We are a dynamic and diverse group of women including teachers, students, writers, artists, activists, social workers and journalists. We include representatives from the Women's Electoral Lobby NSW, Amnesty International, The Feminist Bookshop, The AIDS Council of NSW, Sydney University Students Representative Council and the Australian Services Union.
We invite you to join us for two days of lively debate, workshops and discussion about where we are from, where we are at and where we are going.
In 1972 as a school student Jane became interested in the Women’s Liberation movement and participated in a feminist consciousness-raising group. In 1977 she was NSW Regional Women’s Organiser for the Australian Union of Students. She participated in the Women’s Centre in Canberra, did volunteer work for the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre and was involved with several feminist publications including Wimminews, Mabel and Rouge.
She started work in the Commonwealth Public Service in 1979 and was shocked to discover that, only a few years earlier, women had been required to resign if they married. At the same time she became involved in establishing Toora single women’s refuge and later, Medea/Inanna, a service for women in psychiatric and emotional distress. She left the public service and over two decades worked in women’s services in Canberra and then as Co-ordinator of Stepping Out Housing Program, a service for adult survivors of child sexual assault in Sydney.
Rosa Campbell is a gender and cultural studies honours student and a future English and History secondary teacher. With two parents who are strong unionists and proud members of The Teachers' Federation she has been involved in unionism and social justice organising from a young age. She has been involved in feminist activism since 2004 and helped in the organisation of International Women's Day and Reclaim the Night. She was joint Women's Officer for The University of Sydney in 2006 where she ran several successful campaigns on campus including the campaign to legalise RU486 and Stop Violence Against Women. She also ran union based campaigns including the Stop Voluntary Student Unionism campaign and the Your Rights at Work campaign, specifically targeting young workers. She has also participated in anti-racist activism, visiting the Northern Territory as a part of a convergence against the Northern Territory Intervention. In 2007, she was the recipient of the New South Wales Teachers' Federation Teacher Trainee Scholarship and has been a proud member of the Federation since 2005.
Eva Cox AO
Eva Cox was born Eva Hauser in Vienna in 1938, and was soon declared stateless by Hitler so grew up as a refugee in England, till 1946, Italy and then Australia from age 10. She remembers being cross in Kindergarten that boys were offered drums, and girls the tambourine or triangle. All these early experiences primed her political activism and made her an irrepressible advocate for creating more civil societies. She is an unabashed feminist and passionately promotes inclusive, diverse and equitable communities. Her 1996 book (Leading Women) explained why women who made a difference were usually labelled as difficult.
She has been an academic, political adviser, public servant, and runs a small research consultancy. A sociologist by trade, she has published widely and eclectically in books, journals and newspapers. Now a Research Fellow at Jumbunna Aboriginal House of Learning at UTS, Eva has been recognised in various ways: Australian Humanist of the Year, a Distinguished Alumnus at UNSW, and was the ABC Boyer Lecturer (1995) on social capital and making societies more civil. She also stirs through being a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development, and the Chair of WEL Australia (Women’s Electoral Lobby).
Melanie Fernandez graduated with First Class Honours from the University of Sydney in Gender Studies. Her Honours research explored issues of female criminality and violence. Her research interests also include the intersection of work and care, the modern family unit and constructions of femininity and gender roles. Melanie recently co-authored a submission to the Australia’s Future Tax System Review on behalf of WEL Australia and represented WEL at a subsequent meeting with the Review panel. This work focused on the defining and labelling of a ‘couple’ in the transfer system and how this affects same and opposite sex individuals and partnerships. Melanie is passionately committed to encouraging the involvement of young women in the feminist movement and creating pathways for these women to connect.
Gail Hewison came out as a feminist after reading The Female Eunuch / Greer and The Second Sex / de Beauvoir in the mid 70s. She immediately became an activist, and worked paid and unpaid in various women’s services for several years. In 1982, Gail and her two sisters, also feminists, purchased The Feminist Bookshop with a small inheritance from their aunt. Together they turned the bookshop from a small struggling business into a thriving information and resource centre for women, which is now well known throughout Australia, and celebrating 35 years this year. Gail loves the opportunity the bookshop gives her to work with teachers, school counsellors, therapists, social workers, community health workers etc, as well as people looking for help with all kinds of human problems such as domestic violence, child abuse, addiction, depression, parenting, grief, and many more. Gail received an Edna Ryan Award for Creative Feminism in 1999 and an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2006 for services to community especially to women, and for services to emerging writers. She still has faith that feminism can and must bring change to benefit all women, children, and men, not just in Australia, but worldwide.
