Fair Agenda Blog

While requiring people to stay at home is an important measure for limiting the spread of COVID-19, domestic violence experts are warning that during home isolation men's use of violence against their partners and children is likely to intensify, putting many people's lives at risk.

Outside of pandemics, we know that abusers use isolation, coercion and surveillance against their partners, and work to cut them off from other relationships so they can fully control them. Those existing patterns of abuse will be compounded as victim-survivors are forced to stay in a confined space with their abuser. And many women will find it harder to access support services from home.

Experts have laid out key interventions that the Morrison Government needs to implement for women’s safety (here). But so far their response has left massive holes in that safety net.

Join the campaign fighting for governments act for women's safety here.

Here are the changes the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance are calling for, and how Government responses compare to what’s needed:

1. Reinstate the funding cuts from domestic violence services

A new phone can be a lifeline when a woman is escaping an abuser. It can help her stay safe, stay connected to support systems and service, and prevent further abuse. Yet the Morrison Government is set to end funding of the WESNET program that distributes smartphones to hundreds of victim-survivors of domestic and sexual violence each month. As stay at home measures leave women more physically isolated than ever before; it’s vital they have the lifeline provided by safe technology.

Further, the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum is due to have their vital work cut from June. These cuts need to be reversed urgently so these services can focus on delivering services to women whose safety and lives are at risk.

Current policy: The Morrison Government has not committed to reversing the scheduled cut to the WESNET safe phone service, or the National Family Violence prevention Legal Services Forum, despite the urgent need to maintain their capacity.

2. Make sure people know where they can access service support, by ensuring service access numbers are promoted to the community throughout the crisis 

People who need help need to know where to get it. In the past, public communications have been critical to reaching women and enabling them to connect with services. 

Current policy: The Morrison Government has indicated they plan to roll out a new public communication campaign to ensure people know where they can seek help. While further information is needed on what shape this will take, at first glance this seems like a positive commitment.

BUT (and it’s a big but) we can only improve women’s safety if those at risk are able to access a safe phone to make that contact, and if their request for help is able to be met by services. A public communication campaign that isn’t accompanied by adequate funding to the specialist services that help women be safe will leave many women in danger - when we know the time a woman tries to reach out for help is often a time of greatest danger.

3. Resource specialist hotlines to respond to requests for support

Experts have urged the government to increase federal funding to boost the capacity of domestic violence helplines 1800 RESPECT and the Men’s Referral Service, and other entry points for assistance like Kids Helpline, Mensline and Safety Net Australia. Experts have advised that online help and secure chat is likely to become more and more important as abusers intensify their surveillance and control.

Current policy: The Morrison Government has announced a funding package of $150 million spread across six service areas. They’ve indicated that this package will include some additional funding for 1800 RESPECT and Mensline, but detail has not been made available on how much funding will be provided (and whether it will include funding for the Men’s Referral Service, as the specialist service best able to intervene with men using or considering using violence).

BUT funding for these hotlines will only improve women’s safety if it’s marched with an increase in the specialist services they refer to, to provide the ongoing help victim-survivors need to be safe. 

4. Ensure women can access the specialist service support they need

Women at risk in their home need to be able to access specialist services that can assist them with things like: case management; individualised support with safety planning; legal assistance to navigate courts and legal processes; and therapeutic support for themselves and their children as they deal with the trauma caused by their abuser. Such support must be available to those remaining in their homes and as well as those who have had to move to refuges or temporary accommodation for their own safety.

Current policy: The Morrison Government’s funding package appears to include funding for counselling for families affected by, or at risk of experiencing violence and men’s behaviour change programs. This intervention with perpetrators is important; but needs to be delivered alongside support for victim-survivors. So far we are not seeing the Morrison Government commit to resourcing services at the scale needed to ensure women at risk can access the support they need.

5. Resource safe at home programs so that women and children who can safely stay in their home are supported to do so

Even before this crisis, in NSW alone, every day 63 women weren’t able to access the service support they need to be safe in their home. Without that support, women are forced to make an impossible choice between staying trapped with their abuser; or fleeing into temporary and unreliable crisis accommodation, or homelessness.This is an impossible choice made even more dangerous in the context of the COVID-19 lock down.

Current policy: The Morrison government has announced that their most recent funding package ($150 million spread across 6 areas) will include “Support programs for women and children experiencing violence to protect themselves to stay in their homes, or a home of their choice, when it is safe to do so” - but their commitment doesn’t specify whether that funding will build on the existing Keeping Women Safe in Their Home program, and falls well short $180 million of federal funding that experts have said is needed to demand in this one service area.

