Fair Agenda Blog

To the Members of NSW Parliament, 

We write to express our concern about the harassment and intimidation of patients seeking abortions at NSW clinics. As experts in our respective fields, we urge you to vote in support of the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill 2018, which would create 150 metre safe access zones around abortion clinics in NSW. 

All people should be able to access the healthcare they need safely, with dignity and in privacy.

Yet patients and healthcare workers across NSW are being harassed and intimidated as they enter reproductive healthcare facilities. There are reports of people being jostled, yelled at, and even filmed outside abortion clinics. This is unacceptable by any modern standard.

Reproductive healthcare decisions are personal medical decisions. Women must be able to access health professionals who are qualified, trained and equipped to provide the support and information they need to make the best decision about their bodies.

No person should have to fear a gauntlet of harassment and intimidation just to see their doctor about a personal medical decision.

Many women who have endured sexual assault rely on reproductive health services for care. Being abused, jostled, or recorded as they walk towards a clinic poses a risk of additional trauma, and could mean that they are unable to access vital healthcare when they need it.

This is about safe and equitable access to reproductive healthcare.

We strongly support the introduction of 150 metre ‘safe access zones’ around health services that provide abortions in NSW. Similar safe access zones are already successfully operating in in Victoria, the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania.

We urge you to protect patients’ rights to privacy, safety and dignity by voting in favour of this Bill.

Signed,

Fair Agenda

Human Rights Law Centre

NSW Council for Civil Liberties

New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation NSW

Public Health Association Australia

Women’s Electoral Lobby

National Foundation for Australian Women

Women’s Legal Service NSW

Community Legal Centres NSW

NSW Rape Crisis Centre

Domestic Violence NSW

Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSW Inc

NCOSS

No To Violence

Kingsford Legal Centre

Family Planning NSW 

Marie Stopes

Written by Renee Carr
17 May 2018

This year’s federal budget is not only disappointing, but potentially dangerous for women affected by family violence, according to domestic violence and women’s groups.

Fair Agenda, Domestic Violence NSW, National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum, No to Violence, the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) and the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) have jointly expressed despair that the Government has, once again, allocated inadequate resources to the services women rely on to escape abuse.

“It’s great the Turnbull Government is talking about providing women with real choice and access to opportunity. But women won’t have real choice and opportunity if they don’t have the chance to escape abuse and to live free from violence.” Says Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda.

“We’re bitterly disappointed that there appears to be just $18.2 million of funding announced for domestic violence focused services tonight. That’s a fraction of what’s needed to ensure that every woman who needs crisis support, a safe and affordable place to live, or community legal support to get ongoing protection and navigate lengthy court processes, can access specialist services that are safe and understand their needs. Tonight’s announcement also does nothing to address the number of men perpetrating family violence.” Says Moo Baulch, CEO of Domestic Violence NSW.

“Last year the Victorian Government announced a $1.9 billion package to address domestic violence in the state. We need the same level of commitment and leadership from the Turnbull Government in its areas of responsibility.“ she added.

“The Treasurer declared in his budget speech that one of the five things the Turnbull Government must do with this budget is ‘keep Australians safe’, but made no mention of tackling domestic violence; and appears to have announced very little that will help the huge numbers of women and children who remain unsafe and under threat in their homes.” Ms Carr said.

“There is no new money for frontline domestic and family violence services and no mention of specialist support or affordable safe housing for families escaping domestic and family violence. In the year of #MeToo and the context of the Turnbull Government’s repeated commitments to prioritising the elimination of violence against women the silence from the Treasurer tonight is deafening.” Added Ms Baulch.

The most recent AIHW data shows requests for assistance for domestic and family violence rose in 2016-17, with 14,000 more requests for assistance by specialist homelessness services than the previous year.

“The Turnbull Government’s decision to inadequately resource family violence services is a choice that will leave thousands of families without the support they need to stay out of hospital, to make it in to work or their place of study, to be healthy and happy parents, and know they’ll be returning to somewhere safe and affordable at the end of their day. “ added Ms Carr.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience family violence at vastly disproportionate rates. The women who rely on our service are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised and 10 times more likely to die of a violent assault.” Said Antoinette Braybrook, Convenor of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum.

“Yet our services nationally remain chronically underfunded. Our women deserve to have access to culturally safe services like Family Violence Prevention Legal Services.” She added.

“Community Legal Centres are a vital part of the legal framework in responding to and addressing family violence. Every day women visit Community Legal Centres to get information about their rights, to escape abuse, to keep their children safe, or to keep a roof over their heads.” said Amanda Alford, Acting CEO of the National Association of Community Legal Centres.

“Yet every year our centres are forced to turn away hundreds of thousands of people. That means women aren’t getting the legal help they so desperately need. Tonight’s budget appears to have failed to invest in these vital frontline services.” she added.

“When it comes to men who use family violence, the ‘the lock them up and throw away the key’ approach is futile, costs the taxpayer millions, and is a short-term fix for recidivism.” said Jacqui Watt, CEO of No to Violence, the peak body for groups working with men to end family violence.

“We need community-based responses; for example more funding into men’s intake referral services, Men’s Behaviour Change Programs, and case management. We would have liked to have seen a greater commitment from the Federal Government, and disappointingly, we haven’t.” she added.

“In this year’s budget the Turnbull Government has prioritised cutting corporate tax. Women’s safety and freedom from violence should have been an equivalent priority. If it had been, we’d have seen the Federal Government matching the Victorian Government’s recent commitment to frontline services so that victim-survivors can get the support they need to be safe.” Ms Baulch added.

