Women at Work!
By Cr John Jago
Wanted: Women to make careers in
Local Government, as councillors, CEOs, managers, consultants
and contractors. Local Government is highly important business.
Women need to get their fair share of it. Local Government
is about building, strengthening and developing local communities.
The most urgent need for women in local government in Gippsland
is as councillors, where at present women are nearly invisible.
The voice of women, and particularly of business women, needs
very much to be raised. In the final analysis, all politics
In many respects, local government is the most important
sphere of politics and government. It certainly is the one
where local people can have the greatest say in influencing
the outcomes in the affairs of their community. But be warned!
The hours may be long, the pay is pitiful, the media may
be negative and there is little glamour in the job. Given
all that, the councillor role is very satisfying. Women who
are seriously considering standing for election as councillors
should be preparing your campaigns right now. Why?
Because the system of postal voting means that there is little
room to get your message across after the end of October
which is only four months away. Nominations close on Wednesday,
October 26 for elections in all Gippsland Councils (Bass Coast,
Baw Baw, East Gippsland, Latrobe, South Gippsland, Wellington)
with Election Day on Saturday, November 26.
There are several steps that you can take to help mount an
effective campaign. I suggest that the most important one
is to get in touch with the group known as Womens Participation
in Local Government, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton.
WPILG has published two books on the role and tasks of the
councillor and will be running at least one training workshop
in Gippsland, probably in August. You can also talk with women
who are currently councillors and those who have recently
served. I am available to help if I can (contact details below).
To contact WPILG, telephone Linda Bennett at 03 9347 2233.
Apart from the councillor role, it is vital that many more
competent women see Local Government as a career. The range
of work in Local Government is immense, from engineering to
horticulture, to strategic and environmental and community
planning, to financial control and top level administration.
There is enormous scope for women to be chiefs rather than
Indians in local government. You could consider making Local
Government your career of choice. Good hunting! Councillor
John Jago 10 Willow Court, Sale 3850 Tel: 03 5144 7098 E-mail:
Politics still a mans world
With municipal elections due in November, discussion is brewing
on who will stand and who will best represent the interests
of the community in Local Government. Women, who comprise
more than half the population but less than 30 per cent on
council, are being encouraged to consider standing for election.
The mayor of South Gippsland Shire, Cr Diane Casbolt, said
recently the government system seems tailored for men more
than women. To change it, women first need to infiltrate it by gaining selection, Diane said. Its
a case of which comes first, the chicken or the egg."
We need more women on council to increase our vote.
Cr Loretta Leslie, the only female
councillor on Bass Coast Shire Council, agrees that much is
to be Cr Loretta Leslie gained by having a more balanced gender
She has contributed the following article
as an insight to her experiences:
Why is it important for women to
be represented in all decision making processes and in particular
I will begin with two brief anecdotes.
My niece is 12 years old. The family is watching the news.
The PM is speaking. My brother-in-law says Look Charlotte,
you could be Prime Minister one day! Charlotte replies
No, I couldnt Daddy! Why not?
he asks. Because I am not a man.
My second story: I am out with
the EO of an organisation of which I am a Board Member. Technically
I am his boss. We stop for lunch at a corner store and while
we are waiting two of the locals say We are trying to
guess what you do! Well? I ask.
They reply We think he is
in politics. And me? I ask. You are
the secretary. We all laugh when I say Actually,
I am his boss and I am the politician! We talk about
role models in sport. We need them in government as well.
Women bring skills and experience which are uniquely their
When women are present the dialogue
over issues changes. I used to think it was trite when people
said Women think differently but I have learnt
from experience it is true. The comparison between my two
terms on Council is evident. Being the only female present
has presented challenges I had not expected.
While most would agree that
social values are important the way women approach achieving
outcomes is significantly different. Women dont tend
to push themselves forward over an issue. Most are content
to achieve the outcome and not seek the glory.
Often this is to our detriment. It is not about right or
wrong, it is about the diversity of opinion and views shared.
Greater diversity of representation provides a wider range
of views, improved democratic inclusion and, hopefully, better
It is not about having to stand up in front of crowds to
speak; it is about being a conduit for the opinions and issues
of a community; it is about finding the mechanisms to make
things happen. Women are good at that. Women open opportunities
I encourage anyone interested in standing for Local Government
to find out more; women, young people, family builders, and
business people. Healthy democracy is underpinned by strong
how to do it - Back to Back a Success
The highly successful Back to Back International Wool Challenge,
held in Omeo on the Queens Birthday weekend in June,
sets the pace for other WwMB projects taking shape throughout
About 400 people passed through the venue, the Omeo Town
Hall, to view the wool challenge and sampled the wonderful
array of wares. Out of town visitors provided an income boost
for the area and great exposure for local producers.
