The Official Launch of the Women who Mean Business Project
Hon. John Thwaites, Deputy Premier, Minister for Victorian Communities, Minister
for Environment and Minister for Water, officially launched the Women Who Mean
Business Selling Gippslands Finest (WwMB) project at the Esso BHP
Billiton Wellington Entertainment Centre, Sale, on Thursday, 19 February, 2004.
The State Governments Community Support Fund has committed
to supporting the project over three years with a financial commitment of $379,000.
These funds will be utilised to facilitate community leadership, art and business
workshops, community forums and employ two part-time project coordinators, a part-time
networking officer and develop eight community projects.
The launch of Women who Mean Business, hosted by Wellington Councillor, Darren
McCubbin as MC, provided an ideal networking gathering for women from across Gippsland
who also had an opportunity to meet and speak with the Minister personally over
an informal lunch. Preceding the formality of the launch, representatives from
the State Government, Anna Lottkowitz, Rural Womens Network and Meredith
Budge, Adviser to the Deputy Premier, provided an open forum where delegates were
given the opportunity to raise issues affecting their rural communities and farming
Ms Lottkowitz and Ms Budge responded to varied questions
and issues from delegates concerning rural communities and farming constraints.
Both representatives were committed to seek further advice post-forum regarding
some issues that could not be addressed on the day.
The delegates present at the launch expressed their appreciation
of this opportunity to raise issues face to face with government representatives
and felt this was an effective means of having a true voice heard. A feature of
the launch was the presentation of an effective PowerPoint display, illustrating
some of the projects and women who were actively involved in a previous community
art project hosted in four locations in the East Gippsland region entitled
UNITING OUR RURAL COMMUNITIES (UoRC) Rural Women for Cultural and Community
The UoRC was conducted in four locations in East Gippsland
in 1997/98. Four women were on a panel and gave testimonies to the benefits and
outcomes the UoRC project had brought to them personally, but most importantly,
to their communities.
The panel was interviewed by Deb Bye, Station Manager, Life
FM Gippsland, who had also compiled the PowerPoint display along with Beth Harris.
In his address to delegates, Minister Thwaites expressed his
delight and responded to the ongoing outcomes that had developed from the previous
art project. During his speech he said, if
anyones had the opportunity that weve had to sit through that demonstration
of the work that the Gippsland Womens Network have been doing over the past
years, you can see how you have really led the way in bringing communities together
making communities active and confident, giving people skills that they
dont otherwise think they have, and doing that so jointly we do more than
we can (do) individually. All of those projects that you talked about, achieved
Minister Thwaites also said,
I see this project as one of the best projects that the Community Support
Fund is able to support. Its really got everything. Youve already
got a track record here in the past so we know that its going to work and
I think its the sort of project that Id like to see replicated in
other areas of the State.
Minister Thwaites was presented with a basket of Gippsland
produce as a thank you gesture from the Gippsland women.
A collective exhibition of local artists work, organised
by Eileen Thurgood, EO from Arts Network East Gippsland (ANEG) was displayed in
the foyer, illustrating some examples of the high standard of art being created
by Gippsland women.
Wellington Shire have given their commitment and support
to the Women who Mean Business project. Wellington Shire Mayor John Jago said,
We are delighted by the introduction of this
fantastic initiative which promises a great deal for the women of Gippsland and
significant benefits for our community as a whole. It will complement and build
on existing womens network programs throughout the Shire, as well as marking
a new era for local women in the fields of leadership".