Fair Agenda Blog

I’m so proud of what our movement has achieved together this year. In key moments - from the US’s attack on abortion access, to the federal election - our movement has mobilised to demand better and campaign for changes that pull us closer to a fair and gender equal future. 

Together our people-power has been critical to: securing a strong MP Code of Conduct for a safer federal parliament; improving relationships and sexuality education in our schools; and securing commitments to stronger action on women’s safety from the new federal parliament. We’ve also laid the foundations for even more impact in the new year - for better funding of women’s safety services; accountability for institutions that cause rape survivors harm; and to address barriers to accessing abortion care.

I’m so excited and hopeful about what it’s possible for our movement to achieve together next year. But I’m also nervous, because right now Fair Agenda doesn’t yet have the funds we need to fully resource our plans for all these important campaigns in the first quarter of next year. 

Fair Agenda needs to raise a further $3,000 in donations from members before the end of the year to be on track to hit the ground running in 2023. Your gift can help the Fair Agenda team resource the next steps across our major campaigns for improved abortion access and action for victim-survivors; without having to divert precious capacity to fundraising or cutting campaign costs. 

To ensure our movement can realise this potential to improve outcomes for victim-survivors and patients seeking abortion care - I’m asking for your help. Can you make a donation to ensure the Fair Agenda movement can keep delivering these vital campaigns in the new year? 

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Here’s what the Fair Agenda movement made possible together in 2022:

We got a majority of federal parliamentarians committed to stronger action for women’s safety!

Ahead of this year’s election we asked all candidates if they’d champion the changes needed to end all forms of gender-based violence, through the Pledge for a Safer Future.

We secured commitments to every component of the Pledge from 16 of the MPs elected in federal parliament - including critical crossbench Senator David Pocock, all Greens Senators and MPs, and independent MPs Zoe Daniel, Kylea Tink, Monique Ryan, Allegra Spender and Andrew Wilkie. We also secured a party-wide commitment from the new ALP Government to progress action across all six categories of the Pledge.

Here’s Fair Agenda Executive Director Renee and Campaign Manager Alyssa meeting with Minister for Women Katy Gallagher about Fair Agenda member’s priorities; and the commitments the Albanese Government have made to improve outcomes for women and accelerate progress to gender equity.

Fair Agenda representatives meeting with Federal Minister for Women Katy Gallagher. From left: Campaign Manager Alyssa Shaw, Executive Director Renee Carr and Minister for Women Katy Gallagher.

We secured a Senate Inquiry into Universal Access to Reproductive Healthcare!

When the news broke that abortion rights were under attack in the US; Fair Agenda members came together to defend and advance our reproductive healthcare rights here at home.

On International Safe Abortion Day Fair Agenda brought together Independent Senator David Pocock; Greens Senator Larissa Waters and Liberal MP Bridget Archer for a press conference, to draw attention to the many practical barriers that still prevent timely access to abortion care; and the need for federal government action to address barriers. That same day we secured a Senate Inquiry into barriers to abortion and contraceptive access that is keeping a spotlight on this issue into the new year. 

Here’s a photo of Fair Agenda Campaign Manager Alyssa Shaw leading the press conference, alongside Senator David Pocock, Liberal MP for Bass Bridget Archer, Senator Larissa Waters.

a photo of Fair Agenda Campaign Manager Alyssa Shaw leading the press conference, alongside Senator David Pocock, Liberal MP for Bass Bridget Archer, Senator Larissa Waters.

We helped secure a strong Code of Conduct for federal parliamentarians!

When federal parliament began considering what standards it would require parliamentarians to meet, Fair Agenda mobilised alongside rights and integrity groups to keep a spotlight on the major changes and high standards needed to deliver a safer parliament.

Collectively, Fair Agenda members contributed 36 hours of their time to share their views on what standards should be set; and jointly called for a focus on the values of respect and integrity; and meaningful action to address sexual violence in parliament. 

