Fair Agenda Blog

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Together, this election we kept the issues our community cares about in the headlines, and put them on the agenda for key candidates across the country. We were also able to work with experts to create an election scorecard showing how the parties compared on key issues affecting women, which our community then got in front of thousands of voters. Thank you for helping making that possible. 

The election results are still trickling in – but one thing is very clear: the Government is going to need the support of a number of Senate crossbenchers to pass much of its legislative agenda – including its proposed cuts to paid parental leave.

And thanks to Fair Agenda members – we have public commitments from key Senators to oppose any attempts to cut the current parental leave system. We won’t know for sure until the Senate counting is finalised in coming weeks, but right now it looks like there we are very, very close to having the 38 Senate votes needed to block any cuts.[1]

It’s great progress – and it’s only possible thanks to the tens of thousands of Fair Agenda members who have kept the pressure up over the past year – calling, emailing and meeting with key Senators and candidates to help secure commitments from 6 parties to block any cuts. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in that campaign over the past year. 

As well as campaigning to protect paid parental leave, this election our community worked tirelessly to keep funding for family violence services on the political agenda.

Together, we secured public support for full funding from key parties in the Senate; ensured the ALP publicly committed to deliver their $200 million funding package in addition to the $100 million committed by the Coalition (ensuring their commitment was boosted by $100 million); kept the issue of service funding in the headlines in the key election and budget weeks; and worked with key experts to ensure thousands of people knew how the parties compared on funding for family violence services.

The Fair Agenda community and our partners across the community helped make the continuing failure to adequate fund services so much of an issue that 53% of voters said funding for family violence services was influencing their vote this election;[2] and enough of a political issue that the Coalition re-announced parts of the funding package it had already launched in the May budget on three separate occasions during the election.[3]

Over the past ten weeks Fair Agenda has worked with survivor advocates and service workers to keep a media spotlight on the fact that thousands of women are being left without access to the service support they need to escape abuse; ensured the Government’s shocking changes to 1800 RESPECT featured on The Project; secured coverage of our family violence scorecard in Fairfax papers in the final days before the election; and worked with members to keep the pressure up. Coverage of our community's campaigns reached almost 1 million voters this election!

And, when Rosie Batty spoke at the National Press Club, highlighting the appalling Family Court rules that survivors of domestic violence can be forced to endure direct cross-examination at the hands of their abusers, we flooded both major parties with a call to make the change. Over months, Fair Agenda and our friends at Never Alone and Women's Legal Services Australia helped generate the community pressure needed to secure that commitment from the ALP.

There’s still much more to be done to win change on the issues our community cares about – but one thing is for sure – this election Fair Agenda members have proven we’re a powerful force for fairness and equality, and that we can keep issues on the media and political agenda. 

Thank you to all Fair Agenda members who contributed to our community's election efforts - this campaign was only possible thanks to the hundreds of people who chip in as member donors, meet with local candidates, sent emails to decision makers, put posters up, shared campaigns and gave their time to campaign actions.

Thanks for all the ways you contribute to the Fair Agenda community,

Renee for Fair Agenda

- More information -

1. Fair Agenda’s parental leave scorecard with commitments from Senators. Read with: Senate calculator: can you get legislation passed after the Australian election? The Guardian, 4 July 2016.

2. Federal election 2016: What Labor and Liberal are promising on domestic violence, Daily Life, 2016.

3. From the $100 million, 3 year package announced in the federal budget: Coalition announces $30 million for frontline services in Petrie on 12 May 2016. Coalition announces $25 million to address domestic violence in Indigenous communities, 20 June 2015.  Government announces $15 million for family violence, 21 June 2016.

Written by Renee Carr
15 July 2016
Meeting with Suzanne Grant

Like you, Cassie & Kate are Fair Agenda members concerned about threats to our paid parental leave system.[1] That’s why last week they met with Queensland Senate candidate Suzanne Grant, to find out if she would vote to protect parental leave if elected. 

As you are no doubt aware, for the past year the Coalition Government have been trying to make cuts to paid parental leave. And, for the past year, community campaigning has made it impossible for the Abbott and Turnbull Governments to pass those cuts through the Senate.

Unfortunately, despite huge community concern, the Coalition Government haven't abandoned their plans to make cuts to new parents' paid time at home; which means that if they are re-elected next month, we can expect they will again try to cut paid parental leave.[2] 

It means electing Senators committed to protecting new parents' time at home with their newborns is absolutely critical. 