A 2011 national survey showed that 48% of respondents who experienced domestic and family violence said the violence had affected their ability to get to work. 10% needed to take time off work. Further, women who experience domestic and family violence are more likely to have a disrupted work history, and to have to change jobs at short notice.

Fair Agenda, Domestic Violence NSW, National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum, No to Violence, NACLC and NFAW are jointly calling on the Turnbull Government to ensure women affected by domestic and family violence also have genuine choice and opportunity; by adequately funding the services needed to address a leading contributor to their injury, illness and death.

They are calling for the Federal Government to match the Victorian Government’s recent $1.9 billion funding commitment to domestic violence prevention and response.

 

Click here to take action: join the call for all Governments to fully fund the services women rely on to escape violence.

Written by Renee Carr
08 May 2018
2018 budget guide

Finding a way to escape your abuser is generally difficult and dangerous; in fact, the period when a woman tries to escape her abuser is a time she’s facing increased danger. That’s why it’s so important that everyone who reaches out for support to escape domestic violence can access it; and that we invest in the programs Australia needs to stop violence in the future.

The most recent national Personal Safety Survey (2016) showed rates of partner violence against women are at 1.7% (rising from 1.5% in 2005).

According to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the number of requests for assistance because of domestic and family violence is also rising: with specialist homelessness services receiving 14,000 more requests for assistance for clients escaping domestic and family violence in 2016-17 than in the previous year.

 

1. Specialist family and domestic violence services

To escape abuse and danger, it’s critical that women and children are able to connect to integrated, 24-hour, specialist, accessible and culturally-safe supports - particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and women with a disability. But right now, the federal government aren’t providing specialist services with the resources they need.

Specialist women’s services are the critical pillar of any response to domestic and family violence. They provide a unique, specialist understanding of the nature and dynamics of family and domestic violence; assessment and management of risk, and provide safe spaces for women and children who have experienced family violence to begin considering their options to recover from trauma and abuse. The Federal Government are responsible for contributing a significant amount of the funding specialist homelessness services rely on.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows the number of people experiencing family violence who have reached out to specialist homelessness services for help has increased from 105,619 in 2015-16, to 114,757 in 2016-17. There has been a 33% increase since 2011-12.

Every day there are an average of 261 requests for specialist homelessness services that has to be left unassisted. In 2016-17, the majority of those requests were from women (66%, or 172 women unassisted every day). There is no data on how many of those are reaching out because they’re affected by domestic violence.

 

2. Community Legal Centres

For those trying to escape a violent abuser, access to free legal advice and assistance is critical. In order to escape her abuser, a woman will often need legal help to find out what her rights and options are under family law; how she'll be able to access shared funds or property; and untangle debts and loans that might have been put in her name by her abuser.

Community Legal Centres provide critical support in all these areas - but they don’t have the funding they need to provide that support to everyone who needs it. In 2015-2016 centres were forced to turn away over 170,000 people, including people experiencing family violence.

In 2014 the Productivity Commission recommended that an immediate injection of at least $120 million per year of additional federal funding was required by the legal assistance sector to meet demand. This would mean at least $14.4 million additional funding per year for Community Legal Centres.

In recent years the Federal Government provided $23.4 million in pilot funding under the Women’s Safety Package to establish 18 new domestic violence units and health justice partnerships across Australia. These vital units have helped thousands of people experiencing family violence. The units and partnerships are being evaluated this year. To ensure the ongoing operation of those units and national roll-out beyond the existing 18 units, there is an urgent need for ongoing and increased funding.

 

Family Violence Prevention Legal Services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence than non-Aboriginal women and 10 times more likely to die from violent assault.

Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) are a critical specialist service that provides holistic, culturally safe legal and non-legal assistance, casework, counselling and court support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people affected by family violence.

Right now, this service is only funded to service approximately half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The existing FVPLS services are not funded to help all the women reaching out to them for help. Some FVPLS report that up to 30-40% women contacting their service have to be turned away because there isn’t sufficient capacity to support them.

FVPLS funding levels are currently frozen at 2013-14 levels until 2020. For FVPLSs, the absence of CPI increases over 2013-14 to 2020 period results in a cumulative loss of approximately $9.7 million to the services.

In additional, the 14 Family Violence Prevention Legal Services need $2 million of additional funding each to ensure national service provisions (a total of $28 million annually). And the national FVPLS Forum needs $4.5 million to build capacity across all of these services.

 

3. Men’s family violence intervention programs

Working with men who use violent and controlling behaviour is critical to minimise and prevent family violence.

Men’s specialist family violence practitioners engage violent men to work toward the safety and wellbeing of their partner and children, and toward real, meaningful change.

Men’s specialist family violence experts are calling for further investment in national Minimum Standards [National Outcome Standards for Perpetrator Interventions, NOSPI] and accreditation to ensure all agencies engaging with men are delivering programs in line with best practice; integrating perpetrator accountability across the justice and social service system.

Australia’s largest peak body representing organisations and individuals working to end men’s use of family violence, No to Violence, is calling for more Federal funding investment in: men’s intake referral services, community-based Men’s Behaviour Change Programs, case management, and bi-partisan support/ investment in the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations.

Experts in the field are also calling for greater investment in workforce development & training, and diverse perpetrator intervention programs.

 

Other related service areas to keep an eye on

Women’s Health Services

Women’s Health Services play a critical role in both preventing violence from occurring and supporting women who are experiencing violence – including by referral to appropriate crisis support and accommodation assistance.