6. Ensure refuges are resourced to support victim-survivors who can’t safely stay at home 

As men’s violence against their partners and children intensifies, experts are warning that the need for physical refuge will increase. Already there are more women needing physical refuge than spaces to house them. The physical capacity of refuges needs to be increased, along with the staffing to support women who are in crisis.

Current policy: The Morrison Government has a capital works grant program in place (Safe Places), but it requires matched funding, and is tied just to the physical building, with no funding for other services support for the women who are at such high risk they need to be sheltered. 

7. Ensure every woman subjected to violence is able to access the support she needs to be safe, regardless of her visa status or disability

Financial abuse is often a tactic used to trap women in abusive relationships, and cut off their avenues to leave and establish a safer future. Economic insecurity can be an insurmountable barrier to escaping escalating violence.

Many women with a disability are reliant on others for assistance with their care; and this makes them more vulnerable to violence, abuse and control, including in some cases from those who are supposed to be their carer.

As COVID-19 limits access to support workers, and increases the costs and difficulties of accessing basic resources like groceries and medications; financial resources are more important than ever, and linked with the victim-survivor’s reliance on the person who is abusing them, and whether they can access alternate avenues for their basic needs.

As costs rise and access to many services becomes more difficult,  experts have urged the Government to ensure the increases that have been extended to other support payments are also applied to the disability support payment. 

This crisis makes everything harder for all victim-survivors to access support, and to be safe. Those on temporary visas already find it hard to access services, income and basic healthcare due to strict eligibility criteria, and women in this situation who are facing violence are often already socially isolated by their abuser. Loss of income due to COVID-19 is creating increased barriers for women trying to leave violent relationships during this difficult time. The risks they face are likely to  be compounded by perpetrators withholding and blocking access to healthcare and finances; and they face increased uncertainty about their migration status if they are to reach out for help. Experts have outlined that women in this situation urgently need access to income, housing, health services, interpreters and legal assistance.

Current policy: In response to the pandemic, the Morrison Government has increased the rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit. But they have not extended that same dignity to people living on the disability support payment; and people on temporary visas are still not eligible for income support as a general rule, with many also ineligible for Medicare.

8. Ensure the legal system prioritises safety 

Even before the COVID19 pandemic, many women and children facing violence were not getting proper protection against their abusers from police and courts. 

These systemic failures, like the failure to properly resource courts and support services with public money have caused a lack of accountability for perpetrators. This has devastating results - like children being used as a way to hurt partners. These systemic failures can also lead men to continue and escalate their violence, in some cases murdering their partner and children. 

Police and courts need to step up to prioritise women’s and children’s safety during this time of increased risk. The safety of women and children must be at the top of the agenda for the legal system.

Protection orders during this time must prioritise the safety of women and children, particularly as they are being put in place for longer periods than usual during this crisis. The legal system must be particularly vigilant regarding custody orders and their enforcement or adjustment during the pandemic. Where perpetrators currently in custody are being released back into the community, protective measures must be put in place for victim-survivors; and the Departments of Corrections needs to make sure infection controls are in place to prevent people passing on COVID-19 contracted in prison.

Given pre-existing issues with police mis-identification of perpetrators and victims, and the disproportionate focus on policing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and communities of colour - consultation with culturally safe services during this time (and at all times) will be key. 

The trauma of colonisation and oppression is directly linked to the complexity and prevalence of family violence that exists in First Nations communities today. The justice system must work in true partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and Aboriginal Legal Services to provide culturally safe services to First Nations people.

As the Government evolves its legal responses to this crisis, experts are calling for the management of safety risks to victim-survivors to be made a priority, and for resources and public money not be diverted from this area. In addition they are calling for policing approaches to be developed in consultation with culturally safe specialist family violence services. 

Current policy: The Morrison Government is yet to make any commitments in this area. 

9. Maintain access to contraception and abortion care 

Experts are warning that the current physical distancing measures will increase men’s use of violence and abuse - and that will include sexual violence and reproductive coercion. 

We know that forced pregnancy can be used by abusers in an attempt to tie their partner to them, and make it more difficult for them to escape and re-establish a separate life.

Experts are calling for women who need abortion care during this pandemic to be able to access it - like all other essential healthcare. That means ensuring clinics and delivery avenues for medical abortion care remain operational, and that clients can access care. 

