Fair Agenda Blog

It's been two years since the Fair Agenda community came together to take action in our very first campaign. And looking back at what we've achieved in that time, I couldn't be prouder to be part of this community. 

In just two years we've not only grown from a community of a few hundred, to 35,000 -- and shown that, together, we have the ability to influence national policies and narratives on issues affecting women.

We’ve become a powerful force for change. Together we’ve shaped the national media agenda on key issues and helping change national policy outcomes.

But seriously limited resourcing is holding back our community's ability to drive change on a larger scale. So far, all of Fair Agenda’s impact has been delivered on a shoestring budget - a fraction of that relied on by similar national campaigning organisations. Our community of 35,000 has been supported by just one full time staff member, and a handful of generous and talented volunteers. 

To keep winning the change we need, we need to grow Fair Agenda’s power. That means doubling our resources. Can you chip in to help take our community’s campaigns to the next level?

Over the past two years I’ve been in awe of what we’ve been able to achieve together...


Together, we kept a national spotlight on the dangerous under-funding of family violence services, and helped win $4 million for 1800 RESPECT

Since former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty drew attention to the federal funding cuts stripping funds from vital family violence services last year, Fair Agenda members have been working to pressure the federal government to not only reverse those cuts, but to fully fund the services that support women to live free from violence.

On budget night Fair Agenda ensured that funding for family violence services was front and centre of media analysis, working with The Project to launch our report into the federal funding needed to help women escape their abusers. The segment went viral, and the accompanying call to #Showmethemoney trended nationally. 

The massive national coverage our report prompted ensured that the government faced widespread scrutiny for their failure to announce any new additional funding for services on budget night. In fact - then Treasurer Joe Hockey didn't even mention the domestic violence crisis in his budget speech.

In the days of national media coverage that followed the launch of Fair Agenda’s report, senior government ministers (including now Prime Minister Turnbull) were publicly questioned about the lack of funding for vital services, including for 1800 RESPECT - the national counselling hotline which at the time was unable to answer 18,631 calls every year because of inadequate funding.

After days of this national pressure, the federal government announced $4 million of additional funding for 1800 RESPECT.

It was a vital win, and one that means thousands more women will be able to access 1800 RESPECT, a critical first point of support for many women affected by violence.

But 1800 RESPECT isn't the only service without the funding it needs to help women live free from danger. So our community has continued to build pressure in the lead up to this year’s federal budget and election, to make sure full funding of family violence services stays on the national agenda.

In September, within minutes of Prime Minister Turnbull’s takeover as Prime Minister, Fair Agenda members flooded his email inbox with messages urging him to urgently commit full funding for services. Then, days later when he announced his Women’s Safety Package (a good step forward, but nowhere near enough to address the crisis) - Fair Agenda was there to make sure the government weren’t left off the media hook - ensuring national media coverage of the announcement recognised the significant funding gaps still leaving thousands of women in danger.

Since then we’ve been working to keep this issue on the agenda in new and creative ways - including flooding the Treasurer’s mailbox with season’s greetings urging him not to make funding decisions that would leave women in danger in his next budget.

Since then we’ve been working to keep this issue on the agenda in new and creative ways - including flooding the Treasurer’s mailbox with dozens of Christmas cards urging him not to make funding decisions that would leave women in danger in his next budget.

And this month, as pre-budget discussions reached fever pitch at parliament house, we stood with family violence experts and survivors to deliver a press conference calling for the government to stop leaving thousands of women without access to family violence services. This message made headlines across the Fairfax papers, SBS World News, NITV, Huffington Post and Mamamia - and featured on Sky News. We also took family violence experts to meet with key politicians from across the political spectrum and brief them on the urgent need for full funding of the services women rely on to escape family violence. Together we put family violence funding remains in the pre-budget media agenda.

Press conference on family violence funding

Experts meet with Jacqui Lambie



We helped protect new parents’ paid time at home with their newborns

When former Treasurer Joe Hockey announced (on Mother’s Day, of all days) that the government planned to cut paid parental leave, your reaction was swift and fierce. Within 72 hours more than 14,000 people had joined the campaign opposing the cuts.

