Fair Agenda Blog

Joint media release: Fair Agenda & End Rape on Campus Australia

Major changes, and independent oversight are urgently needed to address sexual violence in universities, or another 8,800 students are expected to be sexually assaulted in Australian university contexts by the end of this academic year, say advocates.

Intervening to address university failures to meet basic standards in relation to sexual violence must be a priority for any reform agenda that cares about student wellbeing and educational outcomes, say women’s safety advocates Fair Agenda and End Rape on Campus Australia, in their submission to the national ‘Universities Accord’ reform process currently underway.

The groups say most universities are failing students at every point of responsibility:

  • Failing to provide evidence-based interventions to prevent rape on campus. 
  • Failing to ensure tutors and other staff with positions of influence and access don’t have a history of using sexual violence.
  • Failing to support students who report rape on campus with timely access to trauma-informed counselling.
  • Failing to provide timely responses to urgent requests for basic safety and academic accommodations. 
  • Failing to provide basic on-campus safety measures such as ensuring that student survivors don’t have to sit in the same classroom as the person who raped them.  
  • Failing to enable minor adjustments to ensure students don’t fail out of their course while dealing with the trauma impacts associated with sexual assault. 
  • Failing to take action to ensure staff or students known to be using violence aren’t given the opportunity to cause further harm in university contexts. 

“Students who are sexually assaulted or harassed in a university context have needs that can only be met by their university. Court processes can take years to deliver any kind of outcome - students can’t wait that long for the basic support they need, and that could make the difference between graduating or failing out. When you want to change your tutorial so you’re not in class with someone who raped you - you need the university to act. When you need an extension on your assignment because you’re dealing with PTSD from a violent sexual assault - you need the university to act.” said Sharna Bremner, Founder of End Rape on Campus Australia.

“Despite saying the right things, many universities are still actively causing harm with their response to sexual violence by their students and staff. Five years on from the landmark Human Rights Commission Inquiry into this crisis - National Student Safety Survey data shows very little has changed. Students are paying the price; and universities are not being held accountable.” said Renee Carr, Executive Director at Fair Agenda.

Ms Bremner added: “The problem is not just universities failing to prevent potential sexual violence. Although many still do. Frequently university administrations also choose not to protect students when rapists are reported at their institution. We’ve had cases where multiple young women have reported the same offending student to their university, and he’s been allowed to remain on campus, which has enabled him to harm other students. If he’d been copying an essay, instead of violently violating another student’s body - university policy would have seen him expelled.”

“While students who are recovering from the trauma of a violent crime are forced to jump through hoops to stay in uni -  often including forking out money to get multiple psychologist letters confirming their trauma is enough to get them an extension - we know of multiple students with sexual assault complaints against them getting brought onto university staff.”  added Ms Bremner.

“Most of us would think that having active sexual assault complaints against you at an institution would hurt your job chances. At many universities that doesn’t appear to be the case” she added. 

“In the five years since the Australian Human Rights Commission confirmed the scale of sexual violence and its impact at universities, many universities haven’t made the substantive changes recommended. They can’t be trusted to mark their own work in this area. We need the federal government to ensure independent oversight - and deliver accountability when universities decide to put student safety and wellbeing at risk.” Ms Carr said.

“Universities are expecting students to be back on campus full time; but many haven’t made the changes students need to actually be safe from sexual violence when we are. Violence prevention work is still laughably bad, and survivors who come forward aren’t getting the support they need to continue their studies” says university student and Fair Agenda Campaigner Dani Villafaña. 

“We know that sexual violence is hugely damaging to someone’s overall wellbeing, and the impacts on a student survivor’s education can be devastating. When you’re too scared to go to campus, that means you can’t go to class, or to the library, or to academic support services. When you can’t safely access the things you need to learn, the chances of you being able to succeed academically are almost zero. And if you don’t graduate, you can’t fulfil your dream of being a doctor, or a teacher, or an engineer.” Added Ms Villafaña. 

