Senate debates

Wednesday, 1 September 2021


Women's Health Week, National Summit on Women's Safety

7:35 pm

Photo of Wendy AskewWendy Askew (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Within days, one of the most important weeks of the year will be upon us. Women's Health Week begins next Monday, 6 September, and runs through until Friday 9 September. It will be five big days dedicated to the health and wellbeing of Australian women and girls. Good health is powerful and it begins with each of us making health a priority. We are sending a strong message about the importance of women's health and wellbeing via a national campaign of events and online activities.

Women's Health Week was first run in 2013 by Jean Hailes for Women's Health. It is now a permanent fixture in the Australian calendar, held in the first week of September each year. Last year, despite being in the grip of a global pandemic, more than 90,000 women participated in 1,400 events and 45,000 women subscribed to the online program. Imagine what will happen with this year's online program now that we have an even better understanding of technology.

During Women's Health Week, boardrooms, classrooms and living rooms will be transformed into spaces where women and girls can share information and stories about health checks, health conditions or any issue that impacts their wellbeing. More than 2,200 online and offline events are running across the country, including walks to watch the sunrise, online health checks, meditation tools, a women's adventure film and a five-day self-love challenge. Articles, interviews, recipes, quizzes, podcasts, tips and discussions will be shared on the five-day daily topics. You can see them at during the full week.

The week starts with 'Move it Monday!'—a day dedicated to moving the body. Join a live fitness class, find out how much you need to move to be healthy and learn life hacks for working from home. Day 2 deals with tricky periods—a women's health topic that needs more attention. This topic covers everything you need to know about the menstrual cycle, including busting some common myths about what is and is not normal. Gynaecologist Dr Amanda Ward will talk to Young Australian of the Year Isobel Marshall about her mission to eliminate period poverty. Wednesday's topic is 'Private Lives', a day when the discussion centres on sex and relationships for women and girls. Sexuality educator Vanessa Hamilton will be discussing how to have better conversations around sex, consent and intimacy.

Mental health has received a lot of attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. Liptember will be sharing tips on 'Mind Matters' day to help participants find a new normal for mental health in these times. Professor Jane Fisher will discuss grief, while psychologist Dr Sarah Cotton will talk about the stressful convergence of work and personal lives during lockdowns. New South Wales CWA Chief Executive Danica Leys puts the health of regional and remote women on the agenda. Naturopath Sandra Villella will share foods that can improve your mood, and the Gidget Foundation's Arabella Gibson will address the difficulties facing new mums in the pandemic world. Women's Health Week concludes with one big slumber party—sleep and how important it is to women's health. That is the focus for Friday. Facts about the impact of sleep disorders and sleep deprivation in women will be shared. Jean Hailes for Women's Health will also publish five days of free evidence-based health formation on their website.

MS Australia is also presenting a mix of activities, presentations, resources and events during the week. Multiple Sclerosis affects around three times as many women as men, and I was pleased to be able to share my family's experience as part of MS Australia's Women's Health Week video. MS Australia's digital hub for Women's Health Week can be found by searching their website.

Although not solely focused on women's health, the Australian government's two-day National Summit on Women's Safety also falls next week. Topics exploring financial security, policing and justice, sexual violence, and challenges facing diverse members of the Australian community will be covered virtually on Monday and Tuesday. You can view the program at The Australian government invested $535 million to support the health and wellbeing of women and girls in this year's budget. I encourage women across Australia to visit the Women's Health Week and National Summit on Women's Safety websites, make that appointment for a health check, get active and connect with family and friends. Good health starts with you.

7:40 pm

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] In another episode of 'We will do anything but tackle climate change', a bunch of Liberal and National MPs are jumping up and down and wanting more school chaplains so they can knock the very real fear of looming climate catastrophe out of the minds of young people. The problem isn't the kids' activism and recognition of climate emergencies. It is your inaction on the climate crisis that is the real problem. Schoolkids don't need religious chaplains. They need a government that embraces science and takes responsibility to protect their future. Here's an idea: if the coalition is so alarmed that young people are worried about climate change, maybe it should take their concerns seriously. Climate activism is not the source of anxiety for young people. The government's climate denialism is.

It's not just young people who are worried about the climate crisis. Australia's biggest climate poll was taken recently. The results are in, and they are unequivocal: voters in every single state in this country, in regions and in cities, want more action on climate change. They want renewable energy, not a senseless, gas-led recovery. The people of Australia are united in their ask. They are pleading for us to take stronger action to save the planet and humanity along with it. They are asking us to invest in renewable energy. They are telling us to keep coal in the hole and keep gas and oil in the soil. People know we are in deep shit. They know that, if strong and urgent action is not taken, there will be mass extinctions of animals and plants, and the very survival of humans will be in jeopardy.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Sorry, Senator Faruqi. A point of order, Senator Van?

Photo of David VanDavid Van (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thought that language was very unparliamentary.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

I didn't hear the word. If there was something that was unparliamentary there, Senator Faruqi, I'll ask you to withdraw it, or I'll have to review the Hansard and come back to the chamber. If there was something unparliamentary, it is easier to withdraw it. I didn't hear the word in question.

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Sure. I withdraw, if there was something unparliamentary.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

You either withdraw or you don't, Senator Faruqi. If you don't, I'll review the Hansard and come back to the chamber tomorrow, but I'm asking you if you do. If you don't, I'll review the Hansard.

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Thanks, Mr President.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Alright. I'll review the Hansard and come back tomorrow.

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

The problem we have is that the two big parties, Liberal and Labor, are also united in an opposite quest. Driven by their donors in the fossil fuel industry, they refuse to break ties with outdated, redundant and dirty energy sources. It really does boggle the mind that in a climate crisis, when a majority of people are demanding action, both Liberal and Labor want more coal and gas. They don't want to clean up the influence of money in politics, because it would ruin their business model. The road to Glasgow should be paved with solar panels, but I fear, with Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce at the helm of our government, this is a pipedream. Crowing about emissions reductions during COVID-19 when the country is shut down and at a standstill is as ridiculous as it is misleading. A pandemic is not a climate strategy.

I can tell you this: political parties and politicians who ignore their communities and constituents do so at their own peril. People have had it up to here with career politicians whose only goal is to cling onto power by hook or by crook and who, in this pursuit, steamroll over the wishes of the community. People are tired of being taken for granted. More and more are waking up to the fact that politics is not just the domain of parliamentarians.

I meet these people every single day. Their activism and organising is what will get the action that we need. I met with them in Berrima, in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, where their 10-year-long struggle has just blocked plans for a new coalmine. I've stood with them in Breeza, where their relentless 13-year campaign has ended with the cancellation of the Shenhua Watermark coalmine. I have joined them in Bentley, where their blockades saved their land and water from coal seam gas fracking. Even though the choice to destroy our planet is a political decision made time and time again by self-serving politicians and destructive corporations seeking endless power and profits, it gives me great hope to see communities forging ahead and winning, because, no matter how out of touch politicians in this place are, out there the people know change is possible when we fight for it. And, by God, people are fighting, and we are winning.