The Politics of Social Change can be seen in action through the work of Fair Agenda. Fair Agenda is a community of 37,000 Australians campaigning for a fair and equal future for women and here is their report on their achievements in 2020.
“2020 has been a uniquely hard and exhausting year. As we approach the end of it, most of us are ready to put it in our rear view mirror and never look back. But before we do, it’s important that we take a moment to acknowledge what we achieved together this year – because even though 2020 has challenged many of us like never before, our community continued to pull together to advocate for the values we hold dear. And together, we secured crucial wins for a more fair and equal future.
Despite it all, we still managed to focus a spotlight on policies hurting our communities and to build momentum for solutions. Together we sent thousands of emails to decision-makers; shared personal testimonies; amplified the experiences of people impacted by harmful systems; secured media headlines to hold decision-makers accountable in key moments; shared crucial analysis; and engaged community members across the country with our calls for action. And the results of our collective efforts speak for themselves!
• Alongside partners like Equality Australia and Democracy in Colour, our community drew attention to the expected harmful impacts of the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill. We raised awareness of, and mobilised to push back against, its potential to increase obstructions to reproductive healthcare access and to open avenues for discrimination. And together with our partners, we managed to drum up enough concern amongst the community and politicians that the first and second versions of the Religious Discrimination Bill didn’t go ahead.
• When it was revealed that the Morrison Government weren’t planning to continue funding for the WESNET Safe Phones program – which provides hundreds of women affected by family violence with safe technology each month – we worked with service providers and survivor advocates to oppose the cuts. Together, we kept the issue on the agenda: shining a spotlight on these cuts and other areas where the Morrison Government needs to act to keep women safe; flooding government representatives with emails about funding of services; reaching tens of thousands of people with the campaign’s message on social media; and calling the Government out when their commitments fell short of what’s needed. And together with campaign partners we secured an extension for the program’s funding – keeping safe phones in the hands of victim-survivors at critical times.
• When the pandemic hit, our community continued to build on years of advocacy for proper funding of family violence services by collaborating with family violence experts to support their calls for a response to the family violence impacts of the pandemic. In response to the collective efforts of survivor advocates, services, policy experts and communities like ours the Morrison Government committed an additional $150 million “to support Australians experiencing domestic, family or sexual violence due to fallout from coronavirus”.
• Finally, after over a year of campaigning, emailing, calling, and sharing testimonies to show support for patient protections (and a final surge to fight off a damaging amendment) we saw the passage of safe zone protections in South Australia – to ensure patients and staff don’t have to endure harassment and intimidation at clinics providing abortion care.
And our campaigning efforts didn’t stop there! We also worked to lay the groundwork and built momentum for improved access to reproductive healthcare in SA and WA. These states are both expected to face final votes to decriminalise abortion care and create safe access zones respectively, in 2021. And we’re going to need to hit the ground running to ensure that anti-choice forces don’t pressure politicians to delay, block or water down these crucial reforms.
In the new year we’re also going to continue building on our community’s ongoing campaigns to improve prevention and responses to gendered violence, and ensure everyone has access to the support they need to build safer futures. We know that there has been an increase in gendered violence and it’s going to be more important than ever that we’re holding governments accountable for fully funding family violence services, and supporting victim-survivors to be safe.
Our movement’s impact is made possible by people like you chipping in what they can, when they can, to win change on the issues that matter to all of us. Can you chip in to help make sure our community has the resources it needs to hit the ground running in 2021? Click here to make a donation now.
Fair Agenda is a movement made strong by tens of thousands of people contributing to our impact in the ways they can, when they can. We know that 2020 has been a challenging year for many in our community, so if you’re not able to contribute financially at this time, we totally understand. Giving financially is just one of the many ways that members make our movement and campaigns strong.
Thank you for all the ways you’re contributing to a fairer and more just future, we look forward to working with you to drive more impact in 2021.
Stacey and Renee for Fair Agenda”
For more information go to Fair Agenda
A podcast for anyone wanting to know why the US Supreme Court is now the most important item on Trump’s agenda
So much happening – so many questions – where to start reading – who knows what’s’ happening. Amongst a plethora of information sources here are a few podcasts worth a listen:
Women Rule – Politico
The goal of the Women Rule podcast is to dig deep and share the keys to success with the Women Rule audience and the journey to get there.
The lie that binds – NARAL
A podcast for anyone wanting to know why the US Supreme Court is now the most important item on Trump’s agenda. From NARAL Pro-Choice America: The Lie that Binds, a 6-part podcast series that unpacks the terrifying rise of the anti-choice movement from its surprising roots in school segregation to the election of President Donald Trump. Includes reproductive rights, US elections.
by Sally Trevena
From the NSW Legislative Council
“On 15 November 2018 the President announced the death of Mrs Elizabeth Symonds AM, aged 79 years, a member of this House from 1982 to 1998. On 22 November 2018 the Honorable Penny Sharpe MLC moved a tribute motion and the Hansard transcript is available at this link. “
The Hon. Penny Sharpe
The Hon. Don Harwin
The Hon. Adam Searle
Mr Justin Field
The Hon. John Graham
Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile
Mr David Shoebridge
The Hon. Peter Primrose
The Hon. Shayne Mallard
The Hon. Catherine Cusack
Ann Symonds saved lives and changed lives.