“While student rape survivors learn that their university will not take genuine steps to allow them to continue their education safely, perpetrators learn that their university will take more severe action against them if they cheat on an exam than if they harm one - or more - of their classmates.” Ms Bremner added.

Fair Agenda and End Rape on Campus Australia have called on the Universities Accord Expert Panel to support the creation of an independent, expert-led accountability and oversight mechanism, such as a Taskforce on University Sexual Violence, with a mandate to ensure compliance with minimum standards in prevention and response; investigate complaints; facilitate transparency; and deliver enforcement where basic standards are not met.

You can add your support to the call for action here.

Fair Agenda and End Rape on Campus Australia's joint submission to the Universities Accord process is available here.


Written by Renee Carr
20 April 2023

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

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

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

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

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

Make a once-off donation

Start a monthly contribution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We helped improve respectful relationships and sexuality education! 

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

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

Written by Renee Carr
15 December 2022

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Written by Renee Carr
01 December 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Regarding the process for implementing the Code

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

Regarding how to apply the Code in practice:

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


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


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

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

Regarding sanctions

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


Regarding how the Code should be implemented: 

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

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

Written by Renee Carr
29 September 2022

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

As a candidate for federal parliament, I pledge to:

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


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



Party/ Independent 


Andrew Wilkie MP




Nicolette Boele




Kylea Tink



North Sydney

Kim Rubenstein




Sen. Peter Whish-Wilson


Australian Greens


Alana Galli-McRostie


Australian Greens


Alex Breskin


Australian Greens


Apurva Shukla


Australian Greens


Asher Cookson


Australian Greens


Bill Pheasant


Australian Greens


Brendan Clarke


Fusion Party


Catherine Robertson


Victorian Socialists


Cecily Rosol


Australian Greens


Celeste Liddle


Australian Greens


Chetan Sahai


Australian Greens


Colleen Bolger 


Victorian Socialists


Danielle Mutton


Australian Greens


David Deex


Australian Greens


Dominic WY Kanak


Australian Greens


Elijah Suares


United Australia Party


Ethan Hrnjak


Australian Greens


Gilbert Wilson


Australian Labor Party


Greg Elliot


Australian Greens


Jack Boddeke


Australian Greens


Jade Darko


Australian Greens


James Haggerty


Fusion Party


Janet Murray


Australian Greens


Janine Rees


Australian Progressives


Jennifer Cox


Australian Greens


Jeremy Carter


Australian Greens


Jerome Small


Victorian Socialists


John Photakis


Australian Greens


Kathryn Savery


Australian Greens


Katie McCusker


Australian Greens


Kelly Guenoun


United Australia Party


Kim Grierson


Australian Greens


Kristyn Glanville


Australian Greens


Liz Chase


Australian Greens


Mandy Nolan


Australian Greens


Mat Morgan


Australian Greens


Max Chandler-Mather


Australian Greens


Max Martucci




Melissa Stevens


Australian Greens


Nadia David


Australian Labor Party


Natasa Sojic


Australian Greens


Neil Cotter


Australian Greens


Nicole Thompson


Australian Greens


Patrick Deegan


Australian Labor Party


Piers Mitchem


Australian Greens


Rebecca Galdies


Australian Greens


Sarah Jefford


Australian Greens


Sarah Russell




Scott Hardiman


United Australia Party


Sonya Semmens


Australian Greens


Steph Hodgins-May


Australian Greens


Stephen Bates


Australian Greens


Suzette Rodoreda


Australian Greens


Tim Hollo


Australian Greens


Victor Kline



North Sydney

Andrea Leong


Fusion Party


Brandon Selic


Fusion Party


David Kennedy


Fusion Party


Drew Wolfendale


Fusion Party


Felix Dance


Socialist Alliance


Tim Viljoen


Fusion Party



Written by Renee Carr
14 April 2022
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