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IN THE MEDIA: Federal Government accused of ignoring another Respect@Work recommendation

LISTEN TO THE STORY HERE

The Morrison Government has been accused of ignoring another recommendation of the landmark Respect at Work report.

Working Women’s Centres were singled out by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins as an essential service for providing support for victim-survivors of sexual harassment, but the future of two centres – in the Northern Territory and Queensland – is in doubt.

Featured:

Emma Sharp

Nicki Petrou, Director, NT Working Women’s Centre

Abbey Kendall, Director, SA Working Women’s Centre

Helen Campbell, Executive Officer, NSW Women’s Legal Service

Reporter:

Cathy Van Extel

Duration: 7min 54sec

Broadcast: 

Upcoming Event: Feminist Activist Network ‘Exploring Youth Advocacy’

WHEN

14 Oct 2021
4.00-6.00pm

EVENT TYPE

Workshop

WHERE

The Working Women’s Centre SA, Level 1 Station Arcade, 52 Hindley Street

ACCESSIBILITY

The venue is wheelchair accessible. The nearest disability access bathrooms are at the Adelaide Train Station.

The Northern Territory Working Women’s Centre is at risk of closure

The Northern Territory Working Women’s Centre is at risk of closure, without urgent and ongoing funding it could close by December 2021.

in FY21 the NT WWC had a seven fold increase in the number of sexual harassment matters. Working Women Centre are essential in the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace, which is supported & recommended by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner in the Respect@Work report.
“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…” (Recommendation 49).”
Please sign this petition to help the NT Working Women’s Centre fight for funding.

Upcoming outreach clinic 17 September: UniSA Legal Advice Clinic X WWCSA

Appointments will be held at the Legal Advice Clinic – City West Campus on:

  • * Friday, 17 September
This free industrial advice is available for all UniSA students and the general public living in South Australia.

To make an appointment please telephone WWC SA on 8410 6499 or complete the online form at:

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.
UniSA Legal Advice Clinic

MEDIA RELEASE: Morrison Government fails to fund Working Women’s Centres

In the wake of the Women’s Safety Summit, Recommendation 49 of the Respect@Work Report has been ignored 

In the wake of the Women’s Safety Summit, leaders of key sexual harassment support services in South Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory express disappointment at the government’s empty words about the need for holistic approaches to prevent violence against women. Working Women’s Centres are specialist women’s services which provide holistic advice, information and support for women experiencing workplace sexual harassment.

Despite the Morrison government’s emphasis at the Women’s Safety Summit on the importance of holistic community services, the Government made no commitment to implement Recommendation 49 of the Respect@Work Report and fund Working Women’s Centres as a standalone funding line.

Recommendation 49 of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Report states ‘[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.’ The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, recognised the unique holistic support provided by Working Women’s Centres: “We found they were uniquely the most effective, victim-centric model that could deliver support, advice [and] advocacy to women [across a] range of issues in their work.”

Despite this strong recommendation from the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, the Federal Government has continued to ignore Recommendation 49 and the suite of recommendations put forward in the Respect@Work Report. Recommendations required to drive the necessary cultural shift towards providing safer workplaces and societies for female citizens, and for some of its most vulnerable members.

Last month, Working Women’s Centre directors again wrote to the Federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash asking for an update as to the progress of prospective funding under Recommendation 49. In a letter from the Attorney-General received on the eve of the Summit Roundtable discussions, the Federal Government stated it has done its part funding Recommendation 53 in relation to legal services and recommended that Working Women’s Centres compete for this money. 

While some Working Women’s Centres may be eligible to apply for funding out of a general allocation for legal services, not all Working Women’s Centres are legal centres. Working Women’s Centres are uniquely valuable due to their holistic approach, focus on prevention and advocacy work. Legal services are one part of the solution and the Attorney-General’s response fails to recognise the unique role that Working Women’s Centres play in the workplace landscape. By ignoring Recommendation 49, and instead asking Working Women’s Centres to fight it out for a portion of the funding allocated for legal services, the Morrison government has failed working women who rely on Working Women’s Centres’ services.

Last week, Labor announced that if elected, the party would fund Working Women’s Centres around the country. While the Coalition government has accepted Recommendation 49, the recommendation has not yet been implemented by the government, along with many other recommendations which remain ignored.

