Elizabeth Broderick: the nation has shifted on gender equality

Outgoing sex discrimination commissioner recognised in Australia Day honours for contributions to human rights and prevention of violence against women and children

For the outgoing sex discrimination commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, becoming an officer of the order of Australia (AO) for her service is “a real thrill and a great honour” as well as a surprise.

“I didn’t expect it,” she says. “In the work I do, there are people contributing in many different ways, together with others. But it is an honour.”

“There are many incredibly meritorious people aside from me who never have an opportunity to be recognised with an award,” she adds.

“A lot of the work that we do lives in the shadows. There’s a silence that often surrounds it – but sometimes that silence is at the request of people working with victims of family violence and discrimination.”

Broderick singled out the 2015 Australian of the year, Rosie Batty, for her work on domestic violence.

“Rosie Batty – someone with such a persuasive and influential voice – has really showed us this year that when we take these issues out of the shadows so much change can happen,” she says.

Broderick, who encouraged Australians to nominate more women for honours in 2016, believes the nation has experienced a real shift on gender equality, “the pointy end of which is violence against women”.

“We’ve started to say: ‘That’s not who we are, that’s not part of the values we have here in Australia’.”

Asked about recent high-profile scandals involving harassment, Broderick says: “I expect we’ll continue to see more public scrutiny [in 2016], that people will call out sexism whenever they see it, that there’ll be greater education around respectful relationship.”

Change is coming, Broderick says, “from the classroom to the boardroom”.


Adam Brereton

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Australia Day honours: David Walsh and Elizabeth Broderick among recipients
Philanthropists Maria Myers and Susan Alberti, scientists Chennupati Jagadish and Mary O’Kane, and paediatrician Robert Ouvrier receive highest honour

Melissa Davey and Adam Brereton

25, Jan, 2016 @1:01 PM

Article image
Julia Gillard: Gonski reforms shifted debate towards needs-based funding
Former prime minister made a companion of the Order of Australia for service to Australian parliament

Gabrielle Chan

25, Jan, 2017 @10:21 PM

Article image
Domestic violence tops list of human rights abuse, says Elizabeth Broderick
Sex discrimination commissioner incredulous at ‘epidemic proportions’ of death and injury at hands of partners and family members in Australia

Shalailah Medhora

02, Sep, 2015 @4:35 AM

Article image
Rosie Batty’s legacy: more women leaving abusive relationships
Statistics from service providers show spike in the number of women seeking help but funding has not kept up with demand

Shalailah Medhora

23, Jan, 2016 @9:31 PM

Article image
No equality in the honours: two-thirds of Australia Day awards go to men
Datablog: Gender imbalance in Order of Australia honours remains relatively unchanged for past 20 years

Nick Evershed and Melissa Davey

26, Jan, 2018 @12:57 AM

Article image
David Morrison, former chief of army, named Australian of the Year
Now-retired general, whose scathing address to serving ADF members went viral, honoured for his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion

Helen Davidson

25, Jan, 2016 @9:57 AM

Article image
Bettina Arndt awarded Australia Day honour for services 'to gender equity'
Writer and sex therapist made Member of the Order of Australia for her advocacy for men

Naaman Zhou

25, Jan, 2020 @11:00 AM

Article image
Evonne Goolagong-Cawley honoured for tennis and Indigenous advocacy
Former player recognised in Australia Day honours for services to game and her work as role model and advocate for young Indigenous Australians

Paul Connolly

25, Jan, 2018 @1:01 PM

Article image
Australia Day honours: Evonne Goolagong-Cawley and Tracey Spicer on male-dominated list
Just 33% are women of 900 notable names across media, medicine, science, advocacy, sport and politics

Helen Davidson

25, Jan, 2018 @1:01 PM

Article image
Australian of the Year named as biomedical scientist Alan Mackay-Sim
World-leading researcher honoured for a lifetime of work with stem cells and the regeneration of the nervous system

Melissa Davey

25, Jan, 2017 @9:57 AM