Fair Agenda Blog

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Fair Agenda members have helped stop cuts to our parental leave system that would have hurt more than 79,000 families. 

This impact was only possible thanks to the efforts of thousands of Fair Agenda members who have driven this campaign since Day One. Members like Anna who launched the petition calling on other Fair Agenda members to stand with her in campaigning against the cuts… members like Trish, Kyla and Belinda who met with former Senator Glenn Lazarus and asked him to use his Senate vote to block the cuts… members like Heather and baby Luca who came to Parliament House and stood with Senator Lazarus and Senator Lambie as they committed the votes needed to block the legislation in the previous Parliament… and members like Sascha, Colleen, Cassie, Kate and baby Ella who met with election candidates and got them on the record on this issue.

Together, Fair Agenda members have now helped stop cuts to parental leave *four* times. These wins are a testament to the power of our movement, and to our ability to drive change on the national stage. So thank you to everyone who has contributed to this campaign – whether as a donor, volunteer, or as someone who has used their voice to join the call for change. 

How we did it 

When the Abbott Government announced on Mother’s Day last year that they planned to cut working parents’ paid time at home, Fair Agenda member Anna asked you to stand with her to speak against these cuts – and within days 15,000 Fair Agenda members joined her. 

When it became clear that the Government weren’t going to back down from their outrageous attack on working parents, we worked together to win the votes needed to block this proposal in the Senate.

Over the months that followed Fair Agenda members called, emailed and met with key cross-bench Senators to make sure they knew about the strong community opposition to the Government’s cuts.

This community pressure helped ensure it was impossible for the Abbott government to negotiate its cuts through the Senate.

That should have been the end of it.

But instead, when Malcolm Turnbull took over the leadership, he doubled down – and announced a new, slightly different proposal he was planning to negotiate through the Senate. 

But we didn’t let him.

The Turnbull Government’s had made their announcement in the weeks before Christmas – the perfect time to announce something you don’t want to attract bad press - we made sure their strategy didn’t work.

In just a few days Christmas Fair Agenda members chipped in to raise the funds needed to commission expert modelling on the impact of these cuts on workers like nurses, teachers, ambos and Woolies staff.

Fair Agenda then released that research in January, securing syndicated print coverage across major cities, keeping this issue in the headlines where it belonged. 

This coverage helped get crossbench Senator John Madigan on the record as opposed to the new cuts – securing a critical vote needed to block the Government’s attack. 

Then, Fair Agenda joined our friends at The Parenthood in Canberra, to meet with key Senators Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie.

Fair Agenda member Heather and her son Luca stood with the Senators as they told media they would pledge the final votes needed to block the Turnbull Government’s new cuts in the Senate. 

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It won us a reprieve under the last parliament, and it should have been the end of this cruel policy.

But then Minister Porter told media that the fact that the Government's hadn't been able to pass the legislation: "does not mean that this government at the moment is not trying to change [the current system], or if it were re-elected wouldn’t also be looking at ways in which to modify the existing system along the lines that we have suggested.

In response, Fair Agenda members stepped up our campaign – donating and volunteering to make this an issue for voters at the July 2 election.

Fair Agenda members led meetings with key candidates, and funded an election scorecard that got key eight Parties on the record as opposing any cuts that the Turnbull Government might try to get through.

Then we got that scorecard in front of more than 15,000 voters before they headed to the polls. 

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When the Senate results were announced, Fair Agenda had secured commitments to block these cuts from a majority of Senators. 

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But then the Federal Government started backroom negotiations to pass a different form of cuts to working parents time to care - putting pressure on the Nick Xenophon Team to pass a variation of the cuts. And there were reports that the Party was considering going back on its promise. So Fair Agenda partnered up with The Parenthood and others to hold them to their word, including funding a giant billboard near their electorate offices in Adelaide:

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And then, when questioned by journalists on their pledge to Fair Agenda members, the Nick Xenophon Team confirmed they would not support the cuts. A decision that has seen the Federal Government remove the cuts from the Federal Budget, although they remain Government policy.

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This campaigning by Fair Agenda members over the past two years has stopped cuts that would have hurt 79,000 working families and counting. Thanks to everyone who took action to make this possible!

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As the attacks on working parents' time to care have shown – we can’t take progress on issues of equality for granted. In fact, we still have to be ready to defend against those who want to drag us backwards on these issues. 

That means it’s critical that Fair Agenda members keep working to hold those pledges accountable for their commitments, as well as working to secure the policy improvements we need to make progress on women’s economic inequality.

Important campaigns like this are only possible thanks to the generous donations of Fair Agenda members. Can you chip in to help our community drive more change? www.fairagenda.org/donate

Written by Renee Carr
08 May 2017
Family violence groups speak out

A collective of 37 family violence groups have partnered with Fair Agenda in an open letter speaking out against the danger of the federal government’s planned funding cut to Community Legal Centres (CLCs).

