My Christmas newsletter is late after a flurry of activities over the last two months. At 78, I am finding that obituaries for relatives, friends and people I have admired for many years are becoming more frequent and I begin with a tribute to Dr Bonita Mabo, known as the ‘Matriarch of Reconciliation’ and the ‘Mother of Native Title’.
Other news of First Nations people is followed by recognition of the 2018 Nobel prizes, then my usual round-up of women’s progress around the world. I end with more family news than usual for those readers who have followed my children’s and grandchildren’s lives.
Again, it is a long letter but please use the links below to go quickly to the items that might interest you.
Dr Bonita Mabo AO, the Indigenous and South Sea Islander rights activist who died at the age of 75 is remembered as a tireless campaigner. She was a Malanbarra woman and a descendant of Vanuatuan workers brought to Queensland. The widow of Edward ‘Koiki’ Mabo, whom she fought alongside for Indigenous land and sea rights, Dr Mabo worked for a decade on the Central Queensland Land Council. The Mabo case was legally significant in Australia because it ruled the lands of this continent were not ‘terra nullius’ or ‘land belonging to no-one’ when European settlement occurred. The Federal Court of Australia found the Meriam people, traditional owners of the Murray Islands, were ‘entitled against the whole world to possession’ of the lands. The case paved the way for the Native Title Act of 1993. In the early 1970s, Dr Mabo co-founded Australia’s first Indigenous community school, the Black Community School in Townsville, working there as a teachers’ aide.
Raising ten children, Dr Mabo worked nights at a prawn factory while Eddie worked as a gardener at James Cook University during the many years that they spent fighting the native title court case.
Over 45 years of campaigning, Dr Mabo empowered countless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to speak from the heart and stand up for what they believe in. Member of Parliament Linda Burney said, Dr Mabo was “One of the great First Nations women of our time, fighting ’til the very end for the great truth of this nation.” Indigenous Western Australian Senator Pat Dodson said that Dr Mabo’s death marked “the reconciliation of two proud Australian souls, a loving couple who have made our country a better place, a more harmonious place and a more reconciled nation… I think Australia needs to honour people like Mrs Mabo who stood, to some degree, in the shadows of her husband, but who was the backbone and the steel that helped him and many others to continue the struggles.”
Other First Nations News
“We got our country back”, said traditional owner Jimmy Wavehill, who lives in Kalkarindji, and helped his Wubalawun family to lodge an official claim seven years ago that has been finally recognised by the Federal Court of Australia. For 18 years, the Wubalawun people have fought to gain native title rights over one square kilometre of land in the township of Larrimah in the central Top End. It was an historic day, the Northern Land Council said, as the case represented for the first time in the Northern Territory both parties had agreed that evidence of an Aboriginal economy in the area, prior to white settlement, should be part of the Court’s determination. Elders hope the younger generation will now be able to move into the town and take control of the economy.
A little over a year ago, a 41-year-old Aboriginal woman lay on the dusty pavement by the Stuart Highway in Alice Springs near the Todd River. She had been savagely beaten and stabbed in her legs and lower back by her ex-partner. After the attack she had been taken to hospital. A brief story in the local newspaper said it was an ‘unprovoked’ assault that police had described as being of a ‘domestic nature’. A few days later, the newspaper’s front-page story declared it was time to ‘stop the tragedy in the Todd’.
For just a moment, the victim’s distraught family and friends thought the newspaper was launching a campaign to end violence against Aboriginal women. But no. The ‘tragedy’ was the infestation of the Todd River with buffel grass – a weed – like it was a tragedy, and the campaign was a call for locals to get behind a new land care group. Local woman Shirleen Campbell said, “We felt so much anger for us women. As Aboriginal women, we are good women. We deserve to be taken seriously.”
This anger galvanised an extraordinary group of Indigenous women: the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group with Campbell as coordinator. The women, aged between 18 and 65, are residents of the town camps in Alice Springs, some of the most socially disadvantaged communities in Australia, and every woman has a personal experience of family violence. Some have been surrounded by violence, witnessed it, survived it. Others have lost aunties and grandmothers and mourn them still. Tangentyere’s Family Violence Program includes family violence case workers, social and youth work, a men’s behaviour program, education access, and emergency relief. It also includes a construction company, an aged care service and social-enterprise art gallery. Skilled staff run a night patrol service that picks up town camp residents and people visiting from remote communities who may be heavily intoxicated, and drives them home or to suitable accommodation. This keeps them out of the justice system and reduces the risk of violence.
Human Rights Commissioner June Oscar AO said every Social Justice Commissioner over 25 years has highlighted the need for constitutional reform to address the ongoing human rights concerns faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. “Each process — the native title and social justice package of 1995, the reconciliation process to 2000, and the last eight years of debate on constitutional reform — has provided the same answers. Each time, four complementary actions have been identified: a representative voice for Indigenous peoples, constitutional reform, truth telling processes, and an agreement or treaty-making framework”. Oscar said Commissioners are hoping their latest submission for Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices), based on more than two decades of advocacy, will offer a pathway forward for strong political leadership to address the unfinished business in this country. In similar vein, Melanie Mununggurr-Williams from Darwin dropped a stunning slam on Aboriginal identity at the Sydney Opera House and was crowned champion of the 2018 Australian Poetry Slam National Final.
Louise Taylor has been appointed Australian Capital Territory’s first Aboriginal magistrate. She is the former Deputy CEO of the Legal Aid Act, has spent 15 years as a lawyer in the ACT, and becomes the eighth permanent magistrate sitting on the Magistrates Court. Taylor said during her speech that the appointment “feels a weighty responsibility, as it should…I won’t ever forget how hard it can be to be an advocate, the courage it can require, and the toll it can take”. She spoke of the importance of visible Indigenous leaders, noting the mantra that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” A Kamilaroi woman, Taylor has chaired the Women’s Legal Centre ACT for over a decade, is an Associate of the University of New South Wales Indigenous Law Centre, and member of the Indigenous Legal Issues Committee of the Law Council of Australia. She is a former specialist family violence prosecutor.