Current policy: so far the Morrison Government have not provided any public guidance on what, if any, non-COVID related services will remain open, including abortion-care.

10. Guarantee additional resourcing for specialist family violence workers - so services can pay the required wage to their workers, and keep serving women’s safety needs 

To address historic underpayment of workers in the community services industry, a court order has been put in place requiring an incremental increase in their remuneration - including for workers in specialist domestic and family violence and sexual violence services. To meet those obligations, Governments must factor this mandatory increase in the cost of delivering services into all government funding commitments. 

Current policy: The Morrison Government have made no commitments in this area so far.

 

Join the campaign fighting for governments act for women's safety here.

Written by Renee Carr
02 April 2020

Dear Women’s Safety Ministers,

As specialists with years of experience working with and for women and children subjected to violence, we know that long-term, major reforms are needed over the coming months and years to achieve lasting improvements to safety and justice.

We also know there are key changes your governments can make immediately that will dramatically improve the safety of many women and children within weeks.

As well as committing to comprehensive reform to prevent all forms of violence against women, we urge you to action these five desperately needed changes at your meeting on Friday: 

  1. Fully fund the specialist services that improve women’s safety, and hold men who use violence to account, including:
    • The safety planning, risk assessment and wrap-around individual support provided by specialist women’s services, 
    • The safe at home programs and emergency accommodation services provided by specialist homelessness providers working specifically with victim-survivors of violence,
    • The legal assistance and representation provided by specialist women’s legal services, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, community legal centres, Aboriginal legal services, and Legal Aid,
    • The perpetrator intervention, men’s behaviour change programs and fathering programs provided by accredited men’s behaviour change experts,
    • The specialist and culturally-safe services that are best able to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women from migrant and refugee backgrounds,
    • The disability advocacy and domestic violence services needed to support women with disabilities to overcome the barriers to achieving safety after violence from a partner, carer or in an institutional setting,
    • The safe phones program, which has been found be effective in delivering victims/survivors greater technology safety, 
    • LGBTIQ+ services and LGBTIQ+-specific resources, programs and targeted community education campaigns,
    • Supporting community-based services to lead the conversations needed to change the attitudes and behaviours that enable violence, including empowering bystanders.
  2. Remove the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and emphasis on shared parenting in the Family Law Act 1975, to ensure a child’s safety and wellbeing are the key considerations, so that courts are determining the best parenting arrangement for their needs and circumstances.
  3. Initiate a standard screening, risk assessment and referral process nationally, to ensure public health, social and community services are trained to identify key safety risks early for people experiencing violence in their relationships, and able to refer them to the services that can help them achieve safety and recover.
  4. Agree to institute improved AVO standards to make clear what is expected of police, magistrates and courts to hold perpetrators accountable, and ensure women and children subjected to domestic and family violence are able to rely on these orders to achieve safety and justice.
  5. Ensure victims/survivors seeking help can access free translating and interpreting services, so that regardless of their disability, cultural or language background, or geographical location, any woman reaching out for help to build a safer future is able to access the assistance she needs. 

As with all initiatives for improved community safety and wellbeing, these urgent steps must be taken in a way that responds to the factors that shape people’s experiences of violence and encounters with institutions. These can include: the ongoing impacts of colonisation, race, class, sexual orientation and gender identity, ethnicity, nationality, religion, dis/ability and age, as well as the community attitudes, geographical isolation and the poor connectivity experienced by women in remote, rural and regional areas.

Further to these five immediate interventions, we note that the national alliance tasked with bringing together organisations to develop solutions, Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA), has presented comprehensive advice on the major long-term reforms needed including the Blueprint for Reform for women on temporary visas experiencing violence, and that Women’s Legal Services Australia has mapped out the steps required for Safety First in Family Law. These solutions will require meaningful and sustained investment. AWAVA, its members and allies stand ready to work with governments to design and implement these reforms together.

This national crisis cannot be solved overnight. But actioning these five changes will bring immediate and substantial improvement to the safety of many women and children currently at risk, and will save lives. We urge you to do your part.

