Fair Agenda Blog

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
Nurses, teachers

Just a few days before Christmas the Government launched a new attack on Paid Parental Leave. It was part of a classic move known in political circles as ‘taking out the trash’ -- announcing a series of terrible new policies all together, at a time when you know most people won’t be reading the news. And so far the Government have been getting away with it.

But here’s the good news: despite the holiday season, Fair Agenda members across the country dug deep and chipped in to crowdfund an expert report to break down what the proposal will mean for families - to cut through the government’s spin, and show that these cuts are both unsound and unfair.

Today Fair Agenda have launched that report - created by the experts at the Women and Work Research Group at the University of Sydney. 

Here's the top line:

  • We can expect that approximately 79,000 women would be adversely affected by this proposed cut.

  • Analysis of the impact of the proposed cuts on some example families shows that nurses, teachers, ambulance service workers and retail workers will be hit hard by the proposed changes. Under the government’s proposed cuts, the primary carers in our case studies would be left with the equivalent of just 7 – 13 weeks of their family's living costs. That’s less than half of the 26 weeks experts recommend. The financial loss suffered by these families would range from $3,942 to $10,512.

  • Given what experts know about how women in Australia use parental leave, they expert that the proposed cuts will:
    • prevent more women from spending critical time at home with their new baby;
    • lead to financial duress;
    • reduce the number of women able to afford to stay at home for 26 weeks and thus adversely impact on the health and welfare outcomes of new babies and mothers; and
    • increase demand for childcare for the very young, in a system that is already struggling to keep up with demand.

The report also shows that if the cuts are approved, we can expect negative flow on impacts for new families, and the communities in which they live. 

The good news is that there's still a chance to stop these cruel cuts from becoming a reality.

The fate of these cuts will be decided by the Senate cross bench, and we know that they've been influenced by community backlash to proposed cuts to parental leave before. In fact, the only reason the government have announced these new cuts is because the original cuts proposed by former Treasurer Joe Hockey on Mother's Day were so unpopular with the community they couldn't get them passed through the Senate.

Can you help make sure the Senate cross bench know where the community stand on these new proposed cuts?

  • Sign your opposition to the cuts on our petition here:  www.fairagenda.org/ppl
  • Or, if you've already signed, email your local cross bench Senator asking them to oppose the cuts today:
    • Victorians: Email Senator Ricky Muir and Senator John Madigan
    • Queenslanders: Email Senator Glenn Lazarus
    • Tasmanians: Email Senator Jacqui Lambie
    • West Australians: Email Senator Dio Wang
    • South Australians: Email Senator Nick Xenophon (note: Senator Xenophon has already indicated to media he plans to oppose these cuts, so please send him a message thanking him for indicating that he will oppose the cuts)
    • Live in another state/territory? Based on previous reports it appears all Government Senators intend to vote for the changes, and that Labor and Greens Senators will oppose them. Other cross bench Senators David Leyonhjelm and Bob Day have indicated they support cuts to paid parental leave. So rather than targeting your local Senators, we'd love your help engaging your friends with the campaign. Can you share this report with your friends and ask them to sign their opposition to the cuts? Click here to share this post on Facebook.

 

Click below to access the full report:

Written by Renee Carr
13 January 2016
ppl_explainer

It's a bad start to the festive season. But here's the good news: we've already won on this issue once. According to Fairfax, the Minister today said "the government was 'reconfiguring [its original cuts] after the backlash", and told reporters he was still in negotiations with the Senate crossbenchers about these new cuts – that means our campaigning is working, and there's still a chance for us to stop this.

The government is trying to sell its new announcement as an improvement -- but measured against Joe Hockey's Mother's Day announcements, anything would look good. 

The reality is that at the core of their proposal there is still a massive cut to the time parents will be able to afford to spend nurturing their newborn in the critical first year. And with women still making up 99% of those accessing paid parental leave, we can expect any cuts will disproportionately impact on women. With a pay gap of almost 18%, and economic disparities between women and men often manifesting at motherhood, this cut would drag us in exactly the wrong direction.

It’s important to remember the details of the system we have in place right now. Under that system a primary carer can access 18 weeks of paid leave at the minimum wage. This is part of a combined leave package that they can then top up with any additional leave they've negotiated with their employer, to help them cover costs while they stay at home caring for their new baby.

With these new, repackaged cuts, instead of providing 18 weeks of guaranteed minimum support to eligible mum or dad, the government want to leave these parents with access to a maximum of 18 weeks leave.

What does that mean exactly? Well, looking at the case study of the impact on a part-time nurse working in Victoria who is entitled to 10 weeks of employer provided care time for a new baby…

  • Under the current scheme, they would receive 18 weeks of minimum wage support from the government ($11,826) – topped up by 10 weeks of employer provided care they have negotiated into their contract ($7,200). That comes to a total of $19,026 – or enough for two parents and a newborn to cover living expenses for about 11 weeks.
  • Under what we understand as the government’s proposed new scheme, a nurse would receive 10 weeks of employer care ($7,200), and then the government would then only provide support to bring their supported leave time up to 18 weeks. So the nurse would receive 8 weeks of government leave at the minimum wage ($5,256). That would leave the new family with just $12,456. That’s enough to cover the family’s expenses for about 7 weeks.

