Fair Agenda Blog

Handmaids

Last year TV series The Handmaid's Tale made international headlines for its haunting depiction of a dystopian future America where women are denied control over their bodies and reproductive health. The show now has a huge international following - and its costumes have become iconic in the global protest for abortion rights.

In just a few weeks, the second series will premiere in Australia. Can you organise a house party screening to raise funds for pro-choice campaigns in Australia?

Right now abortion is still in the Criminal Code in both Queensland and NSW. It means women are frequently refused assistance at public hospitals, and that people face additional distress, danger and financial burden when they need to terminate their pregnancy.

In coming months there will be critical opportunities to secure changes to the law in Queensland. But there are extreme anti-choice forces who are working hard to stop that from happening.

That's why your help is so important. It's going to take a huge effort to secure this desperately needed progress.

Can you help raise funds to fight for Queenslanders' reproductive rights by organising a screening The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 premiere at your house, inviting some friends around to watch with you, and asking those who come along to make a donation to support campaigns for the right to choose?

Sign up here to register a screening.

We’ll provide you with a short host pack – including information about the state of reproductive rights in Australia, key battles on the horizon, and what Fair Agenda is fundraising for. 

The Handmaid’s Tale will be released on SBS On Demand on Thursday 26th April, and the first episode will be available to screen on SBS Demand for two weeks.

Any questions? Please contact us via info@fairagenda.org

Content Warning: The series includes distressing content including depictions of sexual violence and torture.

Written by Renee Carr
12 April 2018
IWD 2018
Here at Fair Agenda, we think the best way to celebrate and honour International Women's Day, and the achievements of the women who have fought for our rights is by continuing their work.
So here are three of our tips for actions you can take right now, for a fair and equal future.

1. Listen to, and amplify, the voices of women in public debate

Particularly women whose voices might be marginalised because of other parts of their identity – like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, Muslim women, women of colour, women living with a disability and LGBTQI women.
You can get started right now is by following more women (and women-led groups) on social media, and actively sharing their posts. We’ve put together a list of some of our favourites to help you get started:
  • Nakkiah Lui is a writer, actor and social commentator. You may know her from her (multiple) TV shows, or from the podcast she co-hosts with Miranda Tapsell ‘Pretty for an Aboriginal’. Follow her on twitter.
  • Celeste Liddle is an Arrernte woman who you may know as ‘Black Feminist Ranter’ on facebook. Celeste is a writer, union organiser and commentator, and today she’s written a great piece called “International Women’s Day is a call to action, not a branding opportunity’. Follow her on: Facebook, twitter.
  • Mariam Veiszadeh is a lawyer, diversity and inclusion consultant. She was Daily Life’s Woman of the Year in 2016. Follow her on facebook, twitter.
  • Carly Findlay is a writer, speaker, disability and appearance activist. Follow her on: Facebook, twitter.
  • Jordan Raskopoulos is an Australian comedian best known as the frontwoman for the comedy group The Axis of Awesome, and a champion for LGBTIQ equality. Follow her on: Facebook, twitter.
  • Sam Connor is a human and disability rights activist and cofounder of bolshy divas and criparmy. Follow her on twitter.
  • Jamila Rizvi is a columnist, radio host, and author (including of the excellent book 'Not Just Lucky'). Follow her on facebook, twitter.
  • Marita Cheng is the founder of RoboGals, champion of Women in STEM and a former Young Australian of the Year. Follow her on facebook, twitter.
  • Women with Disabilities Australia are a national group working to improve the lives and life chances of women with disabilities. Follow them on: Facebook.
  • Djirra (formerly Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Service) are champions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by family violence and sexual assault. Follow them on: Facebook, twitter.
  • Fair Agenda is a community of Australians campaigning for women’s rights. On social media we let you know how you can drive change on issues in the headlines; plus share highlights on what’s happening in the fight for women’s rights around the country (and the globe). Follow us on facebook, twitter.

