Fair Agenda Blog

In the lead up to the Women's Safety Summit in September 2021, Fair Agenda joined with a group of peak bodies, advocates and leading organisations representing and working in specialist family, domestic and sexual violence services - to highlight core priorities for the next National Plan.

The group urged the Taskforce on Women's Safety to ensure 12 recommendations were incorporated into the next National Plan:

  1. Expanded support for primary prevention, with an evidence-based, whole of community approach
  2. New, specific investment in early intervention as a priority
  3. Increased and longer-term investment in tertiary victim support services
  4. Significantly expanded focus on sexual violence
  5. Shifting the disproportionate burden from victim survivor to people using violence
  6. Recognising children and young people as victims in their own rights
  7. Greater research to support evidence-based interventions
  8. Reform to ensure a safe and effective family law framework
  9. Prioritising initiatives led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  10. Recognition that everyone has different life experiences and backgrounds and require different responses
  11. Expansion of victim survivor choice and control through appropriate pathways for support, intervention and accountability
  12. Strengthened workforce supported by sustainable funding arrangements.

You can read the letter and 12 priority asks it highlighted, here.

Written by Renee Carr
23 September 2021

Fair Agenda and End Rape on Campus Australia are extremely concerned that the Morrison Government’s Good Society website is still littered with harmful and inaccurate content.

We are deeply worried about the distress and harm this content is likely causing to rape survivors; and that it may be promoting confusion and misconceptions in young people who have been calling out for proper consent education.

Specific content that we are concerned about, and urge the Department to remove from the website immediately, includes:

The suggestion that stillness and looking away should be seen as anything other than a no; or that smiling or laughing should be seen as a yes are horrifying. The suggestion that these actions could be seen or justified as amounting to consent is incredibly distressing and traumatising. Think of how many young women laugh and smile to try and navigate unsafe situations or inappropriate behaviour.

The safety and trauma of survivors should be a central consideration at the centre of every program. Right now this website is actively harmful. Every single piece of content the government is putting in front of young people on this issue should be signed off by experts who actually understand the drivers of sexual violence, and the need for a trauma-informed approach for the students in these classrooms who have already been sexually assaulted.

We are extremely concerned that promoting the current website does more harm than good.

We urge the Government to take down the website while it is reviewed by experts in violence prevention and comprehensive sexuality and relationships education. And to resource experts to build the capacity of educators to deliver effective content and prevention initiatives in schools.

Written by Renee Carr
03 June 2021

We should all be safe to live, work and learn free from violence.

But for too long, a culture of male entitlement, gender inequality and disrespect has enabled men to perpetrate horrific gendered violence against women and girls across their life span. And for many, this injustice is compounded by intersecting discriminations. 

Young women’s recent brave advocacy for a safer future has focused national attention on the urgent need for systemic action. Brittany Higgins has come forward with an allegation that she was raped in Parliament House. Friends of a woman who has now died have spoken out about rape allegations against our country’s Attorney-General. Dhanya Mani has spoken up for a safer future and prioritising survivors after the woeful response to her allegation of indecent assault. Chanel Contos has called out rape culture in schools. Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, has spoken out about coverup culture and abuse of power. 

Every single day survivors disclose violence to a system that doesn’t care enough to bring them justice. 

Enough is enough.

Rape and other acts of gendered violence have profound, life-long consequences for survivors, often including physical disabilities and mental health conditions. Yet our prevention infrastructure and support services are not resourced to adequately support survivors’ safety. And systems too often fail to hold perpetrators to account. 

We deserve better. 

Our parliamentary leaders must treat all forms of gendered violence as seriously as other threats to community safety.

Political leaders must take decisive action to make parliaments a safe place for everyone. Including improving the rules governing political staffers and party members to prevent abuse, addressing inequality, providing accessible independent reporting avenues, and ensuring real accountability for misconduct. But action in this moment must extend beyond our parliaments. 

There is also a crisis in our communities. Horrific violence is being perpetrated and enabled across the country - the result of a wider cultural and systemic problem that manifests in schools, workplaces, institutions and homes. For many, these drivers of violence are further enabled by intersecting power dynamics that increase barriers to a safer future. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, resisting the ongoing impacts of colonisation and racism is inseparable from gender justice. Intersecting systems of power and oppression also increase barriers to safety for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, women with disabilities, younger women, older women, women in institutional care, women in prison, women in insecure work, and trans and gender diverse people as they strive for safety and justice. Too often, impunity is the outcome. 

