JRS Australia joined the Parramatta City Council and other organisations to celebrate International Women’s Day at the St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall.
Seventy women from western Sydney came together to hear from guest speakers, participate in a community art project and share a meal at the event co-organised with Boronia Multicultural Services, Harris Park Community Centre, Parramatta CMRC, Karabi Community Centre and the Parramatta Police Area Command.
Darug elder Julie Jones spoke about the matriarchal traditions of the Darug people. She explained that in the Darug tradition, the land, or Noorai, is spoken of as a woman who is respected as mother, creator, nurturer, provider and protector.
Superintendent Tracy Watts spoke about working in the Police force, traditionally a male-dominated field, and shared her journey of defying the odds to reach a senior position. She highlighted that whilst there is a long way to go toward gender equality in senior positions in the police force, there has been significant inroads: Women hold over 30% of sworn officer positions and over 68% of unsworn administrative roles.
Kat Henaway, founder of Women’s Business, highlighted the unique strengths of indigenous women and women of colour. She has dedicated her life to improve the visibility of Indigenous women and women of colour, working to boost their access to leadership positions in business and elsewhere. Women’s Business is a collaboration of women’s organisations working to amplify and empower women of colour in Australia.
The attendees also participated in a community artwork led by a local artist, Linda, who showed the women how to make decorative and colourful flowers. The flowers, a traditional emblem of the International Women’s Day, symbolised the many cultural backgrounds and lived experiences of the women, joined together in solidarity with women across the world.
The indigenous-owned and operated Kallico Catering provided lunch.