Fair Agenda then identified key implementation factors that would be critical to achieving meaningful change, and recommended those changes to the committee on behalf of our members. The Fair Agenda team was then invited to give testimony on those recommendations to the Committee. Fair Agenda’s advice and recommendations were reflected in the Committee’s final report, and the strong code of conduct that has been recommended to the parliament.

Here’s a photo of Fair Agenda team members Alyssa and Renee giving testimony to the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Standards on behalf of Fair Agenda. 

Fair Agenda team members Alyssa and Renee giving testimony to the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Standards on behalf of Fair Agenda. 

We helped improve respectful relationships and sexuality education! 

When the national curriculum was up for review, hundreds of Fair Agenda members mobilised to back in expert advice calling for it to include respectful relationships content. Through the combined and coordinated efforts of survivors, policy experts, advocates and political champions, we now have comprehensive consent education in the new national curriculum!

Fair Agenda then kept up the pressure for funding to upskill and support teachers to deliver that new curriculum effectively. Working with Teach Us Consent founder Chanel Contos, Fair Agenda helped bring together a summit of high-profile leaders to talk about implementation requirements for consent and respectful relationship education; including then Minister for Social Services, Anne Ruston, and then Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek. We were thrilled that the ALP made an election commitment in this area ahead of that summit - committing to provide $77 million over 5 years to ensure schools students are able to access high quality, age-appropriate consent and respectful relationships education.

Written by Renee Carr
15 December 2022

When federal parliament began considering what standards it would require parliamentarians to meet, Fair Agenda mobilised alongside rights and integrity groups to keep a spotlight on the major changes and high standards needed to deliver a safer parliament.

When the Joint Select Committee responsible for drafting the Code of Conduct invited submissions, Fair Agenda surveyed our members around the country to inform our submission, and key impact focuses. Collectively, Fair Agenda members contributed 36 hours of their time in responding to the survey, calling for a focus on the values of respect and integrity; and meaningful action to address sexual violence in parliament. 

The Fair Agenda team combined these member insights and mandate; with our policy expertise drawn from recent campaigns for accountability and reform in the university sector and beyond, and identified key implementation factors we believed would be critical to achieving meaningful change; and recommended those changes to the committee on behalf of our members.

In response to that submission, the Fair Agenda team were then invited to appear before the Committee, to give testimony and answer follow-up questions regarding our proposals.

 

We complemented these formal contributions to the process with additional conversations and correspondence with members of the committee, and leaders in the parliament. 

During this process, it became clear that the Committee were debating three particular topics. So, as the Committee closed hearings and begun their deliberation and drafting process; Fair Agenda developed a joint statement setting three criteria for a successful code. Namely: 

  • A prohibition on discrimination that mirrors other workplace discrimination law - to apply a similar standard preventing discrimination on the basis of ability, age, gender, intersex status, race, religion and sexual orientation.
  • An explicit expectation that MPs paid to serve in our parliament act with respect, integrity and a commitment to public service.
  • Application of these standards of conduct to personal conduct when it is relevant to someone’s responsibilities and duties in parliament. 

We were thrilled to see most of Fair Agenda’s advice and recommendations were reflected in the Committee’s final report, with almost a dozen separate references to our recommendations in the committee’s final report.

We’re proud of the role Fair Agenda played in ensuring a strong Code of Conduct was recommended and introduced into the parliament, that addresses the standards of respect and integrity that our movement has been campaigning for.

This is the first of many steps needed to deliver real change in our parliament. We have won this major battle, but there are still gaps we need to address to solve the issues that led us to this moment. 

Namely, to make sure that if allegations, like those made against Christian Porter,  happen again there is a proper and independent process in place to deal with them. There’s also further action needed to ensure that personal conduct relevant to someone’s roles or responsibilities can be investigated and addressed if needed.

Now this Code of Conduct is in place, we expect the parliament will begin the process to establish an Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission.

We're focused on ensuring this is given the strong powers and scope it needs to ensure the integrity and respect standards outlined in the Code are upheld by parliamentarians. 

