L-R: Ember Connect's Membership Coordinator, Leica Le Brocq, General Manager, Narelle Henry, and Senator Sue Lines

Senator Sue Lines

Ember Connect General Manager, Narelle Henry, shares her thoughts on how Ember Connect supporter (and President of the Senate) Senator Lines is leading the way for women in Parliament.

The President’s hallway is filled with light as it streams through towering glass windows. The quiet gardens outside add to reverence of our deliberate walk across the wooden floorboards. Looking up we take careful notice of large framed photographs of each former President of the Senate.

The images are thematically and tonally similar, until we reach the last photograph. The first thing that grabs you in this image is the pink jacket, then the colourful and welcoming smile coming from President Sue Lines face.

It seems like a small detail, but the imagery and symbolism speaks directly to the heart of the change we want to see as women. 

That’s not all – further on through the hallways, the quiet landscaped gardens shift as it plays host to the jubilant squeals of children running from here to there in what appears to be a childcare centre. I’m told, that with so many more women in office, the garden bar was deactivated to make way for an establishment that better suited the needs of a diverse range of staff members and their families.

I am filled with hope.

I’m pumped to see what is next for women of all ages and backgrounds when it comes to representation in public office. Particularly now there appears to be some serious steps towards addressing the stark absence of women in public life, particularly First Nations women.

As only the second women to every be President of the Senate since Federation in 1901, Senator Sue Lines is illuminating a pathway for other women to follow. Parliament House and politics comes with all types of traditions, protocols and formalities, but when you walk into the warm and welcoming quarters of the President’s Suite, you very quickly realise that the warmth comes directly from Senator Lines and her dedicated and passionate team. 

I had prepared myself for a very starchy environment and in accepting that notion, I was inadvertently acknowledging that this was NOT a place I belonged. I was pleasantly astonished to find that I would be completely wrong about the experience we would have. In fact, at no time during our whirlwind two-day visit, did I feel out of place or unwelcomed.

On day one of our parliamentary adventure, Senator Lines and her staff put us in front of all the relevant ministers and senators, as well as giving us a chance to have a conversation with Prime Minister Albanese. Scattered among exciting conversations, networking with other guests, and trying not to eat all of the Tim Tams in the sitting room, we had a birds-eye view of all of the drama unfolding in the House during Question Time. 

For me, politics hasn’t much held my interest – until now. Previously, I thought that a soft voice like mine is not likely to make much of a difference. But since our Canberra adventure, my heart feels differently. Not only do I feel inspired to listen and learn more about politics, I realise it is essential to ensure that my singular voice, regardless of how soft it may be, or how much it might shake when I try to get louder…is represented when decisions are made about me, my family, or us mob in general.  We’re working hard to ensure that great things come from our many meetings in Canberra, that we convert the passion and interest into tangible ongoing support for our women. 

When I reflect on this exciting experience, on this incredible opportunity to meet with the leaders of our country and talk about our vision for Ember Connect, what I think most about is the power of connection.  The connection we have developed with Senator Lines and her team has created opportunities for our charity that we otherwise would not have had access to. 

The power of connection is at the heart of our work at Ember Connect.  By connecting our women to people and opportunities, we can access our own new possibilities and live a life of choice that we all deserve.

Ember Connect wishes to acknowledge the many Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and we honour their deep continuing connection to land, sky, waterways and community.

We pay our respects to our Elders past, present and emerging who illuminate our journey to truth-telling, culture and conservation, which remains stronger than ever.