Over the months that followed the government’s announcement, Fair Agenda members emailed, called and met with key crossbench Senators to urge them to use their deciding votes to block any proposed cuts to parental leave.

We kept up the pressure over months and ensured that the government couldn’t negotiate their brutal cuts through the Senate.

Then, when the Turnbull government were forced to abandon the original cuts; and tried to launch a new form of cuts in the lead up to Christmas, Fair Agenda members led a strategic rapid response. Members donated to commission research from experts at the Women and Work Group at the University of Sydney, showing the public and key crossbench Senators the devastating impact the Turnbull government’s new cuts would have on working families. That report made headlines...

… and prompted key crossbench Senator John Madigan to tell media the plan was "mean and stupid" and tell Fair Agenda members he was committed to voting against the cuts.

Then, last month Fair Agenda member Heather and her son Luca joined Executive Director Renee and our friends at The Parenthood at parliament for a press conference where Senators Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus stood with us and committed to block cuts to paid parental leave!

Press conference: Senator Lazarus, Senator Lambie, Fair Agenda, Parenthood & Fair Agenda member Heather and her son Luca

The commitments from Senators Lambie, Lazarus, Madigan and Senator Xenophon to vote against the cuts to parental leave; in combination with existing opposition from Labor and The Greens means that new parents’ paid time at home is safe under this parliament! 


We defended reproductive rights

When reports broke that a young woman being detained on Nauru for seeking asylum was having to plead with the Australian government to be able to access a termination procedure, Fair Agenda members helped build pressure on the government to ensure she was able to access health services.

In 2014, off the back of months of speculation about former Victorian MP Geoff Shaw’s attempts to use his balance of power position to attack Victoria's abortion related legislation, Fair Agenda went to work. Together we got more than 100 candidates to publicly disclose their personal voting intention on issues related to reproductive rights, to make sure voters would know where they stood on this issue should the parliament be asked to vote.


We called out victim blaming

Last year when Albury Mayor Kevin Mack took a line out of the Victim-Blaming 101 textbook, and said "I always have encouraged women not to walk alone, to have someone with them at all times, because that in itself is an invitation for someone to take advantage of you.”.4

Hundreds of Fair Agenda members immediately spoke out, signing a petition calling for him to apologise for his victim-blaming. Together with our allies, we publicly called on Cnr Mack to retract his unacceptable comments, and saw him quickly issue this an apology for his comments, without reservation.5


We held a major company to account

After Fair Agenda member Mark came across a doll promoting dangerously unhealthy body image in his local Myer store, he and thousands of Fair Agenda members called on Myer to take the doll off its shelves. Local Members helped Mark deliver their concerns to Myer’s flagship store - attracting major national news coverage, and prompting Myer to tell Channel 10 news they wouldn’t be ordering any more of the dolls. 

We put gender on the agenda

After the Prime Minister announced a Cabinet with just one woman, Fair Agenda worked creatively to counter the toxic narrative that there simply weren’t any “women of merit” available. Fair Agenda worked with online media outlet Women’s Agenda to profile some of the more than capable women serving in the Government’s ranks, helping draw early media attention to the qualifications of a number of senior women who now have a seat at the table.

When Just for Laughs Sydney announced their pre-sale line-up in 2014, there wasn’t a woman in sight. When comedian Maeve Marsden called them out on it, 1,052 Fair Agenda rallied behind her - calling on Just for Laughs to address their gender problem. Together, Fair Agenda members made sure this issue dominated Just for Laugh's social media in the first weeks of their promotions. When the festival announced their full line up months later, there were 8 women in the show; and one woman included in every group event at the festival.

And back in 2014, in our very first cut-through campaign - when the Sports Party (who at the time were battling to retain their Senate spot in the federal Senate) used an image of a woman wearing no top to promote their election campaign, Fair Agenda members called it out, drawing much needed media attention to the party’s (lack of) policies related to women.


Want to help make more campaigns like this possible? It will only be possible with your support.



