Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995
Parliamentary Record 10
Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 breast cancer for example. There is a high incidence of cervical cancer in the remote communities and we certainly need to concentrate on those screening programs for women. The number of women in the Northern Territory who have been actively campaigning for reform initiatives in relation to womens access to justice was manifested during the period of the celebration of the centenary of the womens vote in the Northern Territory. I am proud to be a spokesperson for the National Womens Justice Coalition. In that capacity, I have written to every woman politician in Australia seeking their support in lobbying the federal Attorney-General to ensure that the initiatives to improve access to justice will be announced on 18 May in the justice statement. If we can obtain better access for women to the justice system and discrete legal services, particularly for Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory, we will be a mile ahead in terms of dealing with some of these problems of domestic violence and sexual assault. At the moment, women are often put at the end of the queue when it comes to receiving legal aid. The bodies which provide legal aid often have to prioritise the cases because they are unable to deal with them all. Clearly, they give priority to those cases that may attract criminal penalties. Consequently, cases involving womens issues, such as obtaining maintenance from their spouses, access to children, seeking restitution for lost goods or reparation for loss of eamings caused through domestic violence or sexual assault are often at the bottom of the list. It is to be sincerely hoped that the federal Attorney-General will provide the resources necessary to fulfil the wishes of the National Womens Justice Coalition and also the recommendations last year of the Australian Law Reform Commission. Returning to the issue of women and their empowerment, I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with some of my fellow members of the Business and Professional Womens Group in Darwin recently. I was honoured to be asked to be their guest speaker. I know the member for Braitling is a member of the Alice Springs branch of this organisation. It invites dinner speakers once a month. I addressed the organisation on 3 May. My speech related to women and economic power. I believe very strongly that, until women have economic autonomy, we will advance very little in terms of our status in the community and breaking through the dreaded glass ceiling. We live in a period in which we are told that feminism is a nasty word and that most young women would not use it. What is referred to as the second wave of feminism came forward in a broad movement called womens liberation. There are now new name tags forming. There are traditional feminists, radical feminists, power feminists and victim feminists. It is almost as if women who speak out can be understood only if they are categorised. What is completely ignored is that, whatever wave of feminism is represented and whatever category is stereotyped, there are 2 things that women have been crying out for over the last 100 years or more - recognition of their autonomy, and their entitlement to receive fair and equitable treatment from society at large. These 2 factors are included in feminism but, in a sense, they also transcend it since they go not to grouping and stereotyping but to the integrity of the individual. When talking about the empowerment of women, these are the 2 factors that are crucial. Each woman is entitled to determine her own life and seek her own space and welfare without dependence on the patriarchy of state, father or husband. She is also entitled to speak out and demand of society that it give recognition to such striving and that it raise no barriers based on gender. When we see these 2 factors, which are essential to 3323
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