A few weeks ago I was special guest at the Bega Evening VIEW Club dinner, a club whose history stems back to 1960 when George Forbes, then General Secretary of The Smith Family, saw the potential for an organisation which allowed women from all walks of life to develop interests outside the home, providing friendship, education and mental stimulation. At the same time he hoped to offer these women the means to assist others less fortunate through The Smith Family.
It was a special evening and a generous audience of women who had all worn red in honour of having their local ambassador for Day for Daniel at their table. It was an absolute privilege for me to share the story of balancing my professional career with my role as wife and mother. Added into the mix is my passion for writing crime mystery novels in my ‘spare time’ and my volunteer community advocacy to raise awareness for missing people, driven by my personal quest to find my missing cousin Ursula who disappeared in 1987.
What fascinated me most about the VIEW club was its history. I would have liked to meet George Forbes, who spoke up for women at a time when women were discouraged from having a voice in the community. George believed society needed a better balance in decision-making processes at the local, state and national governance levels. He believed that this imbalance could be rectified through the creation of a supportive network of women that worked across these levels.
“People nowadays who insist that ‘A woman’s place is in the home’ are living in the dark ages.” VIEW World issue 1, 1971
VIEW was underpinned by the ideal of providing opportunities for women to engage with other women and ideas, to develop not only their social capital but also their knowledge and self-confidence, enabling them to think and act in new ways.
“Since inception, VIEW Clubs have enjoyed a rate of growth unmatched by any similar organisation.” R. Turner, The Smith Family General Secretary, 1977
Reading this makes me appreciate just how fortunate I have been in my professional career, which started in newspapers before I formed my own company 17 years ago, which I still love as much as I did when I first started. I am working in an era where women can and do. Where women can have a family and a career. An era where women support women. An era where women make change.
So what happens when women get into a room together and make plans to help others in their community? What is behind the success of women’s groups both past and present? One Australian woman I admire greatly, Ita Buttrose, knows the answer.
“I believe that VIEW’s success is founded in friendship. Australian women coming together and doing what they know best: caring for each other and for society.” Ita Buttrose in her address at the 1999 Melbourne Convention
I agree wholeheartedly. While we live for today and plan for tomorrow, I think we also need to look back at those who helped forge our path. With more than 300 clubs and 17,000 members across Australia, and its heart still very much in the right place, I encourage all women to take on this special VIEW of the world.