Over the last six months I have heard the real stories and lived experiences of more than 1000 people through more than 100 events. When I began my Listening Tour in November 2007, I set myself a number of objectives. I wanted to immerse myself in the everyday experiences of gender inequality. I wanted to build relationships with those key people and organisations who had a deep understanding of the issues. Importantly, I wanted to hear your ideas for how we can create a fairer and more equal society. I have learnt enormously from the Listening Tour.
The Tour has provided me with a depth of understanding that no number of written reports could. I have had the opportunity to meet a diverse range of Australians - factory workers, investment bankers, business leaders, community legal centre workers, Indigenous Australians, academics, Ministers, women’s services, refugees, gays and lesbians, young women and older people, to name a few. The Tour has allowed me to put the human face to the information that comes across my desk everyday. Not only have I gained a sense of what really matters in the community, I have heard about how it needs to be changed.
Covering the length and breadth of this country has changed the way I see things. I have heard the complexity of the issues that women and men in the Australian community face on a daily basis. I have become stronger in my belief that a one size fits all approach to policy will not work. We need considered, evidence-based policy solutions that are tailored and responsive. Most of all, we need to take a long term view of change. Making a positive impact on women’s and men’s lives will take time, but every bit counts.
Throughout the Tour I continued to strive for work and family balance by modelling what is possible. Yes, there were stressful times travelling with the kids. Yet, the kids made me see the issues from a different perspective. I was able to engage with people on a number of dimensions - as the Commissioner, as a mum, a sister and a daughter. It is important that we present ourselves as whole people, that is, as individuals with caring responsibilities. It is not until senior men and women in public life begin to model alternative ways of balancing work and family that we will see change across all levels.
I am proud and honoured to have heard so many stories that will make me an informed advocate for gender equality in this country. I am determined to continue listening and using technology strategically to engage with each of you. Thank you for being part of this incredible journey and I look forward to continuing the conversation over the next 5 years.