North Arm Cove High Tea successfully supports International Women’s Day

Maureen Kelly, OAM, sharing a life of local anecdotes.


“It is really very easy to make a difference; you just have to care.”

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These are words written by a 12 year old student studying at Bulahdelah School and read out by Jan Peeters, the Chair of the International Women’s Day (IWD) organising committee at North Arm Cove.

Around 90 community members from the Cove and nearby communities attended the stylish High Tea at the Community Hall, all to make a positive difference for girls and women around the world.

This year’s IWD theme is “Each for Equal”, with the proceedings pitched to inspire attendees to “challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.”

Jan used facts and figures to highlight the fact that global gender equality remains an ongoing challenge.

She cited recent UN data, stating, “137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day with 650 million women and girls are married before age 18.”

Jan emphasised the importance of caring in order to have a lasting positive impact locally and globally.

Impact was a recurring theme, evident in the first keynote presentation by local legend, Maureen Kelly, OAM, now living in South Australia supported by close family.

Reflecting on a lifetime of community service (starting out as a ten pound pom), her anecdotes illustrated the importance of sustained commitment and a enthusiastic “can do” attitude.

Maureen’s efforts were central to many positive local outcomes including the building of the North Arm Cove Community Hall, supporting the Progress Association, producing the Cove News for 12 years, and convening International Women’s Day functions, now running for 22 years.

She shared her appreciation of formal recognition (as well as her passion for the Western Bulldogs AFL team) which includes the 1996 Australian Day Citizenship Award. the 2001 Centennial Medal for Community Service; the Great Lakes Council Active Seniors Award; and the 2010 Australia Day Order of Australia Medal for committed service over a long period of time.

The second keynote presentation was by Joanne Trotter, retired principal of St Joseph’s Primary School.

Joanne delivered a powerful and often sad insight into the daily challenges faced by girls and women living in the Kibera slums in Kenya.

Reflecting on her work with the Australian Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders organisation, Joanne stated, “Their lives are incredibly hard but they have purpose. They look out for each other.”

NOTA will publish a transcript of her presentation next week.

Kate Washington, State MP and Member for Port Stephens and the Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage, and Shadow Minister for Rural Health, enjoyed the High Tea.

Kate told NOTA, “It was wonderful to join this beautiful community and these amazing women today. This small community has raised over $70,000 for United Nations Women Australia, to improve the lives of women and girls around the world, and they had a lot of fun doing it.”

The High Tea featured classic sandwiches and fine cheeses, followed by elegant home baked tiny treats.

It was a change in format that worked for IWD,

The afternoon concluded with a raffle with a great range of prizes all donated by local businesses and people.

Last word to the 12 year old student who wrote, “It is not hard to make a difference, and it is surely the responsibility of all people to make a difference to our loved ones, to the environment and to the worldwide community. Otherwise what is the purpose of life?”


By Sandra MURRAY


Big local turnout with 90 people attending the stylish High Tea.


VIPS: Kate Washington MP, Maureen Kelly – OAM (keynote presenter), Jan Peeters (Organising Committee Chair) and Joanne Trotter (keynote presenter).

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