Chloe Smith helps you cure your Collective withdrawal

Although the winter break is generally a great time for recuperation before semester 2, it can be less great surviving for over a month without the fantastic discussions and activities organised by the Women’s Collective on campus. For those women experiencing such withdrawals, the annual NOWSA (Network Of Women Students Australia) conference was a great remedy, this year held at beautiful Melbourne University. Four days were spent listening to keynote speeches from inspirational, intelligent, and successful women across a variety of fields, attending many interactive and informative workshops on women and society, well-being, culture, and the workplace, and enjoying the great hospitality of Melbourne and the university’s Women’s Collective in between. Notable speakers included Leslie Cannold on the dangerously inadequate state of abortion laws in Australia, Melba Marginson on advocating for the rights of migrant women, Clementine Ford on the experiences of women in the media, and many more.

The conference also had a great variety of workshops on offer, where women could learn and discuss new skills and ideas. Some favourites included discussing great feminist literature, learning how to identify sexism in the media and report it to the relevant bodies, and learning how to be good allies to marginalised groups like trans and intersex people, and sex workers. NOWSA also emphasised and acknowledged that women cannot ask for recognition of their oppression, and recognition of the privilege of men, without recognising the privileges of some women over others. Autonomous and pro-caucuses were held with workshops to acknowledge the additional oppressions of queer women, women of colour, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and women with disability. It was moving to be a part of something that managed to be humbling, confronting, empowering, and inspirational. Some tears were shed, but there was also laughter and a great sense of solidarity.

NOWSA’s theme is about sharing positive and useful skills and ideas amongst women from all over the country, educating ourselves and others on recognising the struggles women from all backgrounds still face, and using this knowledge to become activists to solve these issues for the future and change society for the better. Problem? Patriarchy! Solution? Smash it!

SRC Womens’ Officers

usydwomenscollective@gmail.com

 

Amelie Vanderstock tells us about activism in regional NSW

“If you love this country, fight for it. This will be the biggest social movement this country has ever seen, and it will change this country forever.” – Drew Hutton, Lock the Gate Alliance President

From Urban ASEN students to rural Knitting Nanas, 270 community campaigners from across Australia joined experienced activists, doctors and academics in Kurri Kurri NSW (18-20 May) to share stories from our growing fight for country and livelihoods so undermined by extractive industries.

Organized by the Sunrise Project, panel discussions featuring experts and community leaders were integrated with training, report-backs and networking in an open workshop model.

Climate expert and former chair of the Australian Coal association, Ian Dunlop, revealed our recent emissions trajectory as alarmingly higher than the most conservative IPCC projections. The imminent call for ‘fossil-free’ was supplemented by Dr Merryn Redenbach, Doctors for the Environment Australia, in her discussion of extensive public health impacts at every coal energy production stage. Grounded in realistic economics and existing technology, the switch to renewables was detailed by Mark Diesendorf, UNSW. Groups including the Community Power Agency and Beyond Zero Emissions further revealed how solutions are already amongst us.

David and Goliath successes were celebrated alongside ongoing campaigns. From the small town of Bulga, NSW’s win in court against mining giant Rio Tinto, to the termination of the mega-port project on Balaclava island in the Great Barrier reef and Woodside’s LNG gas hub in the Kimberley, there was energy and hope in conference participants. Surveys, blockades and innovative tactics such as Jonathan Moylan’s ANZ- Whitehaven hoax were work-shopped. The Sierra Club, US, shared their organising model which successfully closed 177 coal fired power plants across the continent. Lock the Gate, in a ‘Call to Country’ seek to unite these ubiquitous demands to prioritize farmland, water catchments, nationally significant ecosystems and community concern.

As a participant, I was truly inspired by stories of struggle and success, shared by people who don’t necessarily converge on politics or priorities for ‘why’. The gathering revealed how our efforts contribute to a broader environmental justice movement, as what we do agree upon, is that we can and must take our land, our water and our future, into our own capable hands.

SRC Environment Officers

environment.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

Fahad Ali and Eleanor Barz report back from the Queer Collaborations Conference

It’s been a productive month for the USyd queer community. This July, 28 of us attended the annual Queer Collaborations Conference, which attracts roughly 300 delegates from universities around the country. This year it was hosted by a collective made up of universities in the Sydney region, with USyd and Macquarie University accommodating most of the meetings, workshops and events.

During the conference, we became particularly concerned about the deteriorating situations for LGBTIQ people in Russia and Greece. On Saturday the 13th  of July we worked with the other delegates to organise a rally outside the Greek Consulate to express solidarity with trans* people and sex workers, who are systematically attacked by the Greek government.