It is the responsibility of governments to intervene in the systems that continue to enable violence. Survivors and community leaders are already working for a safer future - it’s time governments properly supported solutions, particularly the leadership and self-determination of First Nations communities. 

There are clear pathways to a safer future. We demand the action from leaders needed to make it happen. 

This must also include:

Prevention: Implement the full spectrum of long-term systemic prevention initiatives that can address the underlying causes of gendered violence, including sexism and intersecting forms of discrimination. Starting with comprehensive whole-of-school education programs. 

Resourcing services and accountability mechanisms: Properly resource the specialist services that victim-survivors of gendered violence rely on to report, be safe and recover. Resource the mechanisms needed to hold perpetrators to account. 

Law reform: Improve access to justice for victim-survivors of sexual assault through substantive and procedural law reform, and educate the workforce so responses are appropriate and trauma-informed. 

Addressing workplace sexual harassment: Action all recommendations of last year’s Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report.

Anything else falls short, and is a decision to leave women in danger. 

We must believe, support and listen to survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and properly resource solutions to prevent gendered violence from occurring in the first place. 


Fair Agenda
Equality Rights Alliance
Australian Women Against Violence Alliance
Harmony Alliance: Migrant and Refugee Women for Change
Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia
Rape & Sexual Assault Research & Advocacy
End Rape on Campus Australia
Australian Women’s Health Network
Women with Disabilities Australia
WIRE Women's Information Referral Exchange
Democracy in Colour
Public Health Association of Australia
YWCA Australia
No To Violence
Change the Record
National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW)

National Council of Single Mothers & their Children Inc
Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (ACLW)
Violence Prevention Australia
Women’s Community Shelters
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
Marie Stopes Australia
Centre for Non-Violence
50/50 by 2030 Foundation
Australian Women Lawyers Ltd.
Emerge Women and Children’s Support Network

Amnesty International
Foundation for Young Australians

Rationalist Society of Australia
350 Australia
Domestic Violence NSW 
Domestic Violence Victoria
Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
Women’s Safety NSW
Women’s Legal Service NSW
Sexual Assault Services Victoria
Women’s Health East
Women’s Health In the North 
Embolden SA Inc
Women’s Health West
Women’s Health East
Working Women's Centre SA Inc
Sydney Women’s Counselling Centre
Our Choice WA
Women’s Health Loddon Mallee
South Australian Abortion Action Coalition (saaac)
Gippsland Women’s Health
Women's Health Queensland
Women's Health Barwon South West Inc.
Women's Health Victoria
Centre against Domestic Abuse
The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre (The SAFV Centre)
Share & Care Community Services Group Inc.
Women with Disabilities Victoria
Ending Violence Against Women Queensland
Children by Choice
Zonta International District 22 Ltd (Queensland and Northern New South Wales)
SCALES Community Legal Centre
Older Women's Network NSW Inc
Warrina Domestic and Family Violence Speacialist Services
Doris Women’s Refuge Inc. (ACT)
The Deli Women & Children's Centre
Women's Lawyers Association of South Australia
Maternal Health Matters Inc
Women in Poverty
Women's Justice Movement NSW
AEU (SA Branch)

Add your organisation's support to the joint statement by contacting Fair Agenda via: [email protected]

You can support the campaign as an individual at: https://www.fairagenda.org/join

More information on asks (click to view)

Review the rules governing political staffers and party members

Staffers and members of political parties need to be able to safely make reports and seek action and support for their safety; without threats to their career. 

As Brittany Higgins has said: “everyone should feel safe to report sexual assault without fear of losing their job.”

To prevent abuse, action also needs to be taken to address gender inequalities in parliament and parties and to challenge harmful cultures

When men are taught that they deserve to be in charge; and that aggression, violence and disrespect are acceptable - it feeds into a culture that enables sexual assault, and undermines women’s safety and freedom from violence. 


Resource and roll out long-term systemic prevention work to address the underlying causes of gendered violence, including comprehensive school-based education programs.

All governments need to invest in fully implementing the national prevention framework Change the story and The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022.

This includes resourcing evidence-based respectful relationships and comprehensive sexuality education curriculum that addresses all of the drivers of violence, including sexism and the intersecting forms of discrimination, and provides professional development for teachers and non-teaching school staff.

As Chanel Contos, who started the viral petition for better consent education in schools,  has said: "I have lived in three different countries and I have never spoken to anyone who has experienced rape culture the way me and my friends had growing up in Sydney amongst private schools… students need to be taught about consent to keep them safe during and soon after school".