2018 Nobel Prizes
Nadia Murad won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Dr Denis Mukegwe. At 19 she lost her home, her country – Iraq, her culture, her mother to murder; witnessed male members of her family murdered in mass killings; and was kidnapped, sold and endlessly raped by members of ISIS. She now travels the world speaking out on the genocide being inflicted on her Yezidi people and demanding release for the more than 3,000 women still held in bondage. She was recognized for the immense courage she bares advocating for the end of sexual violence as a weapon of war. By sharing her own story and experiences and calling for accountability, Murad works to raise awareness and ignite change in an effort to ensure that no woman or girl endures what she did in the face of imperial, political, sexual violence and genocide.
Dr Denis Mukwege is a brilliant and compassionate surgeon, the Director of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the President of the Panzi Foundation, a pastor, and an activist. For 20 years, he has worked with the deepest vision and love to heal women’s bodies that have been ravaged by rape and war. He has travelled the world in their name, demanding an end to impunity and for international pressure to end the conflict in the DRC, and making sexual violence in conflict zones an issue that can no longer be denied. Despite having survived an assassination attempt in October 2012, Dr Mukwege risks his life daily, continuing to perform surgeries, teaching comprehensive sexuality education at the City of Joy – the revolutionary centre for women survivors of gender violence in DRC, and advocating for an end to the conflict in Congo.
Out of 550 Nobel prizes awarded for science over the years, only 16 have been for female laureates including three who were members of the International Federation of University Women, now Graduate Women International: Marie Curie (twice for physics and chemistry – discovering plutonium and radium), her daughter, and Barbara McLintock. This year half of the 2018 Nobel prize for Chemistry was awarded to Frances Arnold. In 1993, she conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes, the proteins that catalyse chemical reactions. Since then, she has refined the methods now routinely used to develop new catalysts. The uses of Arnold’s enzymes include more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels for a greener transport sector.
Australia. Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews has created history appointing three new women and an historic 50% female cabinet. It is a decisive and encouraging move from the Labor party, which just secured another four years in government following a landslide result. The government’s ‘equality agenda’ is an emphatic stand against issues like gender-based violence, the gender pay gap, and women’s social inequality. Funding has been announced to help parents and employers better navigate pregnancy, parental leave, and return to work. The government has advocated, “Putting a dollar figure on unpaid domestic and care work means we can actually value it. When we value unpaid work, it’s more likely we’ll share it”.
It has taken five years and been put off a number of times, but Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard has had her official portrait unveiled in Canberra. Hanging among a long list of portraits depicting men, she wants it to symbolise just how long it took for Australia to get a female PM. The portrait was shared in front of both Labor and Coalition MPs and visitors to witness the new artwork. Gillard said she had a “few mixed emotions” about getting the portrait done, and that her time in Parliament House had always been about “purpose”. Gillard added that it is difficult for portraits to capture a prime minister’s time in the job, especially the “sleepless nights” and overseas trips involved, but pointed to her achievements, including establishing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Gillard was also in Parliament House to be with 800 survivors of sexual abuse for the national apology. Her last act as prime minister was to order a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. Frank, who kissed Gillard’s feet, was a former student at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat. His abuser was Robert Claffey, now jailed, one of several priests from that place who casually broke the children in his care with vile abuse. “I’m not a Labor person,” he said, “But I always said, if I ever see Julia Gillard, I will drop to my knees and kiss her feet. Our unmarried, deliberately barren, atheist female prime minister has done more to protect the safety and welfare of children into the future than all the other prime ministers combined”.
Independent Professor Kerryn Phelps won the blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Wentworth, previously held by ousted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on a campaign of decency, humanity, compassion, integrity and common sense that does matter to many Australian voters. Politicians can ignore this at their peril. It breathes an unexpected wave of hope into Australian politics that perhaps things do not have to be the way they are; that change is perhaps possible; and that perhaps, the moment is ripe for that change to be led by women. Phelps herself captured this in her victory speech when she said: “Any young people, any women, any aspiring Independents out there – if you are thinking of running for parliament or running for public office: yes, it can be tough, yes, the road can be hard, but it is so worthwhile that we have the right people stepping up to represent Australia.”
Dr Neela Janakiramanan and Dr Sara Townend have been working on a grassroots campaign calling to urgently evacuate critically ill children and families from Nauru. Within weeks they collected the signatures of more than 5500 doctors in Australia along with more than 250 organisations, including over a dozen medical colleges and societies representing every major medical specialty. There is a health crisis affecting those held in indefinite offshore detention – the result of a system of punishment that has severe psychological impact. Australian Medical Association President, Tony Bartone has condemned the growing health crisis affecting refugees and asylum seekers in Nauru. Phelps introduced a bill in Parliament to bring children and their families to Australia for medical treatment if two doctors agree they are in danger. Sadly, the government rose for the year before this could pass.
Kelly O’Dwer, Minister for Women has announced that six Commonwealth of Australia portfolios have reached or exceeded the 50% target for women on public service boards and a further four are within only five percentage points of meeting the target. With over 53% of appointments in 2017-18 going to women, compared to only 46% the year before, the overall figures at the end of June this year had men occupying 54% of the seats. This is the closest to the overall goal of gender parity since the government started reporting the statistics. O’Dwer said, “We know that the different perspectives women bring to the decision-making process can have a positive impact on the outcomes delivered.” The Victorian government proudly reported in August that three years after switching from aspirational targets to mandatory quotas, women now occupy 53% of seats on Victorian public sector boards.
The Federal Government has passed Australia’s first Modern Slavery Act showing its commitment to tackling modern slavery and promoting corporate transparency. The law requires companies with a turnover of more than $100 million to report on their efforts to address modern slavery, often affecting women and girls, in their operations and global supply chains. It also holds the Commonwealth Government to account on its modern slavery risks. Professor Rosalind Croucher, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission said, “This landmark legislation is an historic step in addressing modern slavery and I commend the Government on this initiative. We now know that modern slavery is commonly ‘hidden in plain sight’ – this new law will assist in making the invisible visible… Now that the law has been passed through Parliament, the real hard work begins. The Commission looks forward to working with business, civil society and government to ensure the effective implementation of this landmark legislation.”