The queer community at the University of Sydney has also led the charge in promoting the rights of intersex and sex and gender diverse (ISGD) students around the nation. Last December, as a representative of the Queer Action Collective (QuAC), Fahad spoke in favour of a motion to support sex and gender diversity at the National Union of Students (NUS) National Conference. However, we should like to see tangible change rather than hollow support for a string of black marks in a policy document. For this reason, QuAC is planning to return to the NUS National Conference at the end of the year with a proposal that will fundamentally alter the way office-bearers are selected. We will insist that NUS extend its affirmative action provisions to include ISGD students. Delegates from across Australia have unanimously endorsed this move at Queer Collaborations.

Feel free to contact us at the email address provided if you would like to know more about the queer collective or Queer Collaborations.

SRC Queer Officers

queer.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

 

Dylan Parker lays down the budget

Welcome back to Semester 2, it has been a while since I last wrote and a lot has happened since then. However, one thing in particular that I should inform you about is the budget that I have produced and passed for the 85th Council.

While, Budgets sure aren’t the sexiest things in the world and I’d love to be the General Secretary with the freedom to throw money around willy nilly, I am proud of the final product. I’m proud because if there was one word to describe this budget that word is ‘measured’.

The 85th Budget strikes the right balance between targeted savings and increased expenditure, reconciling the increased pressure on our services with the fact that our organisation faces a $73,000 reduction in university funding. Importantly, I have tried to accommodate all interested parties and departments while still looking after the long-term sustainability of our organisation.

Snapshot:

  • Due to the negotiated $73,093 reduction in funding by the University, SRC expenditure will be modestly greater than our income by a figure of $43,543.
  •  Mandated salary increases within the EBA, claimed entitlements, an additional part-time caseworker, an expanded legal service and departures have seen fixed staffing costs increase by 15% on 2012 figures from $1,096,976.79 to $1,264,176.57.
  • SRC activist budgets are at a historic high of $49,350 in recognition of the importance of the staff and student strikes as well as increased demands by office bearers.
  • Costs for SRC publications have remained relatively constant.
  • Overall spending on the National Union of Students (NUS) is down by $21,000 on account of the SRC’s negotiated reduction in affiliation by $10,000 in affiliation fees and Edcon not being in Sydney this year.
  • Many thanks to Chitra, our Admin Manager who was of great assistance from start to finish. From hereon the name of the game is expenses control. With monthly reporting to Exec I am sure we will be able to stick to our own plan.
  • As the Honi pages only allow for so much detail, if you would like a greater explanation of the 85th Budget feel free to grab me at the offices, drop me a line, or email at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au.

Dylan Parker

general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au

 

David Pink thinks seeking asylum is a human right

Welcome back to university. I thought I’d tell you this week why Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party’s Papua New Guinea solution is a disgrace.
Papua New Guinea is not a country that is safe for people seeking to escape persecution.

It is not safe for women or queer people: one in two women in PNG have been raped, and two out of every three have been victims of domestic violence. Homosexuality is a criminal offence that attracts a 14-year gaol term, which is especially dangerous given that many refugees base their asylum claims on their homosexual and transgender status.

It is a severely underdeveloped country, where 60% of people have no access to clean water, 55% no access to sanitation and 55% of children receive no education. It ranks 168th in the world in life expectancy, 148th for death rates, 173rd for health. Smartraveller (an Australian government website) currently warns that Papua New Guinea is suffering a cholera epidemic, and cautions Australians not to travel there unless they take extraordinary safety precautions (against gang rapes targeting foreigners, the “ever-present threat” of car-jacking and violent clashes between ethnic groups, etc.).

We have actually received a significant number of asylum claims from refugees fleeing the country – there is absolutely no way that it can ever serve as a sanctuary for people fleeing persecution.

Apologists for the policy have already started arguing that it doesn’t matter if Papua New Guinea is a hellhole; a policy this hardline will be such a powerful deterrence, that no refugees will actually flee to Australia.

That has already been proved wrong. People have already come to Australia by boat under this policy and marked for resettlement to Papua New Guinea. This includes children. These are people whose lives have now been destroyed by this ‘solution’.

For many asylum seekers their only means of escaping persecution is to travel to Australia by boat, and Article 31 of the UN Refugee Convention provides refugees an inalienable right not to be penalised on account of their mode of entry into Australia.

There exist alternative ways of dissuading refugees from taking dangerous sea voyages, primarily by creating a vastly expanded and timely pathway for resettlement from Indonesia, but even if such policies are implemented asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are exercising an inalienable right to take that pathway and should not be punished for it.

We should open our borders to those fleeing persecution immediately: we have no right to choose who comes into this country, or the circumstances in which they come.

David Pink, SRC President

President@src.usyd.edu.au