Fair Agenda Blog

good news

It won’t come as a surprise to you that with a national epidemic of domestic violence and a record high gender pay gap there's no end to the work we could be doing. The bad news is, right now our movement doesn’t have the resources it needs to even defend against all the attacks on our existing rights, far less to secure the changes we need to advance toward equality.

But here's the good news. We know that together our community can achieve remarkable things. Less than two years ago, Fair Agenda was just a dream -- then 240 people chipped in help make it a reality. Since then, our growing movement has stepped up to influence political, business and media leaders – all with just the support of one team member and a handful of dedicated volunteers.

But there’s still much, much more to be done. To win the change we need, we'll need to keep growing our size and strength, and building on the momentum we've created so far. Right now our ability to do that is limited -- we're still $4,000 short of the funding we need to amp up campaigns that will be make-or-break in the next two months. 

Can you chip in to make these immediate next steps possible?
 

Note: If you need your donation to be tax-deductible, please make it via our preferred donor relationship with the National Foundation for Australian Women. Simply click here and then select Fair Agenda as the organisation you would like your donation to be directed to. (Donations made directly to Fair Agenda are unfortunately not tax-deductible).

Your donation will allow Fair Agenda to step up the fight for funding of domestic violence services, to build more pressure on key Senate cross benchers to block the attack on paid parental leave, and to keep building on the momentum we've created together in the past year...



Since we ran our first campaign, our community has grown to more than 32,000; we've taken action together in 32 campaigns; and we've taken our message to key decision-makers across politics, business and the media. 



On federal budget night, we helped put the federal government’s under-funding of family violence services front and centre in the budget coverage. The release of our ‘What it will take’ report on The Project helped prompt four days of national news coverage, and helped win an additional $4 million of funding for the national hotline 1800RESPECT.



But we didn't stop there – securing coverage on Sky News, ABC Radio, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Women’s Agenda; funding adverts to get our powerful video about the importance of family violence services in front of thousands of voters in key electorates; and working with Homelessness Australia to reveal the $68 million funding shortfall that is leaving thousands of women fleeing domestic violence without access to refuge.

If the past six months have made anything clear, it’s that to defend our rights and secure advances for women in this country we’re going to have to keep growing our movement, speaking up and holding decision makers accountable. 

But we'll need your support to make that possible. So if you can, please consider chipping in to fund our next steps.

Written by Renee Carr
29 June 2015

During the weeks that followed, thousands of Fair Agenda members echoed her call; and Fair Agenda sent this letter to Australia's major news outlets, asking them if they would commit to do just that. 

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To The Editor in Chief,

I write on behalf of Fair Agenda – a community of Australians working to drive change that promotes fairness and equality for women.

As you may be aware, during her National Press Club speech earlier this month Rosie Batty urged every Australian media outlet reporting on family violence to include links to family violence support services such as 1800 RESPECT in all stories.  

I am writing on behalf of Fair Agenda members to ask whether your outlet is committed to including details for 1800 RESPECT or other family violence services in all stories you run about domestic violence?

1800 RESPECT provides a critical support service – in crisis situations it can be life saving. Yet just 8% of articles published about domestic violence so far this year have included it.

Including 1800 RESPECT in media coverage about family violence is critical because many victims still don’t know where they can turn for support.

Fair Agenda members are running a public campaign around this matter, and will be maintaining a public list of which media outlets have and have not committed to include 1800 RESPECT in their articles.  

Fair Agenda will make this list public on the 30th June. I am writing to enquire as to your outlet’s position, to make sure it is accurately reflected in our list. 

We note that we our deadline for including responses is midday on Monday the 29th June. Can you please advise us if your outlet is committed to including 1800 RESPECT in all stories published about domestic violence, by then? You can get in touch with us via info@fairagenda.org.

Kind regards,

Renee Carr

on behalf of Fair Agenda

Written by Renee Carr
23 June 2015
Together we forced them to respond

This is an important victory for Fair Agenda members and the thousands of other concerned Australians who have joined the call for full funding of family violence services. 

Here’s what Fair Agenda members have made possible in this campaign so far…

Last Tuesday, just before the federal budget was announced, The Project covered the launch of Fair Agenda’s report on ‘What it will take’ to tackle our family violence crisis, sending the call to #showmethemoney to tackle family violence trending nationally. (Haven't seen the segment yet? You can check it out here).

The coverage of the report put domestic violence front and centre in budget coverage.  

