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International Women's Day events 2017

March 16, 2017

Friday 3rd March was the opening of an installation of over 10,000 stars at the Redland Performing Arts Centre, Cleveland. This one was special for me, not only because it’s my home town and most of the stars installed are part of our local Star Weave Community, Redland Art Gallery (who have passed their target of 10,000 stars. Yayerr!) but because this is the last installation that I take part in before the BIG ONE as part of Festival 2018 for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.


 So proud. Over 10,000 stars at the Redland Performing Arts Centre, Cleveland. Photo: Nikki Michail.


Kenneth Munro and his wife, Tania Munro (centre) and their beautiful girls. Standing proud with aunty Lynette Shippway who did a beautiful welcome to country. Photo: Nikki Michail


 View of the stars from the level 1, Redland Performing Arts Centre. Photo: Nikki Michail


It was s special night. The Lord Mayor of Redlands, Mayor Karen Williams opened the evening and said some very beautiful words about the project and what it means to locals. Aunty Lynnette Shipway did the Welcome to Country which helped to set the tone and feeling of community strength. All the speeches took place in front of a wall of stars, which staff at RPAC created. I love how even the staff at RPAC enjoy going to work and seeing the stars every day.


I wanted to celebrate my local star weavers the best way I knew how, so I decided to award a few certificates of participation and thanks and make leis out of star weaving cut-offs and ‘ula lole’ Samoan for ‘lolly/chocolate necklaces.’ Certificates and leis were awarded to:

  • Older Women’s Network Capalaba

  • Joan Eyres and her daughter, Nicole Smith (they wove over 12,000 stars together)

  • Debra Wise – Ormiston State School

  • Robyn Lucas – Victoria Point State High School

  • Ken Munro – Yulu Burri Ba Health Service

  • Kim Paulson – Wellington Point State High School and Birkdale South State School

  • Suzanne Kickett

  • Redland Art Gallery (local Star Weave Community)

  • Tavina Yettica-Paulson

  • Redland Centre for Women

 Mayor Karen Williams, myself and certificate recipients Joan Eyres and her daughter Nicole Smith. Photo: Nikki Michail


It was lovely to see star weavers from other Star Weave Communities across Qld, including the Soroptomist Bayside community, Coomera and Helensvale Library SWC and Queensland Police Services SWC. Some travelled from as far as the Sunshine Coast to be part of the opening celebrations. We had a table for star weaving set up and photos taken by local weaver and photographer, Nikki Michail, @nikmichail from www.sustainabledreaming.org


 Redlands Mayor Karen Williams. Photo: Nikki Michail


The next day, Saturday 4th March, I was invited to speak at the Zonta Club of Sandgate International Women’s Day event. It was a lovely afternoon and celebration of girls in high school working to be leaders and experts in their fields of passion and a few women who are doing outstanding service, support and research to support otheres. Awards were given out, including the inaugural Jane Wilson O’Brien Living Treasure award (Jane helped to set up over 30 Zonter clubs in Queensland) and the Young Women in Public Affairs Award. Women from Zonta Sandgate have been weaving stars for a few years now, so it was special to meet those who have been with the project for a few years. All proceeds from tickets to the event go to making comfort cushions for people recovering from breast cancer surgery. So good!


 Table of supporters at Zonter Sandgate. Photo: Zonter Sandgate


On Monday 6 March, I got to speak about the One Million Stars project to some staff at the Queensland Citizenship, Ceremonies & Community Engagement, Department of Immigration and Border Protection for their IWD event. We learnt so much about what they do and how they are trying to navigate cultural sensitivities and government processes, particularly informing people of their rights and support available to newly arrived citizens. There are so many myths to debunk and safe spaces to create so that the right information can be given. It was interesting to learn that while this government department is committed to finding ways to stop violent behaviour from those entering the country, they often experience mistrust because many don’t experience this level of support and information from their home governments. Steve Biddle, Regional Director QLD introduced us, including 2017 Queensland Local Hero Yasmin Khan. Yasmin spoke passionately about the theme of IWD2017, Be Bold for Change and linked in stories of her work as the recently elected Chair of the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, and is a multicultural ambassador for the AFL and Asian Cup, and was one of the first female cricket umpires in Queensland. A vocal commentator on domestic violence in multicultural communities, Yasmin has established a support centre for Muslim women and women from the Indian sub- continent, regardless of their religion. At the helm of many highly-successful events and community activities, Yasmin continues to demonstrate why diversity makes Australia a stronger nation.


Department of Immigration and Border Protection, IWD morning tea.


We even managed a small star weave jam, thanks to Tavina who took away so much and was just as inspired by the staff and Yasmin’s work as I was. Huge thanks to Sarah Kemp, who I met at Upper Coomera last year as part of a community meeting where I also go to speak about the project. Sarah organised the event with Wayne and Sharon, who helped make us feel so welcome.


MOPS Wynnum star bundle. Photo: MOPS Wynnum.


I ended the week with a small group of mothers of young children at Wynnum Baptist Church on Thursday 9 March, called MOPS Wynnum (Mothers of Pre Schoolers). They are a fun social and support group that meets every Thursday from 9:30am to 12pm. I got to speak again about the project and how they can get involved and teach them a new craft to do. There were a few tears and lovely words of encouragement. Whenever I speak to parents groups or children, I am reminded how this project is a great preventative method to combat bullying and violence in our young, to remind them that we are a large village that needs to work together to raise healthy  resilient, happy human.

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