Primary health services, such as women’s health centres and GPs, are one of the key accessible pathways to safety for many women – with 1 in 5 women affected by family violence first disclose this to their GP.

 

Housing

Women and children who have been pushed out of their own homes by domestic and family violence often have to navigate lengthy and fragmented processes to access safe and affordable housing (both rental and purchase) – moving between accommodations that lack security of tenure and safety.

The lack of affordable and available housing in Australia limits exit pathways from crisis services for women and children leaving situations of family violence. Access to safe, affordable, long term housing is a critical issue for the vast majority of women and families escaping violence.

 

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Written by Renee Carr
08 May 2018
Joint call

Leading advocates on university sexual violence End Rape on Campus Australia, Fair Agenda, National Union of Students and The Hunting Ground Australia Project have today expressed concern about revelations in Al Jazeera’s documentary Australia: Rape on Campus, saying it is further evidence that universities aren’t doing enough to provide safe learning environments and that the Australian Government needs to urgently intervene to ensure student safety.

The four groups have backed the concerns of the international students interviewed in the documentary about inadequate information and support provided to international students regarding sexual violence.

“Data released by the Australian Human Rights Commission last August showed that sexual violence is a huge issue in university contexts, and we know from the Commission’s report that international students face additional challenges that can make them more vulnerable.  

“What we hear from international students is that they may not understand what behaviour is the result of cultural differences, or when someone is acting predatorily towards them; they may not understand their legal rights to pursue charges; and they often don’t have the social supports around them that are so vital to recovering from trauma and violence,” said Sharna Bremner, End Rape on Campus Australia.

“I’ve been working with international students for the past seven years. Unfortunately the experiences of the students in the documentary are all too familiar. Students just aren’t given the information they need on this issue.” said Ms Bremner.

“I’ve supported students who are scared that they could be charged if they reported to police; others who’ve been threatened by the perpetrators that if they report they will have their visa cancelled; and students who have reported, but were told there was nothing the university could do.” she added. 

“International students in Australia need to be supported with targeted information, including orientation programs covering sexual violence and Australian cultural behaviours, and specific support services that recognise and address their particular vulnerabilities,” said Ms Maria Dimopoulos, the independent Chair of the Harmony Alliance: Migrant and Refugee Women for Change.

“Universities are aggressively recruiting students to come here from overseas; but they’re not doing what it takes to make sure they’re safe once they get here.” Kate Crossin, National Women’s Officer, National Union of Students.

“Universities should be aware of the additional vulnerabilities and challenges faced by international students. They should be ensuring international students are receiving adequate information, specialised prevention training, and that international students are involved in and represented in university responses to sexual violence,” added Ms Crossin.

“The ongoing revelations about sexual violence and appalling behaviour in our universities demonstrate that this is a systemic and ingrained problem.” said Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda. 

“We can’t keep relying on the bravery of individual survivors to come forward and speak out in order to drive overdue change. This documentary demonstrates, again, the urgency for the Federal Government to step in and ensure the safety of Australian and international students at our universities.” said Ms Carr.

The four groups reiterated their joint call for the Federal Government to establish an independent expert led Taskforce to investigate and hold universities to account on the systemic issue of sexual violence.

“Students, survivors and advocates have been speaking out about sexual violence for decades. Universities said they would act on sexual violence in response to last year’s national student survey results, but we know many are still dragging their feet on implementing substantive change. And revelations from students attending this year’s O’Week show that universities still aren’t adequately addressing major risks.”said Allison Henry, Campaign Director of The Hunting Ground Australia Project.

”The Federal Government is happy to promote record-breaking numbers of international students[1] and provides universities with at least $17 billion of Australian taxpayer funding annually[2] – it’s past time that the Government held universities accountable on this ongoing, systemic issue of student wellbeing and safety,” Ms Henry added. 

Remesha Abeyratne, former UNSW SRC International students officer added: "Sexual violence on campus is never just about "sex". It is about the assailant that is still walking on campus-amongst the victims and their peers, the victims who live in perpetual fear and the emotional and physical scars that were left by the encounter."

"In addition to these elements, International students, who bring in the third largest income to Australia, are left to face a spectrum of challenges on their own due to the lack of information on the matter. There is very real fear towards the authorities. For instance, they fear that bringing charges against their assailant would result in deportation. And if it is not the fear of the law, the difficulties in having to communicate to the authorities as to what had happened have silenced many international students. To communicate the violation of your rights is difficult, but imagine having to do so in a language that is completely alien to your tongue?" she said.

Concerned community members can join the campaign for action at: https://www.fairagenda.org/taskforce

 

Facts about sexual violence against international students

The Change the Course report from the Australian Human Rights Commission found: 

  • 5.1% of international students were sexually assaulted in 2015 and/or 2016, and 1.4% experienced this in a university setting (p.51)
  • 33% of international students who were sexually assaulted indicated they did not know who to report their sexual assault to (p.130)
  • International students who were sexually assaulted were more likely (31%) than domestic students (19%) to indicate that they felt too embarrassed or ashamed to report it (p.130)
  • International students are almost half as likely as domestic students (5% compared to 9%) to report their experience of sexual assault to the university (p.136)

[1] See https://www.senatorbirmingham.com.au/international-education-continues-record-breaking-run/

[2] See https://www.senatorbirmingham.com.au/sustainability-and-excellence-in-higher-education/

Written by Renee Carr
27 April 2018
Handmaids

Last year TV series The Handmaid's Tale made international headlines for its haunting depiction of a dystopian future America where women are denied control over their bodies and reproductive health. The show now has a huge international following - and its costumes have become iconic in the global protest for abortion rights.