A life-long feminist, Helen was an active member of Women’s Electoral Lobby from its inception in 1972 until 1977. She was subsequently employed as a Community Liaison Officer working for newly arrived migrants in a number of factories and then for the newly-established NSW Anti Discrimination Board. Subsequently, she worked as Policy and Research Officer for the NSW Ombudsman, the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Chelmsford Royal Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission; working in a number of areas, specifically the rights of people with mental illness, prisoners and children with special needs in the education system. For many years, she was a member of the Board of Directors of Guthrie House, a residential facility for women and their children before and after incarceration. Helen has a commitment to working for the elimination of sexual harassment in the workplace, better representation of women in all public areas of life and the rights of the disadvantaged. As on older feminist of the second wave, Helen does not want younger women losing the power, confidence and self esteem to keep on insisting on fairness and equity in all spheres of society. Helen has three adult children and 3 grandchildren.
Celia currently works in the training field, but her background has mainly been in marketing communications roles in a diverse range of industries. As the daughter of a 70’s feminist who was very active in WEL during this period, Celia learned early on that women had a long way to go before they could claim equality and enjoy the same rights and opportunities that were available to men the world over. She remembers applying for a job at the local boatshed where she was very emphatically told ‘we only hire boys’ – this further cemented her conviction to the cause! She feels very grateful to early feminists for the gains they achieved and even though she has benefited greatly from these (especially in the corporate world), her continuing commitment to feminism is driven by the fact that there is still much to be done.
Jessica Ison is currently undertaking her Masters in Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Writing and Cultural Studies) with Honours in 2007. She is an editor for the online journal Philament. Jessica was the Writer in Residence at The Wayside Chapel in 2008, where she created a philosophy night that runs monthly and a series of community events such as a sell-out art exhibition and a monthly book club. She resigned from the post for university commitments but still frequents Wayside when they are in need of an article for their quarterly magazine, or if she just misses the people. In her spare time she works in a bookstore. She has had articles published in various magazines and university papers and was the runner up in the 2008 Play Now, Act Now writing competition. Her current research is centred on lesbian, bi, queer and trans communities in Sydney.
Gabe is an organiser with the Australian Services Union and the Vice-President of Amnesty International Australia NSW. Gabe is an active member of the feminist movement – organising Reclaim the Night and International Women’s Day marches since 2005. Gabe has been active in Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign, since its inception in 2004. Gabe has previously organised Amnesty International Youth Summits (2005 & 2006) and the Network of Women Students Australia Conference (2007). Gabe has previously sat on the Management Committee of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, the National Executive of the National Union of Students and the executive of Sydney University SRC.
Simone Morrissey is a union organizer with the Australian Services Union NSW & ACT Branch. A recent graduate from La Trobe University, she has been active and committed to the women’s, queer, environmental, and union movements for a number of years, most notably as the Project Director for Power Shift 2009, the Welfare Officer at La Trobe University Students’ Representative Council, an Editor of Rabelais Student Media, and a variety of other student representative positions. Simone is also a member of the Young Unionist Network, Friends of the Earth Collective Sydney and co-convenor of the Australian Young Greens. Simone can be described as a radical cross-stitcher, feminist, vegetarian, craftivist, queer, enviro, union activist, but much like the terms themselves cannot be reduced to mere signifiers. Unlike their carbon footprint (which is hopefully ever shrinking) Simone seeks to create ever expanding social change toward a more inclusive and just society.
Jenna Price teaches reporting skills at the University of Technology in Sydney after a 30 year career in journalism at the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times, where she still has a weekly column. She is lucky enough to be able to write about anything - from a women's right to campaign to untidy bedrooms (her own). Her research is on how students are transformed into reporters, examined through the use of interactive online reflection journals. She has had a long involvement in the women's liberation movement which began when a boyfriend gave her a copy of The Female Eunuch. She kept the book but ditched the boyfriend. Jenna is married with three children and an extensive collection of cactus.
Tania Safi is a Sydney based artist. She has successfully shown her work in various group shows and featured in various magazines. She ran an artists program for homeless youth at The Wayside Chapel, which resulted in a series of murals around the building. She is currently studying film and digital art at the Sydney College of the Arts. She is the creator of an internet based artist collective that is seeking to empower young queer and female artists by offering them a medium in which to show their artworks. Tania is strongly committed to bringing much needed recognition to female artists.