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It all happened quite quickly. We arrived here as international students in February 2020, attended our orientation for two weeks, got lost on campus a few times and before we knew it, the pandemic had taken over most parts of the world and Australia closed its international borders indefinitely. No new international students would arrive, or indeed anyone who wasn’t an Australian citizen. I realized soon that I had to make the best of the situation. I missed home terribly and was concerned about my friends and family at home but could do nothing all the way from here. I decided to google all the things that I was interested in and tried to find organisations in South Australia I could get involved in, but I had no luck.
My glimmer of hope was an Ad put out by the Working Women’s Centre asking for volunteers on a project examining how young women in South Australia were impacted by COVID19. I was soon at the Centre every Monday amongst the most passionate women who were all collectively trying to improve the lives and wellbeing of women and vulnerable workers at the workplace. It was the most meaningful work I could ever have the pleasure of working on. Soon enough, we were picking up momentum by collecting more survey responses and holding consultations with international students (some of whom were my dear friends) to identify what challenges we were facing and how to make our voices heard. The result was the report titled “Loss of work, isolation & worry: the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on young women” which was released in April, 2021.
We found that most COVID-19 related job losses occurred for part-time workers, who are disproportionately women and young people. Furthermore, international students who lost work due to COVID-19 had no access to government support like Jobkeeper or Jobseeker and had to rely on university support to make ends meet.
Pictured above: some of the participants from our consultation exploring the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on young women, with young international students based in South Australia.
Our consultation of female international students held in December revealed that finding a new job after losing one was one of the hardest tasks during a pandemic. In some cases, students reported a call-back rate of less than 10% when applying for jobs. Young women faced undue financial hardship as a result of this and had significant anxiety and worries over money matters. In addition to this, 44% of the survey respondents felt more discouraged about the prospect of finding work since COVID-19.
It is so difficult for young women to access safe and secure jobs, it is no wonder that we are stressed about being able to get one in the future.
This engagement with the Working Women’s Centre is what helped me get through the pandemic. It offered me a kind and supportive space to grow and learn. More importantly, I finally felt like I was part of a community that shared the same values as I did, advocating for those groups in society that often go unvoiced. If this is something you need as well, the Working Women’s Centre is the place for you.
Come along to our Feminist Action Session to help the Working Women’s Centre develop practical tools that can be used in workplaces.
1 in 3 Australians have experienced sexual harassment at work, yet only 18% of victims report their experience (according to the Respect@Work Report 2020).
The Working Women’s Centre SA has recently completed research that found that workplace posters are effective and engaging tools to highlight inappropriate behaviour and connect victims with support avenues. In the upcoming Feminist Action session, we will discuss ways in which we can combat sexual harassment in our workplaces and communities and support victims of sexual harassment. We’ll also share ideas for a meaningful poster for South Australian workplaces.
In this session you will have the opportunity to share your ideas and discuss the topic with like-minded individuals.
CONTENT NOTE: This event will involve a discussion of workplace sexual violence.
29 Jul 2021
The Working Women’s Centre SA, Level 1 Station Arcade, 52 Hindley Street
We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present . Sovereignty was never ceded.
The Working Women’s Centre in collaboration with Fair Go SA, will co-host an educational workshop on worker’s rights and the Fair Work Act.
This will be followed by a confidential (one to one) advice clinic for any workers who need free industrial advice about work.
Our workshop will cover topics including:
At the Confidential Industrial Advice Clinic you can:
23 Jul 2021
2pm – 5pm
69 Grote Street, Adelaide SA
If you cannot register for this event via the We Chat QR code, please email to register: email@example.com
Accessibility: Please note that this venue is not wheelchair accessible, there are volunteers who can assist with accessing the venue if required, but only upon request.
We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.
We are pleased to announce major political parties have engaged the Working Women’s Centres to assist with workplace training. Since February, multiple political offices have contacted us to book our training ‘Preventing and Responding to Sexual Harassment’ and ‘When violence comes to work.’ This parties include:
We are pleased that political parties are taking proactive steps to prevent sexual assault in their offices by booking our training programs.
We will be working with Federal Labor and SA Labor over the next 6 months to roll out training for MPs, staff and volunteers.
