Post-Conference Update

Townsville International Women’s Conference – AUSTRALIA
3 – 7 July 2002 ~ James Cook University
“Poverty, Violence and Women’s Rights:
…Setting a Global Agenda”

Well, between us all, we did it! We had a very successful conference!

– Thanks to all participants who demonstrated such a passion for the cause of women, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and a genuine commitment to continuing the fight for Women’s Rights.

– Thanks to the Keynote Speakers who excelled themselves in bringing to us their latest thoughts on the urgent need to conquer the twin evils of racism and sexism in an increasingly arrogant and violent patriarchal world.

– Thanks to presenters in the concurrent sessions for well-prepared, well-presented papers and panels. The rich variety of topics made it difficult for participants to choose but, having chosen, we were rewarded with top quality input and discussion.

– Thanks to Speakers’ Stone presenters for their strength and courage and passion.

– Thanks to all who prepared Posters on a variety of topics pertinent to the theme.

– Thanks to the Conference Support Team for their tireless efforts to make sure the conference ran as smoothly as was humanly possible.

– Thanks to Delena Foster and the Palm Island Community Council for the warm and generous welcome accorded to all of us who went on the Post-Conference Visit to the Palm Island Indigenous Community.

– And thanks to all who so generously and graciously thanked us, the Conference Organising Collective, and for joining with us in making it the powerful experience we had always envisaged.


Since the Conference, we have been receiving a steady flow of emails and cards from women telling us how “life-changing” the whole experience was. Words such as “energy”, “challenge”, “passion”, “motivation”, “wonderful”, “stimulating”, “stunning”, “nurturing”, “fantastic” and “wild” are used to describe the experience.

Some have used superlatives to describe the experience:

– “the most remarkable conference I’ve ever attended”;
– “certainly the best (conference) we have ever attended”;
– “the best conference I have been to (and I’ve been to a few!)”.

Others have spoken of its value in other ways:

– It was “good intellectually and for the soul”.
– “We are both already reading intensively in many areas where our knowledge has been limited”.
– “I appreciated the ‘firing up of the belly’ to get out there and advocate and lobby with renewed fervour”.
– “I found the mix of academic with the more personal just right”.

A couple of women who work at a Domestic Violence Service spoke of their experience of “hitting the ground with a thud on Tuesday morning – once again confronting the day to day reality of the hideous effects of male violence against women”.

All have spoken, in different ways, of renewed energy for the task of confronting the culture of masculinity and making much-needed changes. The task ahead of us is just as difficult and as daunting as it ever was but, with renewed energy and a stronger sense of solidarity, we will continue to work together toward the establishment of a new feminist World Order.

List of Email (and snail mail) addresses

Compiling the list of addresses is proving a bigger task than we realised, but the Organising Collective is working on it and will get it up on the website very soon.

Papers from the Conference

Keynote papers and papers from the concurrent sessions will be posted on the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse website ( as soon as a bunch of them are received from presenters. Please send your paper to Betty electronically (as an attachment to an email) as soon as possible to

Postcard messages

Remember the Postcard Banner that was rained on by the overnight sprinklers? While the sprinklers made sure that we weren’t able to use the Postcard Banners in the way we had planned, those who wrote on one or more of the postcards will be pleased to know that we were able to dry them out and preserve your very important messages. Here they are:

– A Woman is like a Tea Bag. You don’t know how strong she is until you put her in Hot Water!! ….Jundah Women, Cherbourg

– I want justice National and justice International for every country – and not discrimination. ….From East Timor

– Behind every good man is a GREAT woman. ….Yarrabah, Qld.

– There is nothing I have to be. Nothing I have to have. But be myself.

– When dogs bite, they are put down. When men bite, they get a pat on the head. Who let the dogs out? Woof. Woof. ….L.J.G.

– It’s pretty amazing our Government is considering embryonic stem cell research when women still can’t get a free, legal abortion….

– Wakka Wakka, past, future and present
Wakka Wakka validates my RIGHTS, my ESSENCE Wakka Wakka, I AM, that’s a FACT. No power on this earth can ever alter that!!
WHO WE ARE IS WHO WE WERE!! ….Andrea Collins

– To Caroline Taylor,
Thank you for your beautiful, wonderful, awe-inspiring song. I hope that you continue to find that something special that dwells inside you so that you can keep SING, SING, SINGING. ….Catherine Bessant

– MOON GODDESS (I wish I could reproduce the beautiful drawing on this card)

– YOU STRIKE THE WOMAN…. YOU STRIKE THE ROCK!! (ANCWL – African National Congress Women’s League)

– Women Don¹t Belong in Cages. Act Now for the Abolition of Prisons. Yes! Yes! Yes!

– Queensland Government needs to recognise that ALL Indigenous Australian children are ESL learners and should be supported accordingly [financial, extra teachers, extra curriculum].

– Hi, I want all of you women to think of Palestinian women. How in the 21 century, 75% of Palestinians live under the poverty line. How they every day suffer from losing loved one under the Israeli aggression….

– Refuse to believe in the word impossible. You can do anything!! ….Raelea Connolly, Yarrabah, Qld.

– I have had a huge experience. I will never forget it for as long as I live. Tears have been shed from me and my heart opened to many amazing women. I am proud to be here and proud to be a strong surviving woman!

