The Australian Women, Earth and Change Network

 

This website was orignally created to promote the 2002 National Women and Earth conference, a national gathering of women environmentalists, that was held in the Darug and Gundungurra Country in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Thank you, Bridget Noonan for all your hard work organising the  Conference. If you attended you'll remember it was an intense, exhilarating four days of workshops, forums, sharing, and celebrating. I was in Australia visiting my room mate, Sara, from college when the convention occurred. The two of us attended. I have pictures of us wearing the outrageous Batman T shirts I had brought as gifts. Sara loved the caped crusader so it was a no brainer to bring her several Batman T-shirts as a house gift. She already had a t-shirt with the classic Batman logo, I brought a Gotham Crusader T Shirt and a "Always Be Yourself Unless You Can Be Batman" shirt. I had several t-shirts from the Batman animated series. My two favorites are the Batman Behind the Cape and the Batman Swinging In t-shirts. We received a lot of questions and comments about the Batman t-shirts. I gave out the url of the online store where I had bought them to numerous people. I was blown away by the opening ceremony and participated in every workshop. I feel so lucky to have been able to attend the Women and Earth Conference. It was memorable for so many different reasons.

This site was active for a number of years, the last posts were regarding their the Women and Earth Conference, 7th-10th April 2005 in the Lismore area. Eventually the domain registration for WomenandEarth.org expired and this site disappeared from the web. Recently I discovered that the domain for WomenandEarth.org was available so I bought it with the goal of recreating some of its content from archived pages. I definitely didn't want someone else purchasing the domain and re-purposing the site for something that had nothing in common with the original website.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PAGE CONTAINS SELECTIVE ARCHIVED CONTENT FROM THE ORIGINAL SITE.

Since the site will not be exactly as you remember it, please be indulgent.

For those of you who attended the conferences or were involved in this website, this will be a nostalgic stroll back to the past.

WEC Network Background Info

The Australian Women, Earth and Change Network first came together to organise an eco-feminist conference held in Katoomba April 2002. The WEC Conferences are annual gatherings of women environmentalists from around Australia with guest speakers from overseas. This conference brings together diverse eco-feminist women who are active for change in their communities. The network also publishes eco-feminist zines, promotes eco-feminist political campaigns and initiates community art projects.

Network Aims

1. To holistically explore political and cultural issues about women and the environment.

2. To assist developing better working relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women.

3. To support and recognise the work of green women volunteers.

4. To further develop the leadership, skills and networks of women who work for the environment.

5. To have fun and celebrate our successes, and our commitment to change
Like most areas of community life, the environmental, women's, peace, indigenous rights and animal liberation movements are sustained by the work of women.

It is common for community based green and indigenous women to work long hours as volunteers or in underpaid positions with little political or social recognition.
In spite of this, we are strong, resourceful, committed and willing to put in the work towards our long term visions for change.

The WEC network and it's events were created to recognise and support these women, promote the value of our work and explore issues that are of importance to us as women speaking out for the earth and human rights.

Access and Equity Policies

* The Women, Earth and Change Network is open to any female identified women this includes transgender and transexual women who live full time in their identities. Intersex people who are involved in women's community are also welcome.

* Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are encouraged to participate in all areas of the network and in recognition of the ongoing struggle of the indigenous people of this land, entry to WEC events are free to ATSI women.

How to get involved:

1. If you would like to join the organising collective of the Sydney based network, or of the Lismore based group organising the next Women Earth and Change conference, please email us at

2. Join the national eco-feminist egroup that links together women in the WEC network. To Join - email

3. If you would like to be informed about our next conference being held 7 - 10th April 2005 Lismore email the network - email

4. Consider writing an article or poem for our next zine. Read past copies on the zine page-Click here

 

 

2002

The Women and Earth conferences are organised by an independent grassroots network of eco-feminist women. The conference was initiated by Bridget Noonan a community activist in the Blue Mountains who through her work experiences identified the need for a national gathering of environmentally active women. This came after sending out a questionnaire nationally in late 2000 to women in the green movement. From this, an eco-feminist e-group was set up to bring together interested women and discuss the idea for a conference.