Signed, 

  1. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance
  2. Embolden - Alliance for Women's Freedom, Equity and Respect (South Australian peak body for women’s domestic and family violence services)
  3. Women’s Legal Services Queensland
  4. Women’s Legal Services Tasmania
  5. Ruby Gaea Darwin Centre Against Sexual Violence
  6. Sexual Assault Support Service Tasmania 
  7. Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Women's Legal Service North Queensland Inc.
  8. Emma House Domestic Violence service 
  9. Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services WA 
  10. North Queensland Women's Legal Service
  11. Equality Rights Alliance
  12. WESNET - The Women’s Services Network 
  13. Annie North Inc
  14. Domestic Violence NSW
  15. Women’s Legal Service NSW
  16. economic Security4Women
  17. Limestone Coast Family Violence Action Group
  18. National Rural Women’s Coalition
  19. CASA Forum – Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault
  20. Ending Violence Against Women Queensland
  21. Seras Women’s Shelter Inc.
  22. Mackay Women’s Services
  23. Association of Women Educators
  24. National Council of Single Mothers & their Children
  25. YWCA Canberra
  26. Women’s Safety NSW
  27. Mitcham Family Violence Education and Support Service
  28. Centre for Non-Violence
  29. Eastern Region Domestic Violence Services Network Inc – Koolkuna
  30. Communicare Women’s Support Services
  31. Carnarvon Family Support Services 
  32. WRISC Family Violence Support Inc
  33. Women’s Centre Far North Queensland
  34. Migrant Women's Support Program of Women’s Safety Services SA
  35. Lucy Saw Centre Association Inc
  36. Penrith Women's Health Centre
  37. Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health
  38. Macleod Accommodation Support Service Inc.
  39. inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence
  40. North Shore Women's Benevolent Association Limited
  41. Mid Coast Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
  42. safe steps Family Violence Response Centre
  43. Darwin Aboriginal & Islander Women's Shelter
  44. Harmony Alliance - Migrant and Refugee Women for Change
  45. Accountability Matters Project
  46. DVConnect
  47. Domestic Violence Action Centre Toowoomba 
  48. Gold Coast Domestic Violence Prevention Centre
  49. Domestic Violence Crisis Service Canberra
  50. Immigrant Women’s Support Service
  51. Sonshine Sanctuary Association
  52. Beryl Women Inc.
  53. Edon Place and Centre for Women & Co
  54. Lou’s Place
  55. Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service
  56. Women's Information, Support and Housing in the North
  57. Settlement Services International
  58. Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
  59. Northern Territory Council of Social Service
  60. Domestic Violence Victoria
  61. Project Respect
  62. Melaleuca Refugee Centre
  63. Dawn House Inc
  64. Western Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
  65. Bramwell House (Salvation Army)
  66. Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria 
  67. WASH House Inc.
  68. Immigrant Women's Speakout Association Inc.
  69. Immigration Advice and Rights Centre
  70. Australian Women's health Network
  71. Centre Against Sexual Assault Central Victoria
  72. Open Support
  73. Women's Legal Service (South Australia)
  74. Family Violence Prevention Legal Services National Forum
  75. Women’s Legal Services Australia
  76. No To Violence
  77. Take It Seriously
  78. YWCA Australia
  79. Refugee Advice & Casework Service (Aus) Inc.
  80. Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia
  81. Salvation Army National Family Violence Stream
  82. Economic Justice Australia
  83. Eastern Domestic Violence Service
  84. West Connect Domestic Violence Services

--

You can get involved in the campaign for full funding of the services women rely on to escape abuse at: https://www.fairagenda.org/family_violence_services

You can send a message to your representative in the Morrison Government about funding services here: https://fair-agenda.good.do/asaferfuture/

Written by Renee Carr
05 March 2020

You can read Fair Agenda's full analysis and recommendations on the Government's Second Exposure draft of this legislation in our submission here.

 

There are 6 headline points:

1. This Bill will impact access to healthcare

The proposed Bill would allow doctors, nurses, midwives, psychologists and pharmacists to prioritise their religious beliefs over their patient’s health needs. 

The Bill would mean that prospective employers would be unable to ask any prospective employees whether any religious objections will make them unable or unwilling to do the job; and make it harder for health sector employers and professional bodies to prevent obstruction of treatment on religious grounds.

Fair Agenda are very concerned that this would mean that women and other community members will find it harder to access non-judgement healthcare – particularly in the areas of sexual health, family planning, fertility, mental health and transgender health services. We envisage that the Bill will particularly impact access to: contraceptives, the morning-after pill, fertility treatment and abortion care. As well as access to procedures such as voluntary assisted dying, pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, and medical treatment for intersex or transgender patients.

