Posts for the Womens Dept

SRC Wom*ns’ Officers Report – Week 11, Sem 1, 2018

Madeline Ward & Jessica Syed

Hello babes. If you have made it this far you are likely aware that we have spent quite a bit of time putting together this edition of Honi. Perhaps you have even contributed to it. Perhaps you are one of us, and wrote this report at two in the morning in between eating stale brownies from last week’s Safe Access Zone’s stall at two in the morning hoping for some kind of cosmic reprise which may give you energy and strength to finish this paper.

Anyway, we had that stall for a reason – the Safe Access Zones bill which would criminalise harassment of patients outside abortion clinics in New South Walles about which we have been endlessly harping on goes to debate in State Parliament on Thursday. The details of the support contingent/rallly we are organising are somewhere on the preceding pages of this magazine, please find it, we are too tired to recalll the page numbers, and also please come and be a good lefty and support reproductive safety .

Also we have been meeting with a misc. member of management to discuss, lo and behold, a standalone sexual assault pollicy which is supposed to be implemented by next semester??? Which seems a bit fucked because when has the uni ever actually done anything about sexual assault on campus amirite so we aren’t like 100% trusting them at this point and some of their ideas about the policy seem a bit dodgy. But nonetheless your faithful wom*n’s officers will keep you the FUCK updated on any and everything that happens re: this policy.

For now we must scoot and complete the remainder of whatever we have to do to get this bad boy in your hands on Tuesday arvo.

Au revoir nos chers camarades!!!!

Wom*ns Officers Report – Week 8, Sem1, 2018

Jessica Syed and Maddy Ward

The mid-semester break has been as busy for students as the past few weeks have been for those who have been pushing for safe access zones around abortion clinics in New South Wales. The amendment to the current Summary Offences Act, proposed by Penny Sharpe MLC, would make it so that it would be a criminal offence to protest within one hundred and fifty metres of any NSW abortion clinic. This would alleviate the intimidation and harassment patients are subject to when going to abortion clinics, when there are hoards of pro-life protesters attempting to stop them from entering the facilities. It would also get rid of the unnecessary burden placed on clinic staff to counsel and reassure patients, something that they are not necessarily paid (nor qualified) to do.

Abortion is an issue of public health, and access to abortion clinics an issue of public safety. No one should be precluded from accessing essential healthcare due to strangers intruding on their personal space, in order to voice their opinions. The successful passage of the proposed bill is an important stepping stone in building a solid and visible movement around abortion rights. In our opinion, it will inevitably open the door to decriminalisation of abortion in New South Wales (yes, that’s right – you could still be prosecuted for having an abortion).

Your officers have been in contact with Family Planning NSW who are currently looking at drafting a decriminalisation bill along with other feminist groups. More pressing, however, is our correspondence with Penny herself. In a conference call last week, she informed us that the bill will be introduced and debated within the next month. Keep your eyes peeled for actions organised by the Wom*n’s Collective that you can get involved in helping the bill get passed. If you’re a Liberal/conservative/et cetera, and you’re against abortion, and you’re reading this: while this bill is linked to abortion, it largely revolves around women’s safety. If you can’t get behind that, well, there’s not much we can say to you. Otherwise, get in touch with your MPs, and get them on our side, please!

To help, sign the petition http://www.pennysharpe.com/womenneedsafeaccesszones. Or even better, join the Wom*n’s Collective if you identify as a wom*n or non-binary person, by hitting us up at usydwomenscollective@gmail.com. We have a weekly clinic escort service where (until the legislation comes through) we assist patients into abortion clinics past pro-life protestors, and generally do feminist things as well. We are also doing our own edition of Honi Soit later this semester. Send your ideas to the aforementioned email! We can’t wait to get the ball rolling.

