Newsletter – Sydney December 2017

Dear Friends,

This special season is a time for hope, so I begin my newsletter with the hope that the significant campaigns and achievements during 2017 that have built on the decades of work of activists and feminists across the world will lead to real continuing cultural change. The silence breakers who have raised awareness about sexual harassment and assault on women and men, the Royal Commission Report on the Abuse of Children, Undeniable, just released, the triumph of fairness and equal rights of marriage for all Australians, the equal participation of women in political decision making in Rwanda, Canada, France, Iceland, Queensland and the Northern Territory, and the advances towards equality for women and men in sport, are just a few of the milestones. We have still much to do in relation to justice for refugees, our first peoples given parliament’s failure to accept the Uluru recommendations, homeless people, and then beyond Australia to addressing some of the great inequalities between nations. The new year should dawn with renewed commitment to making progress towards achieving the sustainable development goals across the globe.

As usual, at the end of this Christmas newsletter, I have included short paragraphs from my four children about their families, with an outline of my own activities, both in Australia and during a recent visit with speaking engagements in Hong Kong. Continue reading “Newsletter – Sydney December 2017”

Newsletter – Sydney October 2017

Dear Friends

My travel over the last two months has been within Australia to Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Western Australia to visit children, grandchildren and friends, and to attend various functions. I expand on this at the end of the newsletter, which I invite you to read. However, I want to begin by recording the passing of a very special friend and mentor of mine many years ago, Dr Evelyn Scott. The passing of three other significant women are also mentioned below – Dr Kate Millett, Fiona Richardson and Anna McPhee – and 30 of my school mates from 1952-57.

As I experience the privilege of growing older, like many of you I mourn the ones who have passed before but also celebrate the many amazing living women whose achievements are touched on in this newsletter.
Continue reading “Newsletter – Sydney October 2017”

Making a Better World? – National History Challenge NSW State Presentation

National History Challenge NSW State Presentation 2017
The Jubilee Room, Parliament House of New South Wales
Thursday 19 October 2017

Shirley Randell AO speaking on ‘Making a Better World’


Making a Better World?
Professor Shirley Randell AO, PhD
National Foundation of Australian Women

I wish to add my acknowledgement that we are on Aboriginal land, thank you for your welcome to Country, and also pay my respect to Elders past and present.

Thank you to the sponsors and judges, and congratulations to the winners of these wonderful awards of the New South Wales Section of the 2017 National History Challenge. And special acknowledgements to the five young people here whose entries have also won national awards in their categories.


I am now 77. I have four adult children with their four partners, 14 grandchildren and a great grandchild, who I continually encourage to be global citizens and to contribute to making the world a better place. Today I would like to share with you some of what I have learned in 20 years of working with the governments and the people of Australia, the Pacific, Asia and Africa.

I would like to say a few words about making the world a better place, a world where human issues of gender inequality lie at the very crux of the global problems everyone suffers, from poverty to the age crisis, the rise in violent fundamentalism, human trafficking and human rights abuses. And we all have the opportunity, and indeed the obligation, to speed progress in those issues.


Today, the idea of ‘global citizenship,’ of humans growing and learning and acting and working, with consideration of both the history of our world and our place in the global community has become fundamental. Being globally connected, emerging as global citizens, will support women as well as men to show leadership and achieve equality. Each one of us needs to be globally connected. While bringing our distinct cultural knowledge and values to the table, the days of staying in our cultural and national boundaries are gone. Global citizenship obliges an ability and capacity to think as part of one broad humanity, and is essential for our survival.


It is in believing in the ‘oneness’ of humanity, that we are all connected and interconnected, all interdependent. Humanity cannot make progress without all of us feeling that way. Whatever we do in our own community has an impact – positive or negative – on the rest of the world. Nothing and no one can feel independent of connection with the world. Interconnected global challenges call for far-reaching changes in how we think and act for the dignity of fellow human beings, bringing shared values to life and actively caring for the world.

The study of history prepares us well for the six major global challenges that I believe require advanced global citizenship to find solutions: universal education, economic development, climate change, peace and security, global immigration, and eliminating violence against women and girls. Our historical studies have taught us to think critically and creatively, and the value of a good enquiry-based education is in learning from our shared and distinct histories, utilising our expanding knowledge and in our willingness to contribute and take part in the wider world. Global citizenship is a basic cornerstone for


effective leadership moving toward a sustainable international future.

The world is now our workplace as well as our home, and people from across the globe are now our partners. As ever, our family, neighbors and close community always remain critical, but our field of influence is the globe.

So I would like to leave you with a few questions.

How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
Will ‘ordinary’ be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
Will you bluff it out when you are wrong, or will you apologize?
Will you play it safe, or will you be courageous?
When it is tough, will you give up, or will you be resilient?
Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?
Will you dare to take up a major global issue as a global citizen and passionately pursue it?

There is nothing naïve about our impulse to make a better world. Because all it takes is one act of service — one blow against injustice — to start a tiny ripple of hope. Our choices, words and actions can make a difference.

Malala Yousafzai, a young girl from Pakistan, has done more to raise the consciousness around the globe about the importance of education for girls in her country and indeed the world, than any government campaign or a thousand international aid awareness programs could do. Her words “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world” are now immortal.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out and use the critical analysis skills you have learned in this wonderful competition, to think independently and wisely. It is your ability that will hold you in good stead.