Analysis is continuing to show that in our next parliament minor parties will again make up the Senate "crossbench" -- that's the group who generally end up with casting votes on any issue where the Government and Opposition are split.[3] With the Labor Party opposed to any cuts to our paid parental leave system, we can expect the minor parties will end up with the deciding votes on any proposed cuts.

The latest analysis suggests that in Queensland there are four candidates who might end up with one of the critical "crossbench" Senate seats: Suzanne Grant for the Nick Xenophon Team, Andrew Bartlett for The Greens, Glenn Lazarus from the Glenn Lazarus Team and Pauline Hanson from One Nation.[4]

Any of these candidates could end up with a key balance of power role in the next Senate. 

The Greens and Glenn Lazarus are already on the record as being opposed to any cuts to paid parental leave. 

That's why Cassie and Kate met with Ms Grant last week - to present thousands of signatures from Fair Agenda members like you who are opposed to cuts - and to find out whether Ms Grant would stand up for new parents' time at home if elected. 

They're pleased to report back that:

Suzanne Grant has confirmed that if elected she and the Nick Xenophon Team would not support any cuts to the paid parental leave system. 

Ms Grant also affirmed that she believes the current system should be treated as a minimum standard, and recognises that it is by no means close to world leading. She also noted that she and the Nick Xenophon Team would support expansion and flexibility within the current parental leave system, as long as it didn't reduce the amount of leave support available to any parent.

Cassie and Kate attended last week's meeting on behalf of thousands of Fair Agenda members like you. They wanted to report back on the outcome because they know that like us, many Fair Agenda members will be thinking about this issue when they cast their vote on the 2nd of July.

The Fair Agenda team are working to put together a scorecard summarising all of the parties' positions on this important issue. To make sure you receive a copy, sign up to the campaign here: http://www.fairagenda.org/ppl

-References-

1. Turnbull Government shelves changes to Paid Parental Leave, News.com.au, 6 April 2016.
2. Cuts to parental leave shaping up as an election issue, Women's Agenda, 7 April 2016.
3. Federal election 2016: Name recognition a key to Senate race, The Age, 5 June 2016.
4. Federal election 2016: Name recognition a key to Senate race, The Age, 5 June 2016.


Authorised by Renee Carr, Fair Agenda, Suite 103, 55 Holt Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.

Written by Renee Carr
15 June 2016
DV funding

This week the Government called a press conference to announce just $30 million of additional funding for legal assistance services to deal with family violence.

The Ministers declared that “adequate investment in frontline services is critical to save lives” – and then proceeded to announce vastly inadequate funding for those same services.

The woefully inadequate resourcing of family violence services is devastating and dangerous.

Attorney-General Brandis and Minister Cash announced the $30 million for legal assistance services ($10 million per year over three years) as part of the three-year $100 million package included in last week’s Federal Budget to implement the Third Action Plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children. 

“It has taken half a billion dollars to address service and system gaps in just one state. We need the federal government to match Victoria’s recent response. We need $4 billion of federal funding for family violence response over the next two years. Instead, the Government have chosen to leave thousands of women without access to the services they need to be safe.” said Moo Baulch, CEO of DV NSW.

“The Government has had a chance to prove it is taking this issue seriously; and it has failed.”

“Specialist services can’t keep up with referrals from police. Refuges can’t shelter all the women seeking their help. Community legal services are being forced to turn away women relying on their help. Specialist services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aren’t even funded to have national reach.” Ms Baulch added.

“This week’s Four Corners episode has shone a light on just how much the system is failing Aboriginal women. Yet our domestic violence services still aren’t funded even to provide national reach.” Says Antoinette Braybrook, Convenor of Family Violence Prevention Legal Service.

“It will take another $28 million per year to address unmet need for our service. Today’s announcement is completely inadequate to prevent Aboriginal women being murdered, and communities destroyed.” She added.

“This funding is manifestly inadequate no matter how it’s split up. How is $10 million extra each year supposed to address the massive unmet need across 189 Community Legal Centres, lack of national reach in FVPLSs, and family violence work in ATSILs and Legal Aid?” Adds Ms Carr, Fair Agenda.

