Last Thursday I rose in the House to alert Members to the fact that it was United Nations International Day of Rural Women.

First struck in 2008—better late than never—the day highlights the crucial role women play in rural, regional and remote economies and communities. This, of course, is nothing new. Women have always played a crucial role and their contribution has been of great benefit to the global community. Happily, their influence is on the rise. Indeed, they are playing leading roles in local councils, local boards, national boards and economic development bodies.

Women on the land were once stereotyped: they cooked, cleaned the house, fed the chooks and paid the bills. This, of course, was never universally true. Thankfully, Australians are now more enlightened and better understand the diverse and technical roles women play on the farm and in agribusiness. Inside the farm gate, they are out in the field or in the shed using the latest technologies. Further up the value chain, they are in agronomy, in finance and in logistics.

The UN's efforts also serve to remind us that we must acknowledge that many women are still the silent voices in our remote, rural and regional areas and government has a role to play in ensuring that their voices are more loudly heard.

What an amazing event this year’s Relay for Life at Baddeley Park proved to be. I must thank the organising committee who worked tirelessly on the day and for many months prior to ensure the events success.

I must make a special mention to the men who volunteered to enter the “Mis-ter” Relay event. They bravely dressed up in women’s clothing and accessories to raise money on the day and were invited up on stage to show off their frocks.  They  seemed to have a lot of fun !

Thank you to everyone who participated and helped make a difference.

While in Canberra last week I joined many other MP’s at a stroke awareness event that was held at Parliament House.

Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability. 1 in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime.
In 2015 there will be more than 50,000 new and recurrent strokes – that is 1000 strokes every week or one stroke every 10 minutes. There will be almost 440,000 people living with the effects of stroke. This is predicted to increase to 709,000 in 2032. The disease costs the Australian economy $5 billion per year, including $3 billion in lost productivity.

Stroke kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer. 65% of those living with stroke also suffer a disability that impedes their ability to carry out daily living activities unassisted.

Australians most at risk of a stroke include the 6.1 million people living with high cholesterol, 4.1 million with high blood pressure and 434,000 with atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat that can cause a five-fold increase in risk of stroke. A lack of physical exercise is also a risk factor.

Tips to change your lifestyle and reduce your risk of stroke can be found on the Stroke Foundation’s website


I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

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To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.

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