Nineteenth-century laws preventing women from legally accessing abortions in Queensland have finally been sent to the history books, with the state parliament voting to decriminalise pregnancy terminations with 50 to 41 votes. The reform will see abortion removed from the criminal code, and grant women the ability to request an abortion up to 22 weeks’ gestation. “Ultimately this is a health issue,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Parliament. “Does a woman have the right to talk to a doctor about her health without committing a crime? The answer is Yes.” The new laws will see ‘safe access zones’ provided for 150 metres around termination and fertility clinics and give women the ability to access a termination after the 22-week mark if more than two independent doctors agree.
The ACT Legislative Assembly recently passed laws so that GPs in the ACT can prescribe RU486 medication for medical abortion. Providing medical terminations through GP clinics rather than restricting access to approved facilities will greatly reduce cost and increase options. A law has also been introduced that a doctor or nurse cannot refuse to carry out, or to assist in carrying out, an abortion in an emergency where a woman’s health is in danger, which is important for women’s healthcare and safety. The legislation provides for gender-neutral language in recognition of the fact that some people who do not identify as women are also capable of becoming pregnant and seeking termination procedures. Abortion is still criminalised in NSW and Western Australia.
According to the Counting Dead Women Australia researchers of Destroy the Joint the number of Australian women violently killed in 2018 is 66 in 49 weeks. A woman was killed in Australia almost every second day in October – ten women murdered in 22 days – and this slaughter is not happening in a far-flung war zone. It is happening in our homes, in our backyards, on our beaches, in suburban shopping centres. It is happening right here, right now. We do not treat domestic violence (DV) and violence against women with the same urgency with which we approach other threats. There is no single simple fix to DV, but laws can be changed, frontline services can be adequately funded, and experts’ wisdom and understanding can be engaged in developing and implementing policies to reduce and manage DV. There is a culture we can shift. One promising step occurred on the last day of the Australian Parliament with legislation passed to make five days unpaid DV leave a workplace right under the Fair Work Act.
In Bangladesh the Supreme Court passed two landmark judgments in favour of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and its co-petitioners in 2018, restructuring the justice system to better tackle sexual assault cases. The first challenged the legality and validity of the ‘two-finger test’ – an inhumane and derogatory medical test that rape victims were required to undergo before their cases could be filed, banning it on rape survivors and setting out directions in relation to medical examination. The second was regarding an incident of rape where there was excessive delay in both the registration of the complaint and in sending the survivor to the Victim Support Centre. Relevant rules with the necessary instructions regarding the filing of complaints of rape and sexual violence and timely medical examinations have now been passed to ensure justice and protection of victims.
Fiji. The new Fiji Parliament includes ten women for the first time, five in the Government and five in the Opposition. Premila Kumar (photo, new Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Local Government, Housing and Community Development), Selai Adimaitoga, Veena Bhatnagar, Mereseini Vuniwaqa and Rosy Akbar make up the 27-member Fiji First led Government while Social Democratic Liberal Party members Lynda Tabuya, Ro Teimumu Kepa, Salote Radrodro, Adi Litia Qionibaravi and National Federation Party member Lenora Qereqeretabua make up the 24-member Opposition. The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement is carrying out a Gender Equality campaign focussing on women in leadership, women in unpaid household work, women in sports, and women in employment. While Fiji has progressed in terms of narrowing the gender gap in education, there is a lot more work to be done in the area of economic participation and opportunity, Health and Survival, and political empowerment. The 2017 Global Gender Gap Index Report ranks Fiji in 125th position out of 144 countries.
Egypt has the largest Christian community in the Middle East, representing about 10% of the Egyptian population of about 95 million. The Egyptian leadership’s attitude towards Christians has dramatically changed under the reign of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The first Coptic Christian woman to hold the position of governor of the Nile Delta city of Damietta, Manal Awad, reflects an unprecedented state willingness to empower Christians and appoint them in leading government posts. Awad was deputy governor of Giza in 2015 and worked on community service and environmental development. In that role, she was able to obtain a number of grants from international organizations to develop informal settlements and carry out several projects in the city.
Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has achieved 50% women in his Cabinet, signalling the country’s move toward gender parity in key leadership positions in a bid to “pursue peace and stability in the country and show respect to women for all the contributions they have made”. The new Cabinet also includes two Muslim women who wear headscarfs, which analysts say sends an important message of inclusion, given Ethiopia is one-third Muslim. Aisha Mohammad is Ethiopia’s first female defence minister, Muferiat Kamil the first female speaker of Parliament, and Sahle-Work Zewde the first female President. Human rights lawyer Meaza Ashenafi is the head of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court. Other countries with gender parity cabinets are Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, France, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Seychelles, Spain and Sweden.
New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern, NZ’s prime minister, the third woman and the youngest person to have held the role in 150 years, has firmly established herself as the government’s and her party’s most valuable political asset. An astute and effective political communicator, she regularly uses Facebook Live to inform the nation of the contents of a day in the life of the PM. The formal set pieces that have helped established Ardern as the dominant figure on NZ’s political landscape include her speaking on the lower marae at Waitangi, the spiritual birthplace of the nation; wearing a Māori korowai while meeting NZ’s head of state; and taking a seat in the UN General Assembly with her child Neve Te Aroha and partner Clarke Gayford. They used their own money to fund Gayford’s trip to New York. Arden has said that NZ politicians are “paid enough” when she announced a 12 month pay freeze on the salaries of Parliamentarians as well as a national ban on plastic bags.
Rwanda has broken its current world record of 64% women representation in parliament, now up to 67.5%, occupying 54 seats out of 80, and has also appointed a gender balanced Cabinet where the average age is 47.5 years. While Ethiopia and Rwanda are at the forefront of Africa’s push for gender parity in politics, other African countries are not far behind. Six of the world’s 20 top countries in terms of the share of legislative seats held by women are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This shift is as inspiring as it is historic. By appointing so many young, energetic female leaders – like Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology and Innovation, Kamissa Camara, Mali’s Foreign Affairs Minister, and Bogolo Kenewendo, Botswana’s Trade Minister – African countries are demonstrating that young women can aspire to, and achieve impactful goals.