With the NT Working Women’s Centre just months away from closing, Working Women’s Centres leaders are calling for immediate funding for the NT and Queensland Working Women’s Centres, and for a bipartisan commitment to fully fund Working Women’s Centres around the country.

 

Quotes attributable to Nicki Petrou, Director NT Working Women’s Centre:
“It was made clear at the Safety Summit that local based services were best placed to respond to the unique need in their own backyards, and yet this is not new to those on the ground. Instead, we have seen cherry picking and unilateral funding commitments without discussions with the states or territories as to what is required, without an understanding as to what is happening on the ground, who is providing what, what is the need.


The NT Working Women’s Centre will continue to operate until the end of the year- that is all we can say at this stage without funding security. 
We do not want to see Territory women the casualties of a political funding battle especially when every minute counts for us right now. The Federal Government’s response feels like a huge cop out, after stringing us along for months…especially when they know our situation.”
“The need for this funding is urgent: there has been a national outcry against workplace sexual harassment and assault that we know occurs in every industry. We cannot delay this. The NTWWC do not want to start turning women away especially when as a society we are now encouraging women to come forward and share their story, to say enough is enough but not provide the support that is needed when it is needed.”

 

Quote attributable to Abbey Kendall, Director of SA Working Women’s Centre
“We have been fighting for funding recognition for the last 8 months and we welcome Labor’s pledge to sustainably fund Working Women’s Centres and ensure that all Australian women can have access to our world leading model of service, no matter where they work and live. Sexual harassment in the workplace should not be politicised.


“We need funding action from the Federal Government and bi-partisan support for our services. This is a no-brainer, the Federal Government have an opportunity to make their mark in the prevention of sexual harassment, and they can do it by funding a holistic, professional and trauma informed service that has a proven track record of improving the lives of Australian working women.”   

 

Quotes attributable to Claire Moore, Acting Director of Basic Rights Queensland (Working Women’s QLD)  
“Working Women’s Centres have proven our worth over many years. We support women to understand their rights and have access to the system to achieve outcomes when these rights have been violated. The struggle for effective funding has highlighted the unmet needs of women and the impact on their lives, their workplaces, and their families. The Respect@Work report acknowledged the need for these services as an integral element of the response to the systemic damage to women who are damaged by harassment, discrimination, and isolation. Their voices need to be heard.”

 

Save our Working Women’s Centres website:
https://saveourworkingwomenscentres.com.au/

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:
WWC NT Director– Nicki Petrou
WWC QLD Director Claire Moore 
WWC SA Director Abbey Kendall

Upcoming event: Seminar for small business

WHEN

07 Oct 2021
6.00 – 7.30pm

EVENT TYPE

Workshop

WHERE

Minor Works Building (22 Stamford Court, Adelaide)

ACCESSIBILITY

Wheelchair Accessibility

Register here

Applications open for fundraising ambassadors

We are looking for a small team of volunteer Fundraising Ambarassors! The fundraising ambassadors will drive our fundraising efforts to help us reach our fundraising goal ($50,000 over the next 12 months). You will organise community engagement activities to help us fundraise and build our community of supporters. This will include helping to organise a large fundraiser event in April or May of 2022.

We are looking for people who can:
👉 commit at least 7 days of your time in the next 12 months
👉 be part of a new volunteer program and open to experimenting, giving feedback and learning as you go
👉Are willing to get a Working with Vulnerable Persons check (the Working Women’s Centre will cover any costs associated).

👉 Are available to attend our Fundraising Ambassador Info Night at 29 SEP, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Applications close: 5:00 PM ACST, 20th Sep 2021

Watch online Womens Safety Summit – September 6 & 7

The National Women’s Safety Summit is being live-streamed for all to watch on the 6 and 7 of September 2021.

Watch online here:

www.womenssafetysummit.com.au

The recordings and transcripts of the event will be available after the summit.

IN THE MEDIA: Women’s cabinet’s stance on Kate Jenkins’ sexual harassment law recommendations is utterly baffling

Our Director Abbey Kendall spoke with Jenna Price, for the Canberra Times.

…”there’s one other important recommendation made in the Jenkins report which is being ignored: Working Women’s Centres in every state and every territory. These are brilliant organisations which have been worn away by years of neglect, and now we need them more than ever. Abbey Kendall is the director of the WWC in South Australia, and says the centre gets fantastic support from the state Liberal government. She is calling on both the federal government and all the other state and territory governments to get out there and either re-establish centres where they have

closed or fund the ones currently in peril, including those in the Northern Territory.”