We know that getting parliamentarians to agree to hold themselves accountable could be a drawn-out fight. Our movement is working to raise resources to support the critical next stage in the fight for safety and accountability in our federal parliament. Fair Agenda is a people-powered movement, and we rely on donations from members like you to deliver our campaigns. Can you support this work so our movement can keep making a difference?

Click here to support the next phase of the fight by starting a monthly donation

Click here to support the immediate next steps with a once-off donation

 

Written by Renee Carr
01 December 2022

Opening statement part 1, delivered by Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda:

Fair Agenda is a national, independent campaigning organisation advocating for gender equity. We have over 43,000 members around the country that are jointly working for a future where we can all have safety, security and agency over our lives and bodies - no matter our gender.
 

Our members are active across a range of gender equity issues. In recent years our movement has helped to decriminalise abortion in Qld, NSW and SA; pushed dozens of university residences to improve their training to prevent sexual violence; and advocated for state and federal reforms to improve responses to gender-based violence.

Our members have expressed significant dismay and distress at the crisis of gender-based violence across the country and across our communities and  have campaigned for improvements to prevention and responses to gender-based violence.

We know that to prevent gender-based violence at a societal level, we must address gender inequality - including attitudes of disrespect and power imbalances.

We welcomed the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s recommendation that parliament should approach this reform process with an expectation that federal parliament set the standard for workplace culture.

Given the responsibility and power of the federal parliament in making decisions that affect all our lives; we believe we need a system that holds our parliamentarians to a standard that reflects the responsibility they have over the lives of the Australian community. 

In preparing our submission to this Committee we asked our members a series of questions, including: how the many allegations made against parliamentarians last year made them feel, why they considered integrity in Parliament is important, and what are the values they would like elected leaders to exhibit. 


We had nearly 200 responses with members collectively contributing over 36 hours of time to answer those questions. We have reflected the responses of our members in word clouds and quotes within our submission. 

A quote from our members, which we feel captures a lot of the sentiment expressed is as follows: “A person who acts with integrity is trustworthy. We must be able to trust our MPs to work for the national best interest, and to represent Australia to the rest of the world.”

 

Opening statement Part 2, delivered by Alyssa Shaw, Campaign Manager at Fair Agenda:

Fair Agenda’s submission has been drafted with a focus on a Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians. Noting that we support the Set the Standard recommendations for three Codes for Parliamentarians, Parliamentary staff and the Parliamentary precinct. 

In approaching this, we have tried to think through a strengths based frame of what a Parliament that upholds Australian values, and public expectations, would look like. 

Fundamental to this is a Code that articulates strong values, as a basis to ground and guide behaviours and attitudes within Parliament. Creating cultural change is challenging, but we believe enunciating clear and consistent values that everyone understands and upholds, will support this process. 

 

Regarding the content of the code, our key recommendations are that The content of a Code should include:

  • General principles of good conduct and character  should apply to all parliamentarians. A code should also articulate values that underpin all conduct in Parliament. Values such as respect, inclusion and honesty came up as prominent values to include for Fair Agenda members. 
  • We also support specifying behaviors that should be explicitly prohibited. Including behaviours that relate to gender-based violence, inequity and discrimination. This includes the explicit exclusion of sexual harassment, sexual assault, bullying and harassment, and discrimination such as racism and homophobia.  


Regarding enforcement of the Code - how it is investigated and the role of sanctions

  • Fair Agenda supports the establishment of an Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission (IPSC) to investigate, report and make recommendations of sanctions for any breach of the Code. 
  • We believe it is critical that in investigating and enforcing the Code, the role of parliamentarians with additional responsibilities, such as Ministers, should be considered and inform any sanction or recommended response
  • Fair Agenda believe there should be an expectation of public reporting regarding breaches of the MP Code, however this also needs to consider the nature of the allegation e.g. sexual assault, and the consent and confidentiality of victim-survivors.
  • We also believe it is important that when the IPSC makes findings about breaches the IPSC can also recommend a broad range of sanctions; and for this to be reported in a way that supports transparency and public accountability. Our recommendation is that a norm be set that overall findings and recommendations about any breach of the MP Code be made public. 