The Women & Earth Conference in April 2002 was a national gathering of women environmentalists held in Darug and Gundungurra Country in the Blue Mountains. The venue was the Clairvaux Community Centre and Christian Convention Centre in Katoomba. This gathering brought together women who are active for change in their communities. Held over 5 days the conference holistically explored women's work for political and social change

The Traditional Owner's Welcome

As Elders of the Gundungurra and Darug peoples of the Blue Mountains in NSW we would like to invite the women of your country to come to the National Women and Earth conference in April 2002.

This conference is being held on our land in Katoomba at Karuna onference Centre and has our support and involvement as the traditional owners. We are excited about women coming from other parts of Australia to share cultures and stories together.

Darug and Gundungurra women will have free access to the conference. All indigenous elders also have free access. Other Indigenous women who cannot afford the registration and are on low incomes or receiving benefits can apply for a free support ticket. Please go to the registrations page for more info.

If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander woman and you would like more information, you can contact Bridget Noonan, the conference organiser on 02 4759 3599 or Jacinta Tobin, the community development worker at the Blue Mountains Aboriginal Cultural and Resource Centre on 02 4782 6569 (ATSI women only).

The Blue Mtns Aboriginal Culture & Resource Centre is at the conference site and it will be a meeting place for Indigenous women to gather together, talk and have cups of tea. Each afternoon there will be an 'Indigenous Women's Sharing Stories' workshop where you have the opportunity to share culture and talks about your community and your work with the rest of the conference.

The conference organiserse encourage Aboriginal women to send in workshop proposals.

 

2002 Conference Program

 

If you would like to be involved as a volunteer organiser, presenter, performer/artist for the next Women and Earth Conference please email or post your idea to us.

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DAY 1 - Wednesday 3rd April

 

Day Program

Childcare provided for all sessions including Saturday night"

12 - 4 pm Arrival & registration; Afternoon activities- A chance to chill out & meet others before things get busy - join in art sessions to weave a boat out of weeds or make props for actions or take a bushwalk-visit the seven sisters

4.00 pm -5.45 pm Welcome To Country Opening Ceremony

A traditional smoking ceremony and song lead by local elders- Aunty Joan Cooper, Aunty Dawn Colless & Aunty Betty Locke with local koori women from the Aboriginal Culture & Resource Centre.

Followed by a welcome talk from the conference organisers lead by Bridget Noonan.

 

Night Program

6pm-7pm Dinner

7.30pm-9pm "Women Working for Change in the Blue Mtns"

A panel of presentations from inspiring residents of the Mtns. (below)

Chris Marks- is a lesbian feminist, activist, educator who has been living in the Blue Mtns since 1980. Chris will be talking about the contribution the lesbian community has made to the Blue Mtns and the herstory of women's organisations here, many of which Chris helped set up.

Mary Waterford- is a longtime community development worker, anti-racism activist & lesbian who has lived in the Mtns since 1980. Mary will be talking about the value of localised activism in our neighbourhood and wider community drawing on her many years of experience working in the Blue Mtns.

Lenore Lindsay World Heritage project officer National Parks & Wildlife Service will be speaking about the community activism which lead to the world heritage decision.

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DAY 2 - Thursday 4th April

 

Day Program

 

9.30- 12 noon Morning Big Talk

"Leading the Way- Indigenous Women Fighting for Country, Sea and Culture "

Confirmed Speakers

Jacinta Tobin- Jacinta is a Darug women, musician and Katoomba resident who works as the community development worker at the Blue Mtns Aboriginal Culture & Resource Centre. Jacinta is an inspiring, dynamic younger women who works hard to keep country and culture alive in the Mtns and Western Sydney.

Auntie Veronica Patricia Brodie

Auntie Veronica is a Ngarrindjeri woman with a strong descendancy to Kaurna. A weaver and storyteller, Auntie Veronica does much cultural awareness raising.

