Angela Williamson's bravery in sending the abortion tweets that led to her sacking

Angela Williamson’s bravery in sending the abortion tweets that led to her sacking

The hypocrisy is blatant.

How many senior men have managed to talk their way out of sexual harassment allegations? Assault? Bullying? Misconduct?

Meanwhile, a woman takes a stand on a personal and political issue publicly, and is sacked immediately and without due process. The case against former Cricket Australia employee Angela Williamson is one that strikes a furious chord.

In June this year, while holding the position of public policy and government relations manager at Cricket Australia, Williamson posted a tweet in which she labelled the Tasmanian government “gutless” for not ensuring women had access to reproductive health services in the state.

15 days later, her contract with Cricket Australia was terminated with little explanation.

Of course, expressing political views publicly is not a sackable offence, but it’s worth noting that Williamson’s tweet had stemmed from a very personal experience. In February this year, she was forced to fly to Melbourne for an abortion after Tasmania’s last state provider closed its doors for good. An issue which has, for the past few months, dominated political discourse with the Tasmanian Greens lobbying a resistant Liberal government for change.

Speaking bravely on Channel Ten’s The Project last night, Williamson said the experience had been a traumatic one –particularly being removed from her support network at a time when she needed it most.

“I didn’t want to fly to Melbourne and I didn’t want to do this alone and I wanted the support of my family,” she said.

As a previous government staffer, Williamson felt she had access to decision makers that other women did not, and felt compelled to speak up and petition for change.

“I was able to talk to representatives from the Greens, from Labor, from the media and I just thought, ‘I’ve got a voice, I’ve got the connections and I can really make a difference’,” she said.

“A lot of people won’t want to stand up because it’s such a personal issue. But I thought I could change things.”


Now, Cricket Australia is embroiled in what will surely be a lengthy court case, with Williamson’s lawyer Kamal Farouque claiming there’s no doubt his client has been unfairly treated.

“The critical issue here is this, under the Fair Work Act you can’t be sacked because you expressed a political opinion,” he said.

“She expressed a political opinion about an issue that was being debated in Parliament and in the public in Tasmania, and she lost her job because of it.

“We don’t think any social media policy can stop the expression of people’s political views.”

Farouque said Williamson would be seeking her job back and compensation for the loss suffered.

“She enjoyed the job at Cricket Australia. No-one should lose their job in these circumstances,” he added.

Making matters worse, a senior staffer of the Liberal Party allegedly was the first to complain to Cricket Australia about Williamson’s tweets and breached privacy by notifying the organisation of Williamson’s pregnancy termination.

Martine Haley was forced to quit in March after she was caught using a fake social media account to troll women, including Williamson.

An indefensible action from a representative supposedly protecting public interests.

In a statement on Monday, Cricket Australia confirmed it had ended Williamson’s contract late June and is following due proceedings.

“The circumstances surrounding that decision are now the subject of legal proceedings and it would be inappropriate for Cricket Australia to publicly comment on Ms Williamson’s specific circumstances any further,” it said.

“We will continue to follow and respect the current process.

“Cricket Australia respects an individual’s right to their opinion. However, it expects that employees will refrain from making offensive comments that contravene the organisation’s policies.”

A change petition lodged by Williamson yesterday shared her story and called for equal access to abortion in Australia. It has since gained just shy of 20,000 signatures proving conclusively that she is not alone.

Ultimately, Angela Williamson’s “offensive comments” amounted to a political position which fought for fairer reform. Instead, the comments led to her being unduly unemployed within a matter of days.

Cricket Australia should ask itself: how fair is that?

 

 

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