– WE LIVE IN A UNI-VERSE (This came with symbols, which I can’t reproduce here).

– 07.07.2002. The Conference was wonderful. Thank you!!! ….Catalina, Romania.

– Thank you for EVERYTHING, esp. the intellectual and emotional stimulation! ….Meenakshi, India.

– Good, Better, Best –
Never let it rest til your
GOOD is made BETTER, and
BETTER becomes BEST!!

– Greater diversity of opinions leads to better debate leads to more options for solution. We don’t always need the same opinions repeated.

– Masculinist Culture is hierarchy and an unequal power relationship. Please don’t silence me because I don¹t hold the same position or argument as you. Then you are suppressing me and perpetuating the dominant culture – and making me feel small! Don’t repeat elitist patterns and relationships. SELF-REFLEXIVITY, PEACE.

– Dear High Commissioner!!!

– Women need spaces and places where we can speak, be listened to, be respected, regardless of color, race, religion, etc. Townsville Conference has been such a venue. Thanks to all. ….Merci L. Angeles, Philippines.

– Let our Votes count because… My Vote and Your Vote will ensure the first Indigenous Prime Minister of Australia IS an Indigenous woman! After all… we are the largest gender population of both the Australian and Indigenous populations of this Nation….

– Prison is the WRONG way to go – STOP making weapons of any sort.

– What a timely and richly rewarding opportunity for Growth, Affirmation and Renewed and Invigorating Motivation. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. To all women of the world.

– Fantastic! Thanks very much. ….Vera.
Feminism may not be genetic but testosterone is. Thanks Bronwyn.

– SLOGAN FOR CAMPAIGN: “You Strike the Woman, You Strike the Rock!” ANCWL – Women’s March to Pretoria to protest the Pass Laws, 1956, during Apartheid Rule.

– This Conference has shown the spirit and courage of us women. Good luck to all and greetings from the Multicultural Women of Coffs Harbour, NSW. Many thanks to each and everyone for sisterhood. Everyone is a gift.

– Strong, creative, ingenious, strategic, intelligent, witty, compassionate – such fantastic women I have met here. THANK YOU! ….From Ailbhe

– THANK YOU ALL! WELL DONE! Radical Feminism lives on!

– Hands off our Refuges. 2.5 workers for 24 hour 365 days on call.

– PROVIDE ACCESS TO ALL WOMEN. Listen, if we have to tell you, WE CAN’T GET IN THE DOOR!

– Labor Government, 32% women. Defunding and trying to destroy our women’s sector! SHAME!

– I think this was really a PEACE conference – despite all! A wonderful experience! ….Gwen Gorman

– Long live our new feminist world order, where we can laugh, play and create together.

– Dear Betty, Chantal and the Collective. Thank you for extending your invitation to the Pacific. You’ve been great organisers and your speakers were great. We’ve enjoyed it all. ….Love, Rose Maule, PNG

– Women – great, strong feminists – the inspirations and achievers for our futures. As we go back to our communities, we are challenged to keep fighting for change. ….Sue Schmolke, Yamba NSW

– Meeting and hearing so many inspirational women was a treat! Strength to us all in our on-going work! ….Esther, Yamba

– Way to go! This is the best Conference I’ve so far attended overseas. What I love most is the bonding, solidarity and warmth and friendship of women all over the world. All the affirmation and much inspiration. The organizers are just GREAT!

– Hunt down the Terrorists. Kick out Howard and Ruddock!! Racist bastards. Thanks to the Collective! You rock, sisters!

– Wimmin United will never be Defeated!! Thank you. This conference has been an absolutely amazing experience!

– Say Sorry, Mr. Howard.

– I believe in our diversity opinions and will carry on for our life and struggle for social justice, truth and love! I do hope all of you be aware to campaign about International Tribunal for East Timor. Peace and Love.

– If the world was a forest, then Women are the trees.

– Nothing in the world can take the place of PERSISTENCE.
– Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
– Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
– Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

– Let us not forget the importance of loving and supporting the men of integrity in our lives – children, fathers, husbands and brothers. Love humanity for a humane world.

– Strength in unity!! Grassroots women ROCK!!

– We can eliminate sexism. Stay positive. You are not alone.

– Thank you for giving me – space.

– LOVE is the Key in everything we do. Jesus Christ is the source of it all. Thank you to the leadership and every woman, man and child. Love you all.
….Aunty Evelyn Lowah, Bumma Bippera Media, BBM 98.7 FM, 135 Abbott Street, Cairns, Q. 4870, Australia. Ph. 07 4052 1155.

– Mabuhay! (Filipino). Long live! To sustain Woman Power, we need to remember in order to hope and act on behalf of justice.

– A most amazing, empowering, sisterhood-building, peace-building conference. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

– If the whole world spent as much on peace as it does on waging war,
And narrowed the gap between the privileged few and the many desperately poor,
There’d be no poverty, no extremes and no refugees.
No terrorism, no fear of flying or being in tall buildings
And no fear of anthrax arriving in the mail.
For to share in peace our good fortune….It is the holy grail. ….Heather Bond

– Remember! All things are possible! Keep the faith, never believe the misinformation, listen to your SISTERS, wherever they may be, and don¹t ever stop fighting even when you think the battle is won! Thank you to the Indigenous owners of this land for allowing such an important conference.