2. What consequences?

Proposed provisions relating to ‘statements of belief’ will give a license for people of faith to make a wide range of potentially harmful and offensive statements; and could in turn contribute to hostile, unsafe and non-inclusive workplaces, schools and other public spaces.

The Bill will make it difficult for employers to protect their staff and clients, even if they try to put in place policies to ensure equality.

We are extremely concerned that the provisions relating to ‘statements of belief’ will open avenues for attacks on women, people with disabilities, LGBTIQ+ people and members of minority faith communities, and undermine protections that allow us all to work and study together with equal dignity.

3. Two people get to decide?

The Bill lowers the bar on what is considered a religious doctrine, tenet, belief or teaching, to a new "religion of two" test. It means this Bill likely to provide special protection to much more extreme and unorthodox beliefs.

Requiring just two people to establish that a religious requirement exists and deserves protection is unacceptable. 

In practice, this rule would make it near impossible for a person who has been harmed to argue that conduct of a religious body is not in accordance with the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of the religion.

4. It may enable discrimination by government funded services

The Bill would allow for religious hospitals, aged care facilities and accommodation providers to discriminate in employment and partnerships on the basis of the “religion of two test”.

Fair Agenda are concerned that the Bill may allow providers of government funded services – including homelessness and domestic violence services - to discriminate against individuals with different or no religious beliefs in receipt of those services.

Charities and other religious organisations play an important role in providing services to vulnerable members of the community, including women seeking safety from abusive partners.

5. A right to sue?

The Bill would expressly empower corporations to sue providers of goods, services, facilities, accommodation, clubs and sporting bodies based on their association with religious individuals.

These provisions would silence the ability of many ordinary Australians to boycott in protest, or to conduct business in line with their values.

6. The Government need to add protection against religious vilification

Religious vilification and hate crimes are a real threat to members of minority faith communities, and the women within them. For example, recent analysis of hate crimes showed Muslim women and girls were the most common targets of nearly 350 Islamaphobic incidents reported over a two-year period.

We share the concerns noted by Democracy in Colour in their submission regarding the first Exposure Draft of this legislation, that when religious vilification is allowed to go unchecked and becomes normalised, it lays the groundwork for more violent attacks against minority communities.

Reform in this area should ensure that members of religious groups, particularly minority faith groups that are disproportionately targeted by hate speech, are protected.

Don't like the sound of that? Make sure you're part of the campaign to stop this licence to discriminate becoming law: https://www.fairagenda.org/religious_discrimination

You can read Fair Agenda's full analysis, recommendations -- and some hypotheticals outlining how these laws could impact women in our communities here.

Written by Renee Carr
31 January 2020

As peak and practitioner bodies charged with preventing and responding to violence against women and children we do not accept the legitimacy of the Government’s new select committee inquiry into Family Law. We are alarmed that it is proceeding against the unanimous advice of experts in the domestic and family violence sector.

This Inquiry is not only unnecessary, it is dangerous. We know what is needed to improve the system. The decision to further delay implementing these urgently needed changes is absolutely unconscionable. Women’s and children’s lives are on the line. They cannot wait another year for action.

The use of domestic and family violence is having a devastating impact in our communities - 8 women are hospitalised at the hands of a current or ex-partner every day, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women 32 times more likely to be hospitalised than non-Indigenous women. Right now many of the people trying to escape this violence and abuse are forced through the family law system.

This system is consistently failing them. It is manifestly unfit for purpose - it is failing to identify harm, actively discouraging people from disclosing violence, and forcing children into contact with abusive parents. In many cases it is facilitating further violence and harm. This situation is so dire that more than one in three children post-separation report feeling “not at all safe” in their care arrangements.

Cases before the courts are often complex, and every case is different. Our government needs to ensure the court has all the information and expertise it requires to determine what’s best for a child’s safety and wellbeing, particularly in the context of family violence and child abuse.

Immediate action is required to stop putting victim-survivors of violence and abuse at risk, starting with:
1. Making sure courts identify safety risks that should be considered in any court decision, by implementing consistent screening and risk assessment process to protect children and parents at risk of violence;

2. Ensuring the courts have access to all relevant information by establishing a national information sharing framework to ensure information from state jurisdictions can be considered where relevant, and the courts are supported to make informed decisions that prioritise child safety and wellbeing;

3. Ensuring victim-survivors of family violence are supported and don’t have to go through the court process alone - by providing social and legal supports for all parties to family law matters involving family violence or child abuse;

4. Prioritising matters where people are at high-risk - by creating a specialist case management stream for family violence matters involving children and parents at serious risk of harm, and

5. Requiring those who influence court proceedings to have competency in identifying and responding to domestic and family violence in diverse family contexts - by implementing an accreditation framework for all court officials and family law practitioners and professionals, starting with court report writers and supervised contact centre workers.

