truth is that collectively we all can contribute to creating a better world. It is in accumulative small acts of kindness, courage, support and perseverance that positive change is generated and the empowerment of the downhearted, under-privileged, subjugated and marginalised is thus nurtured and achieved. Our acts today may seem no more than a tiny pebble dropped into an ocean of obstacles, but the ripple effect of one pebble can be far reaching and uplifting, touching others in ways we never imagined. As we continue our seemingly small, ‘ordinary’ contributions throughout the day, others are watching and are influenced. Together we can create a powerful ripple of effect. Let us acknowledge and compliment each other when we witness positive words, behaviours, actions, and attitudes. Too often we do not make the effort to tell people that they are appreciated or to call out discrimination. We must recognise that millions of ‘extraordinary-ordinary’ daily acts performed by multitudes of people have the power to change the world. Every pebble of progress makes its contribution to the generation of powerful waves of change and hope for the future. In October Julie Ankers is launching her publication Feisty, Fabulous and 50+. My contribution talks about ‘Coming Full Circle’ and I am experiencing this again as we travel through the Namibian deserts on corrugated roads that are bringing back memories of the first years of our marriage where we travelled 1000 miles north of Perth to and from the primary school we opened in Nullagine that enrolled many desert Aboriginal children. Lions, elephants and rhinoceroses are rather different from kangaroos, emus and bush turkeys but the sparse dusty landscapes interspersed with magnificent canyons are similar. Recently I was reintroduced to one of Rainer Maria Rilke’s glorious poems that captures an essence or potential of circles and this communal spirit: the translation by Joanna Macy is especially wonderful: I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world. I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it. I circle around God, around the primordial tower. I’ve been circling for thousands of years and I still don’t know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song. Blessings, Shirley