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Young women’s recent brave advocacy for a safer future has focused national attention on the urgent need for systemic action. Brittany Higgins has come forward with an allegation that she was raped in Parliament House. Friends of a woman who has now died have spoken out about rape allegations against our country’s Attorney-General. Dhanya Mani has spoken up for a safer future and prioritising survivors after the woeful response to her allegation of indecent assault. Chanel Contos has called out rape culture in schools. Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, has spoken out about coverup culture and abuse of power.
Every single day survivors disclose violence to a system that doesn’t care enough to bring them justice.
Enough is enough.
Rape and other acts of gendered violence have profound, life-long consequences for survivors, often including physical disabilities and mental health conditions. Yet our prevention infrastructure and support services are not resourced to adequately support survivors’ safety. And systems too often fail to hold perpetrators to account.
We deserve better.
Our parliamentary leaders must treat all forms of gendered violence as seriously as other threats to community safety.
Political leaders must take decisive action to make parliaments a safe place for everyone. Including improving the rules governing political staffers and party members to prevent abuse, addressing inequality, providing accessible independent reporting avenues, and ensuring real accountability for misconduct. But action in this moment must extend beyond our parliaments.
There is also a crisis in our communities. Horrific violence is being perpetrated and enabled across the country – the result of a wider cultural and systemic problem that manifests in schools, workplaces, institutions and homes. For many, these drivers of violence are further enabled by intersecting power dynamics that increase barriers to a safer future. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, resisting the ongoing impacts of colonisation and racism is inseparable from gender justice. Intersecting systems of power and oppression also increase barriers to safety for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, women with disabilities, younger women, older women, women in institutional care, women in prison, women in insecure work, and trans and gender diverse people as they strive for safety and justice. Too often, impunity is the outcome.
It is the responsibility of governments to intervene in the systems that continue to enable violence. Survivors and community leaders are already working for a safer future – it’s time governments properly supported solutions, particularly the leadership and self-determination of First Nations communities.
There are clear pathways to a safer future. We demand the action from leaders needed to make it happen.
This must also include:
Prevention: Implement the full spectrum of long-term systemic prevention initiatives that can address the underlying causes of gendered violence, including sexism and intersecting forms of discrimination. Starting with comprehensive whole-of-school education programs.
Resourcing services and accountability mechanisms: Properly resource the specialist services that victim-survivors of gendered violence rely on to report, be safe and recover. Resource the mechanisms needed to hold perpetrators to account.
Law reform: Improve access to justice for victim-survivors of sexual assault through substantive and procedural law reform, and educate the workforce so responses are appropriate and trauma-informed.
Addressing workplace sexual harassment: Action all recommendations of last year’s Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report.
Anything else falls short, and is a decision to leave women in danger.
We must believe, support and listen to survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and properly resource solutions to prevent gendered violence from occurring in the first place.
We are partnering with Democracy in Colour to offer an opportunity for a person of colour to join the Working Women’s Centre team in this Junior Advocacy Officer position and develop their advocacy skills. This is a participant role in Democracy in Colour’s POC Placement Program – an on-the-job training program for campaigners of colour.
This program is about finding emerging campaigners of colour, supporting their talent, and pushing organisations to centre their voices for real, lasting change. It places emerging leaders in paid campaigning roles in advocacy NGOs alongside a training and mentoring program run by Democracy in Colour. As part of the program, the successful applicant will work within WWCSA, and spend on average a half day per week participating in training and professional development as part of the placement program.
The Working Women’s Centre SA Inc is a not-for-profit organisation that provides an industrial service to vulnerable working women and others. The Centre was established in 1979 and has been advising, supporting and advocating for vulnerable women and migrant workers for 40 years. The Centre provides support, advice, information and representation to women who face issues in their employment in both federal and state jurisdictions.
The Centre is also concerned with the structural inequalities for women in the workplace, and conducts outreach, community education and advocacy for the equal participation of women in the workforce and community. Current key focuses of the Working Women’s Centre include precarious work, sexual harassment, wage theft, women in male-dominated industries and the impact of COVID-19 on young women.
Young people, especially young women, have been disproportionately impacted by the enduring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The South Australian Government has provided a one-off grant allocation to the Working Women’s Centre SA Inc to inform the development of effective policy and practice responses to the unique employment-related needs of young women (12 – 30 years old) in the wake of COVID-19. We have already begun working on a project enhancing and creating secure employment opportunities for young women (12 – 30 years old) in response to COVID-19. The successful applicant for this role will take responsibility for rolling out the rest of the project.
The Junior Advocacy Officer will work primarily on issues facing women under 30, with a focus on temporary visa holders, First Nations women and women from low socioeconomic groups.
This is a full-time (35 hours per week) 12-month term contract position.
Employment conditions are specified in the Working Women’s Centre Inc Enterprise Agreement 2018. Presently, the Junior Advocacy Officer role is not set out in the Enterprise Agreement. The Enterprise Agreement is due for renewal and the classification will be added.
The position is based at the Working Women’s Centre in Adelaide SA but requires the capacity to undertake regional and remote travel occasionally. Some out of hours work is required.
Benefits include the following:
We encourage applications from all cis and trans women, as well as non-binary people who are comfortable working on advocacy that focuses on the experiences of young women.
The successful applicant will be required to get a working with vulnerable people check if successful.
If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the Director Abbey Kendall at email@example.com.
To apply, please fill out this application form, attaching a cover letter and CV.
Applications close at 5pm on Thursday 18th of March, 2021.
Fair Agenda & the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition are also calling for all supporters to share their own message of support with their local MP by:
Finding out where you local MP stands on the issue and sending them a message using them to vote yes to the bill to provide safe, legal and compassionate access to abortion care. Which can be done easily by using this tool: https://www.voteprochoice.org.au/
Leaving a voice mail message for your local MP, you can find a guide and talking points on how to leave a message for your MP if a staffer picks up or via voicemail message. https://fair-agenda.good.do/sadecrim/callMP/
Joining a calling party – an online get together providing a briefing and cheering on the call numbers together. 5:30-6.45pm Mon 15 Feb. Register here: https://www.fairagenda.org/sa_calling_party
The joint letter, led by Fair Agenda and South Australian Abortion Action Coalition reads:
The Working Women’s Centre SA has today written to all major political parties, urging them to commit to tackling sexual violence in their offices. The Working Women’s Centre SA Inc said that after Brittany Higgins’ story, and revelations about other sexual assaults within political offices, political parties need mandated training for their staff about preventing and responding to sexual harassment.
Today, the Working Women’s Centre sent a letter to the secretaries of the Liberal Party, the Labor Party and the Greens at a federal and South Australian state level, as well as numerous political offices, asking them to take responsibility for addressing this issue. The Working Women’s Centre SA has proposed that all political parties engage in a tailored training program that aims to prevent and safely respond to incidents of sexual violence in the workplace.
They hope to see parties make commitments to changing their workplace culture through immediate action in line with the recommendations of the Respect@Work National Inquiry Report into sexual harassment.
Abbey Kendall, Director of the Working Women’s Centre SA, said “There is something deeply wrong when the workplaces of the country’s most powerful decision-makers are failing to maintain a safe workplace and culture for women. Given the significant resources our elected representatives and their offices have, there is no excuse for failing to provide a workplace free of sexual violence. No woman should lose her job because she is assaulted.’
‘These are not the first women working in politics to come forward with stories of sexual assault. There will be more stories, from all corners of politics. The systems, the attitudes, and the culture all need to change.’
‘For us, this is not about party politics. This is about ensuring that every working woman in the country can work safely and without fear of sexual violence or harassment. Every political party in the country needs to act.’
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