YWCA Australia’s advocacy is informed by our experience – we have the expertise to know the issues facing women and how best to address them. We regularly work with local communities and consult with people in our programs, which means we have a real, human perspective on the bigger picture problems.
Through our work, we’re making sure that the issues affecting women, young women and girls in Australia are brought to the attention of decision-makers.
Our policy and advocacy is informed by the following principles:
- We value the lived experience of the individuals and families we work with.
- We work for the human rights of all people, with a specific focus on women, young women and girls in all their diversity.
- We use an intersectional feminist analysis – does this policy or program have a different effect on women and girls?
- We promote the leadership of women, young women and girls,
- We support women, young women and girls across their lifespan.
- We value diversity and work to eliminate racism and all forms of prejudice.
- We support reconciliation.
- We collaborate with others to create regional and international change.
- We value volunteering.
- We value an independent, non-partisan voice.
Importantly, our policy and advocacy is based on intersectional feminism.
[ in-ter-sek-shuh-nl fem–uh-niz-uhm ]
If feminism is advocating for women’s rights and equality between the sexes, intersectional feminism is the understanding of how gender and overlapping identities – including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation – impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.
2019 Election Platform
YWCA Australia’s advocacy goals for the next three years will be focused on the three areas of housing, safety and wellbeing and leadership.
YWCA Australia advocates for programs and policies that take a gender-responsive approach and support all women, young women and girls to obtain affordable, adequate, secure, appropriate and accessible housing.
Women make up the majority of people utilising housing support systems, including public housing tenants, Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) recipients and those approaching specialist homelessness services (i.e. family violence services).
There has been a 10% increase in homelessness among women since 2011. In particular, the number of older women experiencing homelessness grew 31% from 2011-2016.
Almost 95% of the women housed by YWCA National Housing have experienced family violence. A lack of affordable and available housing further inhibits women’s options to leave.
Women’s economic disadvantage also contributes to instability in housing. Workplace Gender Equality Agency data consistently reports that men outearn women in every industry and across all occupations, and women disproportionately occupy part-time and casual employment. Women also retire on average with around half the superannuation of men.
Develop a gender-responsive national housing strategy that aims to reduce homelessness and increase affordable housing stock for women. This includes:
- Provide a catalytic investment in housing stock – 500,000 social and affordable rental homes are needed to meet demand across Australia
- Work with states and territories to develop National Housing and Homelessness Agreements (NHHA) that are funded over a five year cycle, and that address gender and other forms of marginalisation
- Support YWCA Australia to double the number of women who can access our safe and affordable housing options – from 363 to 726 in the first year of government
- Fund YWCA Housing’s Pathways to Independence prevention program for women at risk of homelessness (estimated investment $120,000 p.a per location).
YWCA Australia advocates for programs, policies and laws that will end violence against women, young women and girls, also referred to as gender-based violence.
Violence against women, including family violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment, is a pervasive social issue. This violence is perpetuated by gender and power inequalities, which are referred to as ‘gendered drivers’.
Women are at greater risk of family, domestic and sexual violence, with some groups more vulnerable than others, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, young women, and women with disabilities. Overall, one in six women have experienced either physical, sexual or emotional violence by a current or former partner, and one woman a week is killed at the hands of a current or former partner.
The cost of violence against women in Australia has been estimated at $21.7 billion each year.
We must significantly invest in the prevention of violence against women in order to achieve lasting social change.
Fund and implement best practice primary prevention programs, which aim to change the structures, norms, and practices that drive gender-based violence. YWCA Australia is calling for a $10 million investment in our primary prevention programs which will:
- Fund and implement our Gender Equity Matters programs in all federal government departments and agencies
- Support the further development of our Bystander Intervention Training for workplaces and communities with the aim of national and sustainable implementation
- Expand our respectful relationships education for children and young people
- Fund the establishment of Australia’s first International Women’s Day Awards to recognise and celebrate leaders, champions and organisations in gender pay equality
YWCA Australia advocates for women, young women and girls to develop their own leadership identity to achieve societal and structural transformation.
We recognise that women’s leadership extends not only to women holding positions of leadership, but also to equal participation and inclusion in decision-making in the private and public spheres, the community and non-normative roles including autonomy over their own lives.
Representation matters. In the workplace, women remain underrepresented in leadership positions across almost every industry, with the latest Workplace Gender Equality Agency scorecard reporting that women still only make up 17% of CEOs.
In the Federal Parliament women only make up 32% of members, despite being 50% of the population.
It is critical that women, including young women, are given opportunity, access and support to reach leadership positions, in order to reflect the diversity of women’s voices.
There are six National Women’s Alliances who represent over 180 women’s organisations across Australia. The Alliances ensure that the views, voices and issues of women in Australia, and in particular, women from marginalised and disadvantaged groups, are at the forefront of policy and decision-making.
Funding for the National Women’s Alliances has not increased since 2015, despite the critical work for women in Australia and women’s organisations, both domestically and internationally.
Elevate young women’s leadership by:
- Invest in the implementation of a National Gender Equality Strategy and the recognition of gender expertise in women’s organisations
- Commit to increased ongoing funding for the National Women’s Alliances to ensure women’s voices, interests and needs are at the forefront of policy and decision making
- Reinstate the Minister for Youth and commit to a dedicated focus on young women’s leadership.