Beyond these initial urgent safety changes, the system needs comprehensive reform in accordance with expert advice including the domestic and family violence sector.

We emphasise that the achievement of any substantive improvement in the safety of the family law system will require the Federal Government ending the under- resourcing which puts victims of family violence and child abuse at unacceptable risk.

Peak and practitioner bodies stand ready to co-design and help implement reforms that are focused on improving the safety of the system. But we refuse to be complicit in the harm created by this new inquiry.

Given the nature of this inquiry, the manner in which it has been set up, and the composition and expressed positions of those leading it, we are aware that many victims/survivors do not feel safe to participate.

We remain extremely concerned that any victim-survivors who do wish to ensure their experiences are considered by this process will be unable to do so safely. In any inquiry like this where victim-survivors’ testimonies must be central, essential safeguards and supports must be put in place to make the process safe for them to participate.

Such safeguards should include domestic and family violence and cultural competency training for committee members, options to give evidence anonymously and remotely including via audio visual link, provision of all Inquiry materials in the full range of accessible formats, including Easy English, funded access to counselling and legal services, and media protocols around reporting.

Finally, we note that as representatives of the organisations working on the frontline responding to women and children impacted by domestic and family violence, our primary objective will always be the safety of those who rely on our services. Some organisations in our sector will engage with the inquiry under the principle of minimising harm for victim-survivors and ensuring evidence is circulated to counter misinformation. For many organisations their focus will be on responding to the unprecedented levels of demand for safety support, and therefore they will not be in a position to divert vital resources to this dangerous
inquiry.

Signed,

Domestic Violence NSW
Domestic Violence Victoria
Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
Women’s Community Health Network WA
WESNET - The Women’s Services Network
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance
Harmony Alliance: Migrant and Refugee Women for Change
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
National Council of Single Mothers and their Children
National Child Protection Alliance
Women's Legal Services Australia
Women's Safety NSW
Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services of SA
Women's Council for Domestic & Family Violence Services - WA
Women’s Health NSW
No to Violence
Doctors Against Violence Towards Women - Public Page
National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum
National Association of Community Legal Centres Australia
People with Disability Australia
In Touch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence
Carrie’s Place Domestic Violence and Homelessness Services
West Connect Domestic Violence Services
Wirrawee Gunyah
Wilmah 
Jessie Street
Penrith Women’s Refuge
North Coast Women’s Domesticin Violence Court Advocacy Service
Yarredi Services Inc
Women's Community Shelters
Northern Rivers Women and Children's Services Inc
Penrith Women's Health Centre
Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
Warrina Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services
Central Coast Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
Women’s Centre for Health and Wellbeing Albury Wodonga
Central West Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
Linking Communities Network Ltd
Parramatta Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
Women’s Centre for Health Matters ACT
Sydney Women’s Counselling Centre
Hunter Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
Sisters Inside Inc
Marie Stopes International Australia
Association of Women Educators
Women's Legal Service Queensland
Women's Legal Service NSW
NSW Older Women’s Network
Sexual Assault Support Service (Tas)
CASA Forum - Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault
safe steps Family Violence Response Centre
Project Respect
Sera’s Women’s Shelter 
Women’s Centre Far North Queensland
Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health
Emma House Domestic Violence Services
Engender Equality
Mitcham Family Violence Education and Support Service
Jenny’s Place Inc
Nova for Women and Children
Newcastle Staying Home Leaving Violence
Annie North Women’s Refuge
Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services
99 Steps - CALD specific DFV service in Logan/Beenleigh
Women’s Information, Support & Housing in the North 
Women’s Information and Referral Exchange 
Centre Against Violence
Eastern Domestic Violence Service 
Safe Futures Foundation
Bethany Community Support
Emerge Women & Children’s Support Network
Northern Specialist Family Violence Service, Berry Street.
Leichhardt Women’s community health centre
Women’s Health & Resources Foundation
Kara House Inc.
WRISC Family Violence Support Inc.
Centre for Non-Violence
WAYSS Housing and Support Services
Georgina Martina Inc.
Northern Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services
Blue Mountains Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services
South Coast Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services
Mallee Sexual Assault Unit Inc. 
Mallee Domestic Violence Services
Western Specialist Family Violence Service, Berry Street
Southern Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
Far South Coast Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
Mid Coast Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
South Eastern Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
Macarthur Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
Women’s Health West
Orana House Inc
Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service
North Queensland Domestic Violence Resource Service 
Lucy Saw Centre
Macarthur Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
North West Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service 
YWCA Canberra
Elizabeth Morgan House
Starick 
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Good Samaritan Inn
Quantum Support Services Inc
Salvation Army Family and Domestic Violence Services Western Australia
The Salvation Army Australia