Remember that experts recommend a new parent should have 26 weeks leave as the minimum amount of time off work to provide health and welfare benefits to both the mother and newborn. 

Any cut to parental leave is bad for the country and bad for families. As a society we all have a responsibility to make sure our children are cared for in the most nurturing environments. We all have a stake in ensuring the next generation has a bright future. Paid time at home for new parents and affordable childcare is the best way to keep our country strong. That’s why we should be extending the time parents can stay home – not cutting it. 

If the response to the government’s last announcement has demonstrated anything, it’s that attacks on families and new parents aren’t popular with their voters, which is no doubt why they’ve added a tied component to today’s announcement – proposed changes to the eligibility test, one that will allow more casual workers and women in hazardous jobs to claim payments. That is a positive proposal, but one that shouldn’t be tied to cutting the time tens of thousands of other parents have to care for their baby; or dragging our country’s parental leave policy backwards.

That’s why it’s critical we let our Senators know we oppose any cuts to parental leave.

The good news is campaigning from communities like ours has already forced the government to abandon its proposals once.  After former Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the first proposal to cut parental leave on Mother’s Day this year thousands of Fair Agenda members came together to sign our opposition to any cuts to parental leave. Then, in the months that followed, as the government tried to negotiate those cuts through the Senate, we worked tirelessly to show the critical cross bench members the extent of community opposition to this change.

Over months we placed calls into their offices, sent them emails, requested meetings about the topic – and Queensland Fair Agenda members even nabbed a meeting with Senator Glenn Lazarus, delivered petition signatures and powerful personal messages from other Queensland voters opposed to the cuts.

When we work together and talk about what the government’s changes mean for our families and communities, we can influence decision-makers and sway votes.

There are 6 cross-bench Senators who could be potential allies on this topic. Can you give them a call?

Victorians

Senator Ricky Muir. Call him on (03) 5144 3639. Click here for more details.

Senator John Madigan. Call him on (03) 5331 2321. Click here for more details.

South Australians

Senator Nick Xenophon. Call him on (08) 8232 1144. Click here for more details.

Queenslanders

Senator Glenn Lazarus. Call him on (07) 3001 8940. Click here for more details.

Tasmanians

Senator Jacqui Lambie. Call her on (03) 6431 2233. Click here for more details.

West Australians

Senator Dio Wang. Call him on (08) 9486 9650. Click here for more details.

 

If you haven't joined the campaign yet, sign up at www.fairagenda.org/ppl

-References- 

Paid parental leave: Government to change proposed offerings, Social Services Minister confirms, ABC News, 16 December 2015.

MYEFO: Christian Porter finds $36 million to soften double-dipping, The Australian, 16 December 2015.

Written by Renee Carr
16 December 2015

There’s nothing quite like peeling open an envelope to find a lovely message from an old friend to remind you of the real meaning of Christmas.

And as I opened my first card this week, it got me thinking, what better way to send budget decision-makers a message at this time of year than by Christmas card?

As our leaders head back to their electorate offices to wrap up work for the year and order their Christmas hampers, they’ll be expecting us to fall silent about the horrific number of women who have been killed or abused by their partners this year.

But instead, can you help me make sure -- in the best tradition of the season -- we’re sending the Treasurer dozens of Christmas messages reminding him of what really matters: making sure no woman is left in danger?

Click here to buy one of Fair Agenda's special Christmas cards and we'll handwrite your message in and get it into the Treasurer's post box.

For me the true spirit of the festive season is in doing good for others - so I hope you’ll join me and advocating for the funding needed to ensure the many women who will be experiencing abuse this Christmas aren't left without the service support they need to escape their abuser.

The festive season is supposed to be one of love and celebration – but without full funding of family violence services, too many women will be left in danger this summer. Things have to change. That’s why it’s critical we show our leaders we won’t rest until no woman is left in danger.

Buy one of our Christmas cards and we’ll send your message to the Treasurer in a way he’ll least expect.

These cards are part of something much bigger and more powerful than any single message or action. Since the last budget - when the government effectively ignored the family violence crisis - we’ve been working together to build the constant community pressure it will take to win change on this issue. Fair Agenda members have joined together to take thousands of actions, publish critical reports and drive hard-hitting media coverage of family violence. Together, we’ve won funding for one critical front-line service – now can you help us show our budget-decision makers we’re not going to stop until they commit the funding needed to ensure no woman is left in danger?

NB: If you can't afford to buy one of the cards, send us an email at info@fairagenda.org with your name, address and a message you'd like to send the Treasurer and we'll work to try and deliver your message in another creative way.

 

-- If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. --

 

Written by Renee Carr
11 December 2015
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