USA. After a record number of women stood for election, over 100 women will be in the House of Representatives for the first time, the vast majority elected being Democrats. At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress with Abby Finkenauer who is a few months older. At 31, former nurse Lauren Underwood beat six men in the primary. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American Muslim and Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim, and the first Native American women Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, an openly gay Native American lawyer were elected. The first Hispanic women are Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, with Alyanna Pressley becoming her state’s first black representative in Congress. ABC political commentator Cokie Roberts said: “For most of our lives we just looked down from the gallery and saw a bunch of guys in gray suits. Now it’s people of every imaginable ethnicity and many, many more women.”
Women in Australia.
2018 has seen some remarkable shifts toward gender equality, and now we have one more to celebrate. For the first time, the ACT has an all-female line up contending for Australian of the Year and Young Australian of the Year in 2019. Journalist Virginia Haussegger, disability advocate Rebecca Vassarotti, ecologist Kate Grarock and education reformer Megan Gilmour are all in the running for Australian of the Year. Haussegger, who heads up the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis’ 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, and affiliated publication Broad Agenda, said the nomination was “an incredible honour”, adding that the all-female line-up was “enough of a win for me”.
Karen Quinlan has been appointed Director of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia. She has a long and distinguished history of leadership in the visual arts: as an art gallery director, a curator and arts manager, an educator, and a significant contributor to the community in which she lives. She also has long evidenced her commitment to portraiture. For the past 18 years, Quinlan has been Director of the Bendigo Art Gallery, serving as its Curator for three years prior to that. Under her leadership the Bendigo Art Gallery has come to be recognised internationally for the quality its exhibitions, many undertaken with overseas partners, such as the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Young Australians (aged 6-13) have nominated Wonder Woman as their favourite superhero in 2018 with the DC Comics superhero overtaking stablemate Batman in the last two years. Wonder Woman’s popularity more than doubled over the past two years (up by 192,000 to 368,000) following the release of the box office smash hit which brought in $US25 million in 2017 and was the seventh highest grossing movie worldwide. Director Patty Jenkins was praised for creating a ‘masterpiece of subversive feminism’, celebrating a female superhero as a film’s protagonist for the first time since 1984. A heroine with superhuman strength, resilience and empathy as her true power, she is a valuable role model for young girls and boys navigating a modern world.
Astronomer Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith who has been with the CSIRO for the past nine years is Australia’s first Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassador. The appointment comes as women continue to make up just one-fifth of people working in STEM. Harvey-Smith will help raise awareness about government programs aiming to get women into STEM fields. She will also advocate for girls and women in STEM education to help drive awareness of the need for cultural and social change on gender equity. Increasing participation in STEM by girls and women will strengthen Australia’s research, scientific and business capability. Alison Harcourt mathematics pioneer, 89, who is still tutoring at university has been named Victorian Senior Australian of the Year.
Suzy Nicoletti was five months pregnant with her second child when she was appointed Managing Director of Twitter Australia. It is a big job, and also a massive point in her life personally. But combining the two at the same time was an opportunity for both Suzy and for Twitter. “It was incredibly exciting, but also surprising,” she said on being appointed to the role just over a year ago. “It was great that a company would invest and get behind a woman in supporting her and believing in her at such a critical time for the business.” Balance and communication at home with her partner have been key to successfully raising two children under two at home, while pushing to grow the revenue and other opportunities for the local arm of an international tech business work.
Roxanne Kelley is the chief operating officer (COO) in the Department of Human Services. She was once Centrelink’s national manager for call performance and has long been in the social welfare area, most recently as the COO for the federal Department of Social Services (DOSS). Kelley has also held delivery and policy roles at the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, and governance, reform, people, strategy, policy and intelligence roles in the Department of Defence. It was the reform work at the Department of Defence that earned her a Public Service Medal in 2017. Margaret McKinnon has replaced Kelley as COO in DOSS. Previous responsibilities have included the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Job Service Australia, and policy and programs dealing with vocational education and training.
Captain Louise Pole has been appointed President of the Australia Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP), marking the first time in the federation’s 80 years that a woman has held the job. Pole will oversee the professional association representing 4700 commercial pilots in Australia. Women make up just 3% of commercial airline pilots at major Australian airlines. Pole has advocated increasing that, especially as convenor of the AFAP’s Women’s Network, which has seen AFAP’s female membership grow 300% since it was created in 2010. She recently said, “this is a very good time for women to choose becoming a pilot as their career.” Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have recently announced initiatives to boost the number of female pilots in their graduate and ‘future pilot’ program
Five years since leaving politics to spend more time with her daughter and start a board career, Nicola Roxon has been appointed independent chair of HESTA, the industry super fund for people in health and community services. She was the Federal Health Minister before becoming Attorney General in 2003. Roxon has served on a number of boards since wrapping up her political career — which included being appointed Australia’s first female Attorney General. She is currently Chair of Bupa Australia and New Zealand, and the Cancer Council Australia, as well as a Non-Executive Director with Dexus and Lifestyle Communities, among other roles.
The Governance Institute of Australia will be led by a female President and CEO team from January 2019 with Rachel Rees named as its next president, alongside its incoming new CEO Megan Motto. The appointments come as the institute prepares for a new chapter in pushing for greater governance and risk management structures from boards and executives. Its recent Ethics Index found that Australians have lost faith in corporate ethics in the wake of the banking scandals. Rees said, “I’m honoured to drive a strategy to educate and support governance professionals to be the best they can be.” Rees is a chartered accountant with extensive strategic leadership experience in multinational and listed corporations. Motto is the former head of Consult Australia and is currently on the boards of Standards Australia and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.