Regarding the process for implementing the Code

  • We believe that the Code should be under the purview of the Parliament as a whole and should therefore be legislated
  • That there should be a review period as part of this current process to ensure the Code has a high degree of rigour. 


Regarding how to apply the Code in practice:

  • We believe it is critical that the scope of the code includes both professional and personal conduct. Specifically, Fair Agenda asks the Committee to consider a Code that applies to any personal conduct that is relevant to a members’ parliamentary duties and responsibilities. 
  • We have provided comments to the Committee that aim to support how the Code will interact and sit alongside existing rules around parliamentary conduct, such as parliamentary privilege and standing orders
  • Fair Agenda has also provided a test, or thought experiment, which we believe reflects our member’s expectations around the efficacy of a Code and its investigation of alleged breaches.
    In line with our member’s desire to see a proper and consistent process in place to deal with all allegations of gender-based violence and misconduct; we believe that the Committee should ensure that the substance of the MP Code of Conduct would - if it were in place during the last parliament - have provided an avenue for independent investigation of those allegations against MPs, as a potential breach of the Code. To be clear, we do not believe the Code should apply to conduct of those no longer in this parliament - but rather propose this as a test of whether the Code’s substance and investigation powers are effective; and meet public expectations. Last year our members were particularly dismayed and galvanised about the inadequacy of the process to deal with the allegations that were made against then Attorney-General Christian Porter. We want to ensure that the lack of clear, consistent and independent process for review of such allegations is addressed.

 

In addition to our submission, Fair Agenda has spoken and read a number of other organisational submissions, and reviewed previous sessions of the public hearings for the Committee. As such, there are some additional comments we would like to make to the Committee which we hope might be of help in your deliberations. 

 

Regarding the role and function of the IPSC - it’s interaction with other rules, bodies, support services and drawing a distinction as to when matters are referred to this body:

  • We reiterate that we consider the IPSC should sit as a puzzle piece alongside other rules, such as standing orders - and expect that to an extent enforcement of the Code is decentralised to leaders within parliamentary spaces e.g. President in the Senate or the Chair of a Committee. 
  • Not withstanding this, we believe there should be scope for actions and behaviours considered a breach of the Code to be referred to the IPSC if they are egregious, consistent or particularly targeted in nature.
  • We expect the IPSC would interact with the Parliamentary Workplace Support Service. We understand that complaints that have been brought through the PWSS have had a high success rate of being resolved. We would like to note that it is important to tease out how the PWSS and IPSC will interact, and to ensure that this interaction, particularly when it comes to supporting people who have experienced sexual assault or other traumatic events is consistent with best practice and trauma-informed. We support this being extended to bullying, harassment and other misconduct. 


Regarding sanctions

  • Fair Agenda supports a breadth of sanctions. This is important so that sanction recommendations and action can be proportionate to the issue, and consider the role of the parliamentarian.
  • At this stage we do not expect  sanctions that would include expelling parliamentarians from the parliament. There are other organisations that have made submissions that will be better placed to comment on the nuances of this, but our understanding is that this throws up constitutional issues and goes to concerns about the role of democratically elected representatives. In resolving these issues, however, we would like to see parties provide a greater focus on ensuring accountability on these issues, including in pre-selection processes which we understand is outside the scope of the Committee’s terms of reference.  

 

Regarding how the Code should be implemented: 

  • We believe the Code should be legislated for by the Parliament. We do not believe it should be administered only by Standing Orders embedded within each chamber. We believe this is important to ensure consistency and clarity across both chambers, as standing orders can change with a majority vote in the relevant chamber, where legislation would apply to both chambers and be agreed to by a majority in both chambers. We do not want to have a situation where there are effectively different standards for different parliamentarians. 
  • We believe the Code should have a level of detail that is more “high level” in what it articulates e.g. specific values, and specifics around behaviour that is prohibited, including gendered violence; and other forms of disrespect and discrimination that are contrary to the values of respect and inclusion. The details and definitions for this should sit below the Code in policy or similar so that it can be changed to adapt with time, and run less of a risk of being outdated. This is part of the reason we are calling for a review as part of this process, to ensure that all the necessary values and behaviours contained in the Code reflect what is needed. 