Over May, the Working Women’s Centers educators travelled to Canberra to train all Federal Labor Chief of Staffs in the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. We are in the process of rolling out training for federal Labor offices across the country.
The Working Women’s Centre’s will also provide prevention of sexual harassment training to the Prime Minister and Cabinet department in the coming month. We have a long training relationship with the PMC team.
In South Australia, the SA Labor party passed a motion that commits to ensuring all South Australian Labor Members of Parliament, their staff, elected party officials, office bearers, campaign coordinators and campaign managers will undertake mandatory unconscious Bias training, Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment training and Bullying training within the next six months.
Further Senator Wong’s office has booked the suite of Working Women’s training program to be conducted in early July 2021.
We urge all states and territory governments and political parties to do the same. Leadership comes from the top.
We encourage all political parties’ and employers to contact the Working Women’s Centres to discuss our training programs. In February 2021, after the allegations of sexual violence and harassment in Parliament House and political parties, we wrote to all political parties, their leaders in every state and territory to encourage them to take the crucial step of engaging workplace training. A previous media release about our correspondence with political parties can be found: here: https://wwcsa.org.au/call-for-all-political-parties-to-undertake-training-on-workplace-sexual-harassment/
Quotes attributable to Abbey Kendall, Director of the South Australian Working Women’s Centre.
“Workplace training is crucial to eliminating violence against women in the workplace and the community. The training must be evidence based, trauma informed and mandatory. We wrote to every political party in the country asking them to lead in this area and we are really pleased that our training programs have been taken up.“
Working Women’s Centre Training Officer Cassandra Deon-Wierda says
“Workplace training and education programs are a vital tool to improving organisational and team culture. Through action based and cooperative learning staff can become empowered and confident in their skills, knowledge, and communication with one another. As we start to gain a better understanding of the intersection of unconscious bias and serious issues within the work environment, the need for employers to maintain an inclusive environment committed to equity and respect are essential.“
Despite our crucial work, Working Women’s Centre’s in NT and QLD are in a funding crisis. We are asking the federal government to save the NT and QLD WWC and establish Working Women’s Centre’s in every state and territory in line with recommendation 49 of the Respect@Work Report. Media releases about this fight can be found here: https://wwcsa.org.au/media/media-releases/
Unless the Federal Government steps and provides ongoing and sustainable funding to the NT and QLD Working Women’s Centre, they will not be able to provide this crucial training.
In the Northern Territory –the NT Working Women’s Centre continues to receive requests for workplace training in a broad range of areas including sexual harassment, domestic and family violence and bullying. ‘All Work Aware training has a violence prevention focus. It is intended to provide safer workplaces by assisting employers/employees understand the issues and how to better respond and support workers on the ground. It is about changing the culture and making workplaces fair and safe for all, proofing your organisations against avoidable risks.’ To date, we have delivered training to a number of Government departments, not for profits and small businesses. It would be helpful if Working Women’s Centres training was available more broadly to workplaces, that we could be funded to roll this out to workplaces across Australia and not just to those who can afford it.
WWC SA Director – Abbey Kendall – 08 8410 6499 – firstname.lastname@example.org
WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou
WWC QLD Director – Fiona Hunt
The Working Women’s Centres call on the Federal Government to immediately take action and fund the Northern Territory and Queensland Working Women’s Centres.
The funding and establishment of Working Women’s Centres in every Australian state and territory is essential to addressing workplace sexual harassment, and forms a key part of the Respect@Work report, appearing at recommendation 49.
The recommendation is that ‘Australian governments provide increased and recurrent funding to working women’s centres, to provide information, advice and assistance to vulnerable workers who experience sexual harassment, taking into account particular needs of workers facing intersectional discrimination.’
The Federal Government has agreed to this recommendation in the Roadmap for Respect. However, the government has failed to provide certainty as to its funding commitment or timeframes around these discussions.
We cannot wait. The Northern Territory and Queensland WWCs have 10 weeks to find funding or face the prospect of closing. This will be devastating to working women in QLD and the NT and it will fly in the face of the federal governments promises to address gendered violence in the workplace.
The Government must act now and immediately fund the NT and QLD services. Our clients, communities and working women are depending on us. Working Women are depending on the government to save their services, who work and understand the local environment and the challenges in which they live and work.