The first female CEO of Macquarie Group has taken out the fifth spot on the international version of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list. Fortune notes that since joining Macquarie in 1987 Shemera Wikramanayake has moved from roles in corporate services to heading its prudential function. She has also established infrastructure funds in North America, led the asset management branch, and chaired the group’s philanthropy foundation. From her new, high-profile platform as CEO of the world’s largest infrastructure asset manager, she says she “wants to bring more women into finance and convince girls that it is a compelling career”.
Fortescue Metals Group CEO, Elizabeth Gaines is the second Australian to appear on the list, in the 35th spot. Gaines was appointed CEO in November 2017 following a profit dive and fall in decline for iron ore from China. She was previously CFO with Fortescue.
Christine McLoughlin has been appointed Chair of Suncorp Group succeeding Dr Ziggy Switkowski. She founded the Minerva network that supports women athletes and is a tireless advocate for communities and inclusion. McLoughlin brings her experience having been a company director with expertise across a range of sectors including financial services, insurance, mining, infrastructure, telecommunications and health. She has an active interest in technology-enabled disruption and the role played by business.
The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has released findings of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report Everyone’s Business: Fourth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, confirming that workplace sexual harassment in Australia is widespread, pervasive and has increased significantly in the last six years. Jenkins said, “One in three people surveyed told us they have experienced been sexually harassed at work in the last five years…Almost two in five women and just over one in four men said they have been…These figures are unacceptable…We know from our research that many people are afraid to report their experiences of unwelcome sexual conduct out of fear that they won’t be believed, that it’s not worth it, that they’ll be ostracised, and that it could damage their career,” Jenkins said.
Women in the World.
Susan Fowler Rigetti, who blew the whistle on sexual harassment and gender discrimination at Uber was celebrated by many for exposing the true culture of a tech company that had almost been considered too big and too innovative to call out. Now Fowler has a much bigger platform to explore toxic behaviour in tech, and much more power and influence in sharing a wider range of opinions on the issue. She has been appointed a staff editor at the New York Times, responsible for opinion pieces published in the technology section. The appointment is also significant in that too often the opinion pages of major newspapers can be female-free zones, especially when covering tech.
The lowest number of women since the G20 started holding summits in 2008 were represented in global leadership in 2018. Only German Chancellor Angela Merkel (missing from the leaders’ photo), British prime minister Theresa May and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde matched the 2010 figure of three women. Whether May can hold on to the leadership of her party into next year means we could be soon be seeing even fewer women represented. Merkel has a few more years; she is stepping down in 2021. The highest ever number of women pictured in the leaders’ photo is still only five, occurring in 2012 and 2013. There were four women featured in 2017, including Merkel, May, Lagarde and Norwegian PM Erna Solberg. In 2008, May was featured along with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
In the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, almost 200 women leaders and Women Human Rights Defenders gathered to advocate for peace in their communities and gender equality for all. This remarkable gathering coincided with three important international days: International Day of Rural Women, World Food Day and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Each of these international days is an opportunity to focus on the contribution women make every day, but also the constraints they face, and the personal price women pay for the social and economic contribution they make to their families and communities. These days are also an opportunity to draw the links between the situation of women in rural areas, women’s role in food security, and gender inequality and poverty.
Zawadi Karikumutima, 32, is one of many Rwandan women who spend a night on their fishing boats on Lake Kivu in Rwanda. Today, women form an essential part of the national market for Lake Kivu fish. At fishing cooperatives, other women manage drying stations, where the fish are turned into a more compact, shrivelled-up product that’s easier to transport. Women carry the fish across the country, in buckets and sacks, and they also sell the fish in urban markets to landlocked Rwandans all around the country. Zawadi is a member of a fishing cooperative in Kibuye made up of 87 women who use the cooperative to fight poverty. “Here in Rwanda we now have the idea that women and men can do every job…I am very proud to be a part of the cooperative. Now a woman can say: ‘I can build a house by myself. I can look after my family properly. And even if my husband dies, we can live a better life.’”
The new President and CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) is Nicole Taylor, who previously served as vice president of the Arizona State University Foundation, overseeing annual giving, estate and gift planning and foundation relations. She replaces Emmett Carson, who stepped down in June following allegations by current and former employees of harassment at the workplace and poor management. On the day of her appointment Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife physician Priscilla Chan donated $214 million worth of Facebook stock to SVCF.
Robyn Denholm has been named Elon Musk’s replacement as Chair of Tesla and is leaving Telstra in the coming months to take up the position. She was only recently appointed CFO and Head of Strategy at Telstra, a role she took on top of her board position with Tesla, which she has held since 2014. Denham has extensive global experience in both the tech and auto industries, including across Telstra, Toyota, Sun Microsystems and Juniper Networks. She is largely credited with leading a team that drove significant increases in revenue for Juniper Networks.
Captain Tatjana Pletena is at the helm of the Singapore-flagged LNG tanker BW GDF Suez Everett, since being promoted in April 2018. She began her career as a deck cadet with Bergesen, a Norwegian shipping company, in 2001, from the Latvian Maritime Academy. Speaking about the requirements for becoming a captain, Pletena said that aside to a master’s degree, one has to clock many years of sea experience, to complete an enormous number of hours of training and courses, to get good evaluation reports, and to be promoted through the ranks. This includes various tests and feedback from senior colleagues, course instructors and psychologists. “To be one of the first of very few female cadets and officers in the company is challenging, but also an honour. All these challenges just make me stronger. How do I overcome them? I work hard, smile, and don’t give up.”
This year’s prestigious Man Booker Prize in fiction has been won by the Northern Irish author Anna Burns. Her third novel, Milkman, is a tale of a young woman growing up during the Troubles. The prize panel said, “None of us has ever read anything like this before. Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance, threaded with mordant humour.”
Women in Sport
It has been a big 12 months for women’s sport: from huge crowds across the major leagues – football, rugby, soccer and cricket and soccer – through to individual performances. It was exciting to see Jessica Fox win double gold at the Canoe Slalom World Cup in Slovakia. Momentous headway has been made on gender pay disparities as well as some big appointments including Rugby Australia’s boss Raelene Castle. Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport have announced an initiative aimed at achieving true diversity by addressing and combatting the gross underrepresentation of female sport executives and high-performance coaches. The 12-month program for 16 executives and 16 high-performance coaches will offer emerging female leaders in sport a range of transformational skills. In 2018, women represent 22% of Board Chairs, 13% of CEOs and less than 15% of coaches.
