Fair Agenda Blog

This election domestic violence experts have called on all parties to commit to the full funding and implementation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence’s 227 recommendations. They say it's the best blueprint we have of what’s required to keep women and children safe; to address this complex, deeply embedded and prolific violence; and that it will save lives.

So far, 90 of the Royal Commission’s recommendations are complete or underway, but 137 will need to be implemented by whichever party forms government after this Saturday. That’s 137 recommendations we can’t leave up to chance.

So, have the major parties committed to fully implement all the Royal Commission's recommendations?

Labor 

Yes. Labor has committed to implementing all 227 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.[1]

Click here to see more information from Labor on their family violence policies.

Coalition (Liberal and National Party)

The Coalition has *not* committed to implement all the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.[2]

When asked about the party’s position on the Royal Commission’s recommendations, Liberal Party spokesperson Georgie Crozier said there might be a “financial imposte”, and she would look for “efficiencies that could be realised”, and that she would “work through the detail” if elected.[3]

The Coalition has instead announced they will: introduce mandatory minimum jail sentences to family violence offenders; introduce laws to allow attending police to issue an immediate intervention order in cases of family violence, introduce a new standalone non-fatal strangulation offence in family violence cases; and pilot a Family Violence Disclosure Scheme.[4]

Domestic violence experts have implored the Coalition to reconsider their stance, and commit to implementing all the Royal Commission recommendations, and raised concerns about some of the other announcements, with Domestic Violence Victoria stating that “there is no evidence mandatory sentences or increased police powers before they’re properly prepared will make a difference to keeping women and children safe from family violence”.[5]

Click here to see more information from the Coalition on their family violence policies.

Greens

Yes. The Greens support implementing all 227 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence's recommendations.[6] Read more about Greens policies on family violence.

Click here to see more information from The Greens on their family violence policies.

This election domestic violence experts have emphasised the vital importance of all parties committing to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, stating: “The Royal Commission into Family Violence laid out a long term plan for us. They spent months understanding all the complexities involved and we need to stick to the plan. We can’t keep going with this “new government, new approach” response."[7]

It’s said that 1 in 10 people decide who they're voting for on election day. So it's critical as many people as possible know where the parties stand on the issues that matter to them.

Can you help make sure your friends and family have this information before they head to the ballot box? Forward this email to everyone you know who cares about tackling family violence.

While significant progress has been made in the two years since the Royal Commission made its recommendations - experts say will take 10 more years to realise. If you care about improving women’s safety and freedom from family violence, we urge you to consider this issue when deciding how to cast your vote this Saturday.

 

-References and further information-

  1. ‘Responding to the Family violence crisis’, Victorian branch Australian Labor Party platform 2018, p 83.
  2. Victorian election: what the parties are promising, The Guardian, 19 November 2018.
  3. ‘We’ve only just started’: How the parties stack up on family violence, The Age, 4 November 2018.
  4. Liberal Victoria media releases: prevention of family violence
  5. Concern about Opposition’s policy for mandatory sentencing for family violence offenders, Domestic Violence Victoria media release, 17 October 2018.
  6. ‘Ending family violence', The Greens.
  7. Concern about Opposition’s policy for mandatory sentencing for family violence offenders, Domestic Violence Victoria media release, 17 October 2018.
Written by Renee Carr
22 November 2018

Last week we stood in the gallery of Queensland Parliament, watching as 50 MPs cast the votes that made history, and decriminalised abortion in Queensland.

That majority vote was the culmination of more than 2.5 years of campaigning by the Fair Agenda community and our partners, building on decades of work by pro-choice activists in Queensland. And it was only possible because thousands of Fair Agenda members relentlessly took dedicated action over the course of years. 

This is one of the biggest campaign victories in Fair Agenda’s history. And, if we want to also win desperately needed change in NSW (where abortion also remains a criminal offence), we’re going to have to do all this, and more, again.

Here’s how Fair Agenda members helped make this historic change possible:

Back in May 2016, when independent Queensland MP Rob Pyne introduced new health laws to decriminalise abortion, thousands of Fair Agenda members came together to show huge public support for change. Together we drove local actions in MP’s electorates: meeting with key undecided MPs...

Flooding MPs with constituent emails, and delivering testimonies to MPs in their electorate offices...

Fair agenda members deliver testimonies

And, in the lead up to the expected vote Fair Agenda and partners amplified the voices of medical experts in online and newspaper adverts.

Courier Mail advert

Together we made headlines, and made sure every single MP received polling showing that an overwhelming majority of Queenslanders support decriminalisation.

Courier Mail coverage of polling

Then, in February 2017, when it was revealed that the proposed legislation wouldn’t have enough votes to pass the parliament, and abortion reform was instead referred to the Law Reform Commission - we got ready to make abortion access an issue at the looming election.

To make that happen - we knew voters would need to know their candidates' views on abortion reform. So, Fair Agenda launched a pro-choice candidate pledge – and asked all major party candidates to declare that if elected, they would back compassionate abortion reform.

