Taralga ladies celebrate 50th reunion of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service | Goulburn Post



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Remembrance Day on November 11 is of great significance to all Australians. It is a day where we remember and commemorate all of the service men and women who gave their lives through two world wars and various military conflicts throughout the years. READ ALSO: Exhibition delves into city’s early connection with explorers It is also a very significant time for 15 women, all former members of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS). Throughout our period of service we became good friends, as we served in various naval establishments. There were many good times and lots of laughs. However, as our terms of service were coming to an end, we decided to hold a reunion every year on November 11. Being Remembrance Day we felt that as we got older, surely we couldn’t forget that date. CHECK OUT: Aussie cricket great calls on fellow farmers to get skin checked regularly Our first reunion was in 1970, this year will be our fiftieth reunion. During the years there have been some fun times but also some sad times. Some of the girls have lost their husbands and two of the girls have lost a child. Through the good and the sad times we have supported each other and as the years have passed the bonds of friendship have become even stronger. READ MORE: Save Our Voices: we hear you, says regional minister I have been very fortunate to be able to attend each of our reunions, even through a period of illness. This year our fiftieth reunion, due to COVID-19 our interstate members are unable to be with us, however seven of us will be attending the Remembrance Day service at Taralga. The other girls will get together in Queensland and Western Australia.

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UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons to come into force after 50th signatory


The United Nations announced on Saturday that 50 countries have ratified a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons triggering its entry into force in 90 days, a move hailed by anti-nuclear activists but strongly opposed by the United States and the other major nuclear powers.

As of Friday, the treaty had 49 signatories, and the United Nations said the 50th ratification from Honduras had been received.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres commended the 50 states and saluted “the instrumental work” of civil society in facilitating negotiations and pushing for ratification, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The UN chief said the treaty’s entry into force on January 22, 2021, culminates a worldwide movement “to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” and “is a tribute to the survivors of nuclear explosions and tests, many of whom advocated for this treaty,” he said.

Guterres said the treaty “represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations,” Dujarric said.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty, said: “This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the UN which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone.”

“The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal,” she said.

The 50th ratification came on the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the UN Charter which officially established the United Nations and is celebrated as UN Day.

“The United Nations was formed to promote peace with a goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Fihn said. “This treaty is the UN at its best — working closely with civil society to bring democracy to disarmament.”

“Strategic error”

The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances… develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices – and the threat to use such weapons – and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries.

Once it enters into force all countries that have ratified it will be bound by those requirements.

The United States had written to treaty signatories saying the Trump administration believes they made “a strategic error” and urged them to rescind their ratification.

The US letter, obtained by The Associated Press, said the five original nuclear powers – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – and America’s NATO allies “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty.

It says the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, known as the TPNW, “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament and is dangerous” to the half-century-old Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts.

“The TPNW is and will remain divisive in the international community and risk further entrenching divisions in existing nonproliferation and disarmament fora that offer the only realistic prospect for consensus-based progress,” the letter said. “It would be unfortunate if the TPNW were allowed to derail our ability to work together to address pressing proliferation.”

Fihn has stressed that “the non-proliferation Treaty is about preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminating nuclear weapons, and this treaty implements that. There’s no way you can undermine the Non-proliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It’s the end goal of the Non-proliferation Treaty.”

“Nobody needs nuclear weapons”

The NPT sought to prevent the spread of nuclear arms beyond the five original weapons powers. It requires non-nuclear signatory nations to not pursue atomic weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five powers to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee non-nuclear states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing energy.

Rebecca Johnson, a co-founder and first president of the International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons, said: “The ban treaty is as much about just making it much more possible for people all around the world to see nobody needs nuclear weapons, and they’re actually an impediment, an obstacle – they’re in the way of dealing with the real security threats we have on the ground from COVID to climate.”

She said in an AP interview that nuclear weapons can’t prevent or deal with conflicts. “They’re just in the way, and they’re highly expensive, and the governments that have them are distracted from the real security issues by trying to constantly pay for these arms races that they’re still obsessed with.”

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: “The simple reality is that the international community could never hope to deal with the consequences of a nuclear confrontation. No nation is prepared to deal with a nuclear confrontation. What we cannot prepare for, we must prevent.”

