March 16, 2014
Kumbia Memorial Hall became a sea of purple on Friday – “purple for a purpose” – to help mark International Women’s Day.
Many of the women were wearing purple in some form and all the tables were decorated in a purple theme.
The day is a major fundraiser for the Kumbia Kindergarten, and as well as lunch, there were stalls for women to explore along both sides of the hall.
There were three guest speakers this year: Kingaroy businesswoman Abigail Andersson, Kumbia local Pat Hobdell and retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Ann Lewis.
Abigail spoke about living in the South Burnett, balancing a career with family life and her interest in local government.
Pat, who received a South Burnett 2013 Australia Day Local Achiever Award, spoke about growing up in Kumbia and the changes she had seen in the area over the years.
Ann spoke of life in the Queensland Police and also detailed the many changes she has seen along the way.
“When I started, female police officers wore a lovely short blue dress, and there was no place for handcuffs or a handgun,” she said.
“However we were issued with a humungous black handbag which had to be carried at all times – it was a weapon of mass destruction.”
The female police were supposed to carry out all the activities of their male colleagues, all the time wearing a pair of high heel shoes!
Ann said she joined the force in 1973 as a “shy, very naive country girl”.
At the time, married women could not become police officers and women were still a novelty in the ranks.
“In the United States, just one year before I joined in Queensland, there were less than one dozen policewomen in the whole United States,” she said.
Equal pay was contentious … it was widely believed that policemen needed more money than policewomen, because they had families to support.
“There was no such thing as sexual harassment, not because it didn’t happen but because it wasn’t recognised,” she said.
By the time Anne had retired in 2012, she had experienced much – “sometimes too much” – and had risen through the ranks to Assistant Commissioner, the second highest rank achieved by any woman in the Queensland Police.
But she said career success may not be the most important thing in life; success in families, sports, even hobbies were also important.
“A true test of a person is how they respond when the going gets tough,” she said.
These days, Ann is a demonstrator for “Stampin’ Up” scrapbooking and craft items.
“I still work long hours, cram too much into one day and attempt to meet unreal deadlines, but I am happy and I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was “inspiring change”.
‘Every day I aim to commit just one act of random kindness,” Ann said.
“And remember, the only place that ‘success’ comes before ‘work’ is in the dictionary.”
[UPDATED with correction]