In just a few weeks, the second series will premiere in Australia. Can you organise a house party screening to raise funds for pro-choice campaigns in Australia?

Right now abortion is still in the Criminal Code in both Queensland and NSW. It means women are frequently refused assistance at public hospitals, and that people face additional distress, danger and financial burden when they need to terminate their pregnancy.

In coming months there will be critical opportunities to secure changes to the law in Queensland. But there are extreme anti-choice forces who are working hard to stop that from happening.

That's why your help is so important. It's going to take a huge effort to secure this desperately needed progress.

Can you help raise funds to fight for Queenslanders' reproductive rights by organising a screening The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 premiere at your house, inviting some friends around to watch with you, and asking those who come along to make a donation to support campaigns for the right to choose?

Sign up here to register a screening.

We’ll provide you with a short host pack – including information about the state of reproductive rights in Australia, key battles on the horizon, and what Fair Agenda is fundraising for. 

The Handmaid’s Tale will be released on SBS On Demand on Thursday 26th April, and the first episode will be available to screen on SBS Demand for two weeks.

Any questions? Please contact us via info@fairagenda.org

Content Warning: The series includes distressing content including depictions of sexual violence and torture.

Written by Renee Carr
12 April 2018
IWD 2018
Here at Fair Agenda, we think the best way to celebrate and honour International Women's Day, and the achievements of the women who have fought for our rights is by continuing their work.
So here are three of our tips for actions you can take right now, for a fair and equal future.

1. Listen to, and amplify, the voices of women in public debate

Particularly women whose voices might be marginalised because of other parts of their identity – like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, Muslim women, women of colour, women living with a disability and LGBTQI women.
You can get started right now is by following more women (and women-led groups) on social media, and actively sharing their posts. We’ve put together a list of some of our favourites to help you get started:
  • Nakkiah Lui is a writer, actor and social commentator. You may know her from her (multiple) TV shows, or from the podcast she co-hosts with Miranda Tapsell ‘Pretty for an Aboriginal’. Follow her on twitter.
  • Celeste Liddle is an Arrernte woman who you may know as ‘Black Feminist Ranter’ on facebook. Celeste is a writer, union organiser and commentator, and today she’s written a great piece called “International Women’s Day is a call to action, not a branding opportunity’. Follow her on: Facebook, twitter.
  • Mariam Veiszadeh is a lawyer, diversity and inclusion consultant. She was Daily Life’s Woman of the Year in 2016. Follow her on facebook, twitter.
  • Carly Findlay is a writer, speaker, disability and appearance activist. Follow her on: Facebook, twitter.
  • Jordan Raskopoulos is an Australian comedian best known as the frontwoman for the comedy group The Axis of Awesome, and a champion for LGBTIQ equality. Follow her on: Facebook, twitter.
  • Sam Connor is a human and disability rights activist and cofounder of bolshy divas and criparmy. Follow her on twitter.
  • Jamila Rizvi is a columnist, radio host, and author (including of the excellent book 'Not Just Lucky'). Follow her on facebook, twitter.
  • Marita Cheng is the founder of RoboGals, champion of Women in STEM and a former Young Australian of the Year. Follow her on facebook, twitter.
  • Women with Disabilities Australia are a national group working to improve the lives and life chances of women with disabilities. Follow them on: Facebook.
  • Djirra (formerly Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Service) are champions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by family violence and sexual assault. Follow them on: Facebook, twitter.
  • Fair Agenda is a community of Australians campaigning for women’s rights. On social media we let you know how you can drive change on issues in the headlines; plus share highlights on what’s happening in the fight for women’s rights around the country (and the globe). Follow us on facebook, twitter.

 

2. Add your support to campaigns for women’s rights

Systemic, structural change doesn’t come easy. To achieve a fair and equal future for women we’re going to have to fight hard every step of the way (and be ready to stop those who want to pull us backwards).
Critical to success in almost every campaign for political and social change is public support – and a first step to showing yours is by signing petitions to decision-makers, supporting calls for action.
Here are two campaigns that need your support right now:

 

3. Donate to enable women-led organisations to keep winning long-term change

The work that goes into changing the policies that shape women’s lives is long and hard. And it takes money. Unsurprisingly, the gender pay gap doesn’t disappear when it comes to the people with capacity to give big donations - which can make it really hard to raise funds for women’s rights work.
That’s why one of the most important ways you can have impact is by donating to support the work of women and women-led organisations that are working for systemic change.
Here are a couple we recommend:
  • Fair Agenda drives and wins campaigns for systemic change. In just the past few years our community has won change that has already improved more than 100,000 women’s lives. Including: securing $100 million of additional funding for family violence response, preventing cuts to working parents’ time to care for their newborns from hurting 79,000 families every year; and working with partners to stop $34 million of cuts to the vital work of community legal centres, and much more. Now we need your help to power big fights to secure action on campus sexual assault; and to pass laws for safe and legal access to abortion in Queensland. Click here to donate.
  • In tackling the issue of family violence, the work of Djirra (previously Family Violence Prevention Legal Services) couldn’t be more important. They provide a specialist and culturally safe service to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who are 32 times more likely to be victims of family violence than non-Aboriginal women. They: draw on cultural strength to increase resilience, reduce social isolation and vulnerability to family violence, promote healthy relationship and create awareness about the ‘power and control’ dynamics of family violence and red flags. They also deliver campaigns to make sure Aboriginal women’s voices are heard. Make a donation here.
Any contribution you can make is important – but if you’re able we strongly encourage you to set up a regular donation. Predictable, reliable income can make a huge difference in the capacity of organisation’s to focus their energy on responding in the most critical and strategic moments, instead of having to fundraise first. (You can set up a monthly donation to power Fair Agenda’s campaigns for women’s rights here).