There are over 14,000 nuclear bombs in the world, thousands of which are ready to be launched in an instant, Rocca said. The power of many of those warheads is tens of times greater than the weapons dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

The treaty was approved by the 193-member UN General Assembly on July 7, 2017, by a vote of 122 in favour, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. Among countries voting in favour was Iran. The five nuclear powers and four other countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — boycotted negotiations and the vote on the treaty, along with many of their allies.

Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, who has been an ardent campaigner for the treaty, said: “When I learned that we reached our 50th ratification, I was not able to stand.”

“I remained in my chair and put my head in my hands and I cried tears of joy,” she said in a statement. “I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty.”



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The Australian National Botanic Gardens marks it 50th anniversary in a year like no other | The Canberra Times


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It’s a sparkling spring morning on the day I sit down with Judy West, right in the centre of the botanic gardens of which she is the director. After our talk, she will continue working on her presentation the following night, via Zoom, at a major symposium at the Kew Gardens of London. It’s part of Kew’s regular report on the state of the world’s plants and fungi, and West – who has been director of the Australian National Botanic Gardens for the past 10 years – will be the only speaker from Australia presenting before at least 2000 delegates. It’s a vote of confidence and a sign of the gardens’ standing in the world. What with the kudos, and the weather, and the steady stream of visitors, it’s a good time for the gardens to be marking its 50th year. If only the year itself hasn’t been such a god-awful catastrophe so far. As a national institution based on highly curated natural surrounds, the gardens has been affected more profoundly than most by the succession of disasters that 2020 has thrown up, beginning, of course, with the heatwave and bushfire threats of the summer, complete with the choking smoke and strong, hot winds that forced it to cancel most of its summer events. January brought a freak hailstorm that ripped through parts of Canberra, cutting a swathe of incredible destruction through the gardens, leaving it with a $2 million damage bill. And then there was COVID-19, and all that happened next. Oddly, though, the advent of the pandemic, subsequent lockdown and then reopening of the capital has been something of a boon for the gardens, giving staff time to work on repairs without visitors around. And, as Canberrans have emerged from their homes, desperate for solace from the natural world, what better place to find it than the beautiful oasis in the middle of the city? When talk first began of setting up a botanic gardens for the fledgling national capital back in the 1930s, such adversity 90 years into the future could never have seemed possible. But when Linsday Pryor, the young research forester from South Australia, was appointed Superintendent of Parks and Gardens in Canberra in 1945, he was already imagining an institution that would go on to achieve great things. He began just weeks after the Second World War ended, securing a budget of 1000 pounds to begin working on the gardens, on the lower slopes of Black Mountain. Of course, his main task at the time was to populate the city’s streets with trees, a mission that took him around the world on a quest to find species that could withstand Canberra’s unusual climate. Working with what was, to all intents and purposes, a blank slate as far as trees went, and in keeping with the ‘Garden City” ethos of Walter and Marion Griffin, who had conceived the city’s design, he set about planting a range of exotic and native species up and down the streets of Canberra’s inner suburbs, ignoring all arguments pitting one (native) against the other (exotic). But when it came to the growing botanic gardens, the sole mission was to plant natives, and create a centre for scientific, rather than merely recreational, purposes. History records that a late-night call from Pryor to prime minister Ben Chifley in 1949 was “all that it took to arrange the ceremonial planting of the ‘first’ trees”, and just two days later Chifley and the then director of London’s Kew Gardens planted an oak and a eucalypt to celebrate the start of the gardens. The eucalypt is still there, just inside the gardens’ main gates. From then on, work on the gardens was steady: Pryor appointed a botanist, evicted dairy farms from the mountain slopes, oversaw the mapping of the gardens’ boundaries, contour ploughing for water conservation and the opening of two annexes, in Jervis Bay and Mount Gingera. By the time he left the role to be a professor at the Australian National University, passing the helm onto David Shoobridge, things were well under way. In 1960, botanist Betty Phillips began linking the living plants with pressed scientific specimens – unique for botanic gardens at the time – and oversaw several major collecting trips across the country to ensure the collection was as “national” as possible. The car park, parks and bridges were positioned in the steep gullies, and the gardens opened to the public in 1967. Three years later, the gardens was officially opened by prime minister John Gorton, and the misting system went into the dry gully to