The International Wool Challenge began many years ago in
Scotland with a wager to shear a sheep and knit a jumper in
less than a day. The Back to Back (as it is called in Omeo)
was fi rst held in Australia in 1994, and has been held in
Omeo for about eight years.
It is held under the auspices of the Omeo and District Agricultural
Society and this year the Women who Mean Business Project
also provided assistance and support. The challenge involved
a team shearing a sheep, spinning the fleece and knitting
a mans jumper, in as fast a time as possible, and according
to strict rules which applied to all participants around the
Although the Omeo team, called the Mountain Maids, didnt
rate a place in the top 12 times, they did a magnificent
job and were enthusiastically supported by locals and visitors
Overall winner was a team in Japan, in six hours, nine minutes
and 24 seconds. The Omeo team provides the following roundup:
A special thankyou must go to our team members: knitters Dorothy
Goodman, Margaret Worcester, Rae Last, Anne Kissane; spinners
Lyn Lochrie, Margaret Backett, Julie Christianson and especially
to Alison Horne, shearer and provider of the sheep!
The sheep were particularly beautiful English Leicesters
and seemed quite at home in the Omeo hall. A very special
thankyou goes to John Butler who stepped in as MC at short
notice and to Jean Jenkins who worked tirelessly to get the
event running again this year.
An amount of $125 was raised for cancer by the auction of
last years jumpers and this will be donated to Rotary
House at the Latrobe Valley Hospital. The day started beautifully
with Reverend Barbara Logan presiding over a service celebrating
the Blessing of the Sheep.
The many activities, displays and demonstrations included:
book signings by authors Barry Heard and Dawn Churchwood;
face painting for the children provided by clown, Lisa Batchelor;
a Taste of the High Country with stalls showcasing
local produce and wares such as bread and pastries, wines,
and preserves, and some beautiful finger food.
There were stalls with superb handmade woollen clothing and
hats, and superbly scented soaps as well as felting, knitting
and blade-shearing demonstrations. The hall was decorated
with fantastic drawings and textile work by children of the
Omeo and Swifts Creek primary schools.
The photographs and memorabilia provided by the Cattlemens
Association helped set the scene and people loved poring over
the historic photos. And not to forget the wonderful band
The Snapdragons, which entertained everyone superbly.
Many people absolutely loved the blade shearing demonstrations,
with one Melbourne woman saying that it was the best event
she had been to! She said that if something like this was
held in the city it would only showcase one or two aspects,
such as felting or knitting, not the whole gamut.
Such feedback was great as sometimes we take our achievements
for granted. The Swifts Creek-Omeo Working Group comprises
about 30 women from the towns of Benambra, Swifts Creek, Ensay,
Cassilis and Omeo.
We come from diverse backgrounds and our project has developed
into a rich, multi-faceted one which seeks to celebrate our
culture and connect our communities. We hope to achieve this
- supporting the 2005 Back To Back International
Wool Challenge in Omeo;
- holding a photographic exhibition;
- developing the first stage of a touring exhibition promoting
the High Country and its culture to tour around Gippsland
Now that the wool challenge is over the Members of Omeos
Back to Back International Wool Challenge team, Rae Last and
Margaret Worcester Lisa Batchelor entertained the children
with her face painting at the Back to Back.
The next aspect of the project, the Photographic Exhibition,
involves documenting the Back to Back event using photography.
It was quite funny at times to see five or six photographers
gathered around a sheep clicking away merrily.
Many wonderful photos were taken and there is a great sense
of excitement around this upcoming exhibition. The exhibition
will be held at the Swifts Creek Art Gallery from August 29-September
12 as well as the East Gippsland Art Gallery in Bairnsdale
from September 29 to October 12.
Participants in the project attended a photography workshop
held by Daniel Jenkins in February to help develop and consolidate
their photographic skills. We are also developing an exhibition
of contemporary artwork by local artists promoting the High
Country. The aim of this exhibition is to encourage interest
in, and tourism to, the region.
The exhibition seeks to explore the connection that artists
have with the High Country and to highlight its beauty and
rich diversity. This can be explored through painting, photography,
textiles, ceramics or other mediums.
The exhibition will be launched at the Queen Victoria Womens
Centre in Melbourne in October. Part of the project involves
preparing the exhibition for tour around Gippsland and Melbourne,
sourcing further venues and partnerships and applying for
funding to tour - watch this space for more information!
