Sunday, December 12, 2010

Equal Pay: Big Changes NOT Small Change!

On the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, march together for equal pay.
At 12pm on the 12th of March 2011, meet at Town Hall in Sydney City.
Why Equal Pay?
Right now, community workers, 90 per cent of whom are women, have a case before Fair Work Australia to increase their pay. Community workers pay has always been low because it is a female-dominated profession. A person working in a male dominated industry such as a greenskeeper earns more than someone working in a female-dominated industry such as a youth suicide prevention worker. This is not because the work that men do is harder, or because it contributes more to society. These low wages that women receive are due to the undervaluation of the work that women have done and continue to do.
Who has the power to decide the case?
The Federal Government – Julia Gillard and co – have the power to support the case or not. The Government initially supported the case going to Fair Work Australia, but now their submission to the case says they cannot afford to fund it. PM Gillard holds the purse strings, so let’s send her a message! The NSW Government also have a say over funding. So, the Commissioners of Fair Work Australia decide, but in the end, it is Government that has to say YES! to equal pay.
What Anniversary?
1911 was the first time IWD was celebrated internationally. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. It was also the year of a the Lawrence Strike, a textile workers strike in the USA. More than 20 000 workers went on strike in response to wage cuts, many were arrested and jailed and several were killed. This is sometimes called the Bread and Roses strike.
100 years on, women are still fighting for decent pay and equal rights!
Join the march to Circular Quay for Equal Pay, and celebrate 100 years of the Women’s Movement!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Some wonderful feedback from the Hon. (and wonderful) Penny Sharpe

NSW Legislative Assembly
12 May 2010
The Hon. PENNY SHARPE (Parliamentary Secretary) [11.43 p.m.]:

Over the weekend of 10 and 11 April I was fortunate to attend the first feminist conference held in Sydney for more than 10 years. At the conference I was able to participate with more than 500 women and a small contingent of men who seek ways to give women in our community a fair deal. It was an impressive conference, with women attendees ranging in ages from teens up to some in their eighties.

The conference was organised by a diverse collective of women who wanted to bring women together to discuss how we can enliven and ignite the feminist movement in Sydney. Each of the organisers was an activist and representative from various organisations, including the Women's Electoral Lobby New South Wales, Amnesty International, the Feminist Bookshop, ACON, the Sydney University Students Representative Council and the Australian Services Union.

Over the two-day conference panels discussed and examined a range of issues including: What can feminism learn from indigenous women's knowledge? Why is feminism relevant for all of us? The sharing of power—why aren't we there yet? What sort of future can we create from this conference? There were over 50 workshops on issues such as women and education, mothering and maternal activism, sexism and sexuality in the media, feminist perspectives on pornography, women and poverty, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, women in prison, women and disability and about 40 more topics.

Some people have suggested that we are living in a post-feminist world and that feminism is no longer necessary. While ever women make up the majority of the world's poor, live their lives in fear of violence, continue to suffer from discrimination in accessing education, housing and other basic human rights, feminism is necessary. The conference was a shot in the arm for the many women across this State who work every day to improve women's lives. Anne Summers said at one of the conference sessions that feminism is alive and well. At this time there have never been more men and women who are prepared to call themselves feminists. We should work with and act on that concept.

At a personal level, it was a privilege to gather with so many intelligent, passionate and committed women. The conference was truly inclusive and did not shy away from controversy. There was not any one form of feminism. No one had to have one particular way of representing feminism. There was respect for and inclusion of all points of view, based on the basic value that all women should be treated equally.

I want to place on record tonight my appreciation for the hard work that was done by a voluntary collective. These events usually run on the smell of an oily rag. I thank those who organised the conference: Jane Cullen, Rosa Campbell, Eva Cox, Melanie Fernandez, Gail Hewison, Helen and Celia Hurwitz, Jessica Ison, Gabe Kavanagh, Simone Morrissey, Claire Nemorin, Jenna Price and Tania Safi. Their work is just the beginning.

I look forward to their future efforts on behalf of women in New South Wales.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Thanks and get involved!