She has a strong connection to the Coorong and Hindmarsh Island. The pelican is her Ngaitjie (totem).

Auntie Cherie Arlette Watkins

Auntie Cherie is of Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna descendency. She is a consultant on Kaurna language which she teaches at the Kaurna Plains School. Auntie Cherie is a weaver and an artist. She does healing, massage and is a Reiki therapist.

Two East Timorese women from Dili will be speaking about the work they are doing to rebuild their communities.

Auntie Veronica and Auntie Cherie will share the pain, suffering and struggle of the Ngarrindjeri women in the fight to protect Kumarangk from the Hindmarsh Island bridge development. Kumarangk is and always was a place of spiritual, cultural and heritage importance to Ngarrindjeri people and in particular women. It is part of the Seven sisters adn therefore is a place of importance for all Aboriginal women. Through all of the court cases, Royal Commissions, legislative changes, lies and discrediting, the spirit and belief of the Ngarrindjeri women remained strong.

Forums-

Animal Rights & Environmentalism

1.30-3.15pm "Beyond human-centred conservation-an ethic of care for animals" Speakers- Frankie Seymour (Animals Australia), Siobhan O'Sullivan (World League for the Protection of Animals), Kim Stewart (Animal Liberation Queensland).

Indigenous Women Sharing Stories Of Change & Culture

1.30pm-3.15pm An organic space for indigenous women to share talks and culture with other conference participants.

Talking Our Walk-Innovative Projects About working For Women, Culture & Country

3.15-5.00pm Women's Cottage Eco-Project- Jo Rufford eco-feminist Phd student, Richmond Women's Cottage management member and community activist.

Women In Developing Countries & Permaculture; Rosemary Morrow is an eco-feminist perma-culturalist who has worked for 13years in SE Asia with women in earth repair.

Special Session " Dealing With the Effects Of Trauma" This is a 2 hour closed session for 12 women who have experienced trauma through their work as environmental or human rights activists. This session will focus on information about post -traumatic stress disorder, what the symptoms are , how to treat them and how to find the right support. Lead by Dawn Mears a trained counselor and mental health nurse. This session maybe repeated on Saturday depending on numbers.

 

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DAY 3 - Friday 5th April

 

Day Program

 

9.30- 12 noon Morning Big Talk

"Working For Life- Green Australian Women's Past, Present & Future Activism"

Afternoon Action - "Stop the South Windsor Women's Jail"

 

Confirmed Speakers

 

Indira Narayan- Is a dedicated feminist community activist involved with Friends Of the Earth Melbourne and is currently producing 'Earthmatters' radio show for 3CR.

Jo Vallentine- is a longtime peace and anti-nuclear activist based in Perth. In the 1980's Jo was the first senator in the world to be elected on an anti-nuclear platform. She currently runs anti-violence workshops in prisons in Perth and continues to inspire those around her with her deep spiritual committment to social action and a nuclear free world.

Deb Dare- is a feminist Blue Mtns community development worker and musician who has a herstory of environmental and feminist activism. Deb was an organiser of the Pine Gap women's peace camps in the 1980's and will be presenting photo's and stories from this time period.

Kim Stewart - is an animal rights activist and environmentalist from Queensland. She is currently Coordinator of Animal Liberation Queensland, Co-coordinator (!) of Australian Feminists for Animal Rights,is active in independent media and past executive member of the QCC.

 

Forums-

 

Australian Feminists For Animal Rights - 1.30-3pm

Animal abuse and domestic violence 1.30-3pm Speakers- Debbie Morris & Kim Stewart (Animal Liberation Qld)

Breaking the Isolation-Mental Health & Building Eco-Community 1.30-3pm

Marie Bakas- Counsellor Cumberlands Women's Health Centre, Buddhist & Permaculteralist Eshana- Has a docorate in eco-psychology and is a long time deep ecology educator and activist. A 20 minute Performance by three young Blue Mtns artists about mental illness & community.

Indigenous Women's Meeting 1.30pm -3pm (autonomous space)

A space for Indigenous women at the conference to gather together at the Aboriginal Culture & Resource Centre.