But for too long, a culture of male entitlement, gender inequality, disrespect and racism, has enabled men to perpetrate horrific gendered violence against women and girls across their life span. Prevention must also include a focus on challenging all of the power imbalances that contribute to violence. 

From the time of colonisation to today, First Nations girls and women continue to pay the price of gendered violence. While people from around the world have settled in this nation, there are still too many victim-survivors from marginalised communities whose voices for equality and safety have been ignored. Even older women are not immune from this violence, with the Royal Commission into Aged Care highlighting the fact that 50 sexual assault cases take place every week. 

Prevention must encompass the entire spectrum, and include institutions which house women with disability and older women.  


Properly resource initiatives that victim-survivors rely on to report and recover. And the mechanisms needed to hold perpetrators to account. 

We need a government that treats gendered violence as seriously as other risks to the safety of our community, and prioritises and resources responses appropriately. 

That includes holding institutions to account for the behaviour they enable – whether they are workplaces, or educational institutions like universities. 

As well as making sure victim-survivors of gendered violence are able to access appropriate support, have multiple appropriate pathways to report, and aren’t left without the specialist services they need to be safe, including investing in public/social housing so survivors can access shelter.


Action the Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report recommendations

Last year the Sex Discrimination Commissioner released a landmark report into workplace sexual harassment, with 55 recommendations to improve safety at work.  

The Report made clear the current legal and regulatory system is no longer fit for purpose. We need governments to implement the new recommended model; and shift from the current reactive model that requires complaints from individuals to a more proactive approach that requires positive actions from employers. 


Improve access to justice for victim-survivors of sexual assault 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey 2016 found that 200,500 Australians reported experiencing sexual assault in the 12 months proceeding the survey. Yet, due to widespread distrust in legal systems response to sexual violence, just 17% (34,085) of the total number of these experiences were reported to police, and an even fewer proportion of cases were reported for marginalised communities, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, LGBTIQA+ individuals, people with disabilities and people from migrant and refugee communities. In 2018-19, only 7,642 prosecutions were finalised (according to ABS Criminal Courts, Australia data), and only 40% of these prosecutions resulted in conviction.

The legal system does not encourage victim-survivors to report their experiences of sexual violence. It is extremely difficult for women to navigate the legal system, especially for those who face barriers due to financial constraints, level of literacy, access to information technology and physical distance from service providers. And the experience is often re-traumatising.

Evidence shows that victim-survivors who do try to pursue recourse through the legal system do not feel that they are afforded ‘justice’ and some are even further punished through the loss of employment, familial relationships and custody of their children. The experience of giving evidence at trial has been described as a further rape, compounding trauma.

We must review the legal and institutional frameworks and processes to improve access to justice for victim-survivors of sexual assault. This includes: reforming sexual consent law with a focus on affirmative consent; reviewing policies, procedures and guidelines relating to the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault matters; considering legislated jury directions; providing a specialist response; and ensuring everyone working within the criminal justice system and supporting victim-survivors of sexual assault has ongoing training and professional development in trauma-informed practice, an understanding of: complex trauma, cultural competency, the experiences of LGBTIQA+ communities, and survivors with disability so that they are able to respond appropriately in all sexual assault matters. 

Written by Renee Carr
14 March 2021
pro choice march photo

Here’s what you need to know:

We must protect a patient's access to unbiased healthcare and information

The amendment: remove transfer of care or information requirements where a health professional ‘conscientiously objects’ to providing care

Why this amendment is harmful: A patient’s ability to access the care they urgently need shouldn’t be contingent on the personal beliefs of their health practitioner. For many patients, a rejection by a health practitioner without referral or information will be a major obstacle to their care. 

The provision in the current bill ensures patients are provided with info on where they can access care. The proposed amendment would remove the requirement for a doctor who opposes providing abortion care to tell the patient where they can get unbiased advice or assistance.

Imagine being a young girl in a rural area, having your doctor refuse to talk to you about the abortion you need, and not knowing where else you can get the help you need.


We need to ensure a compassionate model for care in the complex and distressing circumstances where a patient needs abortion care later in pregnancy 

The amendment: would limit the legal grounds for accessing abortion care after 22 weeks 6 days to only life-threatening situations, or cases of feotal anomalies incompatible with survival.