The planned $12.1 million cuts to CLCs, due to take effect on July 1, will mean a major reduction in services by CLCs – which provide front line support for women and children trying to escape family violence, putting lives at risk.

It's a plan that's incredibly dangerous. Access to legal support is vital for women trying to escape an abuser. A decision to cut funding for community legal services is a decision to put more women in danger. That’s why family violence groups have come together to urge the Government to reverse the cuts.

Survivor advocate Rebeca Carro said, “Community legal support helped save my life. Without women’s legal service I would be a statistic, not a survivor.”

Survivor advocate Liana Papoutsis said: “I knew I needed help. The first service I reached out to was my Community Legal Centre -- and they provided me with critical support to start thinking about how I could get myself and my child out safely."

Governments' decision to inadequately resource Community Legal Centres means they are already forced to turn away 160,000 people annually, including women affected by violence. 

“Legal assistance is absolutely vital in supporting women experiencing family violence to be safe.” said Fiona McCormack, CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria.

“A cut to the funding of Community Legal Centres will have disastrous impacts for the safety of women and their children.”

In 2014, the Productivity Commission found that $200 million of additional funding per year was needed for Community Legal Centres to meet existing demand.

“It’s great to see the Government talking about domestic violence. But the more we talk about domestic violence – the more women reach out to services for help,” said Moo Baulch, CEO of Domestic Violence NSW.

“If you’re not funding the services to keep up with demand – you’re putting women in danger, and making it harder for them to seek the right support.” she added.

Can you join the campaign to stop the cuts? Sign and share the campaign here: http://www.fairagenda.org/clc_cuts

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Open letter to the Turnbull Government: Please don't put more women in danger

To the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia, and all members of the Turnbull Coalition Government,

As experts who work for people affected by family violence every day, we implore you to urgently reverse the planned Commonwealth funding cuts to Community Legal Centres. 

We know that access to legal assistance changes lives. It helps women and children stay safe, and gives them the power to make informed decisions so they can feel more in control of their lives. And in many cases it’s the reason someone can finally escape an abusive partner. 

A woman affected by family violence – whether that abuse is physical, emotional or financial – faces overwhelming legal obstacles to finding safety for herself, and any children she may have. She will often rely on Community Legal Centres for help with her urgent safety needs, as well as the legal information, advice and representation she needs to be safe in the future. This includes things like: 

  • Help securing a family violence order – to prevent a perpetrator from continuing to abuse or threaten her,
  • Help making sure she isn’t rendered homeless by any legal or financial issues created by her abuser,
  • Assistance to address financial abuse, including debts and fines that may have been accrued in her name to make her feel trapped and unable to escape, and
  • Access to financial counselling and social work services - to ensure she has the support she needs to re-establish her independence. 

Too often we hear from women affected by abuse that dealing with the courts and justice system is overwhelming, intimidating, and re-traumatising. We believe that Community Legal Centres also bring vital and unique expertise to the law reform process needed to improve our legal systems.

As family violence specialists we work with Community Legal Centres because we know their services help keep women and children safe.

But already Community Legal Centres and other services that people affected by family violence rely on don’t have the resources they need to be able to adequately help everyone who reaches out to them for assistance.

We’re very concerned that the planned 30% cut to Commonwealth funding for Community Legal Centres will have devastating consequences. We believe the cuts will put more women in danger.    

Your Government has previously recognised that “adequate investment in frontline services is critical to save lives.” We couldn’t agree more. We implore you to urgently reverse the cuts and appropriately resource all family violence services to ensure everyone reaching out has the support they need to be safe. 

Yours sincerely,

Domestic Violence NSW

Domestic Violence Victoria

Safe Steps – Family Violence Response Centre

Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia

Coalition of Women's Domestic Violence Services of South Australia

InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence

Domestic Violence Crisis Service (ACT)

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Vitoria

Mitcham Family Violence Service

Mallee Sexual Assault Unit and Mallee Domestic Violence Service

Centacare Catholic Family Services

Women’s Information Referral Service (WIRE)

Women’s Health West

Carrie’s Place Domestic Violence and Homelessness Services Inc

Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services NSW Inc.

Women’s Information, Support and Housing in the North Inc (WISHIN)

Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA)

Women’s Health in the South East

Emerge Women and Children’s Support Network

Women’s Health West

Eastern Metropolitan Region Family Violence Partnership

Southern Metropolitan Region Integrated Family Violence Executive Committee

Women’s Health Victoria

McAuley Community Services for Women

Central Highlands and Western Family Violence Division

Women with Disabilities Victoria

Share & Care Community Services Group Inc

Southern Metropolitan Integrated Family Violence Partnership

Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia

Penrith Women’s Health Centre Inc

Men and Family Centre Lismore

YWCA Housing

Berry Street

YWCA Victoria

Quantum Support Services

Georgina Martina Inc

Financial and Consumer Rights Council

Australian Association of Social Workers

Written by Renee Carr
27 March 2017

Thank you to everyone who donated, who called, emailed or met with their MP, and who signed and shared the campaign. You made this possible.