Afternoon Protest Action 3pm -6pm

'Stop the Women's Jail' Buses & cars will set off on a tour of the regions 'law & order' hotspots making stops along the way to protest against the NSW Carr's government huge expansion of the prison industry which includes a large women's prison in an isolated spot in Western Sydney which will see the NSW women's prison population double.

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DAY 4 - Saturday 6th April

 

Childcare provided until 10.30pm

Day Program

 

Morning Big Talk "Resisting Development- Women, Capitalism and the Anti-globalisation Movement"

9.30-12.30pm Dining room Hall Katoomba Christian Convention Centre Corner of Violet & cliff Drive Katoomba

9.30-9.40-Opening performance

9.40-10.10 Rebecca Bear- Wingfield -Representing the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta

10.15-10.45 Tatyana Mamonova- Russian Founder International Woman & Earth Network. She was the first feminist dissent exiled from the former Soviet Union for editing and publishing a feminist journal. Tatyana is the founder of the International Woman & Earth Eco-network and conferences. She now lives in New York.

10.50-11.30am Germaine Greer-leading Feminist author & academic

11.30-12.30 noon- Questions and Answers ( involving all three women)

12.30-1.30 Lunch 1.30-5pm workshops all afternoon

 

Forums-

 

Leadership & Politics Speakers- Kerry Nettle- NSW Greens Representative in the Senate Lee Rhiannon- Greens MLC NSW Parliament

Traditional Chinese Medicine & Qi Gong 1.30-3.15pm

This is a forum lead by Professor Jiali Yuan a Chinese doctor who has 40 years of experience as both a western doctor & a traditional Chinese doctor. Jaili will be speaking about the effectiveness of the Chinese medicine system and will demonstrate Qi Gong. This session will be interpreted from Cantonese.

Indigenous Women sharing stories of Change & Culture 1.30pm -3pm

Art & Social Change 1.30-3.15pm

Ember Swift is a Canadian independent musician who successfully runs her own label. She will be sharing information and inspiration about how to DIY and be an activist musician.

This will be an organic space where visiting indigenous women have the opportunity to speak.

Also- 'Weaving with weeds' art project- making a boat for exhibition.

Prop making sessions for the Sunday women's Anti-reactor action

Night Program

 

6pm-Midnight Conference Dinner at Katoomba Civic Centre (see cost below) 6pm Arrive for dinner (delicious vegetarian & vegan)

6.30-7.30pm Speech by Tahmeena Faryal - Co-ordinator of the Revolutionary Association Of Afghani Women followed by Q & A. Tahmeena has been touring the world speaking out about the oppression of women under both the Taliban and under the current government who also restrict women's freedom and rights.

7.30pm - Midnight. Performances Feminist protest rappers- Sydney trio, Ember Swift- Canadian folk/punk/jazz duo, DJ dance music Dinner Costs- For 1 or 2 day ticket holders Conc- $12, Part waged-$15 waged-$18 Week ticket holders conc-$8, Part waged-$12, Waged $15

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DAY 5- Sunday 7th April

 

9.30-10.30 Closing Address

10.30-12 noon Blue Mtns Playback Theatre Troupe will lead an interactive reflection on the weeks events.

12 noon- 5pm Lunch & Travel to Anti-reactor Action In Sydney on buses which will return to Katoomba by evening.

The Blue Mtns Aboriginal Culture & Resource Centre is at the conference site and it will be a meeting place for Indigenous women to gather together, talk and have cups of tea over the 5 days.

 

Women Unite against Lucas Heights Reactor

The Australian Women & Earth Conference will be holding an anti-nuclear action outside the gates of the Lucas Heights nuclear facility between 2.30pm-4.30pm, Sunday April 7th.

As you are probably aware it is a critical time for opposing the construction the 2nd Reactor, and the SA waste dump.

The Women & Earth collective are working with Greenpeace, SPANNR, PANNR, ACF, FOE & the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta on making sure this action is visible in the media and effective in voicing women's dissent to the expansion of the nuclear industry.