“We don’t want a culture where we expect the onus to be on the victim or survivor and therefore make women take the first step and react to sexual harassment, as opposed to stopping it from happening in the first place,” says Kendall.”
The Canberra Times, Jenna Price Women's cabinet's stance on Kate Jenkins' sexual harassment law recommendations is utterly baffling

Today is the National (un)Equal Pay Day!

It’s Equal Pay Day today!  Can you believe we still need this day? 

Equal Pay Day was established to address the gender pay gap, the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), in 2021, the national gender pay gap is 14.20%, which means that Australian working women on average are paid $261.50 less than their male counterparts. What a disgrace!

What have we found?  

As a charitable organisation that provides free legal advice, representation and advocacy to working women and vulnerable workers, we continue to witness and address gender economic inequality through our day-to-day work.

We have noticed that women are more likely to be employed in insecure work than men. The Australia Institute agrees with us. This is partly attributed to the higher rate of women working in part-time and casual jobs, especially in female-dominated sectors such as healthcare, social services, and the retail industry, which eventually led to lower pay and worse working conditions.

We have also noticed the connection between gender-based violence and insecure work. We know that gender inequality is at the core of violence against women, and the gender pay gap is the most obvious example of gender inequality.

Rampant wage theft, a form of deliberate underpayment, has also worsened the gender pay gap, and the pay gap between Australian citizens and temporary visa holders such as international students and migrant workers. Female migrant workers are particularly vulnerable. They face intersectional issues of gender discrimination, racism, language barriers and xenophobia. Together with unions and grassroots advocacy groups, the Working Women’s Centre is calling on the criminalisation of wage theft in South Australia.

What can I do?  

Here are 3 actions you can take to help close the gender pay gap on Equal Pay Day.

  1. Sign the petition to demand federal funding to the NT Working Women Centre to prevent the essential service for NT women from closure in October.
  1. Become a monthly donor to the South Australian Working Women’s Centre.

    Regular monthly donors are particularly valuable. Ongoing and regular donations help us to expand and increase our case and advocacy work in addressing gender inequality and preventing workplace sexual harassment. $25 per month, as little as the cost of a cup of coffee each week, can make a huge difference to South Australian working women’s lives. All donations are tax-deductible.

  1. Sign the petition initiated by SA Labour Info Hub to call on the criminalisation of wage theft in SA
Equal Pay Day was established to address the gender pay gap, the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), in 2021, the national gender pay gap is 14.20%, which means that Australian working women on average are paid $261.50 less than their male counterparts.

IN THE MEDIA: 18 Months On, Women Call On Government To Take The Respect@Work Report Seriously

The Northern Territory Working Women’s Centre — a community-based non-profit organisation that supports women through gender discrimination, sexual harassment and assault in the workplace — is at risk of closure. Sign the petition to demand federal funding — it only takes 2 minutes! To read more about Refinery29 Australia’s long-term initiative to dismantle sexual harassment in the workplace, visit the #FiredUp hub.
Workplace sexual harassment is sadly a common experience in Australia that occurs in every industry and at all levels. But it is preventable, according to Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, who says the Respect@Work report serves as a catalyst for change.
In March 2020, the Australian Human Rights Commission released its Respect@Work report, the product of an 18-month inquiry – led by Jenkins – into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. The report outlined 55 recommendations for government, business and community sectors to consider, indicating how Australia can better prevent and respond to sexual harassment.
A year later, women across the country gathered at #March4Justice rallies in March 2021, calling on the government to implement all 55 recommendations. The federal government responded in April with its ‘Roadmap for Respect’ report, though the plan doesn’t necessarily commit to implementing all 55 recommendations.
As female advocacy groups, support organisations and Jenkins herself continue to advocate for the implementation of all recommendations, here’s a look at what the report covers and why it’s significant in addressing workplace sexual harassment in Australia.
18 Months On, Women Call On Government To Take The Respect@Work Report Seriously

IN THE MEDIA: Workplace Sexual Harassment Is Rife — And We Want To Help End It

Read the full article on Refinery19

A year and a half ago, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins released a seminal report called Respect@Work, outlining the pervasive nature of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. The 930-page document described the prevalence and impact of the issue, and pointed out that Australia lags behind other countries in its response to preventing and responding to sexual harassment. Unfortunately, however, little concrete action has followed the publication of the report.