And, within days of the election being called, we secured pro-choice pledges from almost 100 candidates -- putting this issue in the election headlines by day 6 of the election campaign!

Brisbane Times coverage of polling

Fair Agenda members then chipped in to fund strategic polling - to prove to candidates that it was in their interests to be upfront about where they stand on abortion. That polling put this issue in the headlines yet again - showing candidates across the country what was at stake if they refused to be upfront about their position!

Throughout our election campaign, Fair Agenda secured commitments from 154 candidates that they would support strong and evidence-based pro-choice reforms if elected. Then we launched a powerful online tool that allowed Queensland voters to quickly and easily find out their local candidates' stance on decriminalising abortion.

Fair Agenda volunteers then took to the streets of Brisbane in the blood red cloaks and white bonnets of the Handmaid’s Tale, to let voters know where they could find out their candidates' stances on this issue.

Handmaids with placards

Together we put abortion decriminalisation on the state election agenda – and helped ensure eight pro-choice candidates won key marginal seats, and that four anti-choice candidates lost theirs!

Then, when the Law Reform Commission started considering its recommendations on new abortion laws, the Fair Agenda community got ready to do everything possible to convince undecided MPs to vote in support of new laws.

Together we mobilised, campaigned and lobbied like never before. On the day proposed laws were announced, we turned out for a snap rally, and stood alongside service providers and legal experts to show media and MPs that these laws had our support.

We worked with our pro-choice partners to amplify the voices of affected people, and of medical experts who could speak to the harm the laws were having on Queenslanders. 

Carol Portman Caroline de Costa

We had one objective: to demonstrate widespread public support for safe, legal and compassionate abortion care and persuade MPs to vote accordingly.

We commissioned hard-hitting polling across the state, and in the seats of key undecided MPs, and demonstrated broad scale community and expert support in an open letter that we then placed as a full page advert in the local paper distributed to key undecided MPs.

Advert in Gold Coast Bulletin

And then, just days before the vote, Fair Agenda teamed up with Young Queenslanders for the Right to Choose to organise the biggest pro-choice rally Brisbane has ever seen (and in torrential rain, no less) - joining more than a thousand Queenslanders to march to Speakers Corner and send parliamentarians a message they couldn't ignore.

March Together for Choice

In the end, after years of work by Fair Agenda and parters, the laws passed 50-41 with three LNP MPs, Tim Nicholls, Steve Minnikin and Jann Stuckey, breaking party ranks to support the bill.

When the final vote was read aloud, the gallery erupted in cheers (and tears). 

It was an incredible win - and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of thousands of Fair Agenda members who volunteered, donated, made calls and emails, and showed up to marches. It's a testament to the growing power and potential of our community. 

But we know the fight for reproductive autonomy isn't over. In fact, the Fair Agenda community will need to do this, and more, all over again if we're going to help win safe and legal access to abortion care in NSW. 

Can you chip in to our pro-choice fighting fund and help the Fair Agenda community keep up the fight for compassionate reproductive healthcare?

With your help, we can help share the momentum and lessons our community learnt during our joint campaigning in Queensland, in NSW - and work with partners in NSW to make the call for change so loud politicians can’t ignore it.

We know that the momentum is already building - just this morning NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley announced that he backs decriminalisation, and if elected, will task the Law Reform Commission with putting forward a model for the NSW parliament to consider. This wouldn’t be possible without the long, hard work being done by local NSW groups; combined with the momentum Fair Agenda and partners built for safe, legal and compassionate access to abortion care over recent years and weeks in Queensland.

Written by Stacey Batterham
24 October 2018
What's happening?

As you may have seen, last month the Queensland Government announced new legislation to reform the state’s abortion laws.

The proposed laws are really promising, and are almost exactly what Fair Agenda and other groups have been advocating for. 
 
They will provide women with the legal right to access abortion care up until 22 weeks in pregnancy; and then after 22 weeks with the support of two doctors who agree it's appropriate in all the circumstances. (This is almost exactly the same as the rules in Victoria; except there a woman retains decision-making control until 24 weeks). 
 
Importantly, the proposed laws also provide patients with a right to referral for unbiased advice (which is important if their doctor is religious and refuses to give advice on abortion), and includes safe access zone provisions that will protect patients and staff from the harassment that has been happening outside abortion clinics.

These are really positive laws; so Fair Agenda members have been hard at work doing everything we can to ensure they're passed by the parliament.
 
Here's what Fair Agenda has been able to do so far
 
First, we organised snap rally outside parliament the day after the Law Reform Commission announced these changes to the law. We coordinated experts and community members to show support, and secured positive coverage in key media outlets (you can see the Courier Mail coverage here).
Second, we commissioned and released polling showing that 71 per cent of Queensland voters support the decriminalisation of abortion, and public sentiment on other key provisions within the proposed new laws, and have supported Fair Agenda members to send the results to their local MPs.