 

2. Add your support to campaigns for women’s rights

Systemic, structural change doesn’t come easy. To achieve a fair and equal future for women we’re going to have to fight hard every step of the way (and be ready to stop those who want to pull us backwards).
Critical to success in almost every campaign for political and social change is public support – and a first step to showing yours is by signing petitions to decision-makers, supporting calls for action.
Here are two campaigns that need your support right now:

 

3. Donate to enable women-led organisations to keep winning long-term change

The work that goes into changing the policies that shape women’s lives is long and hard. And it takes money. Unsurprisingly, the gender pay gap doesn’t disappear when it comes to the people with capacity to give big donations - which can make it really hard to raise funds for women’s rights work.
That’s why one of the most important ways you can have impact is by donating to support the work of women and women-led organisations that are working for systemic change.
Here are a couple we recommend:
  • Fair Agenda drives and wins campaigns for systemic change. In just the past few years our community has won change that has already improved more than 100,000 women’s lives. Including: securing $100 million of additional funding for family violence response, preventing cuts to working parents’ time to care for their newborns from hurting 79,000 families every year; and working with partners to stop $34 million of cuts to the vital work of community legal centres, and much more. Now we need your help to power big fights to secure action on campus sexual assault; and to pass laws for safe and legal access to abortion in Queensland. Click here to donate.
  • In tackling the issue of family violence, the work of Djirra (previously Family Violence Prevention Legal Services) couldn’t be more important. They provide a specialist and culturally safe service to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who are 32 times more likely to be victims of family violence than non-Aboriginal women. They: draw on cultural strength to increase resilience, reduce social isolation and vulnerability to family violence, promote healthy relationship and create awareness about the ‘power and control’ dynamics of family violence and red flags. They also deliver campaigns to make sure Aboriginal women’s voices are heard. Make a donation here.
Any contribution you can make is important – but if you’re able we strongly encourage you to set up a regular donation. Predictable, reliable income can make a huge difference in the capacity of organisation’s to focus their energy on responding in the most critical and strategic moments, instead of having to fundraise first. (You can set up a monthly donation to power Fair Agenda’s campaigns for women’s rights here).


PS - To secure the advances we need to ensure all women’s safety, equality and dignity, we need to organise year round. Fair Agenda is a community of 37,000 Australians who use our collective people power to win change on issues that affect women year round. If you aren’t a member already, please join us today.
Written by Renee Carr
08 March 2018

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All university students deserve a safe environment in which to learn and to lay the best possible foundations for their future careers and lives.

But for too many students, the vast majority of which are women, sexual violence will have a devastating and ongoing impact that limits their ability to complete the tertiary education they want and deserve.

A student affected by sexual assault will not only have their life and studies interrupted by the immediate medical and psychological needs that arise from this crime, they may also face lengthy police and court processes, and financial costs associated with dealing with the incident. They are also likely to experience ongoing impacts that will limit their capacity to maintain their academic performance. Without appropriate response and support, these ongoing impacts can be so untenable that a student affected feels forced to delay or drop out of their studies entirely.

After decades of student and survivor led advocacy, and years of media reporting shining a light on these serious and systemic problems, last year’s Australian Human Rights Commission national student survey finally confirmed the scale of sexual violence on our campuses.

Many universities and residential colleges are now, belatedly, taking action in response to these survey results - but the depth of commitment to substantive change, and whether or not these existing commitments will deliver real improvements for student safety, remains difficult to assess.

That’s why, as students return to University for 2018, Fair Agenda, End Rape on Campus Australia, the National Union of Students and The Hunting Ground Australia Project are launching a joint call for the Federal Government to establish an independent, expert led taskforce to track, assess and publicly report on university and residences’ measures to prevent, and improve responses to sexual violence.

This taskforce should:

  • Be comprised of independent experts in the field of sexual violence prevention (including sexual assault services and representatives from the Consortium of Sexual Assault Researchers);
  • Regularly consult with student representative bodies;
  • Require universities to regularly report on the measures they and their associated entities (including residences and colleges) are taking to
    address and prevent sexual violence - including the policies and procedures in place;
  • Require universities and residences to regularly report on disciplinary measures taken against perpetrators;
  • Assess whether or not university and residence policies and procedures to address and prevent sexual violence meet good practice, and if they are improving outcomes;
  • Publicly report on these assessments and make public recommendations to strengthen university and residence policies and procedures;
  • Publicly report on the number of complaints relating to sexual violence made to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency under the Threshold Standards, as well as their status and outcome/resolution; and
  • Incorporate data from, and feed into, the next independent national survey of students.

