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LIV President's Blog
March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Me, Mary Kostakidis and Kate Ashmor

If you thought the legal end of town was depleted of women around midday on Friday, March 4, you were right; an impressive number of lawyers and judges attended the Dame Roma Mitchell Memorial lunch at Zinc in Federation Square.

The event, co-sponsored by the Law Institute of Victoria and Victorian Women Lawyers, was to celebrate International Women’s Day, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, on March 8.

The theme was speaking out and journalist and former SBS news presenter Mary Kostakidis did just that before a 400-plus audience which included Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and more than a dozen other female judges and justices.

The roll call of their names on this significant day – a day which marks the economic, political and social achievements of women past and present - drew its own applause.

The role of the whistleblower was examined by Ms Kostakidis in her powerful memorial address, ‘The Price of Courage; Has freedom of information gone too far?’. She roamed the globe, highlighting examples of those fearless few who sacrifice so much, in some cases their personal safety, to tell the world the truth.

The focus was, of course, on Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Ms Kostakidis raised Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s “baseless, incorrect” assertion that the website activity was illegal. She condemned the government’s “deafening silence” when critics of Julian Assange called for his execution. This silence, she said, could be interpreted as unflinching support for the US alliance … “bringing into question for many Australians the value of an Australian passport”.

Ms Kostakidis said this “cut him loose” approach “shames us as a nation and demeans our civilisation”, adding that the measure of any civilization was the way it treated the vulnerable and the unpopular. Julian Assange, she said, was under enormous and sustained pressure and his very life was in danger.

Australians, she said, must insist on enhancing our democratic processes and give support to those few who take the lead and whose reputation, freedom and lives are at risk as a consequence.

I would like to thank everyone who supported the Sydney Peace Foundation by entering our fundraising raffle at the event. Together, we raised $3,084. Congratulations to the winners of the prizes which were generously donated by Victorian Women Lawyers, the Monthly, Sydney Peace Foundation, MOR, Gorgeous Cosmetics, The Fruit Box and Assin.

The Sydney Peace Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to promote peace through justice in Australia.

Peace through justice is a way of thinking which promotes non-violent solutions to everyday problems and contributes to the development of civil societies.

Here, here.

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