First published 26 January, 2021
On this day, Invasion Day, we celebrate and honour the survival of the world's oldest living cultures and the contribution of non-Indigenous Australians to that incredible legacy.
VPA congratulates each recipient of the 26 January Day Honours, as one of the most remarkable days in Australia's political landscape we have ever seen. All awardees are women, a remarkable statement in itself. But let’s consider for a moment who these women are, and what they represent. This year’s awards, we think, are a symbol of a seismic shift in Australian culture, and for VPA, a moment for us to reflect, seize and build on this momentum.
Rosemary Kariuki is from Kenya, a refugee to Australia and now advocate for refugees women including those who are experiencing family violence. This is against a backdrop of open hostility and denial of refugee and asylum seekers coming to Australia. These are disparate, underserved and highly vulnerable groups of people living in communities across Australia. Women experience violence in these settings is a terrifying reality for too many who feel utterly trapped by circumstance and should not be beholden to their perpetrators.
Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann is Senior Australian of the Year. An honour rarely bestowed on Indigenous Elders, particularly women from the remote communities in Australia. Her message is humble, gentle, deeply reflective and a powerful strategy for reconciliatory action, and we are in awe and inspired.
Isobel Marshall is stunning. At 18 she and her young colleagues have launched a massive campaign to change cultural perceptions of menstruation, making the very tangible link between the actualisation of gender equality, and the availability of sanitary products and de-stigmatisation of menstruation. A remarkable effort by a young, but very switched on, woman.
And to the Australian of the Year. Commonly awarded to an established career man (sometimes woman) for services to medical science, public service, or industry... This year, we commend Australian of the Year, Grace Tame. A 26 year old sexual assault survivor who campaigned to change gag laws in Tasmania that stopped survivors talking publicly about their experience after the perpetrator had been convicted. VPA celebrates this enormous achievement and recognition of victim-survivors of sexual violence.
We are excited that these 4 women brings with them a very solid feminist agenda for the year ahead and we wish to thank them, support and encourage them, through our work with VPA.
Dr. Samara McNeil, MBBS
Chairperson - Violence Prevention Australia