Wom*n’s Officers – Week 4, Sem 1, 2018

Jessica Syed and Madeline Ward

This past week we have held our counter protest to the pro life “Day Of The Unborn Child” event. It was important for us to non-platform rhetoric such as this which is violent towards people accessing abortion: pro life groups are demeaning, shame people and their tradition stems from a misogynistic and patriarchal idealisation of the nuclear family. We notified police of our intent to protest but our peaceful and legal assembly was thwarted by the riot squad and mounted police nonetheless. Some resisted and were arrested; protestors were pushed, shoved and, as video footage has shown, assaulted. WOCO officially hates cops and we wonder why they have such huge ego complexes when the majority of them look lie jumbo white Lego bricks. Sad.Our system of ushering patients into the Surry Hills abortion clinic is continuing and the pro-life protestors are not happy. They continue to send bulky cop-like male reinforcement rosary wielders to stand in front of us and intimidate us into not reappearing and providing the ushering service. Maddy has been christened the “principal deathscort of the abortion mill”. We have responded to this weird crusade-like behaviour by loudly discussing Marxist ideology and our respective sex lives. It is heartwarming to see them flinch and grip their rosary beads just that little bit harder.

We are trying to organise an internal roster to help the Martin Street Kitchen. Homelessness affects women in a profound way, particularly women who have been marginalised most by class, white supremacy, a disability, or by domestic violence.
We find it interesting that Liz Broderick would apologise for the nature of her review into college culture yet still not disclose the contents of a secret report. Spence and Liz, we’ll be on you shortly, manipulating FOIs to get the dirt. Beware.

Speaking of Spence, we will be meeting with him just as this edition rolls onto stands. Should be an interesting chat. Promise we won’t be too mean.

SRC Wom*ns Officers’ Report – Week 11, Sem 2, 2017

IMOGEN GRANT and KATIE THORBURN

Welcome to week 11! This semester is flying by, and I can’t believe this is one of my final reports as Wom*n’s Officer! As you may know, the R&DVSA is going through a difficult time after facing a new subcontract by MHS – a health insurance giant – in which a number of other non-for-profit organisations replace the R&DVSA workforce with non-specialised counsellors on much lower wages. The R&DVSA has also raised privacy concerns for callers about the new requirements to record all calls and share these, along with existing case files, with MHS. As a result of this, following the expiration of its current contract in October, 1800RESPECT will no longer be staffed by R&DVSA counsellors.

The Government’s plan is to turn a crisis line into a profit-making venture, sack skilled workers and hand out to the lowest bidder the provision of specialised counselling on 1800RESPECT. For the profits to flow, the union workforce need to be replaced by lower skilled non-union workers paid rock bottom wages. Current job advertisements are offering $20 or less an hour without proper clinical supervision for staff.

To make things worse, as a Government funded service, the R&DVSA have not been permitted to put aside money to cover redundancy payments for its staff. If the Government does not provide the $1 million needed for the redundancy entitlements, the R&DVSA will have no choice but to liquidate its assets and close its doors – and with it, vital services will be lost such as the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, Sexual Assault Counselling Australia, and the NSW Community Based Counselling Service. The Government is abdicating its responsibility to the highly committed and skilled workers who have been providing the 1800RESPECT trauma counselling service for the past seven years. What we are seeing is privatisation, competition, sacking workers and rock bottom prices just to make a profit out of rape and domestic violence. This government is sick.

If you wish to get involved with the Wom*n’s Collective and the fight to support R&DVSA, like us on Facebook and email usydwomenscollective@gmail.com for more details.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault, support is available by contacting NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017.

Wom*n’s Officers’ Report

Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn

On Tuesday 2 August, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are revealing the results of a large scale national survey into sexual assault in educational communities. The results will be damning.

The 2015 NUS ‘Talk About It’ survey found that 72% of students had experienced sexual harassment on campus and 27% had experienced assault. Sexual assault is a fundamental abuse of a person’s bodily autonomy and can greatly impact a student’s mental health and ability to fully participate in university life. Despite having a very clear duty to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for students, many universities see the issue of sexual assault as a matter solely for the police. Don’t be fooled – this is a lie and a method universities use to avoid their responsibility to support survivors and prevent sexual assault in university communities.

