This was held at the Weintal hotel/motel in Tanunda in the Barossa Valley South Australia.
One hundred and forty-six women attended including speakers. There were one hundred and twenty-three SI Australia delegates and 28 IBM members plus two admin staff from HQ. Most delegates were transported by bus from the airport and I would like to thank Pam Lacey SI Adelaide who did a fabulous job making sure everyone arrived and departed on time.
View from Menglers Hill lookout Barossa Valley
The Friday was SI Australia all day, commencing with an indigenous smoking ceremony
The Commissioner for Equal Opportunities Dr Niki Vincent opened the conference, followed by Di Lockwood with an update on Advocacy.
Regina Richardson spoke on homelessness and domestic violence through her experiences as a child and married life. She was remarkable and captivated all in the room with her stories.
The next speaker was Machellee Kosiak, an indigenous midwife who spoke about the Rodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund, to which SI Australia is contributing, and the importance of indigenous midwives attending the births of indigenous women.
The following speaker was Alison Rahill, who is the executive officer of Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s antislavery taskforce. She spoke on the forced labour of immigrants, domestic servitude and debt bondage.
There was a display outside the conference room on recycling set up very ably by Ralda Forzin and Christine Plunkett.
After lunch the National Rep Australia elect was announced and congratulations were given to Wendy Evans SI Hobart.
AGM and Business meetings were held and then the Programme UN Liaison or her representative from each Region presented a summary of their projects.
In the evening a combined SI Australia and IBM dinner took place, with special guests MP Stephan Knoll and Barossa Mayor Cr Bim Lange. The guest speaker for the night was Megan McLoughlin, 2019 SA Local Hero and a double transplant recipient, who spoke on her organ donation charity “Herd of Hope”.
The following day was organised by SISWP. Dr Pat Hamilton was the keynote speaker in the morning and after lunch the famous Barossa identity Maggie Beer was the special guest.
After that there were workshops on the Programme data base, membership and Code of Conduct.
In the evening there was a casual buffet dinner with the SI Australia members and NRs from SISWP, who all spoke briefly about their country’s projects or problems as well as their reaction to the combined Conference.
On Sunday SI Australia members went on tours of the Barossa while IBM had a meeting.
On Monday it was the conclusion of the IBM and then Barossa tours for those members before catching the plane home. A very full three and a half days.
On the 22nd and 23rd of May I attended the Equality Rights Alliance meeting in Sydney, representing Soroptimist International Australia. ERA brings together member organisations to advocate for women, including the implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women
The first day was reporting to members on the ERA activity report and a brief introduction to ERA of member organisations. Also the work plan for 2019 -2020 was discussed, which included:
Housing – Maintenance
Increase focus on GAPP (Gender Aware Policies and Processes)
Intense direct advocacy with government and public service.
Support “Lets Talk” YWAG (Young Women’s Advisory Group)
On the second day of the ERA meeting a transgender woman, Eloise Brook spoke of her life experiences and then a series of speakers presented for and against accepting transgender women into ERA’s guiding principles.
All members voted and the majority were in agreement that transgender women should be included.
Catherine Evans SI Canberra, Karess Dias SI Fremantle, me, and Sheila Byard OAM SI Melbourne
Immediately after the meeting, I flew to Townsville and Rosaline Miller drove me to Cairns then on to Atherton to the North Queensland Region Conference.
We arrived on Friday night to drinks and nibbles at Halloran’s Lookout and the conference commenced in earnest on Saturday.
The guest speakers were very interesting and entertaining.
Carla Barletta, an exercise physiologist, demonstrated the benefits of exercise for older women and included handouts. Gail Barton from Elders Tablelands, advised on insurance, particularly house insurance as Nth Queensland has been through floods and cyclones.
After lunch came the business meeting and club reports. I was very impressed with the work the clubs do, including working with women in prison, helping them fill out forms, providing women’s shelter packs, supporting an orphanage in Vietnam, library bags and cardmaking workshops.
They also give stationery for schools and one club purchased a Cuddle Cot for the Atherton hospital so families with still born babies can spend time with them and say goodbye.
Before the dinner Mary Lyle, the Region President, took me out to Gallo Dairyland which is a fully operating dairy farm milking over 300 cows a day. There is also a shop where you can buy the cheeses and chocolate made on the property and there is also a restaurant where we had coffee.
That evening at dinner there were two guest speakers.
Lesa Pershouse, Deputy Principal of Mareeba High School spoke on her work with “Days for Girls” and her trip to East Timor. She showed us how to fold undies so as to pack the maximum amount when travelling overseas and the Region president Mary Lyle presented her with “Woman of the Year “award.
The next guest speaker was Kim Forde who is an expert on wind farms. She showed us a video on how they built wind farms in Nth Queensland. Firstly they have to consult with the indigenous people of the land so as not to disturb anything of cultural significance. Next the animal and plant experts are called in to assess whether there is any harm to them and then they can start the construction.
The next day I gave my presentation, after which Rosaline Miller and Wendy Logan carried out a membership workshop.
I had a lovely time with the girls from Nth Queensland and they made me feel very welcome. They were the last Region for me to visit in my term as Soroptimist International Representative for Australia and I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting you all.