I stood outside Parliament House last night as the last rays of the sun set on an extraordinary day. I was mesmerised, as ever, by the grandeur of this epicentre of Australian democracy.
By 7pm, the thousands upon thousands of women and some men who had packed the ‘March For Justice’ rally hours before had long gone. All that was left was the building - a building, for many, that right now represents a convenient hiding place for those who continue to dismiss, or simply sweep away, the epidemic of violence against women that continues to exist in this country.
It was an eerie quietness that befell Canberra. After the crowds left, the air of rage and echoes of all those passionate voices had somehow remained, as well as the vision of all those signs held by children as young as three alongside women well into their eighties. One that stuck, read: “We are the granddaughters of the witches you failed to burn.”
From noon, on the lawn outside Parliament House, I had been one of the more than a hundred thousand Australians around the country who attended a Women’s 'March For Justice' rally yesterday.
Dressed in black, women protested against the sexual assault, discrimination and harassment of females in this country.
Tears filled the eyes of almost everyone there. Exhausted, tired, happy, grief-stricken, relieving tears as we all listened to women who refused to be silenced by the institution that stood as the backdrop of their speeches.
The emotion was palpable.
One political journalist told me through swollen tear-filled eyes that women in that building were going through a grief she'd never seen before. Why? Because of a toxic culture that simply won't go away, she said. But maybe this time it would be different.