Funding Working Women’s Centres is an easy, immediate and tangible solution for the prevention of sexual violence. This is the first test for the new Attorney General and the federal government since their response to the Report’s 55 recommendations.
Experts and leaders in gender equity regularly talk about the Working Women’s Centre holistic model as world leading. WWCs form the backbone of the fight to eliminate gendered violence in our workplaces and the community.
Director of the QLD Working Women’s Centre Fiona Hunt says: “All women deserve safe workplaces and someone to champion them when they are treated unfairly. WWC QLD works with the most vulnerable women in QLD to keep them employed, to get what they are entitled and to walk away fairly if needed.”
Director, of the NT WWC Nicki Petrou says: “In a climate when women’s safety at work has again hit the headlines, when the Federal Government has committed to building women’s workforce participation, economic security and making women’s homes and workplaces safe, funding specialist women’s services such as the Working Women’s Centres who are here now continuing to do the work, in supporting women with workplace issues and throughout COVID is especially critical. This also makes good sense.”
Director of the SA WWC Abbey Kendall says: “The South Australian WWC is a great example of what a secure and funded and working women’s center can do for workplaces, vulnerable people and working women. We make a big impact in South Australia but we need a national approach to this issue. We need an alliance of well funded Working Women’s Centres in every state and territory and the first step to achieving that is to save the NT and QLD centres”.
WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou,
WWC QLD Director – Fiona Hunt
WWC SA Director – Abbey Kendall
The Working Women’s Centres are not-for-profit organisations which providefree advice, representation and support to vulnerable, workers about their rights at work. Additionally, the WWC’s advocate for systemic change to improve women’s workplace conditions and safety, and offer a range of free and fee for service training for workers and employers about workplace rights. This includes bullying, sexual harassment, and appropriately responding to disclosures of domestic violence.
There are currently 3 WWCs across the country (SA, NT and QLD). The only WWC with secure funding is WWC SA with the QLD service now a program of the Basic Rights Centre following non continuation of its funding 4 years earlier.
The Working Women’s Centre is made up of three arms:
Industrial/Legal support – we provide advice and representation to vulnerable workers who contact the Centre with work issues through 1:1 clinic appointments
Advocacy – we conduct advocacy to resolve systemic issues that affect women and other vulnerable workers, such as sexual harassment and precarious work
Education – we provide fee-for-service and free training for workers and employers about workplace rights. This includes bullying, sexual harassment, and appropriately responding to disclosures of domestic violence.
Core practices of the WWC
The Working Women’s Centre model is unique due to the combination of a number of core practices.
This interview was published by The Wire May 13 2021.
In a bid to repair their relationship with the women of Australia, the Federal Government is committing $3.4 billion to improving women’s safety, economic security, and health and wellbeing.
Women’s organisations say far more funds are needed to address workplace sexual harassment and violence.
Meanwhile, advocates welcome long-awaited recognition of violence against women and girls with disabilities.
This article was published by Glam Adelaide 16 March 2021.
March participants congregated at midday in Victoria Square to hear speeches before heading down to North Terrace.
Hosted by March 4 Justice, the event championed inclusion, and people of all genders were in attendance.
“The March is not just for women. It’s for everyone who wants an end to gendered violence – people from all backgrounds are welcome,” they say.
This article was published by Croaky May 12 2021.
Introduction by Croakey: The “shocking global disparity” in access to vaccines remains one of the biggest risks to ending the pandemic, the World Health Organization’s Director-General warned this week.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said high and upper-middle income countries, representing 53 percent of the world’s population, have received 83 percent of the world’s vaccines.
By contrast, low and lower-middle income countries account for 47 percent of the world’s population but have received just 17 percent of the world’s vaccines.
Speaking to a media briefing on 10 May, Dr Tedros cautioned against complacency as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths plateau globally, notwithstanding rapidly increasing cases numbers and deaths in the South-East Asia region.
“Any decline is welcome, but we have been here before,” he said. “Over the past year, many countries have experienced a declining trend in cases and deaths, have relaxed public health and social measures too quickly, and individuals have let down their guard, only for those hard-won gains to be lost.”
The WHO Foundation has launched a “Together for India” appeal to raise funds to support WHO’s work in India, including the purchase of oxygen, personal protective equipment and medicines.