While we didn't get the change that Queenslanders urgently need, thanks to the efforts of Fair Agenda members and our partners, decriminalisation hasn't been swept under the carpet and will now be an election issue.

You can sign onto the campaign at: http://www.fairagenda.org/decriminalise_abortion

Sign up to volunteer here: http://www.fairagenda.org/decriminalise_election_volunteer

Or chip in to: https://fairagenda.nationbuilder.com/decriminalise_abortion_donate_election

Written by Renee Carr
08 March 2017
Abortion access vital

Having the legal right to access an abortion is important for many reasons - including its important to women trying to escape abusive partners.

The Women's Legal Service in Queensland have explained that:

Having access to all reproductive healthcare options can be vital for a woman who is trying to escape an abusive partner.

All too often we see perpetrators of abuse limiting their partner's access to contraceptive and reproductive healthcare - and also using unwanted pregnancy as a way to try and trap their partner.

For a number of women who have turned to Women's Legal Service for help to escape their abusive partner, Queensland's current, outdated laws are making it even more difficult to access the services they desperately need, including pregnancy termination options.

For a woman who is facing emotional, financial and physical abuse - unwanted pregnancy can be devastating, and access to all reproductive healthcare options is critical for those who want to choose abortion to help them get safe from escalating violence and control.

Women who want to access abortion will often move mountains to make that happen because they know it is the best decision for them and their family at that time. Our current system makes this even harder for women, especially women experiencing domestic violence who are amongst our most vulnerable.

The last thing we want is to continue the current climate where women are forced to continue a pregnancy against their will because the access barriers to abortion are too great to overcome. For women experiencing domestic violence, they are then tied to an abusive partner forever as co-parents. 

This week White Ribbon have also released a statement declaring their support for full reproductive rights, stating:

"All women should have complete control over their reproductive and sexual health."

They have stated they take this position because:


  • We are opposed to all forms of control, violence and abuse. Restricting or denying a woman the autonomy to make decisions about her body is an attempt to maintain power and control over a woman. This is also known as reproductive coercion.
  • Sexual and reproductive rights are basic human rights. Denying a woman access to contraception and abortion is a denial of basic rights to health care. It impacts on a woman achieving economic and sexual self-determination and having full access to education and employment. It is a woman’s right to choose if and when she gets pregnant. It is a woman’s right to seek an abortion.
  • Women want access to abortion and control over their reproductive rights.
  • Criminalisation of abortion and restricted access to abortion and birth control (through high cost and limited availability) endanger women’s physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

Other experts agree. Professors Caroline de Costa and Heather Douglas wrote this week

"For women experiencing domestic violence, good access to abortion might be the difference between staying in a violent relationship and getting out."

 

This week Queensland MPs will be asked to vote on whether or not abortion should be decriminalised. This change won't be made without huge public support. Can you help show the undecided MPs you want them to vote for decriminalisation?

Click here to send your MP an email urging them to vote "yes" and stop criminalising women's reproductive healthcare decisions.

Or click here to sign and then share the petition with your friends.

Written by Renee Carr
25 February 2017
Decriminalise abortion

60% of voters are less likely to vote for an MP who votes to continue criminalising women’s healthcare decisions. That’s the new polling that Fair Agenda has just been able to release.

Last week I reached out and asked you to chip in to help show undecided MPs that the majority of Queenslanders want them to stop criminalising women’s healthcare decisions. And Fair Agenda members stepped up.

Thanks to the generous support of members like you, Fair Agenda was able to commission strategic polling of Queensland voters’ view of abortion. And the results could be game changing.

Yesterday, there were reports that the LNP might prevent its MPs from casting a free vote on the abortion decriminalisation package.[1] Today, because of Fair Agenda members – there is a story in the Courier Mail about the fact that 60% of Queenslanders are less likely to vote for any MP who opposed decriminalisation... And that 48% of the LNP's own supporters would also be less likely to vote for them if they vote against decriminalisation.

Fair Agenda has just sent this polling to every MP to ensure that as they consider next week’s vote they know that 82% of the Queenslanders they govern for agree it should be legal for a woman, in consultation with a medical professional, to decide to terminate a pregnancy. 

Below is a quick snapshot of the polling results. You can click here to view the full results.

On issues like these, having members willing to chip in to fund strategic tactics can be make or break.

So thank you to everyone who has donated funds, and to everyone who is donating their time to help influence their MP on this important issue!

- Renee for Fair Agenda

-References-
1. LNP still up in the air about its approach to abortion law reforms, Courier Mail, 20 February 2017.

Written by Renee Carr
21 February 2017
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