Why this amendment is harmfulThe patients and families who need abortion care after this point in pregnancy are facing a range of deeply personal, difficult and distressing circumstances, which can vary significantly. They may be a child or person with disability who has been raped or sexually abused and has been too traumatised to seek help immediately, or by a carer or family member who has obstructed their access to care; or be a victim-survivor of domestic abuse whose access to early care has been obstructed by an abuser trying to trap them in the violent relationship.

This would condemn child victims of sexual abuse, incest and rape who are too traumatised to seek and receive care before the deadline to continue a pregnancy; or leave them only able to fund travel interstate to access care.

The very small proportion of patients whose circumstances lead to needing care after this point deserve compassionate responses, not further obstacles to accessing care they need. Doctors and other health professionals - not politicians - are best placed to assess the needs of each patient, day-by-day and case-by-case.


We must support all community members’ ability to access the abortion care they need without vilification or discrimination

The amendment: a ban on sex-selective abortion that punishes doctors who provide abortion sought on sex-selective grounds

Why this amendment is harmful: In practice, any ban that attempts to ban sex-selective abortion would create an expectation that medical professionals interrogate a patient’s reasons for needing abortion care in order to try and rule out sex-selection. Such a requirement would inevitably lead to profiling of patients from migrant communities and communities of colour; complicating care for those who need it.

The SA Law Reform Institute found that ‘There appears little, if any, evidence that abortions purely on the basis of gender are a real issue in Australia’. So rather than addressing discrimination, any attempt to ban sex-selective abortion is more likely to facilitate it.

As Democracy in Colour have written: “Many migrant communities and communities of colour already experience reduced access to healthcare and treatment outcomes, and we fear such an amendment risks amplifying racial profiling and discrimination in our healthcare system”.


We must trust patients to make their own healthcare decisions 

The amendment: introducing a requirement for health practitioners to provide every patient with information on counselling 

Why this amendment is harmful: Everyone must have the right to make decisions about their bodies without interference, including whether to seek counselling. Mandating counselling or making abortion conditional on an offer of counselling assumes that the patient does not have the capacity to make their own decisions about their health care.

There is no registration category for counsellors, nor is there a legal code of ethics and conduct against which the industry is governed. Some pregnancy-counselling services in Australia have previously been accused of misleading patients and promoting information that is incorrect or biased around abortion. This amendment would open the door for referrals to such biased counselling services, which may serve to delay access to abortion care - particularly for young and vulnerable patients who may believe counselling is mandatory in order to access the abortion care they need. 

Research shows that the majority of women who seek an abortion have already considered their decision at length and have discussed it with their friends and family, and, the majority of women who experience an unintended pregnancy do not wish to speak to a counsellor before deciding how to proceed. In fact, research from Women’s Health West, noting the personal experience of counselling in a mandatory setting in Victoria said “we found that compulsory counselling not only reinforced a lack of control, it sparked anger among women that they were assumed to be incapable of making a considered decision".

Fair Agenda supports the availability of independent, and unbiased counselling to those who request it - and such advice, support and counselling (if needed) are routinely provided to patients within the normal health care process. Referral for specialised counselling is offered when it is appropriate. 


We must protect compassionate palliative care for families who need it

The amendment: Would require medical professionals to intervene and try to ‘preserve the life of the baby’ where abortion care is provided after 23 weeks in pregnancy (unless there are serious anomalies or health issues with the pregnancy). 

Why this amendment is harmful: Patients and families can need abortion care later in pregnancy for a range of complex, distressing, and deeply personal reasons. A woman may have been diagnosed with cancer and need to end her pregnancy early in order to access appropriate treatment. 

Often, when a pregnancy needs to be ended early, families want to spend some precious minutes or hours holding their baby before it passes. In those circumstances, the medical team will induce labour, and families have a chance to hold their baby, while pain relief and palliative care are provided.

If this amendment was passed, medical teams would be required to intervene even if the baby had no chance of long term survival; potentially reducing the time a family can spend holding them before they pass. 

It is deeply offensive to the medical teams involved to suggest they aren’t already providing appropriate care in these circumstances.


We must ensure the accessibility of abortion services outside of cities

The Amendment: Would limit provision of surgical abortion care to incorporated hospitals except in emergencies.

Why this amendment must be opposed: Someone who needs to end a pregnancy should be able to access the care they need from an appropriate health practitioner, at any appropriately certified health facility.

Surgical abortion care is routinely provided at private clinics in other states, and such clinics enable patients to access surgical care closer to home. Parliament shouldn't entrench arbitrary limitations on where that care can be provided. 

