Together with the members for Pascoe Vale and Hawthorn, I also rise to pay tribute to one of the great champions of the rights of women and children within the state of Victoria, the Caroline Chisholm Society.
It was 50 years ago that Dr Philomena Joshua convened a non-denominational citizen army of volunteers, most of them women, to provide shelter and support to both vulnerable pregnant women and mothers.
What began as a local movement has since evolved into an incorporated organisation supporting over 700 Victorian families with the help of 20 staff and more than 100 volunteers.
In the spirit of its namesake, the Christian feminist, reformist and philanthropist, Caroline Chisolm, this organisation has embedded itself within local communities and provides pregnancy counselling, material aid and family support to those women with children not yet of primary school age.
At a time when 16 per cent of Victoria’s homeless are children under the age of 12 and when three in five homeless adults are women, the work of the society is just as important now as it was five decades ago.
In the society’s 50th year of community contribution, I sincerely thank those wonderful Victorians of the Caroline Chisholm Society, many of whom are in the gallery today, for their commitment to giving disadvantaged families a voice and giving Victorian women a choice.
Long may the society’s work continue.