UN International Women’s Day 2015

The Hon Jillian Skinner MP NSW Minister for Health
The Hon Jillian Skinner MP
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Logo
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

UN International Women’s Day Seminar – CEDAW 2015 March 8 was celebrated for the 5th year in State Parliament House Sydney on Monday 9th March this year with our Parliamentary sponsorMinister for Health The Hon Jillian Skinner MP opening the Seminar  immediately after Acknowledgement to Country by Indigenous speaker Robyn Carroll from Mulla Walla Family & Community Support at Woolloomooloo.

 

Robyn Carrol
Robyn Carrol
Pam Lemoine
Pam Lemoine
Valerie Weeks
Valerie Weeks

Pamela Lemoine UNAANSW member read out the message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to UNIWDay. Valerie Weeks, Co-Convenor of UNIWD and past President of co-sponsor of the event UNAANSW spoke on the History of Women in Australia.

Robyn Carrol and Affie Adagio
Robyn Carrol and Affie Adagio

Sue Conde past President of UN Women Australia was to speak on the topic CEDAW Convention for Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Committee for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women which was set up to monitor the progress of the Convention; but unfortunately had to attend a funeral so sent her paper which I spoke to as I was speaking about my experience with attending as one of 22 community representative the UN Conference/Forum for Women Peace and Development in Copenhagen in 1980 when CEDAW was launched to the world and Australia had signed the Convention during the Frasier government.

Jillian Skinner MP -  NSW Minister for Health
Jillian Skinner MP

The same number of women government representatives had also been chosen by the Minister for Home and Women Affairs The Hon Bob Ellicott. Decades later we still  have a lot to achieve. At that time in the Scandinavian Parliaments there were many women members. We still have women in countries such as USA and Australia not being paid the same as men for the same work! And murder, rape and verbal and physical abuse is still rampant throughout the world however, the Minister advised that the Baird government would ensure a Minister for Domestic Violence as the priority if they are re-instated, that is how serious the situation is.

Robyn Carroll spoke of the history of Walla Mulla Family and Community Support which was created by a nun and is now a vital service to the Indigenous community. Robyn also shared about her struggle in life and we were all so happy for her because she has been awarded the NSW Woman Award for Sydney 2015 in the NSW WOMEN AWARDS 2015 and we presented her with a box of congratulatory chocolates along with her bunch of flowers for being a speaker.

Margaret Conway
Margaret Conway

The next speaker was Margaret Conway from GLAPDGreat Lakes Agency for Peace and Development. Margaret spoke about the Great Lakes of Africa especially women from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Congo.

Chris Hamer
Chris Hamer

Buddhist Venerable Dr. Tich Minh Tam UNAANSW Committee member brought Professor Chris Hamer UNSW who spoke on the work of Women, Peace and Sustainability. It was rewarding to have full attendance in the Waratah Room and especially that we had for the first time a large contingent of men in the audience.

The Humanist Society of NSW has also been a co-Sponsor of the UNIWDAY for 5 years especially generous with covering costs and Ian Bryce the current President was invited to say a few words.

Mina Batra AM
Mina Batra AM

Mina Batra AM member of the UNAANSW Committee and responsible for the Interfaith Portfolio dressed in a beautiful sari thanked the speakers while Valerie Weeks handed out the final bouquet of pink roses to me not only as a speaker and Convenor/MC but also because the UNIWDAY coincides with my birthday on March 8th. So it was indeed a great day for me.

Waratah Room
Waratah Room

We thank State Parliament House for letting us have the Waratah Room for the venue gratis. We had beautiful croissants and tea and coffee with a platter of fruit and gluten free cupcakes for those who have sensitive stomachs but that was not gratis and that is why we needed to charge for the event.

International Womens Day flowers for speakersMany thanks to Fred Flatow HSNSW member who sat at the door collecting entry monies which covered the expenses of the afternoon tea. We are pleased to announce that serendipitously Fred won the lucky door prize which was a huge heart shaped pink frame for family photos which could be mounted on a wall which he loved and truly deserved!