Hi all,

Thank you so much for joining us at F: The Conference, Sydney's First Feminist Conference in Ten Years!
It was a roaring success, over 500 people met to discuss feminism over the weekend of April 10th-11th.
If you put your contact details down, we will be in touch shortly with things we are doing that we hope you'll be involved in!
When we first started out, we envisaged F as a way to re-ignite the Sydney Feminist movement.
Here are some campaigns and active feminist collectives running at the moment that members of the F collective are involved in:
All welcome!

Get involved with the ASU’s Equal Pay Campaign 
Come to the Equal Pay Day of Action, June 10 11am at Sydney Town Hall.

Boomers + , X and Y: A tea party for lesbian and queer women across generations
We'd like to invite you to meet with other lesbian and queer women from across the generations to listen, learn and make connections over a hot drink and a sweet treat.

We are a group of generation X and Y women who attended the recent feminist conference in Sydney and realised we had much to learn from older women, and from each other. We can't do this in a bar so we decided to organise something to bring people together in a relaxed atmosphere. Expect to share stories, insights and connections.

When: 3-6pm, Sunday 16th May, at the Red Rattler,
 6 Faversham St, Marrickville
Public transport options: Buses 423 and 426 stop on Victoria Rd near Sydenham Rd or Sydenham Railway Station is an 8min walk.
Catering: Please RSVP by 12th May so we can provide enough tea, coffee and biscuits. It'd be great if you brought a plate of treats to share.
Entry: Gold coin donation to cover the venue. 
RSVP to ~ Check out Bxy Tea on Facebook ~

Women's Abortion Action Coalition.
Meetings: Tuesday 6:30pm
Sydney University Post-Grad Students Association.

Refugee Action Coalition.
Meetings: 6pm at the NSW Teachers federation building on Mary st, Surry Hills. Next meeting 6pm Monday May 3. For details ring/text Ian on 0417 275 713

Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney
Meetings: 6pm Monday nights, NSW Teachers Federation Building, Level 1, 23-33 Mary Street Surry Hills
Should you require further information and would like to attend, please call Jean: 0449 646 593 or
Friends of the Earth Sydney
Meeting: most Tuesdays in Newtown at 6:30pm.
Post: 19 Eve St, Erskineville, NSW, 2043.
Phone: Joe Jennings - 0424 733 166

'Still Feirce' the Sydney Gender and Sexuality Diverse Collective 
Meeting: fortnightly on tuesday evenings, 7 - 8.30pm. Regular venue TBA.

NSW Peace and Justice Coalition 

The Student Environment Action Network 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Auslan interpreters - DO YOU REQUIRE ONE?

We currently have two Auslan interpreters lined up for the conference for any attendees that require their assistance. At present, however, we have had no one indicate that they will require an interpreter and, as such, are considering cancelling the booking.

We have to give the interpreters 48 hours notice if we no longer require them so please let us know by WEDNESDAY NIGHT IF YOU REQUIRE AN AUSLAN INTERPRETER.

Our email is:

Thanks and looking forward to seeing you all on Saturday!!

P.S. If you haven’t booked already we are literally down to OUR LAST FEW TICKETS so get in fast or be prepared to miss out!!

Monday, March 29, 2010


F is giving you the chance to let us know what you want from this conference!

The F conference (Sydney's first feminist conference in 10 years!) includes 3 plenaries that will be in question and answer format.

They are:

Why is feminism relevant?
With: Anne Summers, Mehal Krayem, Zora Simic, Siri May and Eman Sharobeem

With: Elizabeth Broderick, Eva Cox, Elena Jeffries, Liliane Lukoki and Sally McManus

Feminist Futures
With: Cate Faerman, Candy Bowers, Chally and Larissa Behrendt

What do you want to ask some of Australia's most prolific feminist and social justice thinkers, advocates and activists?
What do you want to know about feminism?
What do you want addressed?
What are your big questions?

F is your conference!

Send us your questions in a facebook message, write on our wall, email us
or text them to us at 0431 213 382.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Summary of problems for women if current Bills to extend the Income Management to a wider population are passed

There is a very toxic change that is on the way for the welfare system and it has particular significance for women. The following is a brief summary of the effects of proposed changes on women. The Government is pushing the legislation through the senate in a couple of weeks and, as the Opposition has agreed, it will go through. The Greens have opposed it and continue the fight.

