Emma Pritchard, Clarence Valley Independent
Grafton welcomed a special visitor ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8 when Senator the Honourable Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women spent a few hours meeting local women in business, school students and community members at a gathering at the Grafton District Services Club last week.
Describing herself as very proud and privileged to have the opportunity of meeting so many Clarence Valley women, Senator Payne spoke of her ongoing career as a woman in politics and her passion for engaging with other women and encouraging them to pursue their ambitions.
Year 12 Grafton High School student and SRC representative Narissa Dunston said some of the topics discussed included gender equality within the workplace, especially in parliament, and she found the senators words to be profound and inspirational.
“She explained that women don’t have the higher paying jobs or higher level jobs within parliament and within society overall,” she said.
“She was very encouraging of women doing what we want and not being afraid to achieve our goals.”
Miss Dunston said the minister’s words have inspired her to put herself out there and to not be afraid of entering a workforce or getting a job in a male dominated environment.
“She made me feel like I can just go for,” she said enthusiastically.
“She was definitely inspiring.”
As she circulated the room and happily chatted with several local women and school students, Senator Payne acknowledged workplace safety, namely women in parliament, was a hotly discussed topic.
“Workplace safety is not just an issue for the parliament, it is an issue for every workplace to ensure that their employees, women and men, are able to come to work safely,” she said firmly.
While Senator Payne was praised by many attendees for freely speaking about the ongoing issues relating to safety in the workplace, she was also praised for her strong words of encouragement aimed towards young women to pursue their passions and embark on careers they love, including politics.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan welcomed Senator Payne to the Clarence Valley and acknowledged her for sharing her words of wisdom and encouragement.
“It was wonderful to welcome her to Grafton and I’m sure a lot of women who attended the event, particularly the school students, really enjoyed listening to what she had to say ahead of International Women’s Day,” he said. Senator Payne said it was great to be in Grafton and promised she will try and return to the Clarence Valley when the jacaranda trees are in bloom.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 10 March 2021.