This exciting project has a lot of potential for our region.
To be involved, contact Deb Milligan.
safety issues for women with disabilities
By Jodie Pullman Gippsland Womens Health Service
In recent years, anecdotal evidence gathered by Gippsland
Womens Health Service identified concerns about the
vulnerability of women with disabilities to sexual and other
forms of harassment when using public and privately owned
This also raised concerns about the needs of women to access
their communities in a safe manner and how this impacts on
their lives in general.
Having recognised a need for research into the safety needs
of women with disabilities, Gippsland Womens Health
Service recently completed a project that would identify those
needs and develop a plan to meet them.
Project workers consulted with women across the Gippsland
region with a range of different disabilities including intellectual,
physical and sensory disabilities, neurological impairments
and acquired brain injury, as well as meeting with disability
networks and agency representatives.
As a result of the consultation process a range of issues
and needs were identified, and many positive suggestions for
change were made. In regards to physical safety, a number
of issues were identified that were common to women of all
ages and with all disabilities.
These included: crossing the street, kerb and gutter problems,
poor street lighting, accessing disabled toilets, using automatic
teller machines, feeling unsafe at home at night or feeling
unsafe in public at night or in crowds.
Public transport was also problematic for most women interviewed
as was parking for people with disabilities. For many women
with mental health illnesses, issues included feelings of
being followed and/or watched in their homes, concern that
there is nothing between being well and being
in (a psychiatric ward), and/or fear about what will
happen to them when their parents or carers die.
Many women also had personal health and safety issues regarding
safe sex, appropriate behaviour, and going to hotels and nightclubs
etc. When asked about possible strategies for feeling safer
or dealing with difficult situations, women generally indicated
three areas where change strategies needed to target.
- Personal skill and knowledge development, including self-assertiveness
training, self defence, in-home safety and strategies for
coping when afraid.
- Professional development programs for workers to increase
their knowledge of disabilities and their skills in order
to respond appropriately.
- Advocate for broader social change. As a result of the
Women with Disabilities and Safety Project, Gippsland Womens
Health hosted two forums on March 16 and 17 to develop strategies
that will address some of these issues.
The forums also featured a guest speaker from the Victorian
Women with a Disability Network and Chris Jennings, who is
the project worker for the Domestic Violence and Incest Resource
Centres Triple Disadvantage Report which
focuses on violence against women with disabilities.
The forums, which were free, were held in Morwell and Bairnsdale.
For more information contact Jodie Pullman at Gippsland Womens
Health Service on 51431600 or 1800 805 448.
Victorian Women on Water
The facts, fallacies and future of water were the focus
of a dinner and forum held in Sale in October. The aim of
Victorian Women on Water was to enhance womens understanding
of and participation in the water debate, to ensure the voices
of rural and regional women are heard.
By understanding the issues, women will be better equipped
to assert themselves in speaking to governments and authorities
managing the industry. The forum encouraged networking between
community members, with the ambition of acting as a catalyst
The Gippsland Womens Network and Wellington Shire
Council hosted the forum, which provided information on the
water debate from local to global levels, to mark World Rural
Womens Day. About 150 people participated in the forums
presentations and workshops.
Staff from Government departments, national and state authorities,
interacted with Gippsland business people and farmers. Chair
of the Regional Womens Advisory Council, Anne Dunn,
said she would provide a report on the forum directly to the
Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson. One of the main issues
concerned the impact of the International Free Trade Agreement
on water management.
For the first time a workshop was dedicated to identifying
the social impacts of water reform. The forum steering committee
will investigate the possibility of ongoing research in this
area. Another outcome of the forum was establishment of the
web site wow.org.au
to enable ongoing discussion.
The Big Gallery
The small town of Briagolong is making its mark in the contemporary
art world with the re-opening of its Big Gallery.
The gallery, which held an exhibition called Down
the Track in December, had closed for about six months
to enable it to be moved to a new venue. Established in 2002,
the Big Gallery is operated and run as a co-operative venture
by about 25 members of the Briagolong Fine Art Group.
The artists are all members of the Briagolong School of Fine
Art run by local artist and teacher Pat Waters. Some of the
gallery members come from as far away as Rosedale, Sale and
one man travels all the way from Ensay.
The current exhibition has works by: Coral Minster, Deborah
Milligan, Helen Booth, Judy Dorber, Lorraine Scott, Margaret
Fennessy, Gabrielle Smith, Helen Francis, Diana Balhorn, Michelle
Sandison, Esther Jago, Margaret Hallett, Robert Logie, Ali
Sutton, Juliet Miskin, Fiona Reynolds, Libby Witchell, Judy
Maxwell and John Lack.
