Reception in Support of International Women’s Day 2017
Minister Grace; Queensland’s 22nd Governor the Honourable Leneen Forde; members of the Judiciary, including the Chief Justice of the Family Court who is currently in Brisbane, Kaye’s and my long-standing friend and my former colleague, the Honourable Diana Bryant; Members of Parliament; Councillors; guests, distinguished as are you all.
Kaye and I welcome you most warmly to Government House for this celebration of International Women’s Day 2017.
That welcome includes the small group of supportive men here tonight – welcomed indeed by our women guests of honour: a theme tonight is inclusion not exclusion.
May I now acknowledge the traditional custodians of Brisbane lands, the Turrbul and Jagera peoples, with respectful recognition of their Elders.
Ms Forde reminds me this is the 24th of these annual celebrations at Government House, Queensland. Ms Forde inaugurated the event here, and it is wonderful we have continued its tradition over such a long period.
It is around thirty years since the first significant equal employment opportunity legislation came into effect in Australia, followed a few years later by anti-discrimination legislation in Queensland.
Those three decades have seen positive change for women in this State and country.
One measure of this is the ease with which we at Government House were able to compile a long list of prominent, high-achieving women to invite to tonight’s event! A list, I note, that includes women from all over the State in a dazzling variety of fields of endeavour… including those who support this vice-regal office, and Kaye and I were delighted to extend an invitation to all female Office of the Governor staff to attend tonight’s reception, and there are 11 of them here tonight! You are all most welcome!
Compiling a list for a reception such as this thirty years ago would have been more of a challenge, despite the fact that women in Queensland then had the same levels of talent and ambition as they have now.
The difference is that, three decades ago, there were still formidable barriers, both overt and indirect, that discouraged or prevented women from reaching the top echelons of their fields; indeed of entering some fields at all.
The hopes and ambitions of individual women were often thwarted. And that represented a major loss to this State, not only thirty years ago, but across many decades.
We applaud the progress that has been made in the community since that time – in areas as various as women Governors, premiers, judges, service personnel and clergy… and increasingly in professional sport, with the significant expansion this year of the women’s national AFL competition – in which our Lions are doing remarkably well – and the creation of a second Queensland netball team, the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
But we recognise that this welcome progress is not an invitation to lapse into complacency. The UN’s 2017 International Women’s Day theme – Be Bold for Change – remains a topical call to action.
Today is an opportunity to reflect on the substantial body of work still needed to ensure that the hopes and ambitions of women are encouraged – and never discouraged by barriers based solely on their gender!
Today is also, unequivocally, an occasion to celebrate the magnificent achievements, past and present, of the women in this room, and of women all over the State… and I enthusiastically join our Governor-General in calling for more women to be nominated for Australian honours and awards!
Kaye and I are privileged to join you in today’s most significant celebrations, and we thank you for your presence here tonight, in recognition of your substantial contribution to the advancement of our State. Thank you.