PS - To secure the advances we need to ensure all women’s safety, equality and dignity, we need to organise year round. Fair Agenda is a community of 37,000 Australians who use our collective people power to win change on issues that affect women year round. If you aren’t a member already, please join us today.
Written by Renee Carr
08 March 2018

fairagenda.logo.colour-small_crop.jpeg  EROC_logo.png  Untitled-6-01_(1).png  THGAP_logo.png

All university students deserve a safe environment in which to learn and to lay the best possible foundations for their future careers and lives.

But for too many students, the vast majority of which are women, sexual violence will have a devastating and ongoing impact that limits their ability to complete the tertiary education they want and deserve.

A student affected by sexual assault will not only have their life and studies interrupted by the immediate medical and psychological needs that arise from this crime, they may also face lengthy police and court processes, and financial costs associated with dealing with the incident. They are also likely to experience ongoing impacts that will limit their capacity to maintain their academic performance. Without appropriate response and support, these ongoing impacts can be so untenable that a student affected feels forced to delay or drop out of their studies entirely.

After decades of student and survivor led advocacy, and years of media reporting shining a light on these serious and systemic problems, last year’s Australian Human Rights Commission national student survey finally confirmed the scale of sexual violence on our campuses.

Many universities and residential colleges are now, belatedly, taking action in response to these survey results - but the depth of commitment to substantive change, and whether or not these existing commitments will deliver real improvements for student safety, remains difficult to assess.

That’s why, as students return to University for 2018, Fair Agenda, End Rape on Campus Australia, the National Union of Students and The Hunting Ground Australia Project are launching a joint call for the Federal Government to establish an independent, expert led taskforce to track, assess and publicly report on university and residences’ measures to prevent, and improve responses to sexual violence.

This taskforce should:

  • Be comprised of independent experts in the field of sexual violence prevention (including sexual assault services and representatives from the Consortium of Sexual Assault Researchers);
  • Regularly consult with student representative bodies;
  • Require universities to regularly report on the measures they and their associated entities (including residences and colleges) are taking to
    address and prevent sexual violence - including the policies and procedures in place;
  • Require universities and residences to regularly report on disciplinary measures taken against perpetrators;
  • Assess whether or not university and residence policies and procedures to address and prevent sexual violence meet good practice, and if they are improving outcomes;
  • Publicly report on these assessments and make public recommendations to strengthen university and residence policies and procedures;
  • Publicly report on the number of complaints relating to sexual violence made to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency under the Threshold Standards, as well as their status and outcome/resolution; and
  • Incorporate data from, and feed into, the next independent national survey of students.

If we are to ensure that the students who are about to attend their first classes – and those who will attend our universities in coming years – are not at risk of the same harms as previous cohorts, we need an independent, expert body that is resourced to assess outcomes in this area, and to hold universities and residences to account.

It is vital for the safety of current and future students that we ensure all universities are making substantive progress in addressing this problem as quickly as possible. Doing that requires an independent review mechanism to ensure that all policies being put in place to address this problem are good practice, and achieving their objectives.

All students deserve a safe environment to learn. For that to be possible, we must address the scourge of sexual violence on campus.

---

Please join the call for a taskforce to address university sexual violence by signing the petition here.

Written by Renee Carr
22 February 2018
What we did together

Together our community has won changes that bring us closer to a fair and equal future; and that will improve the lives of more than a hundred thousand women. So thank you.

Here’s what our community's campaigning has achieved this year:

  • We stopped cuts to working parents’ time to care for their newborns that were set to hurt 79,000 working families, ensuring working parents didn’t lose precious time to care for their newborns in their critical first weeks and months,

  • We worked with family violence survivors and community lawyers to stop the Federal Government from cutting $34 million from the work of community legal centres – ensuring thousands of women wouldn't be denied access to the legal support they need to escape and recover from family violence,

  • We stood with students and sexual assault survivors to secure funding from universities for a specialist trauma hotline for students affected by sexual violence during their studies,

  • We built on years of campaigning for the Federal Government to properly fund family violence services; and helped ensure an additional $50 million of funding was committed to family violence response in the 2017 federal budget,

  • We worked with partners to campaign for legal access to abortion in Queensland, and secured a commitment from the Queensland Government to introduce new draft legislation to modernise Queensland’s abortion laws in 2018,

  • We ran a huge Queensland election effort that put the need for abortion decriminalisation in the headlines, and secured pro-choice pledges from 154 candidates. This helped ensure we’re closer than ever before to having the votes needed to pass laws to decriminalise abortion in 2018!

  • We got 129 university residences to be transparent about their training to prevent sexual violence; and pushed more than a dozen residences to improve the quality of their training for students and staff, and

  • We worked alongside women's legal services and family violence survivors to secure a commitment from the Government to amend the Family Court rule that means survivors of domestic violence can be forced to endure direct cross-examination by their abusers.

These are really important wins that will impact women across the country. And none of it would be possible without Fair Agenda members like you - who got involved by signing petitions, contacting decision makers, sharing campaigns with your friends, and chipping in to help make all of this possible. So thank you for everything you’ve done as a Fair Agenda member this year.

