Winner 2016: Philadelphia Coleman, NSW

Home»Winner 2016: Philadelphia Coleman, NSW

philadelphia-headshotName: Philadelphia Coleman

Community, State: Nelson Bay, NSW

School: Tomaree High School

Age: 18, Grade: 12

Bio: Click here 

Why is gender equality important to you and your community?

Gender equality is important to me because it allows me to be who I am; a female leader in my community. I feel strongly about gender equality because I know without it, I would not have the same opportunities that I have right now. I understand this because for 6 years of my childhood I lived through my mother’s violent relationship. I grew up thinking it was normal for my “stepfather” to abuse me, my sisters and my mother. I was home schooled for this period of my life so nobody would know what was happening at home and we were only allowed to leave the house if he was with us.

If it was not for laws that support gender equality it would have been perfectly okay for him to mentally and physically abuse us and to have control over all of us because that is exactly what happened before the ‘Sex Discrimination Act’(1984) and the ‘Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act’(1989) came out.

Eventually, through community support we got the help we needed. Now 10 years on, I have the privilege to attend an actual public school where I have many friends. I am an active leader at my school and I hold various positions in a number of community organisations such as; Rotary, Surf Life Saving Australia, Salt Ash Rural Fire Service, Australian Air-Force Cadets and Port Stephens Youth Advisory Panel. I enjoy my involvement in these organisations because I wanted to give back to the community which supported me to overcome such adversity.

Another reason gender equality is important to me is because I have an incredible goal that I am passionately working towards and that is to be a Fighter Pilot in the Royal Australian Air-Force. This would have been absolutely impossible for me to achieve at one stage because females could only apply for certain job roles however, now they can apply for every job role in the Australian Defence Force. Being a Fighter Pilot in the Air-Force was one of the last jobs to open up for females and there are still no female Fighter Pilots yet but they are currently undergoing training for this role.

I am thankful for the level of gender equality we have today in my community and in Australia. In my future I hope to advocate, making it a normal event for females and males to go beyond gender barriers and I hope the people who come after me will benefit through my advocacy for change.