Published: 07 June 2016

Legislative Council Tuesday, May 24 2016

Mr President, it is with enormous pride I speak today about 20 young leaders in the Wynyard region.  Those of us who have daughters will know and appreciate the value they bring to our lives and the community when they are able to reach their full potential.

 Twenty young women from Wynyard High School each year are engaged in Project O.

I have more details that I will leave for members to have a look at because five minutes is not long enough to inform members of all the great work that is happening in Wynyard with regard to this project. Project O is run by these young women with Big hART and Wynyard High School and is teaching these young women new skills to speak up and take action to make changes in their own community.

As part of Project O, I had the privilege of launching the world's first Colourathon that occurred from 10 a.m. Friday 20 May to 10 a.m. Saturday 21 May at the Coastal Pods at the Wynyard Waterfront motel. 
I acknowledge Justin and Cindy, owners of this property, for their support given to the project.  They gave over much of their property for two days to enable this to occur in an amazing location, including a very rapid turnaround at the end of it with guests arriving at 2 p.m. on the Saturday to stay in the Pods.

 The colourathon was a fundraising event in which young women created colourful pictures continually for 24 hours, with each drawing sponsored.  Many others, including me, joined in the 24-hour endurance event.  Completed drawings are now being animated and set to a song by a well-known songwriter to raise awareness and support a crowd funding campaign.  Initially, the young women aimed to raise $6 000 and this was surpassed before the colourathon actually began and the final total raised was $12 250. 

The young women involved are living in a part of Tasmania that is a known family violence hotspot.  The colourathon was a fun, friendly endurance event, organised by these amazing young women, to raise money to purchase play equipment and educational resources for the children who stay in shelters when escaping family violence.

We know that men need to be change leaders in this area of family violence.  Empowering young women in this way will lead to change and help lift individuals, families and communities out of poverty and disadvantage that family violence traps them in.  There is much evidence to show that if women are empowered within families and communities, those families and communities thrive and everyone benefits.

Such involvement has the capacity to change their lives, the lives of their families and the whole community.  If we can empower and skill young women in our community, our communities will benefit.  As a mother and a midwife who has been intimately involved in the births of many of the young people in the north-west region, some of the young women involved in this project are my babies and I take great interest in the young people in this region.
There is enormous potential within this community, much of it untapped.  Much of it is within young women such as those involved in this project.  Supporting, nurturing and promoting the work of these young women and what they are doing and the actions they will take in the future will have a positive impact on our community for many years.

I have met these young women a number of times and have been excited to watch them grow during my involvement with the project. 
I thank all those involved in the project, especially Elspeth Blunt, Scott Rankin and Wynyard High School Principal Alex Downes.

Mr President, I will finish my contribution with the words of these young women -

We are young, we are women, we live in Tasmania and our community is a known family violence hotspot.  We are doing something about it.

Project O teaches us new skills to speak up, to take action, and to make changes in our community.  There are lots of things we love about living on the Cradle Coast, like the beaches, the bush, the waterfalls and the beautiful scenery and we want to give back to the community we love.

In our community there are lots of people who are afraid to talk about family violence.  It happens to a lot of people, but a lot of people don't talk about their own experiences.  It also affects how kids learn and develop because they don't socialise properly or learn how to interact.  We need more therapy for kids who go through it.
It is really expensive and not a lot of kids get it but it is so important.  If they don't talk about it, then they grow up and the cycle continues, or they feel powerless.
Family violence rips families apart.  It has torn communities apart too, and it is an issue for all of us.  Now we are seen as this community with family violence.  We are more than that.  We got up there and highlighted the issue but the community here has acted with us.  One person can be a catalyst, we can be catalysts, but tackling family violence needs a community approach.

A few months ago someone from Warrawee Women's Shelter came and spoke to us.  As young women the stories and statistics she shared with us were confronting and struck many emotions within our group.  Sadly, there were many of us who could relate.  We believe that we can make a change regarding this issue locally by raising our voices to this cause.

When you look at girls in Wynyard they do not have a good reputation or expect much.  Through Project O we are learning to be more confident in our work and in ourselves, how to speak to new people, to tell our own stories, to work with others and to help other people.  We are trying to build a community that has more opportunity for women in the community, we want the things we say not just to be acknowledged but acted on.  Thank you for listening to part of our story.

There is very little I can contemplate that is more satisfying and exciting than seeing young people, particularly young women achieve their full potential and realise they can achieve so much with a positive impact on the community in which they live.  It is up to all of us to support and encourage them to do just that.  They are an amazing group and I look forward to further interactions with them.





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