“Women are coming to Community Legal Centres with an urgent need for legal help to keep their children safe; to address financial abuse; to get an appropriate intervention order in place; and for a range of other legal problems – and inadequate funding means we have to turn women away.” says Daniel Stubbs, National Spokesperson for the National Association of Community Legal Centres. 

“Today’s funding increase is good news – but it’s not enough to cover the funding cuts facing Community Legal Centres or meet increasing demand. Instead, Community Legal Centres - which are services that the Ministers have just recognised as being ‘critical to saving lives’ - are facing 30% funding cuts nationally.” He added. 

More than 37,000 community members and 100 organisations have signed onto Fair Agenda’s call for full funding of family violence services.

You can join the campaign for full funding of family violence services here: www.fairagenda.org/family_violence_services

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Renee Carr, media@fairagenda.org, 0435 597 976

 

Information on service funding needed

Domestic Violence NSW supports Domestic Violence Victoria’s call for the Federal Government to match Victoria’s per capita injection into family violence response – that’s an additional $4 billion over two years.

Specific service gaps:

  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services – a vital specialist service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who face a vastly increased risk of murder and hospitalisation as a result of family violence. Only 14 centres are funded nationally; leaving many women without access. They need an additional $28 million annual funding.
  • Community Legal Centres – help over 215,000 people each year and are forced to turn away more than 160,000 people a year, including women affected by family violence. Family violence and family law work are the top two areas of demand for CLCs across Australia. They need an additional $14.4 million funding this year; and a reversal of $34 million of cuts over the forward estimates.
  • Specialist domestic and family violence services – aren’t resourced to respond to all police referrals, or to meet demand for crisis or outreach work. The Victorian Government recently announced $103.9 million additional funding over two years to address need for this service area in just that one state.
  • Perpetrator programs - need $38 million funding to increase and expand perpetrator interventions.
Written by Renee Carr
12 May 2016

It was good to see Bill Shorten emphasise the importance of addressing family violence in his budget reply last night -- but unfortunately the Labor Party's commitment to 'ensure women are safe at home and supported in the courts' isn't yet matched by the funding needed to do that.

Right now thousands of women are being left without the support they need to escape their abusers because of inadequate federal funding. Specialist services still aren’t resourced to respond to all police referrals; refuges aren’t resourced to shelter all the women seeking their help; and legal assistance services are being forced to turn away women rely on their assistance.

Both Labor and the Coalition are paying lip service to the importance of treating family violence as a national priority. But so far both their funding commitments are woefully inadequate. 

Just weeks ago the Victorian Government announced $572 million of additional funding to address service and system gaps in just that one state. We need a similar scale of investment nationally – that's about $4 billion over two years.

Labor’s interim family violence funding package provides just ~$70 million over three years. That includes $42.9 million for community legal centres, $4.5 million for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and funding for a number of other measures.

The Coalition's recent Federal Budget included an announcement of $100 million over three years to address violence against women and their children. While it appears some of that funding will go to legal assistance services, the details are not yet clear. The Government is standing by its plan to cut 30% of funding to community legal centres over the forward estimates. 

Labor’s declaration that they will reverse the cuts to Community Legal Centres is an important one for women affected by family violence. But just reversing those cuts isn’t enough to ensure all women will be supported in the courts.

Community Legal Centres aren’t currently receiving enough funded to keep up with current demand. They’re forced to turn away more than 160,000 people every year, including those trying to escape or recover from family violence.

So far neither major party has committed the funding needed to address existing unmet need, far less the increase expected as a result of the current COAG awareness campaign.

We need to keep speaking up and demanding that whoever is in government after the next election, they deliver full funding for family violence services – to ensure women aren’t left without the support they need to escape their abuser and to live safely.

So far more than 37,000 community members and 100 organisations have signed onto Fair Agenda’s call for full funding of family violence services. Will you join them? Join the campaign atwww.fairagenda.org/family_violence_services

Written by Renee Carr
06 May 2016

Last night’s budget included a funding increase of just $33 million next year to address violence against women and children – a woefully inadequate response to the family violence epidemic, and a decision that will have dangerous consequences for those affected by family violence.

The government has essentially decided to leave thousands of women without the service support they need to be safe.

Our Prime Minister has said that family violence is a national priority – but his budget announcements don’t reflect that. His decision to leave thousands of women without access to the services they need to live free from danger is devastating.