The income quaranting program has consistently been justified by Minister Macklin by claiming it is supported by women and protects them from violence. This is echoed in the majority (ALP Senators) report on the senate inquiry released last week. However, the evidence does not support these claims and both the original actions against prescribed communities and the proposed extension to the NT, and then the rest of Australia, have serious implications for women.

The Bills extend the income management system that was imposed on 73 communities in the NT. Now it will be applied to non-Indigenous welfare recipients as well, first in the NT and then in the rest of Australia. This will allow the Government to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act by putting unfair measures on other welfare recipients as well. The Government will be able, amongst other things, to impose compulsory income quarantining to non-Indigenous welfare recipients who live in certain areas, regardless of how well they are managing their income.

Sole parents, those on Newstart which now covers many people with disabilities and recently arrived immigrants, will have half their Government benefits put onto a plastic card that can only be used for approved products at approved (big) stores. This card will be administered by Centrelink. If they want to be exempted they have to prove to the bureaucrats that they are good mothers or good job seekers. This is deeply offensive and often difficult for women who already have to manage with limited funds and being scape-goated.

The Bill is in the senate, which completed an inquiry. This has reported full support for the Bills from the ALP senators, despite serious doubts about the effectiveness of the measures in the NT. The Greens dissented because the measures are both unfair and don't work. The
Coalition members originally opposed the Bills as it was seen as too soft because it omitted age and disability pensioners. They have now changed their mind because they want to toughen their welfare stuff further when they get back in.

It is puzzling that government members supported the Bill, except that it is government policy. There were over 90 written submissions to the Inquiry and many appearances at hearings, and almost all of these opposed the changes and/or were critical of the so called evidence that income management worked.

At best, 5 agencies supported the Bills, including the NT government and a couple of agencies from Central Australia. Most big welfare agencies, such as St Vinnies, Anglicare, ACOSS etc are very clearly opposed to the extension and the original program as were other women's groups such as a DV group and the Sole Parent Union.

They were very worried about its effects on sole parents and victims of violence and with NAPCAN, couldn't see how the changes did or would protect children

This is an example of both bad policy making, (ignoring evidence) and persecution of the vulnerable.

If you want to help stop this, please contact me on or make contact at the conference.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Book of the Week

Princesses & Pornstars : Sex Power Identity
Emily Maguire 
Text Publishing


After forty years of feminism where are we? What has 
happened to women’s rights in an era of girlie magazines, 
plastic surgery, crash diets and desperate celebrities?

A feminist author looks for a way towards more equality 
for women in their public and personal lives. A mix of 
personal story, interview, and political analysis. A call 
to arms for young women who grew up thinking the 
struggle was over.

Emily Maguire is the author of the novels Taming the Beast (2004) and The Gospel According to Luke (2006). Her latest book is Smoke in the Room (2009). 

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Feminist Because

I’m a feminist because of a tea towel. 

I was young and small and saw it flapping on our clothesline, two children standing next to each other and looking down their knickers. (Down! Their! Knickers!) 

The caption read: “Oh! So that explains the difference in Our Pay”

I remember asking “the adults” what it meant.  

The best response: “It’s about tea towels and what gets done with them. It’s about what we think of the people who mop up spills and wash and wipe dishes, who polish glasses and mop our floors and what we think of them when they don’t. When women don’t just cook dinners and clean up messes. It’s about how women get treated and about changing it.”

Good answer (& like all the best answers one immediately has more questions. Then more. And more still). 

It is good answers like these and the continual questions that keep me in the movement, that are of the Feminist Movement, that are of my dreams.

I’m a feminist.

Because of bell hooks who writes with characteristic brilliance, “Feminism is a movement to end violence. Feminist struggle takes place anytime anywhere any female or male resists sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. Feminist movements take place when groups of people come together with an organised strategy to take action to eliminate patriarchy.”[i] 

Because of Judith Butler,[ii] Liz Grosz[iii] and Sara Ahmed[iv] who ask in different ways what it means to be a woman in the first place. Who ask us who we mean when we say “woman” anyway?  Who is the “woman” of our imaginings? Who are we leaving out, who are we excluding, what are we taking for granted when we say “woman,” when we say “she”?

Because of Le Tigre.  Nina Simone. Maybe even Lady Gaga.