If we are to ensure that the students who are about to attend their first classes – and those who will attend our universities in coming years – are not at risk of the same harms as previous cohorts, we need an independent, expert body that is resourced to assess outcomes in this area, and to hold universities and residences to account.

It is vital for the safety of current and future students that we ensure all universities are making substantive progress in addressing this problem as quickly as possible. Doing that requires an independent review mechanism to ensure that all policies being put in place to address this problem are good practice, and achieving their objectives.

All students deserve a safe environment to learn. For that to be possible, we must address the scourge of sexual violence on campus.

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Please join the call for a taskforce to address university sexual violence by signing the petition here.

Written by Renee Carr
22 February 2018
What we did together

Together our community has won changes that bring us closer to a fair and equal future; and that will improve the lives of more than a hundred thousand women. So thank you.

Here’s what our community's campaigning has achieved this year:

  • We stopped cuts to working parents’ time to care for their newborns that were set to hurt 79,000 working families, ensuring working parents didn’t lose precious time to care for their newborns in their critical first weeks and months,

  • We worked with family violence survivors and community lawyers to stop the Federal Government from cutting $34 million from the work of community legal centres – ensuring thousands of women wouldn't be denied access to the legal support they need to escape and recover from family violence,

  • We stood with students and sexual assault survivors to secure funding from universities for a specialist trauma hotline for students affected by sexual violence during their studies,

  • We built on years of campaigning for the Federal Government to properly fund family violence services; and helped ensure an additional $50 million of funding was committed to family violence response in the 2017 federal budget,

  • We worked with partners to campaign for legal access to abortion in Queensland, and secured a commitment from the Queensland Government to introduce new draft legislation to modernise Queensland’s abortion laws in 2018,

  • We ran a huge Queensland election effort that put the need for abortion decriminalisation in the headlines, and secured pro-choice pledges from 154 candidates. This helped ensure we’re closer than ever before to having the votes needed to pass laws to decriminalise abortion in 2018!

  • We got 129 university residences to be transparent about their training to prevent sexual violence; and pushed more than a dozen residences to improve the quality of their training for students and staff, and

  • We worked alongside women's legal services and family violence survivors to secure a commitment from the Government to amend the Family Court rule that means survivors of domestic violence can be forced to endure direct cross-examination by their abusers.

These are really important wins that will impact women across the country. And none of it would be possible without Fair Agenda members like you - who got involved by signing petitions, contacting decision makers, sharing campaigns with your friends, and chipping in to help make all of this possible. So thank you for everything you’ve done as a Fair Agenda member this year.

We wish you and your family all the best for the festive season and new year, and look forward to collaborating with you again to put fair on the agenda in 2018,

Renee on behalf of the Fair Agenda team

PS – Looking for a meaningful gift this festive season? Why not give the gift that keeps on giving, with a donation to Fair Agenda. You can donate to help secure change for women’s reproductive rights, economic equality and freedom from violence. And if you click here, you can even access a nifty tool from MyCause that will allow you to send your loved one a personalised card when you make a donation in their name.

Written by Renee Carr
20 December 2017
The results are in

A woman's legal right to choose is now closer than ever before!

Earlier this year, when legislation to decriminalise abortion was introduced to the parliament, there weren’t enough pro-choice MPs willing to vote for desperately needed change. So, when the Palaszczuk Government referred the issue to the Law Reform Commission and pledged to introduce new laws in 2018 – it was clear that we’d have to put this issue on the election and voter agenda, to increase the number of pro-choice candidates in Queensland parliament.

So that’s exactly what Fair Agenda helped do.

Together, our community drove a powerful campaign that kept this issue, and candidates' stances, in the headlines. Together, we pushed 154 candidates to publicly commit to back pro-choice reforms by taking Fair Agenda’s pro-choice candidate pledge. And, in total, we got 174 candidates to go on the record about their position on abortion law reform – many of them for the first time. 

Then, we engaged thousands of voters in key marginal seat races with this information about their local candidates’ stance. 

And today’s results show that publicly pro-choice candidates have won key marginal seat races in: Redlands, Mansfield, Jordan, Maiwar, Noosa, Cook, Cairns, and Gaven! 