Written by Stacey Batterham
24 October 2019
crowd photos

NSW now has laws that provide for safe, legal and compassionate access to abortion care!

This historic win only happened because of the months, years and decades of advocacy by thousands of people - and Fair Agenda members have been a vital part of it. Thank you to all of our members for ll the incredible ways you’ve contributed to this campaign.

 

Here’s a recap of how Fair Agenda members helped make history in NSW…

Last year, as we celebrated Queensland’s historic vote to decriminalise abortion - Fair Agenda made sure media knew that it was time for New South Wales to follow suit. We made sure the issue was in the headlines (again), and helped maintain the steady drumbeat of calls for reform.

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Then, in the lead up to the state election, Fair Agenda teamed up with partners to coordinate a powerful open letter calling on the parliament to recognise the right to safe and legal abortion access.

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When MPs from across the political spectrum announced they would introduce the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill to decriminalise abortion, we helped mobilise huge support!

Together, thousands of us sent emails of support to MPs – urging them to vote yes to reform, and thanking those who had pledged to support this desperately needed reform. Then Fair Agenda members chipped in much needed funds to help reach thousands more voters with information about the importance of supporting this reform.

As the heated debate began, and many voters began to engage with this issue for the first time, Fair Agenda worked with medical experts to highlight the desperate need for reform, and the  harm the current laws cause to women, particularly in rural and remote areas.

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Then, to demonstrate the scale of expert support for the legislation before parliament, Fair Agenda joined with more than 70 organisations to publish a joint statement in support of the legislation.

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On key days before MPs headed into parliament to cast their votes, Fair Agenda members joined hundreds of other groups and activists outside parliament to show their support for reform.

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And when MPs who oppose the reform announced that they planned to introduce amendments that would create barriers to timely access to care - within hours more than 500 of us had flooded MPs with email messages urging them to oppose amendments.

And when the bill was due to be considered by committee, we mobilised again to send hundreds of pro-choice submissions in support of the legislation. But, the fight wasn’t over yet.

When anti-choice forces from across parliament used their influence to delay the scheduled vote, and extended this fight for reform by a further three weeks, dozens of Fair Agenda members gave generously to help keep up the pressure, and fight dozens of amendments we knew would be used to try and increase barriers to abortion care access. 

Together, Fair Agenda and the NSW Pro-Choice Alliance released powerful polling showing the overwhelming support for reform, amongst NSW voters, and Liberal party members, and opposition to religious interference in reform.

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Then, on the weekend before this final vote, Fair Agenda members joined a thousand other pro-choice protestors at the “Trust Women” pro-choice rally, and members chipped in to help us fill the crowd with visible pro-choice messages, helping show our support loud and clear.

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Thank you to everyone who has helped make this historic change possible.

 

But the fight isn't over yet

Unfortunately, our fight for reproductive healthcare access doesn't end here:

  • In just a few weeks South Australia is expected to begin debating laws to decriminalise abortion too - and you can bet opponents there will be planning to copy the tactics that were used to delay reform here,
  • Western Australia is still fighting to protect patients from harassment at abortion clinics, where anti-choice people routinely abuse patients, even going so far as trying to trick them into eating so they can’t get their procedure, and
  • We’re now fighting proposed federal “religious discrimination” laws that could enable more doctors and pharmacists to deny women access to contraceptives and the morning after pill around the nation.

Our opponents aren't done. We’ll be up against this powerful and well-resourced opposition again and again in coming months, and we know they'll throw everything they have at limiting our reproductive healthcare options.

We're facing tough fights on multiple fronts, and to have any chance of winning them all we're going to need your help. Can you chip in to help keep up the fight against anti-choice forces?

Click here to start a regular monthly donation

Click here to make a once off donation

Written by Renee Carr
26 September 2019
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