Vale Ann Symonds

With sadness, WEL acknowledges the passing of Ann Symonds, past politician and dear friend, who accomplished much in her life - a true trailblazer in social and political leadership.

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Statement on Zoe's Law Nov 2018

12 November 2018

Statement: Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2017

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One Nation’s Legislative Amendment (Parental Rights in Education) Bill

WEL has lodged a submission on this pernicious Bill.  Ours and other submissions, will be published on the Inquiry website before the hearings scheduled on 20 and 21 April. Keep an eye out for it here

The Australian Christian Lobby has been actively campaigning to solicit support for the Bill. WEL is very concerned at the increasing influence and authority the NSW Government is ceding to One Nation on education and other policy areas.

In researching the submission it became apparent that what was formerly known as non-sexist curricula and programs no longer existed in schools and that the cowardly NSW Government  abandonment of the Safe Schools curriculum and implementation program (which modernised and updated aspects of non-sexist education  to  focus on gender)’ has left  a real vacuum. 

The submission deadline itself coincided with the escalating alarm amongst feminists in response to the Morrison Government’s attitudes and actions on rape and sexual abuse cases, together with shocking revelations regarding sexual abuse and assault suffered by young women in Sydney private schools.

Provisions in the Bill would allow further fragmentation and suppression of already insufficient respectful relationships, sexuality and well- being education in schools as well as undermining anti bullying programs and many positive initiatives fostering school /community collaboration. It would seriously prejudice the work of school counsellors by forbidding them to recognise or support students struggling with transgender identities or indeed questioning their gender formations.

WEL’s recommendations on the Parental Rights Bill

1.That the Inquiry recommend that the Bill not proceed as it will undermine the delivery of quality education in NSW and impose an impossible and unjustified administrative burden on the education system. If passed, it will undermine the critical role schools need to play in developing children and young people’s understanding of and capacity to prevent bullying, sexual assault and domestic violence, and to develop their capacity for relationships based on equality, consent and respect;

2.That consideration be given to broadening the definition of ‘parents’ to include families and communities, incorporated into legislation and policy where possible;

3.That urgent consideration be given to strengthening the provision and delivery of respectful relationships, sexuality and sexual health education in NSW Public schools and to making such provision mandatory.


Report from the Aged Care Royal Commission: Aged Care is a feminist issue

The Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care unsurprisingly reported the need for increased staffing and the better training of staff among other recommendations. The issue of low skilled, low paid and inadequate staffing has been raised in all 18 reports into Aged Care over the last 24 years.

Aged care is a feminist issue. Two out of three residents in residential aged care is female and aged care workers are overwhelmingly female, low paid and in insecure and low skilled work.   As Meredith Burgmann pointed out recently, aged care is an issue for almost all women, not only the recipients and paid providers of care, because women do much of the back-up caring of family members as unpaid labour. Read her article here

The final report highlights the need for a new Aged Care Act to underpin reform. In contrast to the Howard era Act which focussed on rationing aged care, the new Act proposed would set out the rights of older people, including their entitlement to care and support based on their needs and preferences.

This would be a significant shift away from the current ration-based system, and would bring aged care more in line with the principles of Medicare.

The final report calls for much stronger governance, regulation of the quality of care, prudential regulation, and an independent mechanism to set prices.

Residential care facilities would need to ensure minimum staff time with residents. By July 1 2022, this would be at least 200 minutes per resident per day for the average resident, with at least 40 minutes of that time with a registered nurse. Requirements would increase over subsequent years.

Even so, facilities reaching this standard would still be seriously below par on international comparisons with comparable countries.

Facilities would be required to report staffing hours provided each day, specifying the breakdown of residents’ time with personal care workers versus nursing staff.

The strongest recommendations are those aiming to enhance the capability and work conditions of formal carers. It calls for better wages and a new national registration scheme for all personal care workers, who would be required to have a minimum Certificate III training.

The final report makes a series of complex recommendations about fees and funding, with the commissioners diverging in view as to the specific arrangements. This augurs ill for any genuine Government commitment to establishing a sustainable funding system via a Medicare type levy for example.

Disappointingly the Report puts  a great deal of faith in better regulation , higher levels of transparency and more rigorous reporting and accountability to drive improvements in  a ‘quasi- market system’, without questioning the efficacy of the market itself. It is worth noting that during the recent Covid19 outbreaks in Victoria  residential aged care  run by the Victorian government did not have any Covid19 out breaks whereas the privately run institutions did. Many of the current problems with Aged Care arose after the privatisation of the institutions by the Howard government in 1997. Could the care model be out of step with the maximisation of profit? The Report fails to pursue this critical question and in this respect could help sustain the woefully inadequate status quo.