You can read Fair Agenda's full submission to the Committee here. 

Written by Renee Carr
29 September 2022

Fair Agenda has asked all candidates for the federal election to take the Pledge for a Safer Future. The pledge reads:

As a candidate for federal parliament, I pledge to:

  1. Do what it takes to end all forms of gender-based violence within a generation
  2. Champion strong action to prevent all forms of gender-based violence by addressing its drivers and enablers, including gender inequality. 
  3. Push for proper funding of specialist sexual, domestic and family violence services - to ensure everyone affected can access the support they need, and that perpetrators’ abusive behaviours are reduced. 
  4. Vote for better legal and institutional responses for victim-survivors to ensure people seeking support are helped, not hurt, by systems that should support them.
  5. Vote for safer workplaces by supporting full implementation of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s [email protected] recommendations to address workplace sexual harassment. 
  6. Champion reforms for a safer parliament - including full implementation of the recommendations in the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s ‘Set the Standard’ report. 

 

As of the Pledge's launch on the 14th April, 65 candidates had taken the pledge. Those were:

Name

 

Party/ Independent 

Electorate/State

Andrew Wilkie MP

 

Independent

Clark 

Nicolette Boele

 

Independent

Bradfield

Kylea Tink

 

Independent

North Sydney

Kim Rubenstein

 

Independent

ACT

Sen. Peter Whish-Wilson

 

Australian Greens

TAS

Alana Galli-McRostie

 

Australian Greens

Goldstein

Alex Breskin

 

Australian Greens

Isaacs

Apurva Shukla

 

Australian Greens

Werriwa

Asher Cookson

 

Australian Greens

Aston

Bill Pheasant

 

Australian Greens

Menzies

Brendan Clarke

 

Fusion Party

Berowra

Catherine Robertson

 

Victorian Socialists

Fraser

Cecily Rosol

 

Australian Greens

Bass

Celeste Liddle

 

Australian Greens

Cooper

Chetan Sahai

 

Australian Greens

Sydney

Colleen Bolger 

 

Victorian Socialists

Melbourne

Danielle Mutton

 

Australian Greens

Blair

David Deex

 

Australian Greens

Spence

Dominic WY Kanak

 

Australian Greens

Wentworth

Elijah Suares

 

United Australia Party

Bendigo

Ethan Hrnjak

 

Australian Greens

Mackellar

Gilbert Wilson

 

Australian Labor Party

Wannon

Greg Elliot

 

Australian Greens

Mayo

Jack Boddeke

 

Australian Greens

Lalor

Jade Darko

 

Australian Greens

Franklin

James Haggerty

 

Fusion Party

Grayndler

Janet Murray

 

Australian Greens

Hunter

Janine Rees

 

Australian Progressives

Ryan

Jennifer Cox

 

Australian Greens

Kennedy

Jeremy Carter

 

Australian Greens

Boothby

Jerome Small

 

Victorian Socialists

Calwell

John Photakis

 

Australian Greens

Kingston

Kathryn Savery

 

Australian Greens

Bean

Katie McCusker

 

Australian Greens

Sturt

Kelly Guenoun

 

United Australia Party

Petrie

Kim Grierson

 

Australian Greens

Shortland

Kristyn Glanville

 

Australian Greens

Warringah

Liz Chase

 

Australian Greens

Jagajaga

Mandy Nolan

 

Australian Greens

Richmond

Mat Morgan

 

Australian Greens

Monash

Max Chandler-Mather

 

Australian Greens

Griffith

Max Martucci

 

TNL

Hawke

Melissa Stevens

 

Australian Greens

Lilley

Nadia David

 

Australian Labor Party

Indi

Natasa Sojic

 

