WEL National Conference

Anne Hall, Convenor of WEL Victoria reports on the discussion at the WEL National Conference held in Perth on 16 to 18 April

“Women at the WEL National Conference listened to Western Australians, Christina Gillgren, founder and co-convenor of Women for Constitutional Reform and Janice Dudley, lecturer at Murdoch University in politics, public policy and international studies, give an impassioned presentation on the Constitution and constitutional reform.

Janice Dudley covered the history of the Constitution and the background to women’s suffrage. Christina Gillgren discussed the issues of citizenship and empowerment related to the Constitution finishing with a discussion on the need for a Bill of Rights.

Later in the day, women attended a workshop which focussed on the Preamble and the republic referendum. They issued a statement which endorsed a NO vote for the preamble unless changes were made which explicitly stated women’s equality with men and recognised Indigenous peoples original occupancy and/or ownership of the land in a matter endorsed by Indigenous people themselves. This statement was later ratified by all the conference delegates.

Christina Gillgren was persuasive in her arguments for a YES vote for the model of the Republic to be proposed at the referendum. Although she had majority support, this was not included in the final statement from the conference.”