We wish you and your family all the best for the festive season and new year, and look forward to collaborating with you again to put fair on the agenda in 2018,

Renee on behalf of the Fair Agenda team

PS – Looking for a meaningful gift this festive season? Why not give the gift that keeps on giving, with a donation to Fair Agenda. You can donate to help secure change for women’s reproductive rights, economic equality and freedom from violence. And if you click here, you can even access a nifty tool from MyCause that will allow you to send your loved one a personalised card when you make a donation in their name.

Written by Renee Carr
20 December 2017
The results are in

A woman's legal right to choose is now closer than ever before!

Earlier this year, when legislation to decriminalise abortion was introduced to the parliament, there weren’t enough pro-choice MPs willing to vote for desperately needed change. So, when the Palaszczuk Government referred the issue to the Law Reform Commission and pledged to introduce new laws in 2018 – it was clear that we’d have to put this issue on the election and voter agenda, to increase the number of pro-choice candidates in Queensland parliament.

So that’s exactly what Fair Agenda helped do.

Together, our community drove a powerful campaign that kept this issue, and candidates' stances, in the headlines. Together, we pushed 154 candidates to publicly commit to back pro-choice reforms by taking Fair Agenda’s pro-choice candidate pledge. And, in total, we got 174 candidates to go on the record about their position on abortion law reform – many of them for the first time. 

Then, we engaged thousands of voters in key marginal seat races with this information about their local candidates’ stance. 

And today’s results show that publicly pro-choice candidates have won key marginal seat races in: Redlands, Mansfield, Jordan, Maiwar, Noosa, Cook, Cairns, and Gaven! 

Plus: a number of candidates who have spoken at “pro-life” rallies, or otherwise indicated they oppose decriminalising abortion, have lost key races in: Mount Ommaney, Ipswich, Buderim and Pumicestone!

This election outcome brings us closer than we've ever been to decriminalising abortion in Queensland.

And it's a testament to the Fair Agenda community and to all the Queenslanders who have been campaigning long and hard to change these cruel and degrading laws. So thank you for your part in it.

Going into this election, nobody thought that we could make abortion an election issue. In fact, it’s long-held election lore that pro-choice candidates shouldn’t talk about their position on abortion for fear of backlash from fringe religious groups and voters.

This election, we’ve helped change that, showing that the vast majority of voters support safe and legal access to abortion, pushing more candidates than ever before to be transparent about their stance on this issue, and - most importantly - proving that publicly pro-choice candidates can win marginal races – and be backed by a huge portion of the community.

Thanks for all you did to help make this happen,

Renee, Tash and Chantelle for Fair Agenda


Here’s a recap of what the Fair Agenda community was able to do together on this campaign...

We knew going into this election that in order to decriminalise abortion we would need to ensure a majority of pro-choice MPs were elected. And to make that happen - that voters would need to know their candidates' views on abortion reform.

The problem was: most candidates weren't on the record about their stance. So, Fair Agenda launched a pro-choice candidate pledge – and asked all major party candidates to declare that if elected, they would vote to remove abortion from the criminal code, and to support laws that would ensure all Queenslanders can safely and legally access full reproductive healthcare, without being harassed or intimidated”.

And, within days of the election being called, Fair Agenda was able to announce that we had already secured pro-choice pledges from almost 100 candidates -- putting this issue in the election headlines by day 6 of the election campaign! 

  

It was a brilliant start -- but we knew it wasn't enough. So Fair Agenda members stepped up the pressure, sending hundreds of emails, and hand-delivering messages to MPs who hadn’t gone on the record...



...And Fair Agenda members also chipped in to fund strategic polling - to prove to candidates that it's in their interests to be upfront about where they stand on abortion. That polling put this issue in the headlines yet again - showing candidates across the country what was at stake if they refused to be upfront about their position! 

This polling also showed that *50%* of Queenslanders would be unwilling to vote for their preferred candidate if that candidate wanted abortion to remain in the criminal code. And that the issue of decriminalising abortion would be important in deciding the vote of 80% undecided voters! 

This was hugely compelling data. And it proved that a candidates position on safe and legal abortion would shift votes. 

Together, all this campaigning secured a commitment from 154 candidates that they would support strong and evidence-based pro-choice reforms if elected!

Fair Agenda's polling had shown this information could shift votes. So we knew it was vital to get this information in front of as many voters as possible.

So Fair Agenda launched a powerful online tool at voteprochoice.org.au – to allow Queensland voters to enter their postcode, and find out quickly and easily their local candidates' stance on decriminalising abortion. 

And then Fair Agenda volunteers took to the streets of Brisbane in the blood red cloaks and white bonnets of the Handmaid’s Tale. (That's the recent TV sensation set in a dystopian future where fertile women are denied bodily autonomy, and forced to carry pregnancies against their will). To let voters know where they could find out their candidates' stances on this issue. 



And Fair Agenda’s Handmaids put this issue back in the headlines again…

…And engaged thousands of voters with this important issue in the week leading up to election day.

Fair Agenda members also chipped in to fund online adverts to get this vote-deciding information in front of voters in key seats – reaching thousands more voters in a number of key pro-choice races.

Together we put abortion decriminalisation on the election agenda – showing that voters overwhelmingly support decriminalisation. And helped see eight pro-choice candidates win key marginal seat races, and four anti-choice candidates lose key races.    

This is huge progress!

There’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure laws for safe and legal abortion are passed by the Queensland parliament next year when the Law Reform Commission hands down its recommendations.