The action will feature high profile speakers from the conference such as Russian activist Tatyana Mamonova who recently recieved the 2002 Living Legacy Award from the Women's International Centre in California also Perth Former Greens Senator Jo Vallentine, Rebecca Bear- Wingfield speaking for the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta and a range of other leading eco-feminist women.

The protest will be a peaceful, musical protest with a women's visual 'performance' which will be created at the conference before hand in daily workshops on Wednesday April 3- Saturday April 6th. All women are encouraged to come along on Sunday April 7th, between 2.30-4.30pm and join us in a peaceful, humourous and empowering display of women's opposition to the nuclear industry. We can pick up women from Southerland station 2pm onwards if you ring the mobile number below when you reach the train station. For questions about the action contact Bridget Noonan 0408275220

 

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Saturday Night Concert


Featuring- Canadian Jazz/punk/folk performer Ember Swift with Lyndell Montgomery.

" since her self titled debut in 1996, Swift has built a following of like minded idealists,people who want 'music that's honest, music that's trying to work for change." Marla Cranston, The Daily News. 1999 Halifax.NS

Also DJ dance till late!

Ember Swift

Lyndell Montgomery


 

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Weaving with Weeds


All women are invited to be a part of a collaborative Art piece.

We are aiming to make a boat or a similar vessel out of weave panels, this Boat is a metaphor of all kinds of dreams and wishes for every women. Your dreams and wishes will be attached on to each panel. Weaving will take place in theweaving with weeds tent, we will all be sitting weaving making friends and sharing stories.

Please bring yourself with your Ideas and dreams, a cushion or rug. We are mainly using weeds from the blue Mountains but you may bring anything natural like bones, hair, shells, thread, feathers, sticks and more to incorporate into your panel.

Looking forward to meeting you.

This Project is coordinated by Effie Vouris and Andrea Chapman For any enquiries please call Effie on 0247593895 Or email i_art_effie@hotmail.com

 

Special Guests

 

Germaine Greer
BA (Melbourne), MA (Sydney), PhD (Cambridge)
Professor of English and Comparative Studies
One of the worlds most famous Feminist writers and activists.


Germaine Greer wrote The Female Eunuch while she was a lecturer in the early 1970's. Her many subsequent books include work on women writers and painters, as well as Daddy, We Hardly Know You (1989) and The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause (1991). She runs her own press, Stump Cross Books, which has published editions of work by Katherine Philips, Anne Wharton and other neglected poets. Her latest book, The Whole Woman, which appeared early 1999, takes stock of the current situation of the feminist

Tayana Mamonov


Russian Journalist/human rights activist and founder of the International Woman and Earth conferences
Tatyana recently received the 2002 Living Legacy Award from the Women's International Centre in California

 

 

Back from the Bush

 

A report from the First Australian Women and Earth conference


The conference was held in the Blue Mountains, on Darug and Gundungurra land. Women elders of the traditional owners welcomed the conference participants at the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday 3rd April. Its aims were to bring together women activists from around the country to recognise and support them in their struggles for social and environmental justice. There were strong themes of indigenous sovereignty, culture and knowledge, feminism, anti nuclear and environmental and animal rights issues. It was strength of the conference that ordinarily marginalized issues including lesbians, mental health and self sustainable activism were also included. The conference provided an opportunity for exchange of information and ideas relating to current grassroots campaigns in Australia and internationally, and will hopefully be the impetus for solidarity and shared understanding in the future.

The Morning Big Talks every day provided an opportunity for women at the conference to all gather and participate in a prepared forum around certain topics. These included:

* Indigenous Women leading the Way in Fighting for Country, Sea and Culture. This included Darug musician and community worker, Jacinta Tobin, talking of her work in keeping country and culture alive in the Mountains and Western Sydney. From Hindmarsh Island, Ngarrindjeri elders Auntie Veronica Patrica Brodie and Auntie Cherie Arlette Watkins and Auntie Dot who shared the struggle of their women in the fight to protect Kumarangk from the Hindmarsh Island bridge development. However, through many court cases, Royal Commissions legislative changes, lies and discrediting, they have remained strong in their spirit and beliefs and are doing amazing work in the community. Auntie Dot is a singer and song writer and Auntie Cherie teaches Kaurna language at an urban Aboriginal school. They emphaised the importance of culture and knowledge in people's lives.