I would like to finish with mentioning 3 important points: There are two reasons I chose to convene the UNIWD for five years:

  1. To disseminate information about women’s issues
  2. I chose the venue to be State Parliament House Sydney to show that the community especially women have access to Parliament House and gratis.
  3. We have available printed copies of Valerie Weekes’ History of Women in Australia, and Sue Conde’s CEDAW History and the event has been taped and will be on YouTube soon – contact Dr. Affie Adagio <affie@affie.com.au> or 0421 101 163 or (02) 9690 1431 (h)
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Australian Gypsies?

Bob-1a-314x235 This image shows the Bob (aka dING) campsite where his motorbike with sidecar and tent is how he   spends his time away from home as a “grey nomad” which is what we call people at the age of 72 who love to travel or live permanently in campsite communities. His partner is no longer able to accompany him for health reasons but that has not stopped him. All their lives they travelled often sometimes in different ways. In Australia there are swish caravans, some restored old ones some not! Also campervans and today I saw a program on TV44 where someone converted a stationwagon into a motel bedroom in the back (or so it was called) with a colourful huge quilt. The thought occurred to me, as I was born in Romania, how different is the permanent campsite life to that of the Romanian Gypsy? One program shows a well known country singer/TV sports announcer (whose name sadly escapes me now) where there is a whole community of happy campers who top it off with rock and rolling – how great! the gypsy in me is tempted at times especially that I love rock and roll but I’m a city girl so unless I get involved with a guy who likes rock and roll then I’m not likely to be ‘going bush’! Nevertheless have we got Australian Gypsies that we call more socially acceptable names like grey nomads, or happy campers, or caravan communities?!

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Honouring your heritage

It’s great to integrate into the culture which we have chosen to settle, such as I was born in Romania of Greek father.Elli We came out as refugees, 300 Greek families from Romania who had been released by the Russians to leave due to our Greek nationality and from Greece on the Marshall Plan (agreeing to be declared stateless) choosing  Australia and arriving on the transport ship – General Ballou at Sydney in March 26th 1950 with my family. We settled in our new country nicely – my father George Polimeris, mother Eugenia, brother Apollon (5) and myself  Aphrodita (6) all speaking Greek and Romanian, except that my mother spoke self taught Italian, French, Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Hungarian, Spanish,  and my father learned Italian in Australia, we all learned English too

Harbour Bridge

The Greek Romanians formed the Hellenic Cultural Association Acropolis (Greeks from Romania) and they organised regular get togethers such as the New Year’s Eve Dance and a picnic in the Royal National Park each year. In my thirties I became an Office Bearer on the Committee of this organisation then moved away and now I have returned to them and been voted on again at the end of 2013. This January we had a picnic at Ashfield Park and it was well attended with the Romanian Consul and his wife being there. There was music played on a violin by Olga just as she did when I was younger and we ate bbq skinless Romanian sausages with salad and shared the New Year’s Cake (Vasilopita) hoping to be the one to win the $400 gold coin. I felt warm and fuzzy inside with a bit of sadness because my father, mother and brother have died and yet it all seems just like yesterday with all these familiar people who know me and I know from so far back, how amazing is that – it’s like I’ve come home from a trip away.