Is your blood boiling yet?
Sexual harassment at work is disturbingly common. The most recent survey from the Australian Human Rights Commission (2018) revealed that almost two in five women in Australia (39%) had experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years. It also highlighted that young people (those between the ages of 18 and 29), people with a disability, LGBTQI and Aboriginal people were far more likely to have experienced workplace sexual harassment.
fired up logo Workplace Sexual Harassment Is Rife — And We Want To Help End It Refinery29 Working Womens Centre SA

IN THE MEDIA: Help Save This Frontline Women’s Service Supporting Sexual Harassment Victims

Read the full article on Refinery29 here

The Northern Territory Working Women’s Centre — a community-based non-profit organisation that supports women through gender discrimination, sexual harassment and assault in the workplace — is at risk of closure. Sign the petition to demand federal funding — it only takes 2 minutes! To read more about Refinery29 Australia’s long-term initiative to dismantle sexual harassment in the workplace, visit the #FiredUp hub.

Workplace sexual harassment is shockingly common in Australia. A 2018 National Inquiry revealed that two in five women in Australia (39%) had experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years, noting that people with a disability, LGBTQI and Aboriginal people were far more likely to be targeted.

Let that sink in for a moment.
In March 2020, the Australian Human Rights Commission released its Respect@Work report, a product of the 18-month inquiry led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins. The report outlined 55 recommendations that if implemented, would see Australia
“reclaim its position as leaders in tackling sexual harassment, provide employers with the guidance they need and victims the support and redress they deserve.”
Of the recommendations, number 49 is perhaps one of the most straightforward to implement, as it requires funding rather than changes to policy. It states: “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. Australian governments should consider establishing or re-establishing working women’s centres in jurisdictions where they do not currently exist.”
Working Women’s Centres are not-for-profit, community organisations that provide essential support for women navigating issues in the workplace, including bullying, underpayment and sexual harassment. They offer free, confidential services for women who are not represented by a union, their own lawyer or another advocate. Many states, including New South Wales and Tasmania, have seen these centres close down due to lack of funding, while Queensland has had to cut services to three days a week.
Despite the Commissioner’s recommendations, the few centres that remain are at risk. The Northern Territory Working Women’s Centre (NTWWC) had 3,470 contacts with women in FY21, a 29.6% increase from the previous year. They also saw a troubling seven-fold increase in the number of sexual harassment matters. However the organisation’s core federal funding ceased in December 2020, and without government support, it is facing inevitable service and staff cuts next month, and closure by December 2021.
Two out of five of us is too many. We’re calling on you to help us demand support for women that need it. Because if the government isn’t doing enough to prevent sexual harassment, at least it can help the victims who experience it.
As part of Refinery29 Australia’s Fired Up initiative, we’ve launched a petition to urgently alert the House Of Representatives to this issue. We are asking the House to allocate $700,000 per year of federal funds to NTWWC so it can remain operational and continue providing this vital service to some of Australia’s most vulnerable women.

We can’t do this alone, and every signature counts. So please, help keep their doors open by signing this petition — it takes less than 2 minutes but will have a lasting impact.

refinery 29 Help Save This Frontline Women’s Service Supporting Sexual Harassment Victims FIRED UP dismantling workplace sexual harassment working womens centre sa

Safe and Compliant Workplaces: education and advice clinic

WHEN

03 Sep 2021
2pm – 5pm

EVENT TYPE

Workshop

WHERE

69 Grote Street, Adelaide SA

Details on how to register here

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.

IN THE MEDIA: Specialist women’s employment law services ‘nervously’ await funding

Read the full article on The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Specialist employment law centres that help women take action against underpayment and sexual harassment are warning they are at risk of closure as a decision on giving them permanent funding is delayed.

The federal government is still consulting states and territories over funding for the working women’s centres, which the landmark Respect@Work report from the national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces recommended should be increased and made recurrent.

Standalone working women’s centres exist only in Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. They are specialist workplace legal services that advise and represent women who aren’t union members and can’t afford private lawyers.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins recommended in the Respect@Work report that their funding should be boosted and similar services set up in the states that don’t have them.

“Our national inquiry found that support, advice and advocacy for victim-survivors of sexual harassment should be delivered through a multifaceted, holistic approach, including smooth and speedy referrals between services,”

she told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Working women’s centres are well-placed to act as a central hub for this approach and address the intersectional needs of victim-survivors in a way that other services may be unable to.”

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