Sharing was exactly what Tracey did at the Merewether Surf Club as part of an event hosted by CatholicCare Social Services in partnership with the local charity Got Your Back Sista.
Speaking to a room filled almost exclusively with women, Tracey shared her story of how a girl from the backwaters of Brisbane landed a dream role as a national news anchor on a major commercial network.
An evening of inspiration and empowerment
The evening began with an engaging and witty introduction by former ABC radio presenter and current Newcastle City Councillor, Carol Duncan.
Ms Duncan let it be known that the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Nuatali Nelmes, was in attendance before explaining the purpose of the event. She then introduced both organisations involved: CatholicCare, who organised the event, and Got Your Back Sista, a local charity to which all the proceeds from the event would be donated.
After familiarising event attendees with CatholicCare and Got Your Back Sista, Ms Duncan invited CatholicCare’s Lizzie Snedden to the stage.
Lizzie spoke about her own experience as the mother of a young child and explained the importance of tending to mental health issues and seeking mental health support in coping with day-to-day challenges many women face before handing the microphone to Got Your Back Sista’s founder, Melissa Histon.
Melissa spoke passionately about the importance of women working together and supporting one another. She went on to introduce the issues of violence and abuse - issues many women face, and implored everyone at the event to keep the conversations going because, as she said: “Abuse and violence thrive in silence.”
Tracey Spicer, the #MeToo movement and speaking out
Following a delicious dinner, Tracey Spicer took to the stage with a proclamation of “me too” before inviting those present to put their hands up, take ownership of their stories and join her in proclaiming “me too”.
While only a few attendees joined Tracey in raising their hands, many more nodded their heads and made small gestures of solidarity.
The boldness and bravery of taking to the stage with her hand raised set the tone for the remainder of the evening. For the next 45 minutes, Tracey laid herself bare and shared poignant stories from her life, beginning with growing up as the daughter of the first female courier in Queensland and detailing how her Mum’s own bravery helped to shape her own.
It was that bravery, and a willingness to take risks, make noise and speak out, which led Tracey to pursue a career in journalism, a journey which exposed her to “serial sexual harassment” and which included her overhearing conversations in which she was described as “the chubby girl from Queensland”.
Another notable experience Tracey recounted was her time at a radio station where she slept with a police scanner next to her bed. She’d routinely hear calls of “code 10” go out over the scanner, and enquired with her supervisors as to what a code 10 was and why they never covered these events.
According to Tracey’s recollection, the answer to her query was “That’s just domestic violence. It’s a guy giving his wife the back of his hand - it’s a private matter.”
Domestic violence can be so much more than “a private matter” as it is often among the unique challenges many women face as they navigate their roles in the workforce and as mothers, often balancing and juggling work and family commitments - all of this while coping with societal expectations of exactly what it is to be a woman.
In keeping with her own commitment to take risks, make noise and speak out, Tracey addressed everything from impostor syndrome to both overt and more subtle sexism.
She talked about returning to work in the face of the question, “But who’s looking after your children?” and the need to address maternity leave issues - this so women are not forced to leave the workforce to have children.
After sharing a number of her own experiences, Tracey went on to talk about therapy and how, through all of it, she’d tried to manage everything herself. This, she says, is one of the biggest mistakes she made throughout her career. Rather than trying to be a one-woman army, Tracey encouraged those present to seek therapy as she, now a 50-year-old woman, was doing. She said therapy was the greatest gift she had given herself.
“The most important thing is your health - you can’t be strong for others if you can’t care for yourself first,” Tracey said.
Self-care and mental health support was the theme of the evening.
The aim of the event was to encourage women to invest in self care and to seek support in coping with the day-to-day challenges and issues many face.
CatholicCare offers a number of services to assist in mental health and wellbeing support. Click here to learn more about the services CatholicCare provides.
You can also contact CatholicCare directly at (02) 4979 1120, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org