Breaking Biases on International Women’s Day
by HELENA POWELL
21st March 2022
MANNINGHAM Council was host to an International Women’s Day Morning Tea adopting the theme of #BreaktheBias.
The free event was held on March 8 in Manningham’s recently refurbished Function Centre and included a presentation and a lively panel discussion facilitated by TV and radio presenter Shelley Ware.
Shelley was joined by Asherly Bradac (disability advocate / Manningham Disability Advisory Committee), Varvara Ioannou (Food For Thought Network), Sally Goldner (Founding member of Transgender Victoria) and Aunty Irene Norman (Mullum Mullum Gathering Place).
The 2022 #BreaktheBias campaign seeks to create a gender equal world that is free of bias, discrimination and stereotypes.
Manningham Councillor Laura Mayne said that as a local council in 2022 they aim to achieve gender equality in every policy they do.
“We have just recently established a gender committee, which I am a part of, and it’s a really big action — also in gender diversity we have just established a new LGBTIQA+ diversity action plan.
“We are also undertaking a gender audit and considering our staff and operations, which is something we are continuously reviewing,” she said.
Guest speaker Aunty Irene Norman, a proud Wailwan woman and a Mullum Mullum Elder, said that breaking the bias means teaching
people — from going into schools and talking to the children and educating the teachers — is the first step to seeing change.
“One of the first things we say to teachers is, there is no such thing as a bad question, people are very uncomfortable about asking questions to first peoples of this country — gender bias, women’s issues, men’s issues, acceptance issues — don’t be frightened to ask is the biggest thing we teach them.
“How are you ever going to learn if you don’t ask questions, how are people going to learn if we don’t teach them?” she said.
Panellist Sally Goldner, an LGBTIQA+ diversity educator and founding member of Transgender Victoria, said transgender people
are not being represented at the higher levels.
“I feel mistrustful to people in positions of power because I feel trans people were often spoken for and spoken about without our consent and in ways we shouldn’t be talked about,” she said.
Ms Goldner said the value of curiosity and being open to learning is essential to breaking the bias.
“I hope we get to the point where International Women’s Day is celebrated with just the positives and we don’t have to talk about the
negatives,” she said.
Asherly Bradac single mother of four children, all living with disability and additional needs, said breaking the bias is looking within
ourselves and to understand what our own biases are — “it doesn’t take a genius or a degree to be kind.”
Facilitator of the event Shelley Ware, who has over 20 years’ experience in the media as a radio and television presenter on both
local and national AFL football news shows, said that although she has literally lived bias her whole career, we are now seeing more
women talking about AFL and having different conversations.
Aunty Irene Norman finished off the #BreaktheBias International Women’s Day discussion panel by saying: “It doesn’t matter who is biased against you, don’t hide — show yourself and your abilities, be yourself, hold your head up high and look people in the eye.”