1. Gender pay gap statistics, Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 1 March 2016.

2. There are more men called Peter leading ASX 200 companies than women, Women’s Agenda, 6 March 2015.

3. NSW Labor MP Linda Burney hopes to become first Indigenous woman in House of Representatives, ABC news, 1 March 2016.

4 & 5. Albury Mayor Kevin Mack sorry for 'victim blaming' rape comments on women walking alone, ABC News, 1 May 2015.

Written by Renee Carr
13 March 2016
Nurses, teachers

Just a few days before Christmas the Government launched a new attack on Paid Parental Leave. It was part of a classic move known in political circles as ‘taking out the trash’ -- announcing a series of terrible new policies all together, at a time when you know most people won’t be reading the news. And so far the Government have been getting away with it.

But here’s the good news: despite the holiday season, Fair Agenda members across the country dug deep and chipped in to crowdfund an expert report to break down what the proposal will mean for families - to cut through the government’s spin, and show that these cuts are both unsound and unfair.

Today Fair Agenda have launched that report - created by the experts at the Women and Work Research Group at the University of Sydney. 

Here's the top line:

  • We can expect that approximately 79,000 women would be adversely affected by this proposed cut.

  • Analysis of the impact of the proposed cuts on some example families shows that nurses, teachers, ambulance service workers and retail workers will be hit hard by the proposed changes. Under the government’s proposed cuts, the primary carers in our case studies would be left with the equivalent of just 7 – 13 weeks of their family's living costs. That’s less than half of the 26 weeks experts recommend. The financial loss suffered by these families would range from $3,942 to $10,512.

  • Given what experts know about how women in Australia use parental leave, they expert that the proposed cuts will:
    • prevent more women from spending critical time at home with their new baby;
    • lead to financial duress;
    • reduce the number of women able to afford to stay at home for 26 weeks and thus adversely impact on the health and welfare outcomes of new babies and mothers; and
    • increase demand for childcare for the very young, in a system that is already struggling to keep up with demand.

The report also shows that if the cuts are approved, we can expect negative flow on impacts for new families, and the communities in which they live. 

The good news is that there's still a chance to stop these cruel cuts from becoming a reality.

The fate of these cuts will be decided by the Senate cross bench, and we know that they've been influenced by community backlash to proposed cuts to parental leave before. In fact, the only reason the government have announced these new cuts is because the original cuts proposed by former Treasurer Joe Hockey on Mother's Day were so unpopular with the community they couldn't get them passed through the Senate.

Can you help make sure the Senate cross bench know where the community stand on these new proposed cuts?

  • Sign your opposition to the cuts on our petition here:  www.fairagenda.org/ppl
  • Or, if you've already signed, email your local cross bench Senator asking them to oppose the cuts today:
    • Victorians: Email Senator Ricky Muir and Senator John Madigan
    • Queenslanders: Email Senator Glenn Lazarus
    • Tasmanians: Email Senator Jacqui Lambie
    • West Australians: Email Senator Dio Wang
    • South Australians: Email Senator Nick Xenophon (note: Senator Xenophon has already indicated to media he plans to oppose these cuts, so please send him a message thanking him for indicating that he will oppose the cuts)
    • Live in another state/territory? Based on previous reports it appears all Government Senators intend to vote for the changes, and that Labor and Greens Senators will oppose them. Other cross bench Senators David Leyonhjelm and Bob Day have indicated they support cuts to paid parental leave. So rather than targeting your local Senators, we'd love your help engaging your friends with the campaign. Can you share this report with your friends and ask them to sign their opposition to the cuts? Click here to share this post on Facebook.


Click below to access the full report:

Written by Renee Carr
13 January 2016

It's a bad start to the festive season. But here's the good news: we've already won on this issue once. According to Fairfax, the Minister today said "the government was 'reconfiguring [its original cuts] after the backlash", and told reporters he was still in negotiations with the Senate crossbenchers about these new cuts – that means our campaigning is working, and there's still a chance for us to stop this.