But our community’s campaign at this state election has ensured there are more MPs on the record about their stance on abortion law reform than ever before; and that MPs and parties now know that voters will support candidates that stand up for a woman’s legal right to choose. And that those who want to keep treating a woman’s choice as a crime will lose votes over it.

Thank you to all the Fair Agenda members who helped make this possible, and to our friends in Pro Choice Queensland parters who have been campaigning long and hard for these changes for years. 

Written by Renee Carr
08 December 2017

This election we have a critical chance to secure changes to Queensland's archaic archaic laws. But to make that happen -- we'll need to ensure that a majority of pro-choice candidates are elected to the next parliament.

That means ensuring that we as pro-choice voters are supporting candidates that will represent us on this issue.

That's why Fair Agenda have asked all candidates to commit that, if elected, they will “vote to remove abortion from the criminal code, and support laws to ensure all Queenslanders can safely and legally access full reproductive healthcare, without being harassed or intimidated." That means we've asked candidates if they would support three specific reforms if they are put to the parliament (you can read the pledge question in full below).

Fair Agenda's pledge ask has also backed by The Human Rights Law Centre, Women’s Legal Service Queensland, White Ribbon and the Queensland Council of Unions.

So far 154 QLD candidates have signed up to Fair Agenda's pro-choice candidate pledge!

 

You can find out whether your local candidates have taken the pledge below (to find your electorate, just input your address in this ECQ tool).

Then can you help build the pressure on the remaining candidates to join these pro-choice champions; or to let voters know that they think abortion should keep being treated as a crime? Sign up to get involved in the campaign for safe and legal access to abortion, here!

 

Which candidates have taken the Fair Agenda pledge so far?

Electorate Candidate Party affiliation
Algester Patsy O'Brien Queensland Greens
Aspley Zachary King Independent 
Aspley James Hansen The Greens
Bancroft Simone Dejun Queensland Greens
Bancroft Chris Whiting MP Australian Labor Party
Barron River Cameron Boyd Queensland Greens
Bonney Rowan Holzberger Labor
Bonney Amin Javanmard Queensland Greens
Broadwater Daniel Kwon Queensland Greens
Buderim Tracy Burton Queensland Greens
Bulimba Di Farmer Labor
Bulimba Felicity Jodell Queensland Greens
Bundaberg Marianne Buchanan Queensland Greens
Bundaberg Alan Corbett Independent
Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson Labor
Bundamba Michelle Duncan Queensland Greens
Burdekin Mathew Bing Queensland Greens
Burdekin  Michael Brunker  ALP
Burleigh Peter Burgoyne Greens
Burnett Lee James Harvey labor
Burnett Tim Roberts Queensland Greens
Cairns Michael Healy ALP
Cairns Aaron McDonald Queensland Greens
Cairns Rob Pyne Independent
Callide Jaiben Baker Queensland Greens
Caloundra Jason Hunt ALP
Caloundra Marcus Finch Queensland Greens
Capalaba Don Brown Labor
Capalaba Joshua Sanderson Queensland Greens
Chatsworth Dave Nelson Queensland Greens
Clayfield Claire Ogden Queensland Greens
Clayfield Philip Anthony Australian Labor Party
Condamine Chris Turnbull Queensland Greens
Cook Brynn Mathews Queensland Greens
Cook Cynthia Lui Labor Party
Coomera Christopher Johnson ALP
Coomera Tayla Kerwin Queensland Greens
Cooper Robert Wiltshire Independent
Cooper Reece Walters Queensland Greens
Currumbin David Wyatt Queensland Greens
Everton David Greene Australian Labor Party
Everton Bridget Clinch Queensland Greens
Ferny Grove Elizabeth World Queensland Greens
Gaven Meaghan Scanlon Australian Labor Party 
Gaven Sally Spain Queensland Greens
Gladstone Peta Baker Queensland Greens
Glass House Brent Hampstead ALP
Glass House Sue Weber Queensland Greens
Greenslopes Victor Huml Greens
Gregory Norman Weston Queensland Greens
Gregory  Dave Kerrigan Labor 
Gympie Tracey McWilliam ALP
Gympie Roxanne Kennedy-Perriman Queensland Greens
Hervey Bay Jannean Dean Independent
Hervey Bay Jenni Cameron Queensland Greens
Hill Johanna Kloot Queensland Greens
Hinchinbrook Lyle Burness Queensland Greens
Inala Navdeep Singh Queensland Greens
Ipswich Brett Morrissey Queensland Greens
Ipswich West Keith Muller Queensland Greens
Jordan Steven Purcell Queensland Greens
Kawana Jeremy Davey Independent
Kawana mark moss ALP 
Kawana Annette Spendlove Queensland Greens
Keppel Clancy Mullbrick Queensland Greens
Keppel Brittany Lauga Labor
Kurwongbah Rachel Doherty Queensland Greens
Lockyer Ian Simons Queensland Greens
Logan Liam Jenkinson Queensland Greens
Lytton Ken Austin Queensland Greens
Macalister Melissa McMahon Labor
     