At USyd, and across the uni sector, we see unis dragging out cases so that the survivor and/or perpetrator graduate, failing to remove a perpetrator from a survivor’s class, failing to communicate to the survivor during the investigation or the outcome of the proceeding, and refusing to sanction perpetrators or issuing them with inadequate punishments. Over the past 5 years, 575 complaints into sexual assault and harassment were lodged at universities – only 6 resulted in expulsion. Most perpetrators receive no punishment at all, but if they do it’s entirely insufficient – a note on file, a $55 fine or a written apology.

This has gone on long enough. Students deserve better.

What can I do?
JOIN US at 2pm Wednesday 2 August outside Fisher Library for the ‘Protest Rape on Campus – Break the Silence. End Sexual Violence’ rally and make clear that everyone deserves an education free of sexual violence. FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/214658329058347

SRC Wom*ns Officers Report – Week 13, Sem 1, 2017

Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn

This week has seen a spate of controversy surrounding the culture of male entitlement and sexism that exists at St. Paul’s, but also throughout the University.

We are not concerned about the man who made the sexist post – this isn’t the case of one bad resident. We’re concerned about half the college laughed at it and condoned its message. It’s clear there is an institutional failure within the colleges – especially all male colleges – to address a culture of disrespecting and degrading women, and unethical sex.

This event is just one high profile case that fits firmly within St. Paul’s long legacy of degrading women. In 2009 there was a “pro-rape” Facebook group called “Define Statutory: Pro-Rape, Anti-Consent”. The “She can’t say no with a cock in her mouth” graffiti. Multiple reported sexual assaults and rapes. The “animal act of the year” award going to a man accused of gang-rape. And most tragically, in 1977, an 18 year-old woman who was visiting was found beaten, raped, and murdered on the college oval.

Whilst we are pleased that St. Paul’s will join the Elizabeth Broderick review, the fact that students and survivors had to advocate for change shows how reactive the college’s decision was and how the safety of women is always secondary to reputational risk.

It’s clear that segregating wealthy men from the general university community creates a culture of toxic masculinity and entitlement that is inconsistent with basic codes of decency. With such a toxic culture entrenched in the college system, we must ask ourselves whether they have a place at all in the 21 century. [Short answer: No.]

If you want to join the fight against sexual violence on campus and within the broader community – email USyd WoCo at usydwomenscollective@gmail.com

Wom*n’s Officers’ Report: Week 12, Sem 1, 2017

Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn

On Friday Women’s Collective attended the Sorry Day Rally. Sorry Day marks the day Kevin Rudd ‘apologised’ to the Stolen Generation. However, since then child removal rates of Aboriginal children have increased, and are now at the highest rate ever. Indigenous children are taken at a rate ten times that of non-indigenous children. It’s important for WoCo to fight alongside Aboriginal activists against a racist system that removes children. Whilst WoCo has also been fighting for reproductive justice in the fight for legal access to abortion (abortion is still in the crimes act), it’s also important to not ignore the unique issues facing first nations women.

On Tuesday WoCo pulled a stunt on the fence of Parliament house. We hung coat hangers attached to the faces of the 25 elected representatives who kept abortion in the Crimes Act. The action was to ‘name and shame’ those who had the opportunity to save lives by making abortion legal, and thus doctors more able to perform the operation. We remain in 1900 when the Crimes Act adopted an even older British law rooted in misogyny that women are to be breeders and have no control over their bodies.

Finally, we’re fighting for the implementation of a nation-wide 1800 counselling line for those affected by sexual violence in the university community. In August this year, the AHRC report into university sexaul harassment and assault will be released. We expect that the report, and its associated media coverage, will kick up a lot of dormant trauma within the survivor community and result in increased disclosures and strain on existing university counselling services. As it stands, Sydney University’s CAPS (counselling and psychological services) is not equipped to handle sexual assault trauma. As officers, we’ve received so many horror stories about the mishandling of cases, that we make a point of never referring a survivor to the service. CAPS also has wait times and is only available to currently enrolled students and, therefore, survivors are often unable to receive a timely appointment and survivors who have dropped out following sexual assault are unable to access support. Cumulatively, survivors at USyd are currently unable to access timely and appropriate trauma informed counselling. We need a 1800 hotline that’s staffed by trauma informed counsellors. Students and survivors are worth it. To join the fight, sign the petition here: http://www.fairagenda.org/uni_counselling