The government is trying to sell its new announcement as an improvement -- but measured against Joe Hockey's Mother's Day announcements, anything would look good. 

The reality is that at the core of their proposal there is still a massive cut to the time parents will be able to afford to spend nurturing their newborn in the critical first year. And with women still making up 99% of those accessing paid parental leave, we can expect any cuts will disproportionately impact on women. With a pay gap of almost 18%, and economic disparities between women and men often manifesting at motherhood, this cut would drag us in exactly the wrong direction.

It’s important to remember the details of the system we have in place right now. Under that system a primary carer can access 18 weeks of paid leave at the minimum wage. This is part of a combined leave package that they can then top up with any additional leave they've negotiated with their employer, to help them cover costs while they stay at home caring for their new baby.

With these new, repackaged cuts, instead of providing 18 weeks of guaranteed minimum support to eligible mum or dad, the government want to leave these parents with access to a maximum of 18 weeks leave.

What does that mean exactly? Well, looking at the case study of the impact on a part-time nurse working in Victoria who is entitled to 10 weeks of employer provided care time for a new baby…

  • Under the current scheme, they would receive 18 weeks of minimum wage support from the government ($11,826) – topped up by 10 weeks of employer provided care they have negotiated into their contract ($7,200). That comes to a total of $19,026 – or enough for two parents and a newborn to cover living expenses for about 11 weeks.
  • Under what we understand as the government’s proposed new scheme, a nurse would receive 10 weeks of employer care ($7,200), and then the government would then only provide support to bring their supported leave time up to 18 weeks. So the nurse would receive 8 weeks of government leave at the minimum wage ($5,256). That would leave the new family with just $12,456. That’s enough to cover the family’s expenses for about 7 weeks.

Remember that experts recommend a new parent should have 26 weeks leave as the minimum amount of time off work to provide health and welfare benefits to both the mother and newborn. 

Any cut to parental leave is bad for the country and bad for families. As a society we all have a responsibility to make sure our children are cared for in the most nurturing environments. We all have a stake in ensuring the next generation has a bright future. Paid time at home for new parents and affordable childcare is the best way to keep our country strong. That’s why we should be extending the time parents can stay home – not cutting it. 

If the response to the government’s last announcement has demonstrated anything, it’s that attacks on families and new parents aren’t popular with their voters, which is no doubt why they’ve added a tied component to today’s announcement – proposed changes to the eligibility test, one that will allow more casual workers and women in hazardous jobs to claim payments. That is a positive proposal, but one that shouldn’t be tied to cutting the time tens of thousands of other parents have to care for their baby; or dragging our country’s parental leave policy backwards.

That’s why it’s critical we let our Senators know we oppose any cuts to parental leave.

The good news is campaigning from communities like ours has already forced the government to abandon its proposals once.  After former Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the first proposal to cut parental leave on Mother’s Day this year thousands of Fair Agenda members came together to sign our opposition to any cuts to parental leave. Then, in the months that followed, as the government tried to negotiate those cuts through the Senate, we worked tirelessly to show the critical cross bench members the extent of community opposition to this change.

Over months we placed calls into their offices, sent them emails, requested meetings about the topic – and Queensland Fair Agenda members even nabbed a meeting with Senator Glenn Lazarus, delivered petition signatures and powerful personal messages from other Queensland voters opposed to the cuts.

When we work together and talk about what the government’s changes mean for our families and communities, we can influence decision-makers and sway votes.

There are 6 cross-bench Senators who could be potential allies on this topic. Can you give them a call?


Senator Ricky Muir. Call him on (03) 5144 3639. Click here for more details.

Senator John Madigan. Call him on (03) 5331 2321. Click here for more details.

South Australians

Senator Nick Xenophon. Call him on (08) 8232 1144. Click here for more details.


Senator Glenn Lazarus. Call him on (07) 3001 8940. Click here for more details.


Senator Jacqui Lambie. Call her on (03) 6431 2233. Click here for more details.

West Australians

Senator Dio Wang. Call him on (08) 9486 9650. Click here for more details.


