I think there is a larger focus in Canberra to see women succeed and there is support for women by other women.
At this point in time we’re fortunate to be women as we have the opportunity to be anything that we want to be. I think also as a woman we can step back and be more feminine and I guess, take things a bit slower if we want to. We have more options and more choice, we can focus on being a mum if we want to be a mum, we can focus on being a career woman if we want to have a career, and there’s lots of opportunity to go very high in any area. My mum, for example, she passed away when she was 37 and I look at my life in comparison to her life. I’m 29 and I just think of all the things that are available to me that weren’t to her, and it’s not even that long ago. Today we just have more options, I think as women we’re really lucky.
I spent my teenage years in Canberra but I came back mid-2013. I left a violent relationship and pushed and pushed and pushed because for me Canberra was my safe place. I knew that if I could get back here my daughters and I would be safe. We’d had a lot of problems in Sydney. We ended up homeless for a while. So to me, once we got back to Canberra, it was the chance to rebuild our lives. And it has been—Canberra’s just been amazing for us.
I think that Canberra has a lot of opportunity. I think there’s a lot of support here, a lot of community. For myself, that was one of the main reasons we moved back. I know in my personal experience with domestic violence in Sydney I didn’t have a lot of options, but Canberra seems to have more options and support for those sort of situations. I was in an area that had a lot of domestic violence in Sydney yet there just wasn’t support. I couldn’t even get into a refuge. They wouldn’t accept us. The only one that was a potential was over an hour away and I couldn’t get my girls to and from school if we moved, and there was just too many complications so we couldn’t do it.
I think Canberra’s actually a pretty good place to be a woman. I don’t think we have as much prejudice here. Obviously there’s still issues like sexual assault that you’ll hear about, and that have happened—I’ve experienced that here in Canberra. But I don’t feel that Canberra’s as hard for women as other areas.
I guess in the same perspective, like domestic violence in Canberra—a lot of it is hidden, and Canberra likes to keep a very clean image. Like I was middle-class basically and at one point years ago I separated from my now ex-husband and I was living in a garage for a while. At that point it was harder because of being middle-class, you sort of want to keep up the image of keeping up with everybody. Canberra has a high disposable income so when you’re struggling you don’t want people to know that you’re struggling. You can be a bit too proud to reach out for help sometimes I think. I didn’t know I could get help when we were living in the garage. Being such an affluent city, it’s not wanting to be seen as having any issues.
I think it can be very, very easy to maintain your health and wellbeing if you make it a priority. In Canberra we’ve got lots of people you can hire to do it, otherwise there’s fitness parks, there’s loads of gyms and we’ve got bike paths. There’s stuff happening everywhere all the time. I think the biggest thing that would prevent it is how much we all seem to work, we work long hours, and in winter it can be difficult because the days are so short. But for myself I think I’ve found it easier here than in Sydney, to maintain my health.
I think if you need to see a doctor it’s much more difficult here. It’s expensive—any treatment is expensive. In Sydney where we were, it was all free—my GP was free, the paediatrician for my daughter was free. Whereas here in Canberra for example one of my daughters has to see the paediatrician and it’s $500. But I can’t get to the paediatrician in Sydney because the area that it’s in is where my ex-husband is and I just can’t go there.
So it depends on which part of health and wellbeing you’re talking about, to see a doctor and if you’re ill, then I think it’s harder in Canberra, but if you’re just maintaining your fitness level then I think it’s easy.
I have a lot of perfect days in Canberra actually, I think I’m pretty lucky that way. It’s really just spending time with friends and family. I’m fortunate that I have a job that I really really love, so it’s not like I dread going to work; even days at work have been pretty perfect! I guess just being with those that I love, and Canberra has nice weather and it’s a clean city, so most days are pretty good. I don’t have a perfect day for you! I like it here.
My three favourite things in life would be my family—I’m super close to my brothers, sisters and my parents and especially my daughters who are my highest priority. I love to travel, I’d like to do that a whole lot more, which I’m working on. And my third would be spending time with my friends.
I think at this moment in time I’ve been focussed more on my family than anything else. I’ve discovered that I don’t have a lot of balance in my life so I’m trying to regain that in myself and that confidence. I’m sorting out a little more about who I am and what I want.
Image created by Liz Thompson