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