It’s good to see new funding committed, but let’s put this in perspective. Just weeks ago the Victorian Government announced $572 million (over two years) in additional funding just to address urgent family violence service and system gaps in that one state. What we needed last night was for the federal government to match that level of funding nation-wide -- that would have been $4 billion over two years.

Instead the federal government will continue to inadequately fund a range of critical services, including:

    • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services – a vital specialist service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who face a vastly increased risk of murder and hospitalisation as a result of family violence. Only 14 FVPLS centres are funded nationally; leaving many women without access. They need an additional $28 million to ensure women coverage nationwide.
    • Community Legal Centres – these help over 215,000 people each year and are forced to turn away more than 160,000 people a year, including women affected by family violence. Family violence and family law work are the top two areas of demand for CLCs across Australia. They not only didn’t receive the additional $14.4 million funding they need to meet this existing demand; the Turnbull government also maintained $34 million worth of cuts over the forward estimates. That means that from 2017 the capacity of community legal centres will be cut by 30%. That’s a devastating cut for a service that helps women navigate things like AVO processes, family law, child protection, and financial abuse.
    • Specialist domestic and family violence services – which aren’t resourced to respond to all police referrals, or to meet demand for crisis or outreach are expected to receive some fraction of the additional $33 million this year. To put that in context Victoria recently committed $103.9 million additional funding (over two years) to address funding deficiencies in this area in just one state.
    • Perpetrator programs - which need $38 million funding, also appear not to have additional funding.

The Treasurer has said that this government will ‘afford the things that need to be afforded’. Last night’s budget shows us that apparently keeping women safe doesn’t fall into that category. It’s absolutely critical that we as a community keep coming together to demand action on this issue, until it does.

Join Fair Agenda's campaign and take action here.

Written by Renee Carr
03 May 2016

With so many things at stake this election, it can be hard to keep track; so we’ve put together a quick budget guide on the top two issues Fair Agenda members said are top priorities, so you know what to keep an eye out for.

Here it is:

1. On addressing gendered violence

Funding for family violence services is the big one to look for here. Prime Minister Turnbull says addressing family violence is a national priority, and tonight’s budget is a test of that commitment.

Domestic Violence Victoria are calling for the federal government to provide an urgent additional $4 billion over two years in this budget, to match the scale of funding committed by the Andrews’ Government in Victoria last month.

Some specific funding needs to listen out for:

  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services: these are a specialist culturally safe service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, which need an additional $28 million to meet national demand. 
  • Community Legal Centres – which provide vital legal advice to women trying to escape family violence and who are facing a $34 million funding cut,, but which actually need an additional $14.4 million to even meet existing demand.
  • Perpetrator Programs – which require $38 million
  • Primary Prevention work – which needs additional funding on top of the $30 million awareness campaign currently being rolled out.

2. On ending women’s economic inequality

Paid Parental Leave

For the past year the Fair Agenda community have successfully campaigned to stop the government’s attempts to cut the amount of time new parents’ can afford to spend at home caring for their newborn. The government recently confirmed that they plan to re-introduce their cuts to parental leave after the election.

Tonight’s budget should give us an idea of whether or not a returned Turnbull government plans to re-introduce them before the end of the 2016/17 financial year, and therefore whether or not parents due in that time frame will be affected.

Superannuation

Last week a Senate committee report found that women’s superannuation balances at retirement are on average half as large as men’s.

One recommendation made by the committee was that the federal government adjust superannuation tax concessions to ensure they are distributed to people with lower super balances.

The Turnbull government have said that it plans to abolish the Low Income Super Contribution, but there’s speculation that they might introduce something else in this area – if so, it will have important implications for women with low-incomes.

Childcare

The government is proposing a new childcare system – but wants to pay for it by tearing funds out of Paid Parental Leave and Family Tax benefits; hardly a good outcome for families. This is another issue to keep an eye out for in coverage of tonight’s budget.

Written by Renee Carr
03 May 2016
WE're going to an early election: here's the plan

The election is on, and with analysis showing 20 of the 21 key marginal seats have more women voters in them than men, and the fate of paid parental leave hanging in the balance, Fair Agenda’s involvement in this election campaign couldn’t be more important.