I remember the first time I learnt to dance at  8 was when all the children my age bounced around close up in  front of the band as they played. Then my father began (my mother had abandoned us taking my disabled brother with her),  teaching me how to dance the tango and waltz. After that I learned for my debut Greek folk dancing which as a mother I taught my children and other children making up the multi ethnic children’s dance group performing at festivals. This came about when I became an ethnic community worker as my profession – I was educating people on the importance of honouring their heritage. In this dance group some of my children’s (Paul and Tina) friends were Italian, Yugoslav (as it was called then), Chinese, Greek Egyptian, and Anglo heritage. So I took my kids to, say, the Chinese Youth dance group and they taught us how to do the scarf dance and to the Romanian dance group who taught us how to dance some folk dances etc. The whole  group then were able to dance a variety of ethnic dances regardless of their ethnic origin. The dancers ranged in age from 7 to 14 and they performed to celebrate events such as Children’s week in the Town Hall square to the opening of the Ethnic Child Care Development Unit in 1979 of which I was the founding Co-ordinator and which was funded by the Federal Government Dept of Social Security. As Senator Guilfoyle was not available to carry out the ceremony the Hon Bob Ellicott,  Minister for Home Affairs represented her. To my delight  in 1980 Minister Bob Ellicott included me as one of the community representatives in the contingent funded to attend the United Nations Women’s Conference/Forum for Peace & Equality – Copenhagen. I had worked with him when he was the member for Wentworth and I was Co-ordinator  for NicNac Community Centre in Surry Hills as I had invited him to come and meet his constituents once a month  to assist them with problems they were experienced with, say, their unfair telephone bills when they were just pensioners. He was indeed helpful especially as he was a good lawyer and had ministerial clout.  Bob was known as a small “l” Liberal Minister.

As an ethnic community worker it was my role to impress on everyone how important multi-cultural thinking is TINA MAQ CENTRAL SUBS WINNER 1providing it means being proud of our heritage while at the same time integrating into the host society – that is trying to keep our customs because they are part of our identity – who we are, as well as adjusting those customs that clash too much with the host society so that we fit in more harmoniously. My daughter (18) won the double title of Miss Central Suburbs and Miss Central Suburbs Highest Fudraiser of Miss Australia Quest Spastic Centre (entered from the Greek Australian Region of MAQ ). We all know which those clashing customs are and so I will not list them all here except to mention that I do not believe it is acceptable to continue to persist with woman wearing head gear that covers their faces when being tested for/and driving which can be dangerous to others; or habits which support warmongering and riots, or rape, or female circumcision etc. In cases such as these the host society needs to rethink the setting of legal limits for multiculturalism before we “shoot ourselves in the foot” as has  been witnessed in other advanced minded countries which have been forced to backtrack their multicultural policies due to major conflict and  unrest as a result of antiquated customs from other cultures of immigrants entering into these progressive cultures (as in parts of France and the Scandanavian countries to name some).

Also I was for some years an Office Bearer in the Australian Hellenic Educational Society  of Australia (AHEPA) and enjoyed the fellowship it brought including encouraging my children when they become adolescents to join and my daughter, Tina, experienced her debut with her brother, Paul as her escort, which was lovely however is not something that takes place nowadays (too bad).

All I can say is Honour Your Heritage but make sure you take the part that is useful and loving and let go of the part that is hurtful and painful! It is a powerful feeling to know you belong to a group of like minded people who have the similar “roots” to you.Hands, photo by Marco Michelini, Firenze, Italy, reach outAffie Lets be friends

 

 

 

 

 

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Wedding ceremony

437055_white_bauhinia.jpgOn your special day, you choose the wedding ceremony according to your taste. A romantic ceremony in a park, on a beach, at a reception house, in your backyard, even at the Opera House on the steps. Another exciting part of having a celebrant formalise your marriage is that you choose whether it is a long script or one that is short and sweet. This choice enables you to create the ceremony that has meaning for both of you. Check the celebrant category on this site and get some ideas about what to choose.

the bride and groom wore black
and so did the guests
the marriage took place on the
wharf at the Opera House
they chose the short version
the sun was shining and a cool breeze
gently ruffled everyone’s clothes
then in the middle of the romantic ceremony
helicopters buzzed above, in formation
their mates on the FX team had organised that
and everyone waved at the sky
a day to remember that was

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Forgiveness

652974_yellow_rose.jpg In adulthood we learn that forgiveness is a powerful tool for freeing us of resentments. In most cases as we discover the healing power of forgiveness it becomes easier to do. Forgiving does not mean allowing people to do the same to us again. Some abuse feels impossible to forgive and as long as it does not rule our lives it can wait until we are ready to do so. Although forgiveness for a lesser hurt can feel just as impossible, it is vital to master the art of forgiveness. That’s how to gain emotional maturity and freedom from self pity.