Just one word, one act – that is what makes a better world for all of us.


Download NFAW history awards 2017 PDF


Newsletter – Sydney August 2017

This is again a long newsletter but I invite you to skim through the headings that follow, in case there is a subject of particular interest to you at this time….

Dear Friends

Yassmin Abdel-MagiedI was absolutely delighted to meet fellow awardee,  Yassmin Abdel-Magied (photo), in 2014 at the Financial Review/ Westpac inaugural 100 Australian women of excellence ceremony. Yassmin is a Sudanese-Australian who moved to Brisbane when she was almost two years old, a mechanical engineer, author, activist, keynote speaker and part-time radio presenter. She hosted the Australia Wide television program on Saturday mornings on ABC News which was cancelled in May. Yassmin assisted in the establishment of Youth Without Borders, and has held membership in the Council for Multicultural Australia, the Federal ANZAC Centenary Commemoration Youth Working Group, the 2014 Youth G20 Summit, and the Council for Australian-Arab Relations. She was exactly the kind of Muslim that migrants in Australia are constantly told they need to be: a law-abiding citizen who worked hard and adapted to Australian life and mainstream values.
Continue reading “Newsletter – Sydney August 2017”

Newsletter – Sydney June 2017

Dear Friends

I have returned to Australia after a three-week visit to Mexico City, Atlanta and Los Angeles. I was especially pleased to return to Mexico – the birthplace in 1907 of my favourite artist, Frida Kahlo, whose home and museum I visited when at the International Federation of University Women’s biennial conference seven years ago. In addition to being an amazing artist, she has become a feminist icon, particularly for women of colour, LGBTIQ people and women with disabilities. Kahlo had originally hoped to be a doctor, but polio as a child and a traffic accident as a teenager left her with on-going physical injuries and unable to follow her original dream. While recovering, she picked up art, an old hobby from her childhood, and turned her canvases into commentary on gender, race, class, and identity. This painting, The Two Fridas was completed shortly after Kahlo’s divorce with Diego Rivera depicting her two different personalities and her desperation and loneliness after the separation. One is the traditional Frida in Tehuana costume with a broken heart, sitting next to an independent, modern dressed Frida. Later Kahlo and Rivera married again.

This is again a long newsletter but I hope you will skim through the headings that follow in case there is a subject of particular interest to you at this time….
Continue reading “Newsletter – Sydney June 2017”

Newsletter – Sydney April 2017

Dear Friends
I began this letter in New York at this year’s 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations headquarters (CSW 61). Four of us presented a joint paper for a parallel event on Health, Education, Sport and Women’s Empowerment: narratives from Australia, Rwanda and Bangladesh.

My companion presenters were Professor Dr Jaya Dantas from Curtin University, who concentrated on health and education while I spoke briefly on education in Rwanda and Bangladesh and then on sport. Shirley Gillett and her daughter Kat from New Zealand, spoke particularly about the bonding that sport brings to mothers and daughters

The theme of this year’s gathering was Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. We highlighted how education and sport can lead to women’s economic empowerment and improve health and wellbeing for women and their children. If you are particularly interested in CSW and women’s sport read on… If your interest is more generally on world issues affecting women in various countries go to the section starting at Travels in the US
Continue reading “Newsletter – Sydney April 2017”

Newsletter – Sydney Feb 2017

Welcome to my New Year newsletter with warm greetings for a peaceful and prosperous 2017.


A special personal project for me this year is the assignment of depositing my papers for research purposes in the National Library of Australia’s special collections and reader services. After an initial meeting with pictures and manuscripts branch staff, I am now facing the timely but daunting task of sorting through records on my own.

I am currently unearthing treasures from the 1970s-90s that have been stored under my daughter’s house while I was working overseas, relating to various positions and work I was undertaking at the time. Unfortunately, the library can no longer afford internship assistance but have kindly supplied archival folders and manuscript boxes for the various newspaper cuttings, media releases, photos and cards accumulated over the years.

For this first 2017 newsletter, I elaborate on this project and then cover 2016 winners of Shirley Randell scholarships, women in sport, sad news about women’s recent deaths, the Women’s March, the Australia Day billboard, news about women around the world, then Australia, Africa, and the Pacific, finishing with a brief mention of my family in Asia and my travels.
Continue reading “Newsletter – Sydney Feb 2017”

Newsletter – Sydney Dec 2016

Welcome to my Christmas newsletter with warm greetings for happy holidays and a great new year.

A special celebration for me in this quarter was the launch of the book edited by Julie Ankers, ‘Feisty, Fabulous and 50+’, short life stories of women, including mine, and available from Gleebooks and Amazon.

In my semi-retirement I am working with colleagues to refresh my website, Facebook page, and newsletter presentation. In 2017 I expect to send a much shorter letter more frequently.

For this fourth long 2016 newsletter, I have concentrated on women in sport, news about women in Australia, United States, Africa and Asia, and the usual contribution of my family to a brief summary of their year.

Read on if you have the time and the interest.

Continue reading “Newsletter – Sydney Dec 2016”

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.
Continue reading “Newsletter – Sydney Sept 2016”