Right now, surgical abortions in South Australia are provided in hospitals. But this law could lock in a requirement that is superceded by advances in medical techniques. Under health law sets, and constantly updates, this sort of requirement. But abortion law can last more than 50 years - it needs to be future-proofed.


Ensure patients retain decision-making authority on donations to medical research

The Amendment: Would seek to prohibit any contract or sale of fetal tissue after abortion care.

Why this is harmful: As with other situations of tissue and organ donation, a patient or family who has needed to end a pregnancy may take comfort in knowing that a donation of tissue could help others (for example towards medical research). The patient or family should have the right to make that decision in their circumstances. But the current wording of this amendment would likely operate to ban any such arrangement.


We must ensure the Bill is inclusive of everyone who needs abortion care 

The Amendment: limiting language of the Bill from applying to people to applying to women 

Why this amendment should be opposed: Safe, legal and compassionate access to abortion care should be available to everyone that needs it; and everyone should have the dignity to legally make decisions about their own body and healthcare.

Discriminatory healthcare policies that seek to diminish the capacity of any person in South Australia to control their healthcare decisions should be addressed, not embedded, within this reform.

No one should be denied reproductive autonomy or forced to carry a pregnancy against their will. Everyone, including trans, gender diverse and non-binary people, who needs access to abortion care should be included in this important reform.



Written by Renee Carr
16 February 2021
pro choice march

To all members of the South Australian House of Assembly,

As organisations and services working for the wellbeing of South Australians, we express our concern about the harm being caused by keeping abortion in the criminal law, and register our strong support for the current Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020.

Each patient knows what makes sense for their health, their body and their future. They should be able to feel safe and in control of their healthcare, and be free to decide whether and when to have a child. 

South Australia’s current abortion laws are no longer fit for purpose. They delay and complicate patient care, increase patient distress, and disproportionately harm members of the community who already face barriers to accessing healthcare. 

A patient who needs to end their pregnancy shouldn’t have to travel hundreds of kilometres from home, or cross state borders, to access the healthcare they need. And healthcare professionals should be able to provide their patients with the best care possible – without fear of criminal charges. 

We express our strong support for the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 in its current form. The Bill promotes the autonomy, dignity and wellbeing of patients who need to end a pregnancy - by providing a pathway to a more compassionate reproductive healthcare system for South Australians

In particular, we note the profoundly personal and complex circumstances in which patients need abortion care later in pregnancy. Given this, we strongly support the approach outlined in the Bill, which enables patients and medical professionals to jointly make decisions about their healthcare needs after 22 weeks and 6 days in pregnancy. We consider the proposed Bill provides an approach that is both medically appropriate and compassionate for the patients facing these distressing circumstances. 

We also support the provisions to ensure a health practitioner’s personal beliefs don’t interfere with their patient’s access to timely abortion care. 

We urge you to support the Bill, and to oppose any amendments. We are aware of proposed amendments that would create barriers to many patients accessing timely, appropriate and compassionate healthcare; particularly in regional and remote areas. Such amendments go against the expert advice of the South Australian Law Reform Institute, and major medical bodies. All South Australians should be able to access the healthcare they need; when they need it; and where they need it.

We call on you to be on the right side of history, and vote yes for the Bill - for safe, legal and compassionate access to abortion care in South Australia. 



Amnesty International Australia

Australian Education Union (SA Branch)

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights 

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch)

Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA)

Australian Women’s Health Network

Democracy in Colour

Embolden SA (Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services SA)

EMILY’s List Australia

End Rape on Campus Australia

Fair Agenda

Family Planning Alliance Australia 

Human Rights Law Centre

Marie Stopes Australia 

National Alliance of Abortion and Pregnancy Options Counsellors (NAAPOC)

National Foundation for Australian Women

MS Health

Public Health Association of Australia

Rationalist Society of Australia

RANZCOG (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists)

Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia

Reproductive Choice Australia

South Australian Council of Social Service


South Australian Abortion Action Coalition

South Australian Council for Civil Liberties 

SPHERE - NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health for Women in Primary Care

The National Council of Single Mothers & their Children Inc

The Women Lawyers Association of South Australia (Inc)

WESNET (The Women’s Services Network)

Working Women’s Centre SA inc




You can send your MP a personal message of support for abortion reform at: www.voteprochoice.org.au

Written by Renee Carr
15 February 2021
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