Plus: a number of candidates who have spoken at “pro-life” rallies, or otherwise indicated they oppose decriminalising abortion, have lost key races in: Mount Ommaney, Ipswich, Buderim and Pumicestone!

This election outcome brings us closer than we've ever been to decriminalising abortion in Queensland.

And it's a testament to the Fair Agenda community and to all the Queenslanders who have been campaigning long and hard to change these cruel and degrading laws. So thank you for your part in it.

Going into this election, nobody thought that we could make abortion an election issue. In fact, it’s long-held election lore that pro-choice candidates shouldn’t talk about their position on abortion for fear of backlash from fringe religious groups and voters.

This election, we’ve helped change that, showing that the vast majority of voters support safe and legal access to abortion, pushing more candidates than ever before to be transparent about their stance on this issue, and - most importantly - proving that publicly pro-choice candidates can win marginal races – and be backed by a huge portion of the community.

Thanks for all you did to help make this happen,

Renee, Tash and Chantelle for Fair Agenda


Here’s a recap of what the Fair Agenda community was able to do together on this campaign...

We knew going into this election that in order to decriminalise abortion we would need to ensure a majority of pro-choice MPs were elected. And to make that happen - that voters would need to know their candidates' views on abortion reform.

The problem was: most candidates weren't on the record about their stance. So, Fair Agenda launched a pro-choice candidate pledge – and asked all major party candidates to declare that if elected, they would vote to remove abortion from the criminal code, and to support laws that would ensure all Queenslanders can safely and legally access full reproductive healthcare, without being harassed or intimidated”.

And, within days of the election being called, Fair Agenda was able to announce that we had already secured pro-choice pledges from almost 100 candidates -- putting this issue in the election headlines by day 6 of the election campaign! 

  

It was a brilliant start -- but we knew it wasn't enough. So Fair Agenda members stepped up the pressure, sending hundreds of emails, and hand-delivering messages to MPs who hadn’t gone on the record...



...And Fair Agenda members also chipped in to fund strategic polling - to prove to candidates that it's 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! 

This polling also showed that *50%* of Queenslanders would be unwilling to vote for their preferred candidate if that candidate wanted abortion to remain in the criminal code. And that the issue of decriminalising abortion would be important in deciding the vote of 80% undecided voters! 

This was hugely compelling data. And it proved that a candidates position on safe and legal abortion would shift votes. 

Together, all this campaigning secured a commitment from 154 candidates that they would support strong and evidence-based pro-choice reforms if elected!

Fair Agenda's polling had shown this information could shift votes. So we knew it was vital to get this information in front of as many voters as possible.

So Fair Agenda launched a powerful online tool at voteprochoice.org.au – to allow Queensland voters to enter their postcode, and find out quickly and easily their local candidates' stance on decriminalising abortion. 

And then Fair Agenda volunteers took to the streets of Brisbane in the blood red cloaks and white bonnets of the Handmaid’s Tale. (That's the recent TV sensation set in a dystopian future where fertile women are denied bodily autonomy, and forced to carry pregnancies against their will). To let voters know where they could find out their candidates' stances on this issue. 



And Fair Agenda’s Handmaids put this issue back in the headlines again…

…And engaged thousands of voters with this important issue in the week leading up to election day.

Fair Agenda members also chipped in to fund online adverts to get this vote-deciding information in front of voters in key seats – reaching thousands more voters in a number of key pro-choice races.

Together we put abortion decriminalisation on the election agenda – showing that voters overwhelmingly support decriminalisation. And helped see eight pro-choice candidates win key marginal seat races, and four anti-choice candidates lose key races.    

This is huge progress!

There’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure laws for safe and legal abortion are passed by the Queensland parliament next year when the Law Reform Commission hands down its recommendations.

But our community’s campaign at this state election has ensured there are more MPs on the record about their stance on abortion law reform than ever before; and that MPs and parties now know that voters will support candidates that stand up for a woman’s legal right to choose. And that those who want to keep treating a woman’s choice as a crime will lose votes over it.

Thank you to all the Fair Agenda members who helped make this possible, and to our friends in Pro Choice Queensland parters who have been campaigning long and hard for these changes for years. 

Written by Renee Carr
08 December 2017
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