Cricket The 2018 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 was hosted in the West Indies from 9 to 24 November 2018 during the 2018–19 international cricket season. The Australian Women’s Cricket Team won their fourth World title after beating England by eight wickets in a brilliant performance in the final. Australia’s Alyssa Healy was named the player of the tournament. Meg Lanning, captain of the Australian team said that the victory was “the most satisfying win I’ve been involved in” adding that “there will be some big celebrations”. The victorious skipper is hopeful the triumph in the Caribbean will be the start of something special for the Australian women’s team. Meanwhile in Australia, the Australian men’s cricket team is competing against India and as usual, we are listening to superb commentary by Catherine McGregor on the ABC.
Basketball. The Australian Opals came second in the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Spain. Dr Julia Walsh has been appointed the first woman to coach a national men’s basketball team in Australia, taking up the position with the Australian Boomerangs Men’s team for athletes with intellectual disabilities. She takes on the role 12 months out from the team competing in the International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport in Brisbane next year. Based at Deakin University’s Centre for Sport Research and the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Walsh said her appointment offers a great example of the pathways available for women pursuing coaching. “It is transformational for players and others watching as it disrupts common views on who can coach,” she said. “Coaching is the job that keeps on giving and provides great skills for other occupations.”
Football. On a historic night for the women’s game, Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg was honoured as the first female recipient of the prestigious Ballon d’Or award. She was recognised as the world’s best female football player, 62 years after the male version of the prize was first awarded. Just 23, Hegerberg has already been named BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year and broke the record this season for the most goals in a Champions League season, scoring 33 goals for her team, Lyon. She came out smiling, proudly held the trophy high, and thanked France Football for the “huge step for women’s football” in introducing the award. Hegerberg gave an inspiring speech sharing her hopes that more girls believe in themselves. “Together we’ll make a difference,” she said. Fifteen women were nominated for the award, including Matilda’s star Sam Kerr who finished in fifth spot. Sam was later named second in the world by The Guardian‘s top 100 list of footballers in 2018.
The Matildas will go into the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France full of confidence. They are ranked eighth in the world and showed what a class act they are at the 2018 Tournament of Nations. Defeating two higher-ranked opponents in Brazil and Japan and drawing with hosts and number one ranked USA along the way, the Matildas proved they are one of the best performing and most consistent of Australia’s national sporting teams. The tournament witnessed the international debut of Mary Fowler against Brazil. At only 15 years of age she appears to have the world at her feet. She is just one of the stars of the current batch of storied women’s footballers in Australia.
Netball. Noeleen Dix, a former Australian netball player, President of Netball Australia and General Manager of Masters’ Swimming, has spent her life utterly absorbed in sport and fitness but her passion for sport, and netball in particular extends further than a love of competition. Dix believes wholeheartedly in the power of belonging to a team and sees this as a potent antidote to feelings of despair and hopelessness. She is the inaugural chair of the Confident Girls Foundation, a program designed “to help disadvantaged women and girls achieve their full potential both on and off the court”. The foundation works with the grassroots community to run netball programs for vulnerable Australian girls; subsidising development pathways, supporting local clubs, providing grants to program delivery partners, and supplying free equipment. So far, close to 20,000 girls across Australia have participated in a community program initiated by the Foundation.
Five out of the six African women with albinism climbers from Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Senegal did not reach the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, but they are proud they pledged to climb the 5,895-metre mountain to raise funds for their cause. This is just the beginning – now they will work so that more people know that their body parts do not have lucky charms, and having sex with a woman with albinism cannot cure AIDS. Albinism is a rare non-contagious, genetically inherited condition which occurs worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender. It most commonly results in the lack of melanin pigment in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to sun exposure.
Tennis. Fifty years on and things have changed for the better in tennis at Wimbledon. The winners of this year’s singles events – men and women – each received £2.25m. However, achieving equality has been a long and slow process. In the 50 years since she won the third of her six Wimbledon singles titles, Billie Jean King has become a sporting icon. Her win over Bobby Riggs, immortalised in the Battle of the Sexes film released last year, catapulted women’s tennis into the spotlight. At 74 she has lost none of her charisma, her sheer will an inspiration to many, both in sports and in life, where she continues to be a leading advocate of gay rights. She has never been afraid to upset her hosts by discussing difficult subjects, as she proved in Melbourne this year when she said the tournament should remove the name of Margaret Court, Australia’s most successful ever player, from its third-biggest arena, because of her statements about the LGBT community.
Surfing. Stephanie Gilmore has claimed a record-equalling seventh world surfing title in Hawaii, matching the record set by fellow Australian, Layne Beachley, who Gilmore described as an “inspiration” and thanked for setting the standard. “Surfing means everything to me. It has given me everything. It is still my first love…Layne, it’s an honour to sit beside you. You’ve been a huge inspiration my entire career. And for so many female surfers, all over the world…To equal you is amazing, what an honour. Thank you for setting the standard.”
Triathlon. Australia has elected Michelle Cooper as its next Triathlon President, the first woman to take the role since the governing body was formed in 1986, and just one of 19 female presidents of the 173 triathlon associations worldwide. She is an Ironman triathlete, co-owner of a Brisbane-based coaching club, public speaker and has served on the Queensland Sports Ministers Advisory Council developing a recreation engagement strategy. Cooper has also represented Australia at two triathlon World Championships. “Being the first female President and I believe the youngest President appointed in Triathlon Australia’s history, shows that leadership is about experience and attitude, rather than age or gender,” she said.
Sports Media. A campaign led by Yorkshire Olympic sprinter Emily Freeman is being launched to press for more gender equal sports coverage in the media. When she began looking at the gender split of sports photographs in national newspapers last year, she found we are 33 times more likely to see photos of a man playing sport in the papers than a woman. Her research showed that 17% of newspaper photos are of someone playing sport but of these less than 3% are of women. In one month last September, there was just one image of a woman playing sport across the papers examined, compared to 365 of men. Calling for sport in the media to be more gender equal, Freeman said that if women and girls cannot see female role models in sport, it is harder for them to participate in sport themselves.