Which made the absence of any new announcements of funding for family violence services on budget night a topic of extensive conversation, including in post-budget interviews like this one with the Treasurer. 

Our report, and the ensuing coverage forced key government Ministers to explain why this national emergency isn’t being treated as a funding priority. And the fact that they weren't able to answer that question, just made more headlines.

By Thursday, the call for funding was printed in papers across our capital cities. 


By the end of the week more than 35,000 of us joined the call for full funding of family violence services and pledged not to stop speaking up until we get it, and the The Project's segment launching our 'What it will take' report had been shared so many times it had been viewed more than half a million times on Facebook alone. 

Together, we created so much pressure that when Minister Cash appeared on Weekend Sunrise to discuss the campaign, and the government’s inadequate funding commitment for family violence services, she announced the government would be committing an additional $4 million to make sure all calls to our national counseling service 1800 RESPECT could be answered. 

It’s a great start. But it’s not nearly enough.
 

Fair Agenda's ‘What it will take’ report highlighted 9 service areas that are needed to tackle our family violence crisis. Including Community Legal Centres – where a third of the work is family violence related – who still have to turn away 150,000 people a year. Homelessness services, that act as a critical safety net for women who can no longer safely stay at home, turn away 423 people every night. And Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services still need an additional $28 million funding a year to meet need.

To win the change we need on this issue, we'll have to work together to keep making headlines, to build pressure on the federal government, and to take our message to the Ministers responsible for these services. And it won't be easy. That's why we need your help. Can you chip in to help make the next stage of the campaign possible?

 

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References
1. Domestic violence: Government pledges $4m for helpline, considers monitoring offenders using GPS technology, ABC news, 17 May 2015.

Written by Renee Carr
19 May 2015
Government fail domestic violence test

It's exactly what Waleed Aly asked the government to do on budget night, launching Fair Agenda's What it will take report - in a clip that has since gone viral.

This year 24 women have been murdered in alleged domestic and family violence incidents. At the same time thousands of women trying to escape domestic and family violence are having to be turned away from services that are supposed to help keep them safe because of a federal funding shortfall -- and we don’t have the serious investment we need in programs that can help stop this violence. 

Yet on budget night we didn’t hear any new announcements of funding for family violence services.  That means that we can expect thousands of calls for help will keep going unanswered, thousands of women will be left to face court and their abusers without support, and women and children seeking refuge will keep being be turned away.

This is the appalling reality that Fair Agenda has highlighted in our What it will take report – infamously launched by Waleed Aly on The Project on budget night.  

Our report (which you can read for yourself here) shows that:

  • Last year Australia’s national phone counselling service 1800RESPECT had to let 18,631 requests for assistance go unanswered
  • Community legal centres – where domestic violence support makes up about a third of the work – had to turn away more than 150,000 people
  • Homelessness services – another critical family violence support service – had to turn away 423 people every night in 2013-14
  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services – that help support Aboriginal victims and survivors of domestic violence – are also having to turn away those in need of support
  • Investment in primary prevention work is still piecemeal and inadequate

Budget night was a test of the government’s commitment to dealing with our domestic violence crisis, and it’s a test they failed.

To escape domestic violence, women need to know they’ve got somewhere to go. Family violence services act as a safety net; but right now that safety net is stretched to breaking point, and people are falling through the gaps.

So what will it take from the federal government to do their part in tackling our national emergency? Fair Agenda asked family violence experts, and they told us that to tackle this problem the federal government need to adequately support work in 9 key areas: 

  • Crisis Lines – like 1800 RESPECT and state crisis lines.
  • Specialist Women’s Services – that need to be at the centre of any response to family violence.
  • Family & Relationship Services – to support those seeking to escape and/or deal with family violence issues.
  • Legal Advice and Assistance – to make sure women aren’t left to navigate the complex legal system or face their abuser in court without support.
  • Accommodation, Housing & Homelessness support – to make sure women and their children have somewhere secure to go when it isn’t safe for them to stay at home.
  • Women’s Health Services – because 1 in 5 women affected by family violence first disclose this to their GP.
  • Specialist Support for Marginalised Communities – because people who experience multiple layers of marginalisation and disadvantage aren’t adequately supported by the current system, even though they’re often affected by domestic and family violence at greater rates. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family-violence related assault than other Australian women. Women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities can have their experience of violence compounded by limited access to services and consequences or fear of consequences for their migration status. Women with disabilities are twice as likely to experience domestic/family violence, yet services for for women with disabilities experiencing violence do not exist, are extremely limited, or exclusionary.
  • Men’s Behaviour Change – which works towards the safety and well-being of women and children by working with men who use violent and controlling behaviour.
  • Primary Prevention – need to stop violence before it occurs, by challenging the deeply ingrained attitudes, social norms and power inequalities that give rise to men’s violence against women.