*Two East Timorese activist women, Rosa and Beba spoke of the struggle for independence and shared with conference goers the story of the crocodile that made East Timor as it is today. They have fought alongside mountain resistance groups, and even been imprisoned in their struggle. They spoke of women organizing for women's language and education classes to combat illiteracy in East Timor. The women said they believed their struggle was shared by women all over the world as they struggle for land and culture. They spoke of the need for women to come together and have unity and believe in each other to achieve liberation. This theme resonated through the conference.

*Working for Life: Green Australian women's past. Present and future activism This Big Talk featured Indira Narayan, a feminist woman campaigning for land justice in the Barmah-Millewa forest campaign in Victoria with Friends of the Earth (Melbourne) and the Yorta Yorta people. She also produces radio shows for 3CR Community Radio. Jo Vallentine is a long term activist around peace and environment issues, including the Anti-Bases campaign. Deb Dare is a local Feminist community development worker and feminist musician who helped organize Pine Gap women's peace camps in the 1980s. Kim Stewart is an animal rights activist and environmentalist from Queensland, and coordinates Animal Liberation Queensland as well as the recently started Australian Feminists for Animal Rights. Kim, a member of the Indy media collective in Brisbane, spoke on her involvement in the animal rights and environment movement.

The many workshops scheduled for the conference reflected the diversity of the women present and the areas they campaigned in around the country. These included members of the Melbourne Kungkas (Melbourne Women) collective who support the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, senior Aboriginal women fighting to stop the proposed nuclear waste dump on their country. There were also workshops by long time women activists from anti-nuclear and anti- Pine Gap (US spy base in Australia) campaigns to share their experiences and contribute to current campaigns around these same issues. Unfortunately, women have been campaigning for peace and nuclear disarmament for over twenty years and we are still going!

There were many local women from the community present and participating in the conference, with experience in many areas of social and environmental justice campaigning. Chris Marks spoke of her experiences as a lesbian activist and the lesbian community's role in establishing many women's services, such as support groups and Domestic violence refuges, in the Blue Mountains. She was just one of the many speakers who raised another important theme in the conference, which was that of sexuality and how it plays a significant role in women's oppression. As there were many lesbian identifying women there, it was great to have the contribution that lesbians have made to the feminist and environmental movements acknowledged and talked about.

This diversity at the conference was present in the many workshops offered, including:-

  • ·Breaking the Isolation- mental Health and Building Eco-Community ·Sexuality, Spirituality and social Change
  • ·Australian Feminists and Animal rights: animal abuse and violence in society.

An action was held at the site of the proposed Women's Jail in Western Sydney. Women conference chanted, sand, read letters from women prisoners and talked about the harmful effects of detention on women and communities. Candles were lit for a vigil, and freedom songs were sung as many security guards looked on. The Woomera action had been earlier in the week, and they may have been expecting the same! One of the women from East Timor was sharing the story of when she and her mother were imprisoned by the Indonesian militia in her country, as other women stood in a circle holding candles. It was dusk and the scene was very intense. She said that no woman should ever be imprisoned. One of the security guards (a man) was crying.

Another action was held at the Lucas heights reactor where the government has just approved a second nuclear reactor, to begin construction almost immediately. This was in addition to a vigil already being held by residents, activists and other members of the community.

The conference was effective in meeting its goals of bringing together a diverse group of women to share stories, ideas and campaigns. Hopefully many will have converged to build bigger and more campaigns and actions. The conference was full of energy and challenges to women present about campaigns and ideas past, present and future. Hopefully it will be the first of a new tradition in \"women and earth\" conferences around Australia.

Article by: liz shield 

 


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