In this exhibition marking the re-opening and relocation
of our Gallery, the work is diverse and wide ranging. However
one thing that unites it is the strength and boldness of the
work displayed and this is frequently the first thing remarked
on by visitors as they enter the gallery.
Many of the artists are concerned with environmental issues
and this is reflected in their choice of subject matter. The
exhibition has works in acrylic, oil, watercolour, mixed media
The group meets regularly, either weekly to paint together
as part of the Briagolong School of Fine Art, or at a monthly
gathering at tutor Pat Waters house. Painting regularly
together is a great source of inspiration and support for
Apart from being represented in The Big Gallery, the Briagolong
School of Fine Art also has an annual group show in a major
regional gallery, and many of the artists have solo exhibitions.
The Gallery is open on Friday afternoons, Sundays and public
holidays or by appointment.
Back to Back Wool Challenge
Omeo is considered by many to be remote and isolated, but
Jean Jenkins, is placing it on the world stage ... in the
International Back to Back Wool Challenge. Jean tells her
story: I was born and raised in the Omeo area and have only
recently returned to live and work here.
I was away about 40 years and came back about three years
ago. I just love the place ... its just so clean and
pristine. It has drawbacks of remoteness and social life,
but the environment, the beauty of the place and friendliness
of country people far outweigh any negatives.
I work at the Omeo hospital almost full time as a nurse,
and run the High Country Wash Tub, a little Laundromat at
Omeo. I organise bush walks once a month and am involved the
community in other ways ... particularly with the Back to
The Back to Back teams comprise eight people one is
a blade shearer, the rest are spinners and knitters. We aim
to shear the sheep, spin the wool, ply the wool and knit a
man-sized jumper in less than eight hours. The record, of
just over five hours, is held by the Mirrawa team in NSW.
About eight countries participate, including England, Scotland
and Canada, on Queens Birthday weekend in June. Each
country aims to hold its race on or as close to this date
as possible. The Back to Back competition was held in Australia
for the first time in 1994, and weve held it about eight
years in Omeo.
The competition began in Scotland many years ago by people
making a bet that you couldnt shear a sheep and knit
a jumper in a day. In those days, the sheep was not only shorn,
but killed and eaten as well in a celebration, but we dont
do that any more.
The competition eventually ceased but in the middle of last
century, a man in Britain wanted to raise funds for cancer
and thought of the Back to Back, and got it going again. We
still aid a cancer related organisation in 2003 we
supported Camp Quality for children and last year we supported
the oncology unit at Bairnsdale hospital.
The Back to Back is a free entry day so we raise money for
cancer research by raffling jumpers of previous year. When
I came back to Omeo in 2003 I learnt the Back to Back competition
had not run the year before, so I got it up and going by myself.
It was quite an eventful day.
We had art and craft and wool, and in 2004 we did it again,
extending it a little further, with a wool craft market. We
had all wool things in our hall, and craft in the library.
It was a lovely day with blade shearing demonstrations, spinning
demonstrations and catering.
In 2004 we had two teams one from East Gippsland and
one from Melbourne and are hoping this year for a third
team, from the North East. With the WwMB involved, well
also have more entertainment. Bairnsdale is likely to enter
a team, based at Bairnsdale, and others will compete around
Australia. Im a wool spinner from way back. I spin and
weave, and had been involved with the Back to Back in earlier
The Back to Back is an opportunity to showcase wool as a
primary industry and I also want to showcase its history,
which is interesting, being so remote. Promoting sheep has
many angles. Im always thinking up new ways to involve
the children, with the sheep, wool or knitting. As part of
the Back to Back we hold lamb tastings in a culinary event
which we call A Taste of the High Country.
Local wineries, a bakery and restaurant all take part. We
also have a chap at the front door roasting chest nuts. We
did this again in a bigger way at the 2004 Omeo Show, held
on the second Saturday in November, and it was a huge success.
In fact, the 2004 show was our best in recent times, and were
hoping to build it up more as a great day out.
The Back to Back competition is held in the Omeo hall in
Day Ave. We start at 8am with a blessing of the fleece, then
a local dignitary opens the event and at 9am the sheep starts
to be shorn. This goes on to 5.30pm. We have assessors to
make sure rules of competition are obeyed. Last year I organised
a celebratory dinner at the Golden Age Hotel, and we had roast
lamb on the menu.