We've already asked Fair Agenda members to tell us which issues you want us to focus on in the upcoming election, and you told us you want addressing gendered violence and tackling women's economic inequality to be our community's top two priorities. So the team have developed a bold and ambitious plan to put these two issues on the election agenda. 

Here it is: 

  1. We'll work with survivors and family violence service workers to keep a media spotlight on the thousands of women who are being left without access to the service support they need to escape abuse, and build community pressure on both major parties to increase the funding committed for family violence services.
  2. Fair Agenda will create an easy to use guide to help you understand (and share) where candidates stand on key issues that matter to you, and 
  3. Together we'll make stopping the cuts to parental leave an issue in key Senate races.

It's a plan that focuses on the issues that matter most to Fair Agenda members, plays to the proven strengths of our community, and leverages some of the key opportunities that exist this election. Now we need your help to make it happen.

Right now Fair Agenda doesn’t have the funds to deliver the whole plan. In fact, we've only got enough to deliver one point of the three point plan properly. But we've rallied together to help power incredible impact before. So, before we have to start making tough choices about what we drop, can you chip in to help make sure we can deliver as much impact as possible this election?

As a member-driven organisation, Fair Agenda relies on supporters like you to power our community's impact. Over the past two years, FairAgenda members have helped keep a national spotlight on family violence service funding, protected new parents’ paid time at home -- twice; and defended reproductive rights. Together, our community has proven that we can help impact policy and media at a national scale. And that’s exactly what we need to do again in the lead up to this year’s election. 

Elections are high-stakes. Right now we’re facing a big opportunity to drive positive change by securing additional funding for family violence services, as well as the big threat of being dragged backwards on parental leave. That’s why it’s absolutely critical our community makes our voice heard on our issues, in key moments and in key races. 

Want to understand the plan in more detail? Here it is:

1. We'll keep domestic violence on the national agenda and mobilise to secure increased funding for family violence services.

Together we’ve proven that we can draw national media attention to the fact that thousands of women are being left without the service support they need to live free from danger; and created the consistent pressure needed to win millions in funding for a vital family violence service in the days after the last budget. Now we need to step up that campaign.  

With your support we can:

  • Work with survivors and experts to keep family violence funding on the media agenda ahead of the budget and election, delivering creative media tactics that keep this issue in the headlines and amplify the urgent call for action.
  • Support Fair Agenda’s tens of thousands of members to make the funding of family violence services an inescapable issue for key spokespeople in the major parties, and
  • Build pressure in a key marginal seat to ensure the candidates there can’t escape questions about what their party will do to ensure women trying to escape family violence aren’t left without the service support they need to live in safety.

2. We’ll create an easy to use guide to help you understand (and share) where candidates stand on key issues that matter to you

With speculation that this election could result in a minority government,4 and that minor parties could again hold the balance of power in the next Senate,5 making clear where candidates stand on your issues is vital.

That’s why Fair Agenda will make sure candidates are surveyed on the issues that matter to you; and create an easy-to-use guide to help people cast a vote in line with their values. Then we’ll work with Fair Agenda members to share this scorecard far and wide, and to get it in front of key voters in tight races.

3. We’ll make parental leave an issue in Senate races.

In order to pass their proposed cuts to new parents’ paid time at home, the government first have to get their cuts approved by the Senate. Together we’ve already stopped the cuts in the Senate -- twice. And now the Turnbull government have confirmed that if they’re re-elected, we’ll have to do it again.6

That’s why Fair Agenda have a plan to pressure key Senate candidates in tight races to commit to protect paid parental leave if elected; and to make sure voters know which Senators support cutting new parents’ paid time at home, through a nifty online scorecard.

But we need your help to make this happen. Can you make a regular donation between now and the election to help make that possible?

https://fairagenda.nationbuilder.com/election_donate_monthly

 

-References-

1. The big reason the female vote will be crucial at the next election, Daily Life, 24 March 2016.

2. Are you listening Malcolm Turnbull? Victoria sets new benchmark for national family violence response, Women's Agenda, 18 April 2016.

3. Labor's gains pave wave to another hung parliament, The Australian, 8 April 2016.

4. Double dissolution likely to weaken the Turnbull Government's Senate Position, ABC: Antony Green's Election Blog, 7 April 2016.

5. Cuts to parental leave shaping up as an election issue, Women's Agenda, 7 April 2016.

Written by Renee Carr
20 April 2016
Win! Parental leave

After 9 months of campaigning, we’re excited to announce that new parents' paid time at home with their babies is safe under this parliament.