Dr Tedros said the spread of variants, increased social mixing, the relaxation of public health and social measures and inequitable vaccination are all driving transmission.
“My message to leaders is, use every tool at your disposal to drive transmission down, right now,” he said.
“Even if your country has a downward trend, now is the time to surge your capacities. Even in countries with the highest vaccination rates, public health capacities must be strengthened to prepare for the possibility of vaccine-evading variants, and for future emergencies.”
Meanwhile, public health researcher Alison Barrett details some of the latest research news on COVID vaccination and useful vaccination resources in the latest edition of the COVID-19 wrap, as well as reporting on the pandemic’s impact on women.
Working Women’s Centres – the first point of contact for women experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace – received just $200,000 in the Federal Budget.
“We are experts in preventing and addressing workplace sexual harassment and violence through one-on-one support, training and advocacy. The NT and QLD Working Women’s Centres are experiencing a funding crisis, yet only $200,000 was delivered in the Federal Budget. This represents only interim funding. How long can we wait for funding certainty?” said Nicki Petrou, Director of the Working Women’s Centre NT.
“Despite our long and proud history of supporting women workers and advocating for fairer and safer workplaces, we continue to battle for funding to keep our doors open.
“This is a huge missed opportunity for the Prime Minister to show a commitment to tackling workplace sexual violence. There is a massive unmet need for our services. Funding Working Women’s Centres is an easy, immediate and tangible solution for the prevention of sexual violence and provision of direct specialist support to women across Australia.
“In 2016, the Queensland Working Women’s Centre was defunded by the federal government and in 2020 we lost funding for the NT Working Women’s Centre. This Government has not provided any funding certainty in the Budget. This is disappointing to working women across Australia who are in desperate need of support.
“The Working Women’s Centre model is world-leading. We are the backbone of the struggle against workplace sexual harassment and violence. The voices of working women have not been heard. Survivors all over the country are speaking out, yet the “women’s budget” doesn’t adequately support survivors of sexual violence in the workplace. Scott Morrison has failed working women.”
“A key recommendation of the Respect@Work report – Recommendation 49 – was to fund Working Women’s Centres in every Australian state and territory. This is because our world-leading model is proven. Working Women’s Centres allow women to access free information and advice from specialist services when they experience sexual harassment at work,” said Nikky Candy, Director of the Working Women’s Centre SA.
“When a woman experiences sexual harassment at work they face very complex, personal choices. Being armed with the facts about their options empowers them at a time when they are incredibly vulnerable. Women should not have to make a decision between their safety and economic livelihood. This funding decision will leave vulnerable women even more vulnerable.”
“The Prime Minister has failed the test when it comes to tackling sexual violence in the workplace, especially for women in the NT who face the prospect of being left without specialised support in a matter of months. Funding the NT and QLD centres would have cost approximately $1.4 million per year, but instead, the government has only provided $200,000 in the budget to be split across both Centres.
“This $200,000 is not enough to save the NT Working Women’s Centre, which faces the prospect of closure after 1 July 2021. Both the NT and QLD Working Women’s Centres will have to turn away women in need of support and representation.”
“We are a much needed safety net for all Australian women to be supported at work. The government agreed with Recommendation 49 in their Roadmap to Respect, but has not yet done what is required to save the Working Women’s Centres,” said Fiona Hunt, Director of the QLD Working Women’s Centre.
WWC QLD Director – Fiona Hunt
WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou
WWC SA Director – Nikki Candy
Notice of press conference
WEDNESDAY 12 MAY, 11:15AM
Senate Courtyard, Australian
|WHAT:||Lawyers and advocates respond to defunding of Working Women’s Centres|
Wednesday, 12 May 2021
|WHO:||Nicki Petrou, Working Women’s Centre NT Director
Fiona Hunt, Working Women’s Centre QLD Director
Australian Parliament House, Canberra
|Nicki Petrou, WWC QLD Director
Fiona Hunt,WWC NT Director
Nikki Candy, WWC SA Director
This article was published by City Mag May 10 2021.
