It’s been a busy few months for advocacy, with both Queer Pride Month and Disability Pride Month falling one after the other and a key part of our intersectional consciousness-raising and connection for members. We’ve also had the opportunity to submit our say on a National Plan for Ending Violence, and key collaboration housing and gender-based violence work with Everybody’s Home and others in the lead up to the postponed Women’s Safety Summit.
In early July, we supported the production of the Equity Economics report ‘Nowhere To Go’ alongside Everybody’s Home, Domestic Violence Victoria, Domestic Violence NSW, Homelessness NSW, Womens Housing Company and the Womens Housing Alliance. This report explored the benefits of providing long-term social housing to women that have experienced family and domestic violence. This is part of our advocacy on the investment of $7.6 billion for 16,800 homes needed for those currently experiencing family and domestic violence for the upcoming Women’s Safety Summit. You can read the report here.
We have also included our submission into the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and their Children. Thank you to all members who contributed to YWCA’s National Plan consultation survey. Your voices and recommendations centered around primary prevention, intersectional specialist supports and responses and safe homes and investing into housing infrastructure. This included long-term, committed funding for a holistic, expanded, national approach to family, domestic and sexual violence (FSDV), intersectional and gender-responsive budgeting and supports, gender equality advocacy, young people co-designing initiatives and the critical inclusion of housing in both the National Plan to End Violence Against Women, and at the National Summit for Women’s Safety in September. You can read this submission here.
In June, our partnership with the 50/50 Foundation enabled us to offer scholarships for members to attend the Equals Now Symposium in Canberra on 16 and 17 June 2021. We had a number of staff and members attend who gave excellent feedback. A big thank you to the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation for the tickets and for recognising how important it is for young women and people of marginalised gender to attend conferences like these and be amplified in these spaces. It gives young people the opportunity to build knowledge and connections in the gender equality space and share their voice and unique lived experience. If you want to be able to access opportunities like this one in the future, become a member of the Y and the Cyber Feminist group (CBF)
Finally, this one is pretty important, especially for the future of advocacy in Australia. The Y is one of 60 organisations, including Oxfam and Amnesty International behind the Hands off Our Charities, a campaign working to fight against proposed changes to governance standard three of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) Regulation 2013. The changed regulations would give the ACNC new powers to take action against a charity if it commits, or fails to adequately ensure its resources aren’t used to commit, certain types of “summary offences” – small, less serious type of criminal offence, and can include acts such as trespassing, unlawful entry, malicious damage or vandalism.
In effect, the regulations potentially mean that if YWCA members attend a rally and something illegal happens there, we could have our charity status stripped. As a women’s organisation that was part of the vote for women being on the frontline and protesting is part of our healthy democratic rights and this is something we are very concerned about. We are currently writing to key Ministers including the Prime Minister and Treasurer on this issue.
Read more about it here, then tweet at Scott Morrison and Michael Sukkar (the MP who proposed the changes) and don’t forget to the hashtag #HandsOffCharities.
International Sex Worker Day
On 2 June, YWCA highlighted awareness on sex work and sex worker rights on International Sex Worker Day. It’s important for allies like YWCA to make their support for sex workers known, because sex workers still face high levels of stigma and discrimination. Our intersectional feminism needs to centre the safety and rights of sex workers as they are often left out of gender equality work. This also gave us a chance to share our recent submission for sex work decriminalisation in South Australia, something members and previous staff in South Australia have fought for for many years. It has been an honour to continue their critical allyship and expand this nationally.
We shared our thoughts as pop star Britney Spears fights to end the conservatorship she has been under for the last 13 years. #FreeBritney is a disability justice issue, a women’s rights issue, an issue about equal and fair access to healthcare, and a reproductive rights issue. This also sparked many conversations on the control over women and how so many women and people of marginalised genders in Australia also have others decide where they live, what they can spend their money on and what they can do. This is a key cultural reference and part our reactive advocacy strategy on intersectional feminism and has been one of our best performing posts of the year that brought a whole new audience to the Y as well as being popular among our supporters.
1 – 7 August is Homelessness Week. Housing is a human right AND a feminist issue, and we need an intersectional and gender-responsive lens to truly solve the issue of housing in Australia. We have been amplifying our advocacy, in particular research and evidence from the last 12 months, our collaborations, our social media tiles as well as the voices of clients, tenants and staff.
Disability Pride Month
July is also Disability Pride Month, and it exists to celebrate the community. It’s also an opportunity for allies to connect with the movement to learn more about accessibility, ableism, and other more specific issues. As a part of our commitment to intersectionality it’s really important that not only our programs, services, housing and communications are accessible but that we are constantly evolving our understanding on how to be better allies particularly to women and people of marginalised genders with disabilities. Check out our response on socials for more info!