Last week Fair Agenda and our friends at The Parenthood took your messages to parliament – and stood with crossbench Senators Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus as they told media they are committed to voting against cuts to new parents’ paid time at home.   

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

It’s an important victory and the culmination of more than 9 months of campaigning since the Abbott government first announced its plan to cut parental leave on Mother's Day last year.

It means that the proposed cuts to parental leave will not succeed under this parliament. Along with commitments from Senators Lambie and Lazarus, consistent community campaigning has also secured block votes from Senator Xenophon and Senator Madigan (who went on the record after receiving the research commissioned by Fair Agenda members). These commitments, combined with consistent opposition from Labor and The Greens mean new parents' paid time at home is safe!

Here’s what we've been able to achieve so far:

Last week, representatives of Fair Agenda and The Parenthood, together with Fair Agenda member Heather and her son Luca took your message to Parliament House, and secured support from key crossbench Senators Lambie and Lazarus:

Group photo: Senator Lazarus, Lambie, Fair Agenda, Parenthood and Fair Agenda member Heather and her son Luca

You can watch Senator Lazarus’s commitment to members here:

Video: Senator Lazarus pledge

This followed Fair Agenda's rapid response work at the start of the year, releasing an expert report commissioned by members that showed the devastating impact the Turnbull government's new attempt to cut leave in December would have had: 

Headline: Mothers $10k worse off
Here's the coverage of how key crossbench Senator John Madigan (who had the casting votes on this issue) responded to the proposed cuts after seeing our report:

Headline: 'Mean and stupid' proposal

These commitments mean that the new attempts to cut parental leave announced by the Turnbull government in December last year won't succeed.

It built on months of campaigning against the Abbott government's initial cuts, and months of Fair Agenda members calling, emailing and meeting with key cross-bench Senators to make sure they know about the strong community opposition to the government’s cuts. This initial community pressure helped ensure the initial Abbott government proposal was politically impossible for them to pass: 

Qld members meet with Senator Lazarus
Together we've defeated attempts by the Abbott and Turnbull government to tear precious time at home from new parents. We've helped turn the tide on this issue – and stop changes that would have been devastating for tens of thousands of families across the country. 

But the government haven’t dropped their cuts yet. And if they choose to stand by them at the next budget, this could be a live issue at the next election. That’s why our work together is so important.

Campaigns like this are only possible because of support from Fair Agenda members like you -- can you chip in to help make more campaigns like this possible?  http://fairagenda.org/donate

And, make sure you help shape our priorities around this election. As the election approaches, many of the issues our community care about could be on the table - including parental leave. That's why it's important we know what Fair Agenda members like you want to see our community focus on. Can you take 10 minutes to fill in our member survey and share which issues of fairness and equality for women you’d like to see Fair Agenda focus on in the lead up to the election?   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FairAgenda

Written by Renee Carr
24 March 2016

Dear Prime Minister,

Last year you declared that domestic violence was a national priority, affirming the right of women and children to feel safe and live without fear of violence.

We welcome your commitment, and last September’s Women’s Safety Package. However, we are extremely worried that women’s safety is at risk because of inadequate government funding of the services that respond to and prevent domestic and family violence.

We express our utmost concern that thousands of women are being left in dangerous situations, because the specialist services they rely on to achieve safety are not being adequately resourced. These include:

  • Specialist family and domestic violence services - which aren’t resourced to respond to more than a fraction of police referrals they receive, or to provide the breadth of outreach and case support the women affected by abuse need;
  • Specialist crisis and transitional accommodation services - which aren’t able to provide refuge to all the women who can’t safely stay at home;
  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services - which are a vital specialist service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, but aren’t resourced to meet the significant demand for their service, particularly in metropolitan and urban areas; 
  • Community legal centres including women’s legal services - which are being forced to turn away thousands of women affected by violence; leaving them without the legal information and advice that can be critical to escaping abuse; and
  • Men’s behaviour change programs - which are in such high demand that men who have used violence are having to wait up to six months to even be assessed as eligible for programs. That’s a waiting list to even go on the real waiting list.

Finding a way to escape an abuser is difficult and often dangerous. For most women it’s impossible to do without support. But right now, inadequate funding is effectively closing the escape route of thousands of women.

