RELEASED: March 8, 2022
On International Women’s Day, Social Futures acknowledges and thanks the women working on the East Coast flood recovery and rebuild.
Former Lismore mayor, Jenny Dowell, has been volunteering with the Red Cross at an evacuation centre and coordinating volunteers at Lismore’s Music Conservatorium.
Ms Dowell said while by no means undervaluing the contributions of men, on International Women’s Day she was thinking of all the women on the flood front line.
“Women are mostly running Lismore’s two evacuation centres,” she said.
“Women volunteers are sorting clothing, women are cleaning, women are taking home washing to do, they are comforting people and of course they are actually getting in [to Lismore] and getting their hands dirty.
“At every level in our community you will find women literally lending a hand. Most women in our community won’t even be thinking about International Women’s Day. We might had originally been planning to go to events and all sorts of things but it’s now as far from our minds as you could imagine.
“But everywhere you look there are women making a difference in this community during this tragic and terrible event.”
Ms Dowell, who is 71 years old and a cancer survivor, is spending most of her time in the evacuation centres, plus two days onsite at the decimated Lismore Conservatorium building, (where Social Futures rents space for the Lismore Clubhouse program).
“I’m trained as a Red Cross emergency responder, so my primary volunteering is at the evacuation centres. The first night began at 6.45pm, Sunday [February 27, 2022] until late and I have continued with four to five hour shifts since.
“Early on I was registering people coming into the centre, now there are fewer of those people … now I do things like helping families access clothing.”
“I’ve also had people staying … and I’m doing some washing, but I’m no more special or different to anyone else. Every woman I know is doing something at this time.”
Social Futures CEO Tony Davies also paid tribute to the women helping get the Northern Rivers back on its feet after the floods
“On International Women’s Day I want to acknowledge the women in the emergency services, for example the SES and Rural Fire Service on the ground, I want to acknowledge the women cleaning out impacted homes and businesses ,and the women helping to care for people who have lost their homes,” he said.
“On International Women’s Day I also commemorate the cultural, political and socioeconomic achievements of women in Australia and around the world and I encourage everyone to think about how we can make the world more equitable.”
International Women’s Day, held every year on March 8, was first marked by more than a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland in 1911.
PICTURED: Hayley Jorgensen, Yasmin Stanfield, and Elyse Young working on the post-flood clean-up of the Social Futures Keen Street office.
(PHOTO by Sam Henderson)