If you haven't joined the campaign yet, sign up at www.fairagenda.org/ppl


Paid parental leave: Government to change proposed offerings, Social Services Minister confirms, ABC News, 16 December 2015.

MYEFO: Christian Porter finds $36 million to soften double-dipping, The Australian, 16 December 2015.

Written by Renee Carr
16 December 2015

There’s nothing quite like peeling open an envelope to find a lovely message from an old friend to remind you of the real meaning of Christmas.

And as I opened my first card this week, it got me thinking, what better way to send budget decision-makers a message at this time of year than by Christmas card?

As our leaders head back to their electorate offices to wrap up work for the year and order their Christmas hampers, they’ll be expecting us to fall silent about the horrific number of women who have been killed or abused by their partners this year.

But instead, can you help me make sure -- in the best tradition of the season -- we’re sending the Treasurer dozens of Christmas messages reminding him of what really matters: making sure no woman is left in danger?

Click here to buy one of Fair Agenda's special Christmas cards and we'll handwrite your message in and get it into the Treasurer's post box.

For me the true spirit of the festive season is in doing good for others - so I hope you’ll join me and advocating for the funding needed to ensure the many women who will be experiencing abuse this Christmas aren't left without the service support they need to escape their abuser.

The festive season is supposed to be one of love and celebration – but without full funding of family violence services, too many women will be left in danger this summer. Things have to change. That’s why it’s critical we show our leaders we won’t rest until no woman is left in danger.

Buy one of our Christmas cards and we’ll send your message to the Treasurer in a way he’ll least expect.

These cards are part of something much bigger and more powerful than any single message or action. Since the last budget - when the government effectively ignored the family violence crisis - we’ve been working together to build the constant community pressure it will take to win change on this issue. Fair Agenda members have joined together to take thousands of actions, publish critical reports and drive hard-hitting media coverage of family violence. Together, we’ve won funding for one critical front-line service – now can you help us show our budget-decision makers we’re not going to stop until they commit the funding needed to ensure no woman is left in danger?

NB: If you can't afford to buy one of the cards, send us an email at [email protected] with your name, address and a message you'd like to send the Treasurer and we'll work to try and deliver your message in another creative way.


-- If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. --


Written by Renee Carr
11 December 2015

Fair Agenda are excited to invite our Melbourne supporters to a special pre-release screening of the new film Suffragette at Cinema Nova at 7pm, Thursday 10th December! (Click here to buy tickets)


Following the story of a young laundress speaking out against a broken system - Suffragette is a gripping film that shows the power of women's campaigns and movements to transform our society (if you haven't seen the trailer yet, check it out here). It's the first feature film to focus on the story of the foot soldiers of the Suffragette movement - and we're very excited to share it with you!

The stories we tell are important. And all too often the stories told in our cinemas aren't about women. In fact in 2014, research showed that women made up just 12% of protagonists in the top-grossing films of 2014; and only 30% of speaking characters. And amongst the 2015 Oscar Best Picture nominees, only 2 of the films even passed the Bechdel test.

That's why we're so excited there's now a feature film about suffragettes. That's also why it's important we acknowledge Suffragette only tells the story of one group of women - and it doesn't share the story of women of colour. Women like Sophia Duleep Singh, a pioneering suffragette who marched alongside Emmeline Pankhurst in protests outside parliament, who was thrown into prison for taking part in the 'No vote, no tax' campaign, and who even threw herself in front of the Prime Minister's car.

We hope you'll join us at this special screening event, and post screening discussion with our special guests Celeste Liddle and Dr Clare Wright, where we'll chat about:

  • The history of the suffragette and feminist movement in Australia - including the fight to recognise Aboriginal women's right to vote, which continued until 1965, 
  • The ongoing fight for women's rights and campaigns to drive change in Australia right now, and
  • Lessons we can learn from the Suffragettes and other women who have shaped our history.

Funds raised from the night will go towards Fair Agenda's campaigns for a fair and equal future for women.

Buy your tickets here.




Written by Renee Carr
28 November 2015
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