Dame Beryl Beaurepaire AC, DBE, aged 95, one of my long-standing mentors, died peacefully on 24 October. She worked closely with former Prime Minister Malcom Fraser to create the inclusive National Women’s Advisory Council which she chaired in the 1980s. I had the great privilege of working with her as NWAC’s Executive Secretary. Members of the Council were drawn from all over Australia, from community groups and advocacy organisations. Dame Beryl wanted to get to the heart of the many problems faced by women in Australia. We surveyed, studied and reported on domestic violence, migrants, women with disabilities and Aboriginal women. Within a short period of time NWAC had convinced the government to fund 23 women’s refuges across the country and had sponsored research into women in the home.
Richard Gill AO aged 77 died on 28 October. His contribution to the musical landscape of Australia has been immeasurable. He had energy, passion, wit and an ability to make musicians aware they mattered, what they were doing was important and they were capable of great things. Gill was determined to make music and singing an important and vital part of not only Australia’s education system but also our lives as compassionate, thoughtful, inquisitive and empathetic members of a community. He had an evangelical zeal that was infectious, arguing for music to not be a privileged extra but rather a basic right for all. It is through music and especially singing that we can learn not only about ourselves but also about the world in which we live. I have loved practising Christmas Carols with the Sydney Philharmonic Christmas Choirs but unfortunately missed too many rehearsals with travel away so regrettably had to withdraw from this year’s performances at the Sydney Opera House.
Ruth Gates, British biologist who died on 30 October at the age of 56 dedicated her life to saving the world’s reefs and training the next generation of reef scientists. She was known as much for her laugh as for her science. “She laughed easily, loudly, and infectiously”. When she first snorkelled around Heron Island, in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, she reportedly laughed so loudly that boat drivers could hear her from the surface: “She was so thrilled by the reef that she couldn’t contain her joy.” To lose anyone is tragic, but to lose someone like Gates—an optimist’s optimist, a cornerstone of hope—is especially so. She was a great champion, an outspoken advocate for corals and the people who study them. “She was radiance that we were privileged to gather around, our hands toward the fire.”
Linley Izett, my younger brother Bill Izett’s wife aged 80 died on 23 November after a long struggle with Alzheimers. Lin was a magnificent artist who came from a long line of outstanding family artists but over the last ten years had been unable to paint. She was also a brilliant art teacher at several colleges of advanced education. I travelled to Perth to be with the family for the funeral service to celebrate Lin’s life and then joined the Wake in Bill and Lin’s Waikiki home. This was magnificently catered for by their daughters Veronica Jumeaux and Elizabeth Seah, with help from Steve Izett, my older brother Bob Izett’s son. Only three weeks before I had also been in Perth to celebrate Bob’s 80th birthday. We now have another photo of the three siblings.
Four days later, I travelled to Queensland for Rae Mavor’s funeral service, wife of Rev John Mavor (photo), former President of the Uniting Church of Australia. They were both close friends of Alan and me during our nine years missionary service in the 1960s and 70s with the Methodist and then United Church of PNG and the Solomon Islands. Rae aged 86 died on 3 December, also after a long illness. John and Rae headed the Malmaluan Training Centre when we were leading Gaulim Teachers College on the Gazelle Peninsular, so our families saw a lot of each other for mutual support as well as recreation. Rae was a wonderful colleague and John has pastored us over the years. It was wonderful to meet missionary friends, Nancy Bomford (Anderson) and Joan Sexton, at the celebration in Beenleigh Queensland. In the hour-long journey back to the airport we recalled and caught up to date with the lives of so many of our Gaulim students who had married Australian men, and people we had worked with.
Doug and Julie became grandparents this year with Julie present at the birth of Joash Douglas Randell on 4 February 2018 in Townsville. Julie returned to Ethiopia in July to help with teaching English for the Raey School summer program. She also undertook her first visit to PNG to assist Nathan and Kaylin with childcare for three months when they had senior roles aboard the YWAM Medical ship. It has also been a year of travel for Doug, visiting Aspen Medical projects from Hobart to Darwin and Perth to Townsville as well as PNG, Vanuatu, and Fiji so they are both looking forward to time together as the year ends. Aspen Medical does great work, including treating Ebola in Africa, opening new trauma hospitals in southern Iraq, medical evacuations for multinational oil and gas companies, and providing health care in remote Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory. Alan and Judy are now in the ‘granny flat’ extension on Doug and Julie’s home. The photo is of four generations of Randells.
Andrew and Vicky have had a busy year with rowing and family responsibilities. Andrew has continued coaching at the national training centre In Canberra. His Mens Eight were placed second at the final World Cup and World Championships in Lucerne and Plovdiv. It was also a busy year for Vicky who is fulltime carer of the girls while Andrew is away. She continued her role as Director of Rowing at Radford College and coached the Senior Women who won a silver medal at the National Championships. Beatrix turns five on 1 January and loves her two days a week at Pre-Kindy classes, her swimming, and regular piano lessons with her Aunty Julie. Matilda recently turned three and certainly lets everyone know how she is feeling at any given time! She loves copying her big sister (can be good but not always!) and enjoys Day Care and dancing. Emilia is case manager for several refugee children from Syria, Myanmar and Yemen and has continued her part time university studies in International Development. Harry is teaching at The King’s School and lives and works in one of the large boarding houses. He coaches senior rugby and rowing teams and will complete his Master of Education (Management and Leadership) degree at Sydney University in mid 2019. Isabella is now a ‘legal drug dealer’ having just graduated from Sydney University in Pharmacy. She will spend the next year working as an intern at a small suburban pharmacy in her local area.