WEL and BLUR Projects launch UNSEEN

15,000 women in NSW were counted as homeless in the 2016 Census. A few sleep rough in visible places, but most remain UNSEEN as they ‘couch surf’ with friends and family until they wear out their welcome, sleep in their cars, sleep rough in hidden locations or stay in other temporary and unstable situations. Some women remain in a home with violence and are not counted as homeless. UNSEEN aims to raise awareness of women’s homelessness. More information is on the UNSEEN website which you can also access through WEL.

 

The first event of UNSEEN was held from 8 March, International Women’s Day, to 14 March, at Circular Quay. This month’s event was a chrome-wrapped car (so that it is unseen, like a mirror), with photos of women who had experienced/were experiencing homelessness in transparent film in the windows. The installation highlights the invisibility of women who sleep in their cars. We had an excellent response from the public, with lots of people stopping to look and discuss women’s homelessness. They included women who had experienced homelessness and housing problems themselves both recently and in the past, often due to domestic violence and/or being unable to afford high private rents.

 

We had some great support from sponsors and from volunteers who helped by spending time with Belinda at the installation to interact with passers-by and so Belinda could take a break.  We also had some excellent media interest, including this on Nine news which was the second most read on their site on International Women’s Day read here

 

 

 

The next UNSEEN event will be held from 11-16 April in Martin Place and we expect it will include the little house as well as the car. It will also include more activities and we will be setting up a roster of people who are willing to spend between 2 and 4 hours there to provide support to the project.

 

We are asking WEL members to volunteer to help with this. Timeslots will be 8.30am-12.30pm, 12-2pm, 12.30-3.30pm and 3-6.30pm, although of course you are welcome to come for longer! Please register here

 

 

 With thanks to: 

 


WEL Declaration on the March4Justice

WEL Declaration on the March4Justice

Help us ride this wave to the next Federal election. Go to Support WEL’s work at the end of this article.

‘We are inspired by this seismic, intergenerational and diverse feminist uprising.’

The momentous week started with IWD and culminated in the 15 March Women’s Marches for Justice. Australian of the Year Grace Tame’s appearance with the Prime Minister on Australia Day and Brittany Higgins’ February 24 statement on the cover up of her rape in a Ministerial office ignited an extraordinary outcry from Australian women. Over 100,000 rallied against our Government’s utter failure to respond to male violence and sexual assault at work, at home and in our everyday lives.

The National March for Justice drew tens of thousands of people in towns and cities across the country…from Coffs Harbour to Kalgoolie, and all the capital cities. In Sydney we saw more than 15,000 marchers.

The huge rally in Canberra was the political focal point for the nation. Ngunnawal Elder Aunty Violet Sheridan welcomed us to Country. With Wakka Wakka/Wulli Wulli woman from Central Queensland, Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng, she linked women’s experience of sexual violence with Aboriginal women’s ongoing subjection to the violence initiated through settler colonisation.

There, on the hill facing Parliament House where MPs were sitting inside, Brittany Higgins delivered her measured, damning and illuminating speech watch here.

Back in the House the Government cut off the leader of the Opposition’s attempt to read the speech into Hansard.

Tanya Plibersek and Larissa Waters (the Government declined to send a representative) formally received the 90,000 signatory petition with four immediate actions:

  • Full independent investigations into all cases of gendered violence and timely referrals to appropriate authorities. Full public accountability for findings.
  • Fully implement the 55 recommendations in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s [email protected] report of the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces 2020.
  • Lift public funding for gendered violence prevention to world’s best practice.
  • The enactment of a Federal Gender Equality Act to promote gender equality. It should include a gender equity audit of Parliamentary practices.

WEL is inspired by this seismic and diverse intergenerational feminist uprising. Brilliant and courageous young women dominated the speakers’ platforms around the nation and lend passion and acute analysis to the media reports and commentary. We congratulate the organisers who include lifetime WEL members. You are opening new political possibilities and raising the hopes of all Australian feminists fighting for women’s inclusion in public and private life on equal terms with men.

The uprising has exploded in the face of years of Government resistance to deeply researched and profoundly felt advocacy for women’s equality across every dimension of life. WEL’s work alone has included arguing for our rights to:

  • sexual and reproductive autonomy;
  • freedom from violence, sexual assault and abuse;
  • equal pay, housing and economic security and independence;
  • release from the burdens of unpaid care through free, universal, high quality childcare and decent aged care.

Alongside feminist organisations who are our allies and sisters, on March 15 we declared ‘’Enough is Enough’!