Prime Minister Turnbull, you’ve declared that domestic violence is a national priority. National priorities must also be budget priorities.

We, the undersigned, urge the Commonwealth Government to immediately commit the dedicated, secure and ongoing federal funding needed to:

  • Ensure every woman reaching out for help to live free from violence can access it. That means adequately resourcing: specialist family and domestic violence services; related sexual assault services; crisis and transitional accommodation services; legal assistance services - particularly women’s legal services and other community legal centres; Family Violence Prevention Legal Services; family and relationship services; and related specialist services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, women with disabilities, and others who face barriers to service access.
  • Expand the capacity of, and access to, evidence-based perpetrator interventions like Men’s Behaviour Change programs; and
  • Guarantee long-term support for the expanded primary prevention programs needed to address the underlying drivers of violence.

Yours in anticipation,

Fair Agenda
Never Alone
Domestic Violence Victoria
Domestic Violence New South Wales
Family Violence Prevention Legal Services
No To Violence/Men’s Referral Service
National Association of Community Legal Centres
Australian Women Against Violence Alliance
Tara Costigan Foundation
Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia
WESNET
Australian Women’s Health Network
Qld Domestic Violence Services Network
Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
Domestic Violence Crisis Service (ACT)
Women’s Community Shelters
Women’s Housing Limited
Junction Australia
WISHIN
North Coast WDVCAS
WWDACT
Emerge Women and Children’s Support Network
Domestic Violence Legal Workers Network (WA)
Domestic Violence Service Management
Doris Women’s Refuge
Older Women’s Network Australia Inc.
Women’s Council for Domestic & Family Violence Services (WA)
Women’s Law Centre of WA Inc.
Djinda Services
Patricia Giles Centre
Peel Community Legal Services
Shelter WA
Federation of Community Legal Centres
SCALES Community Legal Centre
Melbourne City Mission
Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre
PMH Domestic & Family Violence Specialist Service
The Humanitarian Group
Carrie’s Place 
Canberra Rape Crisis Centre
Sydney Women’s Counselling Centre
Barwon CASA
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (Qld) Ltd.
Women’s Legal Service NSW
South West Refuge Inc.
Zonta House Refuge Association Inc.
Sexual Assault Support Service (Inc.)
Women’s Health Victoria
NSW Council of Social Services
Share & Care Community Services Group
Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service Inc.
Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services SA
Penrith Women’s Health Centre
Beryl Women Inc.
Good Samaritan Inn Crisis Accommodation
Mallee Family Care
Eastern Region Domestic Violence Services Network Inc.
Geraldton Resource Centre Inc.
WDVCAS NSW Inc.
Warrina Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Service’s Cooperative Ltd
Eastern Domestic Violence Service (EDVOS)
Mudgin-gal Aboriginal Women’s Centre
Security 4 Women
Women’s Electoral Lobby
National Foundation for Australian Women
Australian Council of Social Services
Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia
National Council of Jewish Women
Oxfam Australia
Country Women’s Association of NSW
YWCA Victoria
YWCA Housing
Women with Disabilities Victoria
Jessie Street National Women’s Library
Australian Cross Disability Alliance
Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition Australian
Federation of Graduate Women
Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association of NSW Ethnic Community Services Cooperative Ltd
Addison Road Community Centre
Soroptimist International Australia
Sisters Inside
National Council of Single Mothers and their Children 
Migrant Women Lobby Group of SA 
ACTU
Australian Lesbian Health Coalition
Manly Warringah Women’s Resource Centre
Coalition for Women's Refuges
Collective Shout
Relationships Australia, Victoria
Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (NADA)
NADA Women's AOD Services Network
Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University
Women's Health NSW
Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women's Legal Centre
Amnesty International Australia
Mitcham Family Violence Education and Support Service
The Deli Women & Children's Centre
WASH House Inc.
Central Australian Women's Legal Service
If you would like to add your organisation's support to this joint call for full funding, please get in touch via info@fairagenda.org. 
Written by Renee Carr
16 March 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press conference on family violence funding

Experts meet with Jacqui Lambie

 

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

We defended reproductive rights

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

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

 

We called out victim blaming

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

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

 

We held a major company to account

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

We put gender on the agenda

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

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

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

----

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

 

-References-

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

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

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

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

Written by Renee Carr
13 March 2016
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