Ellen continues preparing rowers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at Rowing Australia’s women’s national training centre at Penrith. Their crews also competed overseas for several weeks during the year. Adam looks after the girls while Ellen is away. His information technology business is thriving, and he has taken on more staff this year. Jess has finished year 12 and is waiting on results. She plans to study Global and International Studies next year. Jess recently spent a week touring in New Zealand with a school friend which she loved. Alicia moves into year 11 in 2019 and like her sister, is doing well academically. She thoroughly enjoys her dancing.
Erica has been developing her yoga teaching and training this year, teaching across a variety of levels and schools in Melbourne and is currently at the Inyange training centre in Pune India. Levi and Inci have both completed another year of their university studies. Inci has won a couple of prizes for coding and will be finishing his degree in 2019. Levi has branched into some anthropological units along with his art and art theory, complemented by an internship unit with the Berndt Museum, which he will continue in a voluntary capacity over the break. Lena, Wren and Mila have recently moved into their newly renovated home which has been a huge project and transformed the property beyond expectations. Paris has completed his law certification and will likely work in the field next year while Chelsea has been keeping her hand in with independent curatorial projects along with her work at the Australian War Memorial.
My activities. I see Erica in Melbourne and Bundanoon, and the Canberra families more regularly as I attend meetings there. In Sydney life is full, spending time with friends in my writing group, the Women’s and Lyceum Clubs, and various not-for-profit professional and development groups with which I am involved. We enjoy functions in the ‘Strangers Room’ at NSW Parliament House organized for the National Council of Women Australia Day Awards, Jessie Street Library, The Ernies and White Ribbon.
This month I was in Parliament House Canberra as a representative of the National Foundation of Australian Women at the presentation ceremony for the National History Challenge. This is a wonderful competition for school children across Australia. Over 6,500 participants competed for the 2018 school, state, national and special category awards. The Challenge encourages Australian students to take on a research task that explores some aspect of history.
I still keep active with regular travel interstate as well as a week overseas in the US where I had a great time with good friends. Rev Walter Burgess and Eileen Menton in Baltimore organised a wonderful evening with their friends and gave me the opportunity to talk about the Shirley Randell Scholarship for a student undertaking the Master of Gender and Development at the Centre of Gender Studies of the University of Rwanda. The second awardee Prisca Iraguha has just graduated after completing an evaluation thesis of Club Rafiki’s program for modern dance and reproductive health. We are seeking funds for a third scholarship student in 2019. Club Rafiki is a project in a partnership with indigo foundation, one of the not-for-profit boards I serve on that funds small community development partnerships in Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Afghanistan, India and Indonesia. As usual, I spent two wonderful days with Paul Kervin and Professor Elaine Sarao in Washington. They keep me up to date on US politics and Rwanda news. Elaine had arranged for me to be interviewed on Voice of America radio about developments in Rwanda. She also organised dinner with representatives of the Rwandan and Monaco embassies in Washington. I then stayed for two days with Professor Sharon Meagher, Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Marymount Manhattan who had organised for me to prepare a presentation to students about Rwandan women.
Having not visited Tasmania for a couple of decades I was pleased to be there twice recently. I attended the Women Chiefs of Enterprise Annual Conference in Hobart and spoke on their theme ‘Women on top – getting there and staying there!’. Not long after, I travelled to Launceston to open a magnificent art exhibition by my friend Lyn Connellan in the Burnie Regional Art Gallery. It was lovely to have some days in Wynyard with Lyn who had been one of my art students 30 years ago at Ballarat University College. I gave other speeches on Rwandan women to AGMs of Zonta International Sydney Breakfast Club and the Older Women’s Network of New South Wales, and two speeches on human rights for the Independent Scholars of Australia Association’s Annual Conference in Canberra and the ninth International Human Rights Conference (IHRC) convened by Dr Sev Ozdowski at Western University Paramatta.
I spoke IHRC on ‘Challenges of the Implementation of Human Rights Education in Africa, and the Case of a Common Core Course at Laikipia University, Kenya’. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure funding for my colleague Dr Babera Chacha, Director Linkages at Laikipia to come to Australia so we could not present together as first planned. IHRC opened with a Sydney Harbour Cruise on the Tribal Warrior where we enjoyed hearing stories of the Gadigal, Guringai, Wangal, Gammeraigal and Wallumedegal people of the harbour and learning the Aboriginal names and meaning of significant Sydney landmarks.
We then went ashore on Be-lang-le-wool (Clark Island National Park) – warm memories here because this is the place where Ellen and Adam married more than two decades ago. We viewed early coastal lifestyle and an Aboriginal cultural performance. Conference participants were from all over the world and I made new friends, including from Africa and Borneo. It was a special delight to meet again with Xanana Gusmao, inaugural President of Timor Leste, and hear his stirring human rights messages.
I was greatly honoured to receive the Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML) inaugural Sir John Storey Lifetime Leadership Achievement Award. This award is presented in honour of the Institute of Management’s first President, the Australian industrialist, Sir John Storey. His contribution to the Australian management and leadership industry and to the Institute is best illustrated in his inaugural address tribute in 1949. He stated that the Institute’s “main goal is to raise the standard of management and to see these standards accepted nationally”. These words continue to resonate powerfully inside IML and are echoed in its vision of ‘creating better managers and leaders for a better society’. Sir John’s grandson John Storey presented me with the medal. I was so happy to have 17 of my family and friends celebrating the day with me, including my daughter Ellen representing my children and Emilia representing my grandchildren, all of whom, with many others, have contributed to my leadership journey.
With the fantastic voluntary service of my librarian friend Diana Richards and administrative assistant Mary Hacio we are putting into some order all my paper and photo records that have been stored under the children’s houses for many years. We hope to send the first dozen boxes on my education and employment history to the National Library of Australia (NLA) early in 2019 but still have a long way to go. Consultancies, boards, associations, travel and family etc mean we still have more months of tolerating NLA boxes populating my small one-bedroom apartment. I am so fortunate to have such marvellous professional assistance with the collection.
I also acknowledge the expertise of my colleague and friend Michael (Thatch) Thatcher of Pretentia in Melbourne who has given me a public presence on social media and takes such care over these newsletters.
I hope you have a joyful Christmas with your family and friends and wish for you all a very peaceful year ahead.
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.