MacAlister Gregory Bradley Independent
Macalister Gabi Nehring Queensland Greens
Mackay Martin McCann Independent
Mackay Elliot Jennings The Greens
Maiwar Ali King Australian Labor Party
Maiwar Michael Berkman Queensland Greens
Mansfield Barbara Bell Queensland Greens
Maroochydore Daniel Bryar Queensland Greens
Maroochydore  Julie McGlone Queensland Labor
Maryborough Craig Armstrong Queensland Greens
McConnel Kamala Emanuel Socialist Alliance
McConnel Grace Grace Labor
McConnel Kirsten Lovejoy Queensland Greens
Mermaid Beach Gary Pead Independent
Mermaid Beach Helen Wainwright Queensland Greens
Miller Mark Bailey Labor
Miller Deniz Clarke Queensland Greens
Mirani Christine Carlisle  Queensland Greens
Moggill Evan Jones ALP
Moggill Lawson McCane Queensland Greens
Morayfield Mark Ryan Australian Labor Party
Morayfield Gavin Behrens QLD Greens
Mount Ommaney Jenny Mulkearns Queensland Greens
Mudgeeraba Jill Pead Independent
Mudgeeraba Rod Duncan Queensland Greens
Mulgrave Carmel Murray Queensland Greens
Mundingburra Alan Birrell Independent
Mundingburra Jenny Brown Queensland Greens
Mundingburra Coralee O'Rourke Labor
Murrumba Steven Miles Labor
Murrumba Jason Kennedy Queensland Greens
Nanango John Harbison Queensland Greens
Nicklin Mick Tyrrell Queensland Greens
Ninderry Bill Gissane Labor
Ninderry Sue Etheridge The Greens
Noosa Aaron White Independent
Noosa Sandy Bolton Independent
Noosa Mark Denham Labor
Noosa Robin Bristow Reason
Noosa Phillip Jenkins Queensland Greens
Nudgee Ell-Leigh Ackerman Queensland Greens
Oodgeroo Tony Austin Australian Labor Party
Oodgeroo Brad Scott Queensland Greens
Pine Rivers Nikki Boyd  ALP
Pine Rivers Jack Margaritis Queensland Greens
Pumicestone Jason Burgess N/A
Pumicestone Tony Longland The Greens
Redcliffe James Bovill Queensland Greens
Redlands Kim Richards ALP
Redlands David Keogh Queensland Greens
Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke Labor Party
Rockhampton Kate Giamarelos Queensland Greens
Sandgate Stirling Hinchliffe Labor
Sandgate Miree Le Roy Greens
Scenic Rim Shannon Girard Queensland Greens
South Brisbane Jackie Trad Labor
South Brisbane Amy MacMahon Queensland Greens 
Southern Downs Antonia van Geuns Queensland Greens
Southport Michelle Le Plastrier Queensland Greens
springwood john taylor civil liberties, consumer rights, no-tolls party
Springwood Neil Cotter Queensland Greens
Stafford John Meyer Queensland Greens
Stretton Anisa Nanaula Queensland Greens
Surfers Paradise Scott Turner Queensland Greens
Surfers Paradise  Anthony Walker  Labor 
Theodore Luz Stanton Labor
Theodore Tina Meni Queensland Greens
Thuringowa Mike Rubenach Queensland Greens
Toohey Gordon King Queensland Greens
Toowoomba North Josephine Townsend Only Federally - NXT
Toowoomba North Emmeline Chidley Queensland Greens
Toowoomba South Susan Krause Queensland Labor
Toowoomba South Alyce Nelligan Queensland Greens
Townsville Rebecca Ryan Queensland Greens
Traeger Peter Relph Queensland Greens
Traeger Peter Relph Queensland Greens
Traeger Ronald Bird LNP
Warrego Ian Mazlin Queensland Greens
Waterford Lee McKenzie McKinnon Independent
Waterford Shannon Fentiman ALP
Waterford Kirsty Petersen Queensland Greens
Whitsunday Imogen Lindenberg Queensland Greens
Woodridge Jacob Rice Queensland Greens

*Please note: This list only contains the candidates who have said yes to Fair Agenda's pledge question. Other responses that have been received from candidates' will be released by Fair Agenda in coming days.

 

This election we have an historic opportunity to win safe and legal abortion in Queensland... 

Fair Agenda's analysis shows that there are enough pro-choice candidates challenging anti-choice MPs in key marginal seats to tip Queensland’s parliament to a pro-choice majority at this election. That's exactly what we need to change these archaic laws.

But to make that happen, it will take all of us. Can you help? Sign up to get involved in the campaign for safe and legal access to abortion here: http://www.fairagenda.org/decriminalise_qldelection

 

 

The Fair Agenda pledge question

Fair Agenda has asked all candidates to pledge that if elected:

I will vote to remove abortion from the criminal code, and support laws to ensure all Queenslanders can safely and legally access full reproductive healthcare, without being harassed or intimidated.

Specifically, taking the pledge means that candidates commit to support reforms that:

  1. Treat abortion like other medical procedures, as a private decision for the pregnant person in consultation with their doctor, up until 24 weeks gestation. And also provide legal access to abortion beyond this point if the pregnant person consents and two doctors determine there is a risk of harm if the pregnancy is not terminated. (This is consistent with the Victorian Law Reform Commission's recommendations and Queensland clinical practice regarding foetal viability). 

  2. Ensure a doctor's personal beliefs don't get in the way of their patient's access to reproductive healthcare; by requiring doctors who oppose abortion on the basis of their personal beliefs to refer a patient seeking advice on, or provision of, an abortion to another provider who doesn't have the same opposition.

  3. Create safe access zones that prevent harassment and intimidation within 150m of premises that provide abortion.

This pledge ask is also backed by: The Human Rights Law Centre, Women’s Legal Service Queensland, White Ribbon and the Queensland Council of Unions.

Candidates can add their response to Fair Agenda's pledge question at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FA_Qldelectionpledge

 

- Authorised by R.Carr, Fair Agenda, 673 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000.-

Written by Renee Carr
12 November 2017
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