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Church leaders praise women's courage

Church leaders have used their annual Easter addresses to praise women for shining a light on inequality and sexual violence, two weeks after tens of thousands gathered to protest across the country.

The women rallied in cities across Australia in March, after a series of disturbing accounts of sexual violence against women came to light in recent months.

Thousands of current and former schoolgirls have come forward with harrowing accounts of their sexual assaults as students, a former government staffer has alleged she was raped inside parliament house then made to feel like a political problem, and one of the government's highest-ranking cabinet ministers has been accused of a historical rape, which he denies.

Reverend Geoffrey Smith, Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, said Australians had seen much darkness over the past year - from inequality and gendered violence to the hardship caused by the pandemic.

"Thankfully, light has begun to shine on these and other areas," he said in his annual Easter message.

"There has been the light of vaccine development, the light of people speaking out, the light of public awareness.

"All of this has been very good yet more light is required."

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia joined Reverend Smith in encouraging women to continue to speak up.

They could take inspiration from two women named Mary, who spread the good news of Jesus' resurrection after discovering his tomb empty.

"In the face of doubt and a society that discounted women's voices, the women left that place and shared the good news with great joy," Dr Deidre Palmer said.

"These women's courageous witness has echoed down through the centuries.

"We have the good news today because of their testimony."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his annual Easter message to praise the "great spirit" and "mateship" shown during one of Australia's most difficult 12 months.

In a video alongside his wife Jenny, Mr Morrison said people will come together at the Easter weekend "in a way they haven't been able to do over the past year" because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The past year has been a tough one, and I particularly want to thank Australians for the great spirit that they've shown to each other," the prime minister said in the message released on Good Friday.

"It's our capacity to love our neighbour as ourselves that I think has really demonstrated the great Aussie spirit of mateship over this past year."

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Reverend Anthony Fisher said Australia's turn around within a year was a symbol of hope.

"Twelve months ago, just before Holy Week, we went into lockdown ... but the Easter paradox prevailed," he said.

"A year later, we're free to worship again."

"The egg has cracked, the walls been torn down and new life emerges."

© AAP 2021