Last week I attended Sydney Community Foundation & Sydney Women’s Fund luncheon “Saluting Sydney Women” with a special tribute to the honourable Elizabeth Evatt. I was joined by the Convenor of Greens Women’s’ Group, Darelle Duncan. Highly regarded lawyer Elizabeth Evatt is known for her human rights work, especially in relation to women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Her work on the historic Human Relationships Royal Commission in the 1970s was the catalyst for ground breaking changes such as no-fault divorce and the establishment of the Family Court. Evatt was inaugural Chief Judge of the Family Court and was later President of the Australian Law Reform Commission and a Commissioner of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Both Elizabeth Evatt and President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs gave passionate speeches about the need to address the endemic problem of domestic violence. Although this important issue has gained considerable traction in the past two years, government responses to this ongoing crisis are inadequate. The Baird Government’s 2014 changes to homelessness services, that have seen the closure or forced take over of a number of Sydney and regional women’s shelters, demonstrate there is still more work to do in this area.
I pay my respects to these two courageous women.