hearing the words of the song
“I’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do”
made it possible to forgive my mother for the hurt I felt
that doesn’t mean that I condone her abusive behaviour
but rather that I can let go of the resentment that
has been festering inside all my life
I don’t fool myself into thinking that
we can ever have a loving relationship
because I’ve tried that before and
it has been “moth to flame” as they say
but now I can feel sorry for what
she has gone through in life rather than
being hard-hearted as I had done in the past
more importantly forgiving her means
releasing the pain from my inner child

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Honeymoon period

Lovers, photo by Sundar Chinnusamy, Erode India, loving relationshipsMost times when we romantically connect with people, the first phase is called the honeymoon period because it’s a state of ‘love in bloom’. We think alike, we enjoy the same food and drinks. We share the same interests, even to the extent that the men watch ‘chick flicks’ and the women watch ‘action movies’ (usually full of gruesome violence). Just being together is fun. It’s a moment in time that usually lasts for 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years, as shown by surveys. The relationship can then transform into a loving relationship based on friendship. Couples can customise their relationships to suite themselves and make life fulfilling which will provide a safe environment for their children, if they have any.

he asked her to marry him and
as both had been divorced
as well as having children between them
they discussed two or three vital issues
which they expected to face in marriage
then they agreed on some resolutions
which they could use to avoid disharmony
it was a peaceful, happy, sensual relationship
and above all a friendship based on respect

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Time doesn’t have to fly

Savoring time, photo by Tim Nisly, Albuquerque, NM, United States, slowing downPeople say “time flies”. In actual fact we are responsible for how fast time passes. Remember when we were children how long one year seemed like so long? That was because we weren’t in control of our lives, others were – our parents, teachers and so on. As adults we are in charge and we can forget how to stay in ‘the now’ and enjoy just being. Instead we live from gratification to gratification – the next pay cheque, the next outing, the next shopping excursion, the debts being cleared, and many more excuses to be in the tomorrow. Then we are surprised that time flies.

I noticed how quickly Christmas comes and goes
and as I get older it unsettles me
if I am in charge of my life then
I am responsible for how quickly time flies
so I cleared my symbolic plate of
as many commitments that allowed me
to have more relaxation time and
life enjoyment activities
but definitely less busy time!
how amazingly slow the week went
giving me enjoyment and serenity
it’s as simple as that
now I just have to be vigil about
maintaining that pace

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Wedding day

la propuesta, photo by Gabriel Bulla, Isla Margarita, Venezuela,  wedding ceremonyBeing in love is amazing and people like to complete the experience by getting married. The wedding day can be formal or it can be as depicted in this photo, partly formal and partly casual. Whatever it is, the main emphasis needs to be on making the day exciting and unforgettable. As a celebrant I have been a part of many wedding ceremonies which can be seen in the weddings category on this page.

they were in love and well organised
they knew how they wanted to celebrate
their wedding day and it sounded
absolutely fantastic because
it would be on the beach with a
few members of the family
and close friends
they all loved dreamy weddings
and this one was so romantic too

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Family gatherings

Paper family, photo by Brian S, Jakarta, Indonesia,  family reunionsAt the end of the year, for the festivities there are many family gatherings. Relatives get together to celebrate and have fun. Sometimes this is a wonderful experience and at other times the unintended happens with arguments and hurt feelings. The success of family gatherings depends on the members of each family and how important it is for them to strengthen family ties. When people can put principles above personalities they can enjoy fulfilling relationships in their families and can spend enjoyable get togethers. Instead of becoming offended about something it’s better to ask “how important is it?” and let go of the hurt.

each year her family comes together
and it’s an enjoyable event that she
looks forward to each time
kids grow up and have their own families
so the family gatherings that parents
can depend on taking place
become fewer and therefore
even more special
she thought herself fortunate
that her family continues to value
attending these yearly events with her
which brings them all together for some fun

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