SRC Wom*n’s Officer Report – Week 11, Sem 1 2017

On May 11 we protested the screening of the “Red Pill” – a popular alt-right recruitment film that promotes the idea that men are oppressed by women. Since MRAs only discuss men’s rights and masculinity in reference to feminism or violence against women, it’s not acting for men, it’s acting against women. This isn’t activism that focuses on establishing services for issues that affect men, this is resentment that people believe women when they talk about the violence they’ve suffered at the hands of men. Importantly, the screening was attended by known fascists from the United Patriots Front.

In particular, the film promotes the notion that feminists have overstated the existence of ‘rape culture’, and that many women are lying when they voice their experiences of sexual assault and thereby feeding into a culture that condones and normalises rape. The documentary’s star, A Voice for Men’s Paul Elam, is a pro-rape racist who in 2010 wrote: “Should I be called to sit on a jury for a rape trial, I vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true.” Given the prominence of the sexual assault campaign, we believe that this screening was a targeted and antagonistic attempt to discredit feminists and women on campus.

Last week we also protested the Catholic Society’s event called ‘Is Abortion the Solution?’ which was a shameless display of anti-woman and anti-choice propaganda. The event posed as neutral, yet had an explicitly political and religious agenda: one that has at its core the restriction of bodily autonomy. The choices people make regarding their pregnancy should be properly informed and unchallenged by partisan groups who use misinformation to persuade them to choose a particular option. Abortion should be free, accessible, and safe with absolutely no apologies.

Sorry Day is coming up on Friday 26 May, and at 5:30pm Victoria Park the Wom*n’s Collective will be protesting against forced child removal, incarceration, and for reparations and healing for the Stolen Generations and their families. The feminist movement has often overlooked the struggles facing Aboriginal women. Whilst feminists have advocated for reproductive rights through access to abortion, Aboriginal women have been fighting for their children and rights as mothers. The government continues to take Aboriginal children from their families, now at the highest rate ever. USyd Wom*n’s Collective says “no more!”: there must be Aboriginal control of Aboriginal child welfare. Please join us, Friday 5.30pm in Victoria Park.

As always, email us at usydwomenscollective@ gmail.com

SRC Wom*ns’ Officers Report – Week 9, Sem 1, 2017

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SRC Wom*n’s Officers’ Report – Week 7, Sem 1, 2017

Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn

There has been considerable press about AHRC report into university sexual assault not having recommendations, but rather broader ‘areas for action and reform’. If this is the case, the AHRC should have corrected universities and journalists, as survivors were mislead to believe that their submissions would create concrete recommendations to hold the universities to account. On another note, WoCo welcomes the news that all 39 universities that participated in the AHRC report, including USyd, will be publicly releasing their individual reports. Previously, it was up to each university to release its incident figures. This is a clear step forward that would not have been made if it was not for the hard work of survivors and advocates. Let’s hope it will be followed by actual policy change and greater support for survivors on campus. If you have further questions on the AHRC report, do not hesitate to contact us at usydwomenscollective@gmail.com or speak to us directly.

As you may know, Friday 31 March was Trans Day of Visibility. WoCo stands with transgender people and their struggles against gender-based discrimination, particularly those along feminine-spectrum identities. During that week, we hosted a fantastic workshop on ‘Radical Trans Politics’ – thank you Danika Dashwood – that covered the roots of trans oppression under capitalism and colonialism, as well as the development of the modern transgender rights movement.

Last Wednesday, we hosted an info session provided by the amazing counsellors from the Eastern and Central Sydney Sexual Assault Service (ECAS), located in RPA Hospital. The presentation was useful for both survivors and supporters of survivors as often it’s difficult to know what services are available. The RPA Clinic provides a range of services including 24/7 crisis counselling and medical forensic service, ongoing face-to-face counselling, court preparation, and more – all of which is survivor led and free! To make an appointment for counselling or more information, contact the RPA Clinic on 9515 9040. For urgent or after hours counselling, call NSW Rape Crisis hotline at 1800 424 017.