An open letter to Marise Payne, our new Minister for Women

An open letter to Marise Payne, our new Minister for Women

Marise Payne
Dear Minister Payne,

Congratulations on your appointment as our new Minister for Women. As our collective champion, you have been given a mandate to advance the safety and financial security of all Australian women.

As a movement of more than 35,000 Australians working for a fair and equal future for women, Fair Agenda considers your new role one of the most vital in the country.

The first 100 days is a critical opportunity for your Government to set a roadmap for achieving a safer and more equal future for all women.

The Fair Agenda community urges you to use those critical first 100 days to act on these four urgent issues:

All women should have the ability to live free from violence and fear.

Right now women in Australia are being murdered on a weekly basis, often by an intimate partner.

We need a system that supports every woman who needs to flee a violent abuser, and that recognises that men’s use of violence against women is a national crisis, and resources the necessary interventions accordingly.

Before the election your Government made some good progress with new funding for crisis response, accommodation and long-term prevention. But across the country thousands of women are still unable to access the services they desperately need; and men that are at risk of using violence are having to wait months for access to behaviour change programs.

We urge you to increase funding for these crucial services that prevent and address family violence so that no woman is left without the help she needs to be safe.

All students should all be able to study and learn in safety.

Right now university students are being sexually assaulted every week. Many student survivors are having to wait months for their university to respond to urgent safety concerns, are unable to access counselling, and are being targeted if they speak out about their assault. 

We urge you to work with the Education Minister to immediately establish an independent and expert-led Taskforce on campus sexual violence, to ensure universities and residential colleges are held to account for providing safe learning environments.

We all deserve to go to work each day knowing we’ll be safe.

However in the past five years more than 1 in 3 women have been sexual harassed when they’re just trying to do their job. And right now there’s no real way for those who are affected to ensure their workplace makes any kind of systemic change for their future safety.

Your Government’s action in establishing the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces is a positive first step; but we are concerned that the Government is yet to commit to implementing the Inquiry recommendations.

We urge you to follow the expert’s advice and commit to implementing and resourcing the full recommendations of the National Inquiry.

We know that young children require care as they grow, and this unpaid work is disproportionately provided by women.

Right now under ParentsNext, parents are forced to comply with demeaning conditions or risk having their parenting payments cancelled. The program disproportionately harms single mums and First Nations families; and one in five parents on the program have already had their payments suspended. Mums on the program say they’re being humiliated, and face financial insecurity on a fortnight-to-fortnight basis.

We urge you to work with colleagues to bring an immediate end to ParentsNext.

As you shape your vision for your new role, we hope you’ll use your position to act as a champion for women’s safety, security and autonomy in Australia.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these issues. And our movement will be here to show that the community support these changes.

Yours sincerely,

Renee Carr, on behalf of the Fair Agenda community

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