Third, the team have collected powerful personal stories from Queenslanders who have been impacted by the current laws - which we're currently releasing in a series of powerful online videos, you can see one of them here
 
Here's what we're working on next
 
#1. The proposed laws are really strong; but before they can be put to a vote, they'll have to survive a committee process. We know that anti-choice groups are working hard to flood the committee with negative feedback; and are trying to build support for amendments to water down the legislation.

So we've been supporting community members and expert organisations to make submissions, and ensure pro-choice voices are heard in this process. If you're interested, you can see the how-to guide we developed here.

#2. We're also shoring up votes to ensure enough MPs support these changes when they're brought to a vote. Sources have told us the vote will be close, so we’re prioritising 11 target MPs to get the legislation over the line.

#3. We are also contacting each and every state MP to ask them how they plan to vote on the legislation — and we'll use the results to help focus member attention, and drive media coverage around the issue.

And, of course, we'll be working to respond to anything the anti-choice groups throw at us. 
 
There's still a lot of work ahead before we can win this - but we're closer than ever, and we wouldn't be in this position without the support of Fair Agenda members. If you'd like to chip in to make the next steps possible, click here.
Written by Renee Carr
06 September 2018

Scott Morrison has just been named leader of the Liberal Party, and therefore the next Prime Minister.

So, what is his track record on women's issues? Here are some lowlights:

  • Earlier this year, when asked about the gendered impact of the proposed income tax cuts (which analysis showed would benefit men more than women, at a rate of two to one). Then Treasurer Morrison dismissed concerns of journalists, saying: “The tax system does not discriminate on gender. You don’t get pink forms and blue forms to fill out your tax return. That’s not how it works.” Read more here.

  • In May this year, when asked why Party leaders didn't intervene to protect Jane Prentice, one of the few female Assistant Ministers in the Government's ranks from losing her pre-selection to a young male councillor, then Treasurer Morrison said, "I couldn't see why. It's a matter for the LNP. That's how these things work." Read more here.

  • In August last year, following the announcement of a plebiscite on marriage equality, then Treasurer Scott Morrison said "I am voting no, it is OK to say no and people should know that... it[s] important that we have given the Australians an opportunity to have their say.' Read more here.

  • In 2015 as Social Services Minister, Morrison responded to questions about his Government's plan to cut working parents' time to care for their newborns, saying cuts to paid parental leave are "certainly a First World issue". His comment was made in response to concerns raised by the Human Rights Commission that the policy could breach international human rights obligations. Read more here.

  • In 2015 as the Social Services Minister, Morrison introduced cashless debit cards, a system that a bipartisan human rights committee said would discriminate against women and First Nations people. Peak Aboriginal health groups have since called the cards a reminder that those using them are second and third class citizens; and said they have detrimental impacts on both the mental and physical health and wellbeing of those subjected to them. Read more here.

  • In 2014 as Immigration Minister, Morrison used his position to intervene, express personal concerns, and "restrict options" for the decision-making of a woman seeking asylum about terminating her pregnancy. This was despite advice from staff that he should leave the case to the medical staff. Read more here.

We deserve leaders who will fight for a fair, equal and safe future for all women. But change doesn’t just happen.

Join the fight for a fair and equal future: fairagenda.org/join

Written by Alycia Gawthorne
24 August 2018

To the Members of NSW Parliament, 

We write to express our concern about the harassment and intimidation of patients seeking abortions at NSW clinics. As experts in our respective fields, we urge you to vote in support of the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill 2018, which would create 150 metre safe access zones around abortion clinics in NSW. 

All people should be able to access the healthcare they need safely, with dignity and in privacy.

Yet patients and healthcare workers across NSW are being harassed and intimidated as they enter reproductive healthcare facilities. There are reports of people being jostled, yelled at, and even filmed outside abortion clinics. This is unacceptable by any modern standard.

Reproductive healthcare decisions are personal medical decisions. Women must be able to access health professionals who are qualified, trained and equipped to provide the support and information they need to make the best decision about their bodies.

No person should have to fear a gauntlet of harassment and intimidation just to see their doctor about a personal medical decision.

Many women who have endured sexual assault rely on reproductive health services for care. Being abused, jostled, or recorded as they walk towards a clinic poses a risk of additional trauma, and could mean that they are unable to access vital healthcare when they need it.

This is about safe and equitable access to reproductive healthcare.

We strongly support the introduction of 150 metre ‘safe access zones’ around health services that provide abortions in NSW. Similar safe access zones are already successfully operating in in Victoria, the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania.

We urge you to protect patients’ rights to privacy, safety and dignity by voting in favour of this Bill.

Signed,

Fair Agenda

Human Rights Law Centre

NSW Council for Civil Liberties

New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation NSW

Public Health Association Australia

Women’s Electoral Lobby

National Foundation for Australian Women

Women’s Legal Service NSW

Community Legal Centres NSW

NSW Rape Crisis Centre

Domestic Violence NSW

Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSW Inc

NCOSS

No To Violence

Kingsford Legal Centre

Family Planning NSW 

Marie Stopes

Written by Renee Carr
17 May 2018
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