Australian Greens

Fenner

Neil Cotter

 

Australian Greens

Rankin

Nicole Thompson

 

Australian Greens

Wright

Patrick Deegan

 

Australian Labor Party

Page

Piers Mitchem

 

Australian Greens

Kooyong

Rebecca Galdies

 

Australian Greens

Adelaide

Sarah Jefford

 

Australian Greens

Wills

Sarah Russell

 

Independent

Flinders

Scott Hardiman

 

United Australia Party

Kooyong

Sonya Semmens

 

Australian Greens

Higgins

Steph Hodgins-May

 

Australian Greens

Macnamara

Stephen Bates

 

Australian Greens

Brisbane

Suzette Rodoreda

 

Australian Greens

Gellibrand

Tim Hollo

 

Australian Greens

Canberra

Victor Kline

 

TNL

North Sydney

Andrea Leong

 

Fusion Party

NSW

Brandon Selic

 

Fusion Party

QLD

David Kennedy

 

Fusion Party

SA

Drew Wolfendale

 

Fusion Party

SA

Felix Dance

 

Socialist Alliance

VIC

Tim Viljoen

 

Fusion Party

WA

 

Written by Renee Carr
14 April 2022

Today, gender equality campaigning movement Fair Agenda launches a one-stop shop for voters on women’s safety this election, with 200+ candidates already committed to take some action. 

65 candidates, including high profile independent community candidates Nicollete Boele, Kylea Tink, Kim Rubenstein and sitting parliamentarians Andrew Wilkie and Peter Whish-Wilson have fully taken the Pledge for a Safer Future, and made explicit commitments to the transformative change needed to end gender-based violence.

 

Fair Agenda’s Executive Director Renee Carr, says:

“Going into this election, people want to know that the politicians they elect will take action to stop violence against women. A hundred thousand of us marched for justice during the last parliament; we’re taking those same concerns to the ballot box. 

“We deserve a parliament that will prioritise our safety. Advocates have been calling for transformative change for years. Solutions exist: the pledge shows which candidates are willing to commit to what’s needed.”

“Everyone who cares about women’s safety should ask, have my candidates taken the pledge? Are they willing to do what’s needed to create a safer future?”

The Pledge for a Safer Future contains six specific commitments, and is endorsed by Rosie Batty AO and a range of organisations including the National Association of Services Against Sexual Assault, Australian Women’s Health Network, Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, Women With Disabilitiies Australia and Change the Record.

 

Former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty AO says:

“It’s now more important than ever that our politicians act for our safety. Solutions exist, experts have laid them out - we need everyone standing for the next parliament to make meaningful, transformative action a priority.“

The Vote For Safety website includes information about parties’ track records in the last parliament; as well as their commitments to future action. The analysis notes the alarming record of the Coalition on systems reform - highlighting the Morrison Government’s abolition of the Family Court, decision to proceed with a parliamentary inquiry into family law opposed by safety advocates; and decision to shelve a taskforce to address sexual violence at universities. 

“We need leadership on women’s safety. That means: strengthening prevention efforts, properly funding services, reforming systems that harm survivors, championing safer workplaces, and doing what it takes to end gender-based violence.” Ms Carr said.

“We all want to be safe at school or university. We all want our workplace to look out for our safety. We all want a friend or loved-one who needs service support to be able to live safely, recover from trauma, and access specialist and timely support. The next parliament has the ability to unlock that future - but we must demand it of them.” Ms Carr said.

 

The website also collates a list of allegations of gendered misconduct against MPs in the last parliament, which Fair Agenda says highlight the need to prioritise implementation of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Set the Standard recommendations.

“Australians deserve a proper process that ensures all allegations of gendered misconduct by parliamentarians are put through a consistent, independent process. We need a system that holds our parliamentarians to a standard befitting their office and the responsibility they have over our lives and communities - including the national epidemic of gender-based violence.” Ms Carr added.

The website will be live from 9am Thursday at: https://www.voteforsafety.com.au/

Written by Renee Carr
14 April 2022
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