On 8 March 2016, the Department of Justice and Attorney-General hosted an International Women's Day Breakfast. PLAQ's Trina Faaiuaso was asked to give a speech at the event and she has given us permission to re-share her speech, which still holds true for her, and relevant for us today.
Happy International Women's Day 2022!
“For if you remain silent in this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
As a young girl growing up in Samoa, the bible story of Esther is one that has resonated with me throughout my life. In its simplest form, it is a story of a young woman who became a Queen in a foreign land and whose actions saved the lives of her people. It is a message of one’s calling or being placed in a particular position to advance the lives of others.
For me, International Women’s Day is a day of reflection and recognition of the women in my life that have led to the many blessings I now take for granted.
These influences have nurtured the passion I have for human rights and fulfilling my own calling in life to advance the lives of others. I endeavour to fulfil this through my role as a legal officer for the Office of the Public Guardian, which is an independent statutory body protecting the rights and interests of vulnerable Queenslanders.
I wish to acknowledge my grandmother Mrs Pulemau Taaseu, who worked as a registered nurse in the maternity unit of the Motootua National Hospital in Samoa until her passing at the age of 62. My grandmother’s determination to provide financial support for my parents’ education at the Malua Theological taught me the value of a strong hardworking woman with unconditional love.
I also wish to acknowledge my mother Mrs Alapeta Faaiuaso. Being the eldest of eight children and at the age of 18, my mother was the first person and woman in her family to attain a scholarship to attend the Palmerston North Nurses School in New Zealand and becoming a registered nurse. My mother taught me that the joy of being the ‘first’ scholarship recipient in her family was secondary to her finally being in a financial position to look after her parents and provide a better life for her children.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge my other grandmother Mrs Punitia Faaiuaso, who was a reverend’s wife for the Avao Congregational Christian Church in Samoa for over 10 years. My grandmother raised a man who taught me that the value is in a person’s actions and not in their possessions. A father who worked three jobs when we lived in New Zealand to ensure that his family had food on the table and warm clothes to wear. During my childhood in Samoa, I witnessed a man that woke up every morning at 5am to work our little garden to ensure that own family would have at least one type of vegetable in our daily soup because meat was a luxury beyond our budget. My life in Samoa lacked any form of technology, beds, cars and even a running tap. However, my father would constantly reminds us to take joy in the simple things such as being alive, being surrounded by love and the hope that life will get better.
In 1995, my parents were posted as the reverends for the Logan City Congregational Christian Church in Queensland. In a foreign land and surrounded by foreign people, the lessons I learnt and the opportunities I gained in Queensland helped forge the life I live today.
Firstly, I am the first woman and person in my family to attain a tertiary education and hold a double degree in laws and criminology.
I am also the first woman and person in my family to become a lawyer.
These achievements are not my own to celebrate as they are also testaments to the sacrifices and lessons by the women that have blessed my life.
And I quote: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
May we use our achievements in the positions we have in both our professional and personal lives for the advancement of others, for when women achieve, Queensland succeeds.
Author: Trina Faaiuaso