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September 12, 2017
Culture

Introducing The Women’s Parliament

A new initiative designed to disrupt the Adelaide Old Boys' Club.

  • Story: Farrin Foster

Julianne Pierce has long been frustrated that the progressive South Australia of her youth seemed to get lost somewhere in the past couple of decades.

Remarks

All women are invited to submit issues that will be considered for discussion at the inaugural Women’s Parliament via the website. The deadline for submissions is this Friday, September 15.

The Women’s Parliament event will be held October 5, 9.30am-11am at the Hawke Centre. To register and for more details visit the Eventbrite. Attendance is free.

A creative producer who has worked interstate and internationally for the last 25 years, she has always been drawn back to her home town.

“I moved away to Sydney and London, and I think Adelaide has as much drive or energy as any of those places,” she says.

But she has one major concern about the city.

“The fact that there never has been a woman Premier in South Australia,” says Julianne, “and the fact that women are under-represented in Parliament, not only in South Australia, but nationally – that’s a problem.”

Taking into consideration the vast and complex barriers that stand between women and greater parliamentary representation, Julianne decided something needed to be done.

“Women have been really successful in politics, but it’s just about, why aren’t there more of them?,” she says.

“I have a real interest in the system and how we’re governed and how that can change. I guess, we’ve inherited an English system as well, of Parliament, which is traditionally about representing peers and lords and land owners.

“So it’s about how you change that system and what women would bring to that system to change it.”

Earlier this year, in answer to these challenges, Julianne conceptualised the Women’s Parliament – an event that aims to simultaneously identify the issues that are most important to South Australian women and offer a platform for said issues to be discussed.

The inaugural Women’s Parliament will be held in October as part of Open State.

“There’s a couple of stages – the first stage is that I’ve put out a call for issues and that’s live at the moment, it closes this Friday,” says Julianne. “So that  first stage is really to harness what the issues are, what are the burning issues that women want to discuss and bring to the Parliament?”

“So that’s the first step, and then some issues will be shortlisted. We’re probably looking at having just three or four issues to discuss at the event. And then we’ll invite those women who submitted issues to talk to them really quickly, and there will probably be about a 15 minute discussion on each issue.”

The aim of the event – which will run for about two hours – is to create a series of recommendations on the chosen issues that will be used to lobby candidates running in the 2018 South Australian election.

“So, in that way, it’s ensuring that those issues that are important to women are on the agenda and form part of the platform for the next election,” says Julianne.

It’s early days for The Women’s Parliament, but Julianne is determined that the idea will live beyond the short term. This inaugural version, she says, is “an experiment” that will be developed and tweaked until it fulfils the potential of her big vision.

“It could become a movement or some kind of rallying cry or flashpoint,” says Julianne, “something that becomes a catalyst for really focussing on this issue.”

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