Tony Stephens, Meredith Symonds
She saved them by fighting, losing, then fighting again to provide safe injecting rooms for drug users at Kings Cross. She changed lives by her efforts to create homes for women escaping domestic violence or the curse of drugs, by finding legal ways to keep women out of jail and to care for the children of incarcerated women.
Her many campaigns lasted 50 years, until her death. Some, such as those for gun law reform, drug law reform, improved child care services, affordable housing and same-sex marriage, were unfashionable when she embraced them.
She was rusted-on Labor Left. “I’m the last member of the Emotional Left,” she had said. “And it was a small faction to begin with.” Principled, determined, even dogged and sometimes provocative, she nonetheless understood the central place of compromise in the political system. She convened the 100-member, cross-party, state and commonwealth Australian Parliamentary Group on Drug Law Reform.
SMH – 8 December 2018
Introduction: A Tale of Two Speeches
The first publication commissioned by the Politics of Social Change Foundation focuses on the career of a woman who liked to describe herself as an ‘accidental politician.’
The late Ann Symonds was ‘catapulted’ into the New South Wales Legislative Council in September 1982. Having narrowly missed election to the Council in 1981, she was chosen by the Australian Labor Party to fill the casual vacancy caused when Peter Baldwin, a fellow member of the Labor Left, resigned to run for a federal seat. She was elected in her own right in 1984 and 1995, but retired in April 1998.
Ann was a left-winger in a party dominated by a winner-takes-all Right faction and a feminist joining a parliament where women were barely visible. Her arrival in 1982 brought the number of women in the then 44-member Legislative Council up to a resounding eight. This was better than the Legislative Assembly where two women were swamped by 97 men.
Even so the Council, which was in the final stages of transition from an appointed to an elected body, still had a reputation as something of a gentleman’s club. As a ‘socialist feminist’, who was active in the peace movement, Ann brought with her ideas and causes rarely discussed in the Council and not particularly congenial to the power brokers in her own party.
How did Ann address the double disadvantage of her faction and gender? The words ‘head on’ seem appropriate. The best introduction to her politics – and to the themes of this book – can be found in the first and last speeches she made in the Council. Ann Symonds – Introduction – Draft
Please note this is a draft with end notes to be added
*Hilary Golder is a Board member of the Politics of Social Change Foundation and has written extensively about Australian public history. Hilary has a PhD, School of History, University of New South Wales and BA (Hons) in Modern History, Somerville College, Oxford University.
The Hon Ann Symonds AM died on 15 November after a long illness.
Ann was a Labor Party member of the NSW Legislative Council from 1982 until 1998. She was a feminist and socialist who worked for decades inside and outside Parliament to redress women’s inequality and disadvantage.
Please join us to celebrate Ann’s life at 2pm on Wednesday 28th November at St Stephens Uniting Church 197 Macquarie St Sydney.
The Politics of Social Change Foundation (POSC) was launched by The Hon. Penny Sharpe on Wednesday, 11 April 2018 Parliament House, Macquarie Street.
The Foundation has been set up by a group of women committed to redressing women’s inequality and disadvantage.
To inspire others to become agents of progressive change we are retelling the stories of women who contributed to the transformation of Australian women’s lives since the 1970s. We aim to give these stories wider currency through a series of publications online and in print.
The first publication celebrates the career of feminist and socialist Ann Symonds, whose fifty years of political activism included service as a Labor member of the NSW Legislative Council from 1982 to 1998.
Speakers included Ann Symonds, Professor Julie Stubbs, Dr Alex Wodak and Casey Thompson.
Fundraising activities included a silent auction of political collectibles.
The Politics of Social Change Foundation (POSC) has been set up by a group of women committed to redressing women’s inequality and disadvantage. To inspire others to become agents of progressive change we are retelling the stories of women who contributed to the transformation of Australian women’s lives since the 1970s. We aim to give these stories wider currency through a series of publications online and in print.
The first publication celebrates the career of feminist and socialist Ann Symonds, whose fifty years of political activism included service as a Labor member of the NSW Legislative Council from 1982 to 1998. We focus on some of the many issues she adopted: Women’s Housing and Homelessness; Youth and Children’s Services; Women in Custody and Post-release; Children of Prisoners; Drug Law Reform; Violence (covering domestic violence, peace activism, and gun law reform); Creativity and the Arts. Her story of successes and setbacks offers valuable insights into the hard work of effecting social change.
Help share the story of Ann Symonds
Ann Symonds has recorded interviews with oral historian Robert French and is archiving her personal records. Noted professional historian, Dr Hilary Golder has been commissioned to write the book about Ann Symonds’ political career. It will be available online and in print with excerpts released along the way on our website. Dr Golder’s research will include interviews together with written sources.
How can you help?
We are fundraising throughout 2018 and 2019 to support Dr Golder’s research and writing. The publication will be launched in March/April 2020
The Politics of Social Change Foundation has been accepted by the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) as one of its preferred donor funds.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to the Politics of Social Change Foundation at NFAW.
Donations may be made through a secure link on the NFAW website at Donate.
Highlight Politics of Social Change Foundation on the drop-down menu for donations.
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