Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard did not hold back when she referred to the history of women’s rights in Shepparton yesterday.
Speaking at Eastbank, Ms Gillard said we had come a long way as a country when it came to gender equality — even noting the fact we had already elected our first female prime minister.
‘‘But there’s still plenty more to do; particularly in the area of women’s mental health,’’ she said.
The Goulburn Valley Health event had Ms Gillard reflect on mental health in particular after stepping into her role as chairwoman of the beyondblue board last year.
Ms Gillard joined the board as a director in 2014, with the Australian non-profit organisation promoting good mental health, tackling stigma and discrimination and providing support and information on anxiety, depression and suicide.
With proceeds of the event going toward beyondblue and GV Health’s child and youth mental health services, Ms Gillard addressed more than 500 audience members about this age group and the fact it was a critical time for mental health.
‘‘One in four young people experience mental health conditions,’’ she said.
‘‘And suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15 to 24.
‘‘Identifying these issues early... can change lives.’’
Ms Gillard said she had been privileged in her post-political life to have a number of positions to make a difference nationally and internationally.
She said her travels and experiences as a result of the roles, including issues with school attendance in Third-World countries, reflected the continuous struggle for women’s equality across the world.
Reflecting on the coming International Women’s Day on Thursday, Ms Gillard said women constantly faced a juggling act between family, career and self-care.
‘‘We need to come up with better ways of supporting women,’’ she said.
‘‘Women face significant barriers to progression at every stage of life.’’
Having better experience than any Australian female, Ms Gillard spoke about the difficulties women faced in firstly getting leadership roles and secondly the battles they faced once in these roles.
‘‘Those seeking change can do better,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re seeking, at beyondblue, to make a difference for women’s mental health.
‘‘Together we can create an Australia where everyone... gets the support they need.’’
Emcee and GV Health Foundation director Carmel Johnson said the Greater Shepparton Women’s Charter Alliance Committee had been instrumental in the organisation of the successful event.
Greater Shepparton City Council, the University of Melbourne and the Greater Shepparton Women’s Charter Alliance Committee sponsored the event.
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