A report conducted by not-for-profit organisation Working Women’s Centre has found South Australian women were “disproportionally” impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between September 2020 and February 2021, the organisation collected written and online responses from 293 women, non-binary and genderqueer people under the age of 30. It found respondents were “hit hard” by the loss of work, increased pressure at work and home, and the mental health impacts of COVID-19.
The study revealed 44 per cent of respondents felt “discouraged” about the prospect of finding work, 48 per cent said they were “very worried” or “anxious” about money, a quarter had hours or pay reduced, and one in five lost their jobs.
“WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE SURE THERE ARE BETTER OPPORTUNITIES HERE FOR SECURE WORK?”
— MADDIE SARRE
“The general mood that was conveyed to us by young women was very uncertain, and a lot of them spoke about being really worried about not being able to get work in the future,” Working Women’s Centre Youth Project Officer Maddie Sarre tells CityMag.
“Some of the main findings were that loss of work has been really huge for young women, because they are disproportionately working in a lot of the sectors that were impacted, also often employed casually, or in insecure work.
“But on the other hand, young women who are working in frontline sectors really faced increased pressure and stress. A lot of young women work in healthcare or in education, and about 40 per cent of those that responded to our survey said they were worried about getting COVID through their work, which I think takes a really big toll.”
Recently published ABS data shows women in the 20—34 age range accounted for 70 per cent of South Australia’s net female migration loss in 2019.
Although it’s been reported South Australia’s net interstate migration is at a 30-year high, the ABS data backing this claim shows South Australia is still consistently suffering a net loss in the 25—44 age range. (Though this data isn’t broken down by gender.)
Maddie says more research should be done to understand why this is occurring.
“We need to look into why are young people leaving,” she says, “and what can we do to make sure there are better opportunities here for secure work.”
Maddie says South Australia has “an opportunity right now”, as many of the young women surveyed by the Working Women’s Centre said they came back to South Australia “because of COVID”.
“It’s a real opportunity to retain those skills,” she says.
The WWC report includes four recommendations on how to improve outcomes for working women:
Two out of five Australian women experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years. Despite this national crisis, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to commit to funding the services that provide a first-point-of contact for women who are sexually harassed at work.
“Working Women’s Centres provide free, expert and impartial information to women about their rights and options when they are sexually harassed at work. The Queensland Working Women’s Centre was defunded by the federal government in 2016 and NT Working Women’s Centre was defunded in 2020.” said Fiona Hunt, Director of the Queensland Working Women’s Centre.
“The Respect@Work Inquiry specifically recommended that the Prime Minister do the opposite. It proposed we be funded to establish a Working Women’s Centre in every state and territory.
“We run on the smell of an oily rag, but the services we provide change women’s lives every day. Many women don’t know where to turn when they experience sexual harassment at work. They face difficult decisions and often face choosing between their safety and their livelihoods.
“The model is proven. We provide free information to women and already there is a huge unmet need. It’s absurd that we are now faced with closing the Northern Territory and Queensland Working Women’s Centres when the Respect@Work Report said we should operate in every state and territory.
“It would cost approximately $20,000,000 to properly establish and fund Working Women’s Centres in every state and territory. Given workplace sexual harassment costs the economy more than $2.6 billion per year, this is a drop in the ocean.
“We help women from all walks of life understand their rights and options. Our staff are experts in workplace law and trained in working with vulnerable clients. We also offer workplace training on preventing sexual harassment, which changes workplace culture.
“Recently, we have assisted a young woman who was working in a male dominated industry and was subject to unwanted sexual advances and touching during her probationary period. When she complained she was dismissed. We represented her to make a sexual harassment discrimination complaint, and she won substantial compensation. We receive hundreds of calls from women in similar situations who need our help,” said Fiona Hunt.
Nicki Petrou, Director of the NT Working Women’s Centre said: “In a climate when women’s safety at work has again hit the headlines, when the Federal Government has committed to building women’s workforce participation, economic security and making women’s homes and workplaces safe, funding specialist women’s services such as the Working Women’s Centres who are here now continuing to do the work, in supporting women with workplace issues and throughout COVID is especially critical. This also makes good sense, including economic sense when you look at the costs.”
“Workplace sexual harassment occurs in every industry, at every level, across every profession, in every region of Australia and cultural group. If Prime Minister Scott Morrison is genuine about acting to prevent sexual harassment he must immediately reverse the current funding situation for at risk Working Women’s Centres and invest seriously in women’s specialist services to appropriately respond to these issues.” said Nicki Petrou.
WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou
WWC QLD Director – Fiona Hunt
WWC SA Acting Director – Nikki Candy
This article was published by ABC News Friday 30th April 5.47am 2021.
A sample survey of South Australian women aged under 30 has revealed heightened anxiety and a lack of optimism about job prospects due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Almost 300 women aged under 30 were surveyed by the Working Women’s Centre SA between September 2020 to February 2021.
More than 70 per cent of respondents said they had become “more anxious, sad or depressed” due to the pandemic, and 44 per cent said they were “discouraged” about the prospect of finding work.
“The social and economic ramifications of COVID-19 have disproportionately affected young women compared to other demographics,” the report stated.
More than half of respondents found “their way of working disrupted” and more than a quarter “had their hours or pay reduced”.
Nearly half said they were “very worried or anxious” about money.
“Between the time that SA’s first COVID-19 restrictions entered force in March 2020 and January 2021 all-male jobs had recovered, while female jobs remained well below pre-pandemic levels,” the report stated, citing Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
“This is a stark demonstration of the vulnerability of female jobs to disruption.
Working Women’s Centre youth project officer Maddie Sarre said the findings represented “a snapshot” of how young women in SA continued to be affected by coronavirus and its ongoing economic effects.
“On the other hand, those that continued to work during the pandemic faced increased pressure, through increased workloads and stress in frontline sectors such as healthcare.
This article was published by City Mag 18 March 2021.
Recent cases instigating this public action include the alleged rape of former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins by a colleague, and a historical 1988 rape accusation levelled at Attorney-General Christian Porter (which he denies).
From within the crowd, CityMag saw speeches in the Square, before protesters marched to Parliament House and back. The first speaker was Kaurna and Wirangu woman Rosemary Wanganeen.
Rosemary tells the crowd colonisation and the “Western patriarchal construct” created the “greater potential” for society’s male elite “to live in privilege”.
“Those living in a society with a Western patriarchal and colonised mindset depend on us as women to fall into a rabbit warren of hopelessness, in the hope that believing is all too hard. But we’re not going to do that, are we?” Rosemary says. The crowd responds: “No”.
“We are going to keep making noise,” Rosemary continues, “and yes, we’re going to get emotional.”
CityMag speaks to a number of protesters while the speeches rage on, including a 67-year-old “survivor of sexual assault”, who we’ve chosen not to name.
She says while working in the corporate world she’d “seen a lot” in terms of sexual harassment. “Enough is enough,” she says.
In another group of protesters, we meet Barbara and Quintin McIntyre. We ask why they’re here. Barbara breaks into tears. Quintin, her husband, answers: “[Barbara] told me before that she wants things to change so her granddaughters don’t go through what she went through.
“You don’t need another review. You need things to actually change.”
Barrister Clare O’Connor also spoke at the event, saying this national effort was spurred on by the last three weeks of “disgusting information” emanating from Canberra, and government leaders need to commit to reform.
“There’s been a very, very good inquiry with 55 recommendations that came down from the Human Rights Commission. It explained how to make a workplace safe,” she says, referring to the Respect@Work report.
“We need to demand action from our politicians in relation to these things. We need to demand action in relation to those workers who are protected, those who do not have to be investigated – those parliamentarians in Canberra. Why are they above the law?”
South Australia has been in the throes of its own toxic parliamentary issues, with the publication of the Acting Equal Opportunity Commissioner’s recent report into parliament finding sexual harassment “prevalent” and “the problem and its solutions sit at an organisational and cultural level”.
The report includes 16 recommendations aiming to prevent and appropriately handle sexual and discriminatory harassment in this particular workplace, however the document reiterates sexism will only really be eliminated “through concerted efforts to create cultural change”.
This interview was published by InDaily Monday March 15 2021
The crowd of mostly women gathered on the steps of Victoria Square to the sound of John Farnham’s You’re The Voice with placards warning “I’m angry”, “enough is enough”, “no Porter in the house” and “we believe you Brittany”.
They then marched down King William Street towards Parliament House chanting “justice for women now” and “we will not be silenced”, before heading back to Victoria Square.
