An inspirational and powerful address drew a standing ovation for Rabia Siddique at the annual Legacy Business & Community Lunch in Wollongong on Friday.
Everyone stood to their feet in respect of Ms Siddique’s presentation where she was not afraid to talk about the good and bad things that have happened in her life because it might help others.
With the support of Illawarra Credit Union for an 11th year Legacy Wollongong and South Coast invited the Australian human rights lawyer and international humanitarian to speak about her fight for equal justice and the power we all have as one person to create change in the world.
The retired British Army officer, gained global attention through her successful fight for justice against the British Government following a hostage ordeal in Iraq. She is also renowned for her commitment to peace, gender equality, inclusion and education.
Ms Siddique began her career as a criminal defence lawyer in Western Australia after suffering abuse as a child and being told to keep it quiet. She later moved to England to focus on human rights, terrorism, war crimes and community aid work throughout Europe, Africa, South America and the Middle East.
The events that unfolded after she joined the British Military and her work since to inspire others to help create positive change in the world was not lost on Illawarra business and civic leaders present at City Diggers on Friday.
For those interested in the whole story her best-selling memoir, Equal Justice, highlights how she was silenced by the British Military about being taken hostage while negotiating the release of two Special Forces soldiers in Iraq. It also covers her journey as a woman, soldier and Muslim.
Illawarra Credit Union chief executive Bob Kotic said the business had supported Wollongong & South Coast Legacy for all 11 years as a major sponsor of the lunch because of the great work it does helping local families who lost loved ones through war.
Legacy Business and Community Support Committee’s David Swan found he had something in common with Ms Siddique. She is the mother of triplet boys and he is the father of triplets and twins.
The lunch is held annually to raise funds to help widows and dependents of military personnel killed as a result of military action. Ms Siddique said it was her first first invitation to a Legacy fundraiser. “It is an absolute honour to speak and support a charity close to my heart. It helps people to be able to pick up the pieces and move on.”
Ms Siddique left a call to action to people to really believe that they can be the change in the world.
Since 2008, Illawarra and South Coast Legacy has raised more than $330,000 through its annual luncheon. Legacy’s Phil McNamara said “locally at the moment we look after 563 Legacy widows and two Legacy juniors. And we support 10 people with a disability. Our funds go to assist them in any way we can.”
Ms Siddique said all who attended the lunch and helped raise funds for Legacy were showing “all it takes is to cast one pebble into the water to create many beautiful ripples”.