Because of Aileen Moreton Robinson, who talks about the racist legacy of Australian feminism and with immense generosity urges feminists to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander struggles for justice. [v]Because of visual artists like Tracey Emin, like Nan Goldin, likeCindy Sherman, like Yayoi Kusama, like Catherine Opie who are unafraid. They, like those kids on that tea towel, look down their own knickers. They flesh out their bodies. They make art. 

And Because of the F Collective, who are organising this conference, who are always inspiring and challenging, always busy, calling each others bluff, thinking about feminisms, learning from legacy, holding meetings, passionately licking envelopes, organising a festival, writing books, working, laughing, reading books, creating a zine, blogging, tweeting, facebooking and, with millions of others around the world we are fighting for our lives.

Your turn! Finish this sentence: 

I’m a feminist because...

Blog post by Rosa Valerie Campbell

[i] hooks, bell. Feminist Theory From Margin to Centre. South End Press: 2000. xi.
[ii] See Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Routledge: 1990.  for a brief introduction to Butler’s work see:
[iii] See Grosz, Liz. Volatile Bodies: Towards a Corporeal Feminism. Indiana University Press: 1994.
[iv] See Ahmed, Sara and Jane Kilby, Celia Lury, Maureen McNeil, Beverly Skeggs. Thinking Through Feminism. Routledge: 2000.
[v] Moreton Robinson, Aileen. Talkin’ Up to the White Woman: Aboriginal Women and Feminism. University of Queensland Press: 2002. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Being a "difficult" woman

One of my favourite topics: difficult women! I am one, as I discovered in my local library. I was flicking through biographies of women stirrers which usually started with ‘Florence Nightingale.. (or whoever) was a difficult women’. My conclusion was that any woman who made some political difference was usually defined as “difficult”. So women need to fit the feminine stereotypes of "nice" or lose out. And it is not only with men but it is often other women who discipline stroppy women. It is not surprising that women who get to the top make few feminist changes as they are often judged more severely than men. Raising feminist issues is not “nice” so those women become supporters of the status quo that let them get there, and are not defined as difficult.  

Gale Edwards, an internationally respected theatre director who claims she can’t get work here, because she is difficult, works overseas. Australian (Anglo) culture is particularly prescriptive: anti-conflict and pro subservience.  So locals do over most outspoken women: women who stir publicly, women who push radical agendas…. ie most public feminists. Labelling us as difficult effectively limits those who are prepared to be identified with us, and acts as an explanation as to why we are going backwards in many areas.

Being “good girls” and being “nice” may create feel-good links, and I am not advocating that we should all become stroppy and rude, but more women need to recognise that change means that some of us need to take risks, stick our necks out and push the boundaries.  We need support, so labelling us as difficult, avoiding conflict and being “nice” plays into patriarchal rigidities.   

Blog post by Eva Cox

Monday, January 25, 2010

Book of the week no. 2

The F Word : How we learned to swear by feminism
Jane Caro & Catherine Fox
New South Publishing

In this lively and warm-hearted book the feminist authors explain how sexual inequality is still frighteningly prevalent. Why do women still carry the guilt for a messy home, why are women paid so much less than men?

The big issues facing women and men are addressed with practical suggestions on how women can combine motherhood, a social  life and a career.

How has feminism become a dirty word and how can we reclaim it?  

Jane Caro is a former advertising copywriter who now writes on women, families and education. Catherine Fox is deputy editor of AFRBOSS magazine and writes a weekly column, ‘Workspace', for the Australian Financial Review.

Book summaries are care of the lovely Gail at the Feminist Bookshop

Friday, January 15, 2010

The very first book of the week!!

The Great Feminist Denial
Monica Dux & Zora Simic
Melbourne University Press

All around us feminism is getting the blame. Feminism has gone from being a movement that helps women to one that is the cause of all that is wrong in women’s lives.

The authors who both describe themselves as feminists examine the popular debates in which feminism stands accused. This refreshing book puts an ailing feminist past to rest, and proposes a new way ahead for young women of today to call themselves feminists.

Monica Dux is a Melbourne writer who contributes regularly to the Age. Zora Simic is a lecturer in Australian history at ANU.

Book summaries are care of the lovely Gail at the Feminist Bookshop