We need serious, full funding in family violence services. Funding that puts an end to the situation where women in need are turned away from services that should be able to help keep them safe. Funding that supports serious, nation-wide programs to help stop this violence. That’s what it will take to tackle this crisis - and Fair Agenda members won’t rest until we get that commitment. 

I urge anyone else who cares about this issue to join us in standing up for what it will take at: www.fairagenda.org/whatwillittake

Written by Renee Carr
14 May 2015

Here’s what you need to know about the proposed cuts: 

*The recommended leave time a new parent is supposed to spend with a newborn is around 26 weeks. This is seen as the period of postnatal leave needed to provide health and welfare benefits to mothers and babies. The government's own economic advisor the Productivity Commission also thinks there are reasonable grounds to expect benefits - for parents, babies and workforce participation - from longer periods of exclusive parental care for up to 9 – 12 months.

*The government's changes drag us backwards, and will force thousands of parents back to work earlier than experts say is needed for health and welfare benefits. The existing government scheme provides new parents with government leave of 18 weeks at the minimum wage. This is provided as a minimum safety net for new parents, and comes with the option of covering the costs of spending the full 26 weeks at home with their newborn by topping up the government's 18 week page (at the minimum wage) with any additional paid leave an employee has negotiated into their employment contract.

*The current scheme was designed to be used in conjunction with employer provided leave. When the current scheme was introduced it was supposed to exist as a minimum safety net for new parents, to be used in combination with leave from employers -- to allow more parents to access  additional income they might need if they want to spend the recommend 26 weeks or more at home with their newborn. In fact in informing the design of the current scheme, the Productivity Commission specifically noted that the ability for primary carers to combine government and employer provided leave was something that can and should happen. 

Employer schemes are supposed to be used to top the minimum 18 weeks up – to help more women get access 26 weeks paid parental leave, and enable things like breast-feeding and bonding between parents and babies. [2]

*The government's cuts will probably exacerbate childcare problems. The current paid parental leave scheme has successfully decreased the number of children under 12 months old in childcare, because it has allowed primary carers to extend their time at home. But if the Abbott government attack succeeds it's likely primary caregivers will be forced back to work, and that will have flow on effects on our already strained childcare system. The system already struggles with caring for babies between the 6 - 12 month mark. Experts expect this will exacerbate those problems.[3]

*The current system is doing what it's supposed to. It has been extending the amount of time new parents can stay at home in line with the recommended period. And it has been providing a system that has helped ensure women’s workforce participation didn’t suffer as a result of having a child. Paid parental leave is supposed to help provide a connection for new parents to their workplace while they’re caring for their newborn. If parental leave doesn’t work as it’s supposed to; it creates a system that prompts more women to drop out of the workforce. That’s a problem that contributes to the alarmingly high gender pay gap, and leaves women economically disadvantaged over their lifetime.[4]

*It’s a backflip worthy of a gymnastics medal. During his election campaign Prime Minister Abbott sung from the rooftops about the importance of extending parental leave to 26 weeks, because "the bills still keep coming in and there is no 'leave' from mortgage payments, power and fuel bills". Now, his government wants to reduce the amount of time people who work can spend caring for their newborns. His government's proposed change will drag tens of thousands of women further away from the 26 weeks recommended parental leave time, and leave 45,000 women stuck with just 18 weeks of minimum wage income instead.

*The Government will need the support of the Senate to make this attack law. That means we have a chance to stop this. In the 12 months since the last budget, countless government measures have been scrapped as a result of voters speaking out.

Will you join the more than 15,000 voters already standing against this proposed change with Fair Agenda? Sign the petition now at www.fairagenda.org/ppl

-References-

1. Federal budget 2015: Almost 50% of mums to lose government paid parental leave entitlements, SMH, 11 May 2015.

2. Federal budget 2015: Almost 50% of mums to lose government paid parental leave entitlements, SMH, 11 May 2015. 

3. Paid parental leave in this year’s budget, The Drum, 11 May 2015.

4. Paid parental leave in this year’s budget, The Drum, 11 May 2015.

Written by Renee Carr
12 May 2015
Categories: ppl
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