Among the protestors were SA politicians including SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros and Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas, and human rights barrister Claire O’Connor SC.
The inaugural Adelaide March4Justice event, which started at noon, coincided with 35 protests across Australia, including in every capital city and many regional centres.
The protests supported a national march in Canberra, where a petition was delivered calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to act on gendered violence against women, including female Members of Parliament and staff.
The Adelaide protestors joined an estimated 100,000 people across the country calling for independent investigations into all cases of sexual harassment and assault.
South Australian protestors also called for SA Parliament to fully implement all 16 recommendations made in the Equal Opportunity Commission’s recent damning review into sexual harassment in State Parliament.
The protest’s co-organiser Dr Samantha Battams told reporters the review’s findings were not surprising.
“Women are silenced about these things – they don’t often speak up and tell their friends and family because they actually fear the consequences,” she said.
“We have already seen that with some of the national cases where women have lost their jobs.”
Barrister Claire O’Connor SC said she was the victim of violence and harassment in her workplace.
She said “every woman is here because she knows and she has experienced the pain and suffering that comes from being treated unfairly in the worksite, being treated unfairly in the home, being the victim of sexual assault and knowing that our voice doesn’t matter”.
“Enough is enough of the culture of not listening, not acting and blaming. That’s why we’re here.”
Former Federal Liberal staffer Chelsey Potter, who survived an alleged sexual assault by another former colleague in 2015, attended the Adelaide march.
She told InDaily that today was a “crucial moment for women in this country”.
“It’s actually quite emotional to feel that every woman has stood up and said ‘yeah this has happened to me’, or ‘I know someone this has happened to or you know what? I just don’t want this to happen anymore’,” she said.
“That’s an incredible thing – I’ve never actually witnessed something like this before and it’s a credit to Brittany Higgins and all the women who have stood up and said something.”
Potter said she hoped today would be “the beginning of an era where women will start calling assault and harassment out”.
Today is not the start of the social movement, but it is the start of a new notion and a new movement in Australia
She said there was was “no way” that politicians could ignore the protests happening across the country.
“They’re doing a very good job of trying to – particularly in not attending the march and I’m hoping there will be a minute to midnight change for government MPs, particularly for Coalition women to attend the march,” she said.
“I do feel like there’s no way but forward now.
“There certainly can’t be anymore ignorance on the issue, there certainly can’t be any more closed doors meetings, it has to be a conversation with women.”
The protest also heard from Kaurna and Arabunna woman Janette Milera, who organised the Black Lives Matter protest in Adelaide last year.
“Our women have been fighting the colonial white men from the day of colonisation,” she said.
“Our women have been raped, they have been taken and stolen and made as sex slaves since colonisation.
“We all need a change as women because this man’s law that we live under, it doesn’t work for any of us.”
One protestor, who InDaily has chosen not to name, held a sign that read: “Hear me rage. Justice for rape victims”.
“I’ve been raped and sexually abused four times in my life,” she said.
“I’ve reported it to police on four different occasions and… I haven’t taken it to court because of the damage it will do to me and my family.
“I haven’t been able to let out my rage and this is about me settling into my power and rage.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
This win for Senator Hanson Young is a Win for all Working Women.
Senator Hanson Young’s win against David Leyonhjelm in the Federal Court of Australia is telling; the tide is changing and sexist, misogynist behaviours are no longer tolerated by the courts, in public discourse or our workplaces.
The Working Women’s Centre SA Inc congratulates Senator Hanson Young and confirms that we are one of two organisations of which Senator Hanson Young will donate the awarded damages.
The Working Women’s Centre SA Inc Director Ms Abbey Kendall says:
“This case highlights the issue of Sexual harassment and misogynist speech at
all levels of Australian workplaces. This is happening all over our country, and
often women do not have the platform or the resources to stand up to the sexist
behaviour in such a public and spectacular way as Senator Hanson Young has.
This is why the Working Women’s Centre SA Inc exists, to even up the playing
By donating a portion of the damages to the Working Women’s Centre SA Inc,
Senator Hanson Young is ensuring that the Working Women’s Centre SA Inc”s
work will continue and we will be in a stronger position to assist South
Australian women to stand up and fight back, just as the Senator did.”