create what is today the beloved rainforest, complete with ferns, moss and boardwalks through the foliage (heaven, as generations of parents can attest, on one of Canberra’s increasingly hot summer days). The site was renamed the National Botanic Gardens to acknowledge its status, and Robert Boden became its first official director in 1979. In the 1980s, a cafe replaced the humble pie-van, an amphitheatre went in – today still popular for weddings and concerts, and the Prince and Princess of Wales (that’s Charles and Diana to you and me) opened the visitors centre. But it was the 1990s when the gardens really came into its own, having established a community of dedicated Friends, and merging with the CSIRO’s plant collection to form what is today the Australian National Herbarium. It also set up Australia’s second website (after the ANU) to make data and scientific information available to all. On this sunny morning, West observes the visitors watching a duck and its tiny hatchlings wander amongst the water dragons and weekday visitors. Around us there are glasshouses, rock gardens to show off plants from the desert and the mountains, a soon-to-open banksia garden, a lawn to feature eucalypts, wattles, walking trails, lush lawns and picnic grounds. And, the Rainforest Gully, among the worst hit by the hail, which was so localised that West, in a plane on the tarmac waiting for the storm to pass so she could take off to watch the tennis in Melbourne, barely knew it had happened. She talks of the role played by the National Seed Bank, housed in a building a few hundred metres away, that ensured the city’s native plant species weren’t lost in the aftermath of the summer fires. The growing seed bank, which is soon to get a new building, houses some 7700 seeds from 4000 different plants. The centre conserves the country’s native plant species, in some cases for hundreds of years, while a team of biologists, curators and volunteers collect seeds and work to understand how they germinate in order to protect those threatened by urban sprawl, natural disasters and increasingly by climate change. West has spent her decade at the gardens building collaborations with research teams, drumming up finding, and, five years ago, overseeing a 20-year masterplan for the gardens that has given it a more solid direction for the future. Work on the new Seed Bank is expected to begin next year. Meanwhile, there are still pockmarks in the some of the boardwalks from the hailstorm, and things are barely back to normal in the not-quite-post-COVID world. Still, while the 50th anniversary celebrations that had been planned for some time have long been nixed, watching visitors discover – and in many cases rediscover – the gardens has been the perfect metaphor for how far the institution has come. “September this year is only 5 per cent lower than September last year … the car parks have been overflowing by 10 o’clock in the morning on these nice sunny days,” she says. “I feel a little bit like people have rediscovered the gardens, because you’ll find that with young families, the adults haven’t actually been here since they were kids. So I think that now we’re probably seeing all this revisitation.” Mercifully, along with the ANU and the CSIRO (also caught in the hailstorm’s path of destruction) the gardens was able to obtain funding to carry out repairs well before Comcare had officially provide compensation – a vote of confidence in the importance of its work. There’s also, thanks to climate change and a global pandemic, been a surge of interest in science as a whole; the work being done by the gardens has never seemed more urgent. Curator of living collections David Taylor, who has worked at the gardens for 20 years, says while the year has been bad, the fact the gardens has survived and flourished is down to more than just the drought-ending rain of recent weeks. “Throughout the history of the gardens, we’ve been fortunate that we’ve established this incredibly diverse, scientifically linked collection,” he says. Not only are the grounds themselves a source of joy and wonder, but the gardens’ meticulous record-keeping over more than five decades means it’s possible to trace the origin of each specimen and planting. Layers of history, there to walk through in this most contemporary of settings. “That’s all there for everyone to use and enjoy, and I guess that that hits back on the purpose of why we’re here,” he says. Both he and West think that Pryor – and all those who came after – would be proud at what the gardens has achieved in 50 years, that the first 1000 pounds weren’t spent on a pipe dream. “And through all the challenges of the past 50 years, we’ve been able to maintain that through thick and thin,” Taylor says. “Despite the ups and downs, and despite the weather, and all sorts of things that have happened to the place, being here through that process, and being able to maintain an incredibly diverse and rich collection – that’s really the wonderful thing that’s here for everyone to enjoy.”

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Bianca Andreescu’s open letter to Billie Jean King & Original 9 before 50th anniversary


Fifty years ago, nine female tennis players – including Bille Jean King – risked their careers by signing up for a new tournament. Despite the threat of being banned from Grand Slams, they made the move to try to improve pay and opportunities in the women’s game. Their actions on 23 September 1970 eventually led to the creation of the WTA Tour, and then later equal prize money at the Grand Slams and other events, making tennis one of the most equal sports.