We grow lamb here so why not?! The Queens Birthday
weekend is also the opening of the ski season. People off
to the snowfields stop awhile and look at what we are doing
last year they were enthralled by a felting exhibition.
We have Bairnsdale machine knitters knitting with wool, a
demonstration local mohair farm. We dont use our local
wool in the Back to Back we have Merino at Omeo, and
its harder to spin, and so use Border Leicester, a more
open fleece from Sarsfield.
- For details about the Back to Back competition contact
Jean Jenkins on 5159-1557. Jean would be particularly pleased
to hear from any spinners and knitters who would like to be
a member of team.
Moe St Vincent
De Paul - Frederic Ozanam Soup Kitchen
The Moe Soup Kitchen has been in operation since September
1997. Through the work of a small but dedicated team of volunteers
soup, sandwiches and sweets are delivered to the needy in
the Moe district. Annette ODowd, Soup Van coordinator
says, this project has been a huge undertaking. For example from the 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003, the Soup
Van visited approximately 10,280 people delivering 21,000
sandwiches, 11,000 cakes, 2,400 litres of soup and 1,000 litres
of cordial. We are always seeking out new volunteers to keep this vital
service operating in our community. Background to Getting
it Happening In August 1997 invitations sent to stakeholders
by the Moe Conference of St Vincent de Paul (SVDP) Society
looking for interested parties to attend a meeting to set
up a Soup Kitchen for the local area.
From this meeting a working party was established in September
1997 their aim was to find a suitable location, how often
was a meal to be provided and importantly, who would provide
A moving van (kitchen) to minister to those in need for example
to boarding houses, low-income areas, elderly shut ins etc
was considered the most appropriate means of transport. Latrobe
City offered the use of the Moe Town Hall kitchen.
Australian Rural Leadership
The ARLP is a two-year, part-time course
that helps rural women and men who are leaders in their industries
or communities to improve their professional and personal
The participants examine national and international
issues as well as getting to meet and talk with industry,
government and community leaders here and overseas.
For further information visit www.ruralleaders.com.au/arlp.htm
Realise Your Dream
This year, British Council Australia will
help three outstanding young Australians aged between 18 and
24 realise their dreams through a short trip to the UK, worth
This opportunity of a lifetime focuses
on the creative industries.
For further information visit: www.britishcouncil.org.au.
Expression Of Interest
2006 Women on Farms Gathering in East Gippsland.
If you are interested in being part of a committee to host
the 2006 Women on Farms Gathering please contact Debbie Gray,
Lakes Entrance, by telephone: 03 5155 4714
Orbost: Community Singing
Snowy River Arts Network (Orbost) have received
a grant from Regional Arts Victoria of $5000 to host a Community
Singing Festival in Orbost on the weekend of 23 to 24 October
Inquiries please contact Mary McDonald at
Orbost Community House 5154 6616 or after hours 03 5154 1773.
Women In Business
Financial Independence for Women Dinner
Tuesday, 6th July, 2004 at 6:30pm at Stage Door Restaurant,
West Gippsland Arts Centre, Albert Street, Warragul. Cost
$25 per head (Cash only please) for a 2-course dinner with
drinks at bar prices.
The theme of the dinner is Financial
Independence for Women and a number of guest speakers
will be present to provide information on Financial Planning,
Property Investment, Conveyancing and Finance Mortgage Broking.
Guests are requested to wear a name badge
and a 'Trading Table' will operate, providing the opportunity
to display business brochures and promotional material.
Payment can be made on the night but all
bookings must be made and confirmed no later than Thursday,
1st July, 2004.
All inquiries: Lois Pratt, Secretary to
the CEO Community News & Mayor, Baw Baw Shire Council
on 5624 2411, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Warragul: Dreaming Baw
Event title: Dreaming Baw Baw: Writers'
and Story Tellers' Festival
Date: Saturday 28 August Time: 2.00pm
Venue: West Gippsland Arts Centre, Civic Place, Warragul
Enquiries and Workshop Registration: Phone: Michael 03 5624
2407 or email: email@example.com
Free entry to all activities, including
free registration for workshop sessions, bring your own pen
A fun day of story telling for big and
little kids; creative writing workshops; poetry and short
story readings in the evening with a little folk music thrown
in for good luck.
Showcasing West Gippsland authors, writers,
and story tellers through writing and reading workshops with
performance opportunities at the West Gippsland Arts Centre.
Poetry, Short Stories, Spoken Word Groups
or solo performances, minimalist play readings welcome to
register for the Open Stage session. Books for sale.
This event is part of the 2004 Age Melbourne
Writers' Festival umbrella event program.