Some Australian women are beginning to conclude that the Federal Government does not care about us.  This is starting to be reflected in some authoritative polling read here.

We have already started the hard work on our Federal Election policies, surveys, voting guides, strategy and manifesto. We believe that the next Federal Election will be the most important for women in a generation. Support our Federal Election Campaign Appeal HERE.

WEL is in this for the long haul.

We will need your help. Our work is voluntary, with pro-bono experts giving unlimited hours. We work in alliance with feminist and expert organisations and in conversation with the political process across the party spectrum. We need to fund research, data bases, professional communications and events reaching out to members, followers and media.

Support WEL’s work for women with a monthly donation HERE.


Women empowered to reveal their UNSEEN stories

 

WEL receives funding from the City of Sydney for UNSEEN, a multi-media project sharing
the hidden experiences of women’s homelessness


WEL is excited to announce that we have received funding of $50,000 from the City of Sydney for UNSEEN, an exciting first-person story telling art project to increase awareness of women’s homelessness.


The project is funded through the City’s CBD Activation Grants program and other philanthropic contributions, including a contribution directly from WEL, and is a collaboration with internationally recognised human rights artist Belinda Mason of Blur Projects.

Since 2000, Belinda has conceptualised, produced and presented high quality socio-cultural multimedia projects for national and international audiences which focus on the topics of sexuality, disability, identity and violence.


The UNSEEN project will bring photographic and video story-telling, performance, writing, art making and other activities to the city for one week of each month from March to December 2021, starting in the week of International Women’s Day. UNSEEN will highlight the issues of homelessness among women of all ages, including the factors that lead to women’s homelessness, including poverty, domestic and other violence, discrimination and other disadvantage.


The first UNSEEN event will be in the city in March, to coincide with International Women’s Day. More details about this and subsequent UNSEEN events will be provided about in future newsletters and on WEL’s website.

 

    


Women Ageing Well news

Women Ageing Well

This year we are planning to expand WEL’s Women Ageing Well campaign, which advocates for better responses from governments to the exacerbated economic and social inequality that women of all ages have experienced both as over our lifetimes and during COVID-19, and the direct impact this has on women’s short and long-term housing security.

We will provide more information on the expanded campaign in future months. UNSEEN project represents the diversity of women’s experiences of homelessness at the heart of the Women Ageing Well campaign. It will connect communities and decision makers to the realities of women’s housing insecurity and homelessness, and support the broader advocacy and campaigning for the necessary systemic and social change needed by government for women of all ages.

Support the campaign today – donate here


Vale Sue Salthouse

WEL Australia are sad to hear of the passing of Sue Salthouse (1949 to 20 July 2020), an early member of the Alice Springs chapter of Women’s Electoral Lobby. Sue was a tireless advocate for the rights of women, especially women with disabilities. After retiring from teaching in the ACT, Sue became involved in Women With Disabilities Australia, and served as their president for four years. She was also Canberra Citizen of the Year in 2015, and ACT Senior Australian of the Year and chair of Women With Disabilities ACT at the time of her passing in 2020.
 
Sue took a leading role in the article on Women (Article 6) in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Australia in 2008. She continued to work on issues of systemic inequality and disadvantage for women with disabilities, calling for a Royal Commission is looking into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability which was established in late 2019. On accepting her honour as the 2019 ACT Senior Citizen of the Year, Sue talked about the importance of a universal basic income and a wellbeing index that measures more than economic outcomes.
 
"I think we need to shift our whole focus in this society, whether it’s towards issues like climate change protests advocating for our future, to creating greater respect for this country and to how we treat each other in our daily lives,” Sue said in 2019.
 
Our condolences to Sue’s family, friends, and colleagues. She will be missed.

Image source.


Parliamentary Inquiry will not increase safety for women and children

MEDIA STATEMENT

18th September

Parliamentary Inquiry will not increase safety for women and children

WEL Australia is very concerned that the Government has placed another dangerous obstacle in the path of immediate reform of the family law system with this further Inquiry.

“The Prime Minister is right about the miseries caused by marriage breakdown. But sadder still is the fact that those women and children who courageously leave a violent relationship end up in a system where, in practice, a parent who is violent to their partner can be considered a bad partner, but a good parent,” said Cat Gander, Convenor for WEL’s Ending Violence Against Women’s group.

 “What has happened to the sixty recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s report and the previous Parliamentary inquiry? Is the Prime Minister hoping for different solutions from this Inquiry?” asked Ms Gander.  

“There is surely enough evidence and testimony now to warrant reform,” said Ms Gander.

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