Mayor defends support of talk for teens

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council’s support of an event held in Leongatha recently to empower young women has been criticised by a councillor but defended by mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt.
Prominent and outspoken feminist Clementine Ford, known for her colourful language, addressed teenage girls from across South Gippsland at Leongatha Memorial Hall.
The event was also supported by the State Government, Bass Coast Shire Council, Southern Business Women’s Network, South Gippsland Bass Coast LLEN and the South Gippsland Primary Care Partnership.
Cr Meg Edwards took to Facebook to say she did not endorse ratepayers’ money being spent on “any individual controversial speaker”, despite being a “firm believer in free speech”.
Cr Edwards said a few people raised concerns with her about council’s involvement in the event.
“I applaud the initiative of the organisers in their intent for girls to feel confident and strive to be their best,” she wrote on Facebook.
“While I personally do not appreciate Clementine’s approach, I respect her courage to stand for what she believes in, even though it is different to myself.
“However, I do not believe it is council’s business and I do not personally endorse ratepayers’ money being used on any individual controversial speaker.”
Cr Brunt said people should look beyond the event and instead look at the benefits to girls, particularly those who were supported in arranging the day.
“Whether I approve of it or not is irrelevant. We have to encourage and give that freedom to our young people so they continue to organise these sorts of events,” she said.
“They are a very impressive bunch of students at Leongatha Secondary College. I think they have a great future ahead of them and we should encourage that.”
Council’s community strengthening coordinator Ned Dennis confirmed the event was supported by council.
He said council “provided helpful support to the young women who organised the event”.
“Council’s community strengthening team encourages young people to approach council for support with projects, particularly if the idea they are passionate about is one that provides support and learning to their peer group,” he said.
“The team has a small budget for youth leadership, which can be used to support such projects.”
Mr Dennis said the Empowering Young Women event was designed and led by a group of Year 11 students and was supported by their school.
“It was aimed at assisting young women in Southern Gippsland to have a voice in society and strive to achieve their full potential,” he said.
Mr Dennis said while the topic had the potential to elicit some “robust conversations”, council accepted young people were also residents and future ratepayers.
“They should be empowered to make choices about presenters and topics that are relevant to them and their peers, and in that context council’s opinions on their choices are not necessarily reflective of the world they inhabit,” he said.
“Discussions with the school leaders since the event suggested the presenter had a positive impact, opening the doors to some great communication between male and female students, teachers and peers.”

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=24619

Posted by on Apr 10 2018. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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