A moving story by Warrnambool East Primary principal Michelle Bickley-Miller about the role models given to her by her mother and father was one of several highlights to the launch of the Women of Warrnambool event on Saturday.
Women of Warrnambool, held during the 16 Days of Activism, used 53 cut outs of Warrnambool women installed on the Civic Green to raise awareness of the tragic impact of family violence.
The 53 cut outs symbolised the current statistic of more than one woman a week dying at the hands of a current or former partner.
The event is an initiative of Warrnambool East Primary School and the Warrnambool City Council in conjunction with the south-west’s respectful relationships campaign.
Ms Bickley-Miller said family violence was complex and multi-faceted and research showed that gender inequality was a key driver.
She told the crowd at the launch that her late mother had been a remarkable women who had set a great example for her by overcoming many obstacles to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.
Her mother had continued her schooling by correspondence after finishing classes at Year 8. She taught under supervision before being recommended for formal training and going on to have a highly regarded teaching career.
Ms Bickley-Miller said her mum and dad had created a home where she and her sisters “never felt we could not achieve whatever we wanted.”
She said their father was an equal partner in the relationship with their mother.
“Our males need to allow us to be the best we can be and they (males) can be the best they can be,” Ms Bickley-Miller said.
Among the women profiled on the cut-outs was Ann Dwyer who had a still-born son. She said she decided to try to take something positive from her loss and became a phone counsellor for other people who lost an infant through sudden death.
The oldest woman profiled was Edna Worrall who was at the launch with another three generations of her family.
Other speakers at the launch included Danny Pearson from the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative, and singers Tom Richardson and Marie Ewing.
Our males need to allow us to be the best we can be and the males need to be the best they can be.Michelle Bickley-Miller