Australia President's Message

Release Date: 
Monday, 1 September, 2008

Warm greetings to all our PPSEAWA members and friends from a very icy Canberra.

Our membership is stable despite a few comings and goings and I am very impressed by all the activities our different groups have organised in the recent months. Well done. Considering the busy lives we lead and the fact that we are all volunteers I think our members are well served by the management committee in each group. Our priority is still to provide for our members to meet each other in peace and have some information sharing and cultural exchange while cementing friendships. Considering the changed world we live in since the fifties, I think we may have to accept the fact that we are never going to attract younger members when they are nearly all in the workforce. It is hard enough to balance work and family without joining women's organisations.

It has been a busy few months since our last newsletter. Our National Executive has been in office for over a year now and we held our first AGM by teleconference in May, before Mary and I left for Hawaii to attend the International Council Meeting and 80th anniversary celebrations of PPSEAWA. Our PPSEAWA AUSTRALIA website is now updated and I'm sure you will be surprised by the number of activities PPSEAWA has been involved in since March. Check for yourself by reading News Items on our website ppseawa.org.au Platters for Peace has been printed and received many compliments. International members at the Hawaii meeting were delighted with the final result and the opportunity to use the funds raised from its sale for development projects in their countries. Congratulations to Katya and Mary for all their hard work getting it compiled and published. It would make a great Christmas present.

PPSEAWA members were involved in many IWD events in March as well as a private visit of our International President to Canberra and our Harmony Day event Undoubtedly the highlight of the year for me was attending the International Council meeting and 80th birthday celebrations of PPSEAWA Hawaii in May. I was very honoured to represent Australia at the meeting and I thank the International President and Council for their warm welcome and members of PPSEAWA Hawaii for their generous hospitality. The birthday celebration is a wonderful memory. All countries presented birthday greetings and gifts to the Hawaii president during the special occasion and Australia presented Hawaii with a table runner to use at their meetings. It was printed in an aboriginal design and told a story about women meeting together. I have put together a collage of photos to convey to you the atmosphere of this special time in Hawaii.

Another pleasure for us as Australians was the hospitality offered by the Australian Consulate in Honolulu. We were invited to morning tea with the Consul Peter Grant and his wife Kath and taken to see a special indigenous art exhibition being set up at that time in Honolulu.

After returning from Hawaii I travelled to the national secretariats meeting in Broken Hill where I represented PPSEAWA in the Australian Women's Coalition. Fortunately I had some time to see something of Broken Hill and to appreciate its rich history of mining, the work of artists in the region, its beautiful heritage buildings and magnificent desert scenery. This made it a very interesting four days for me and the long trip from Canberra worthwhile.

Planning for UN Day of Peace events is underway in Canberra and Sydney. I hope as many PPSEAWA members as possible are able to support these important events in our calendar on 21 September. Finally please start thinking about going to Bali in 2010. The International Council approved the draft program for the next PPSEAWA conference in Bali. The theme is: "Fostering Peace Through Strengthening Unity in Diversity" and it will be a great event held over 5 days from 18-22 May 2010. Accommodation and conference venue will be together at a beautiful hotel in Bali. Keep checking our website for further news. Asian countries are planning big delegations so I hope Australia will also.

Thank you to all members of my national executive for their ongoing support and a big thank you to Leigh Harley who has generously agreed to be our Newsletter Editor for a second time.

I leave you with a lovely old Chinese proverb for which I am indebted to Lettie Thompson (ACT group president)

If there is light in the soul
There will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person
There will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation
There will be peace in the world.

Peace and best wishes
Coral Fleming

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