Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Voices of Australian women – Australian women speak 2003

Following the success of the inaugural national Australian Women SpeakConference held in Canberra in August 2001, I am pleased to announce that a second conference is now planned for 2003.

A forum for the voices of Australian women, Australian Women Speak, will be held from 30 March to 1 April at the National Convention Centre in Canberra.

The Conference is an event sponsored by the Commonwealth to give women from around Australia a chance to come together to discuss the wide-ranging issues affecting Australian women today. Delegates will be from a wide range of backgrounds including young and older people, students, professionals, mothers, workers, migrants, and Indigenous people.

The Conference is designed to ensure that policy-makers have access to the diverse views of the women of Australia.

In staging Australian Women Speak the goal is to test ideas, create new ways of working, both individually and collaboratively, towards improved status and participation for all Australian women.

And as 2003 is the year we celebrate the centenary of the first occasion that most Australian women were entitled to vote (in the Federal election of 12 December 1903) a highlight of the Conference will be an exploration of suffrage and how far we have come in the past 100 years.

With over 700 participants and 120 speakers and panellists, the first Australian Women Speak event provided a great opportunity for women to exchange ideas and knowledge and to build networks.

I look forward to continuing the dialogue of Australian Women Speak at the second conference in Canberra in March 2003.