Here, 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu writes an open letter to those players, known as the “Original 9”: Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Judy Dalton, Julie Heldman, King, Kerry Melville, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey and Valerie Ziegenfuss.

Dear Original 9,

Without your gutsy actions, vision and determination for a better future for women’s tennis, we wouldn’t be here today.

When I lifted the US Open trophy last year and got the winner’s cheque – I know that it is thanks in no small part to you and your incredible bravery that I received the same amount as the men’s champion.

I first wrote myself a (pretend!) US Open cheque when I was 15 years old. Every year, I’d look at the prize money and, understanding the sacrifice that went into ensuring it was equal to the men’s earnings, it gave me that much more drive to continue to work towards my dream of winning the US Open. Then to go out and actually win it in 2019 was incredible. This was only possible because of the nine of you.

I was 11 years old when I learned that, in the summer of 1970, female tennis players were being paid as little as one eighth of what the men were – and sometimes even less. More than that, with fewer opportunities to play on big stages, it’s no wonder you felt like you were being squeezed out of the game you loved.

Even with the odds stacked against you, the nine of you had enough faith in yourselves and each other to sign $1 contracts with magazine publisher Gladys Heldman, another trailblazing woman in her own right, to compete in a tournament where the risk was losing your tennis careers.

It’s hard to imagine now that the male-dominated tennis establishment threatened to ban you from playing not only the Slams, but team competitions like the Fed Cup (today that is one of my favourite events to play) and strip you of your national rankings for playing in the newly created Virginia Slims Invitational tournament in Houston.

But your dreams were much bigger than rankings and Grand Slams. You set out to make sports, and in turn the world, a better, more equal place for women. Your goals were clear: That any girl from anywhere would have a place to compete. That women would be recognised for their accomplishments, not only their looks. And that they would be able to make a living playing professional tennis.

I’m so grateful to all those who made the Houston event a success and and in thanks to that, we saw the launch of the first fully-fledged circuit for women in 1971 and eventually the founding of the WTA at a meeting of more than 60 players in London, just before Wimbledon in 1973.

I’d like to think that maybe other women along the way would have done the same thing, but the point is, you took the biggest leap, you did it first, and your generation has inspired mine to continue fighting and striving for change.

Nowadays, we have more tools at our disposal, such as social media, to aid in our advocacy for what we believe in. The shift in culture and media towards providing athletes and celebrities with a global platform has allowed for meaningful conversations centred around the need for change and equality that otherwise might not have been possible.

What we saw Naomi Osaka do a couple of weeks ago, when she decided not to play a match to protest against racial injustice is incredible, as was Coco Gauff’s powerful speech at a Black Lives Matter protest to demand change.

With your experiences as an example, the next generation – my generation – of young women is taking charge, using our platforms to speak out for what we believe in and putting it all on the line, regardless of what the outcome or reaction will be. Your leadership has created a powerful platform foundation for us all to speak up for ourselves.

Billie, when I was lucky enough to meet you last year, I asked you what your greatest achievement was and you replied: “Creating equal prize money in women’s tennis.” But you also made it clear that the fight wasn’t over.

You told me that I could continue it by bringing awareness to the issues in interviews and on social media.

Equality is a work in progress and there is still so much room for improvement. If we all continue to do our part and stand up for what we believe in, things will evolve and change WILL happen. For instance, below the Grand Slams and some of the other bigger tournaments, prize money is still different and the men’s tour still has more tournaments than the women’s. I vow to use my platform and my voice to help incite this necessary change.

In any case, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to you nine remarkable women, who were ready to jump without a safety net so that girls and women like me would have the chance to dream big and accomplish things.

It was such an incredible, awe-inspiring feeling lifting the US Open trophy – and it will be again this weekend for the woman who wins the title on Saturday.

And so for that opportunity, and all of the other barriers broken along the way, I have to say thank you Peaches, Rosie, Judy, Julie, Billie Jean, Kerry, Kristy, Nancy and Valerie – and all the visionary players who followed – for making women’s tennis the international success story it is today.

Sincerely, B.

Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King led a group of nine female players who took a stand for equal rights in tennis 50 years ago

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