Standing up for Canberra

Australia Day Honours

Australia's honours system provides us with the opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of outstanding Australians and to thank them for their contribution to our community, our nation and our world. I congratulate the many Canberrans who are honoured this year, particularly our proud servers of democracy and members of the Australian Defence Force. I single out just two, not because they are more exceptional than the others but because of my personal connection to them and their nominations.

The first is Peter Ryan OAM. I am the daughter-in-law of a late Vietnam veteran. I know the struggles that many of them have endured—struggles that have not been confined to them alone but experienced by their spouses, partners and children. As the former local President of the Vietnam Veterans Association, Peter Ryan has been the go-to guy for vets for years. He has worked for decades and on countless committees and organisations to help vets through their personal struggles and to support vets in navigating the DVA process. He has also been instrumental in fostering a greater appreciation and understanding of their service and sacrifice in the broader community. One of Peter's proudest achievements is seeing the annual ACT Vietnam Veterans Day service grow from 50 borrowed chairs and a ghetto-blaster in 2000 to more than 3,500 people in 2016. I want to thank Kevin Gill and the many others who have worked tirelessly on Peter's nomination. Peter is battling cancer, and time has been of the essence. His main focus now is on making the investiture, and I am very much looking forward to seeing him there.

The second is Kim Brennan, AM. Kim was honoured for her mentoring and for her significant service to rowing, to the welfare of elite athletes, to sport—as a gold medallist at the Rio Olympics—and to the community. In writing a reference for Kim, I was struck by the fact that she is an incredibly impressive woman. She is a dual world champion. She is the chair of the Australian Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission. She sits on the Australian Olympic Committee executive board. She is a qualified lawyer. She graduated from the University of Melbourne with first class honours. She was a winner of the Joan Rosanove QC Memorial Prize. She is also a rower, but she is not just a rower; she was a silver medallist in hurdles. She is an extraordinary woman. Congratulations, Kim. We are proud you call Canberra home.

One of the great disappointments about reading the list this year was again seeing more men than women, despite a 20 per cent increase in female nominations and honours in the last decade. This Australia Day, 651 men were nominated for the general division of the Order of Australia awards, compared with 320 women. That is 66 per cent men and 34 per cent women. The honours list recognised 475 men and 252 women. That is 65 per cent men and 35 per cent women. What is worse, according to an excellent article by Fairfax's Tom McIlroy, is that there were no female nominations in six of the 31 categories, including building and construction, engineering, information technology, and surveying and mapping. Only one woman was nominated in science, technological developments and research development— compared to 20 men. Despite the parlous nomination rate, particularly in these six categories, nearly 79 per cent of women who were nominated made the list, compared to 73 per cent of men. So there is a better chance of women receiving awards if they are part of the mix.

So I am urging every member of this chamber to make a call out to their communities to nominate women in advance of the 2017 Queen's Birthday and 2018 Australia Day honours lists. That starts with identifying and nominating women. How about we all nominate, look for, one woman a week. Think laterally. Do not just default to the CEOs, the managing directors, the entertainers, the professors, the heads of departments, the deans or the VCs. Think creatively. Think about all the extraordinary women you meet each day in your role as their representative and, most importantly, nominate them. Nominate these extraordinary woman because, as I said, the more women in the mix, the more women who will get up.

On Australia Day, I proudly renewed my membership of the Australian Republic Movement. I also started compiling my list of extraordinary Canberra women. I am looking forward to getting underway with those nominations. I encourage Canberrans to find out how to nominate at We need one woman a week, Canberra. We need one woman a week, Australia. Let us get these figures from one third to one half to reflect the population and contribution of today's modern Australia. The diversity, the depth and the sophistication of today's modern Australia mean 50 per cent women.

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