The allegations of rape and sexual assault coming from the Australian Parliament during the past weeks, and the associated political and national responses to these, have weighed heavily upon us.

 

But they’ve also stoked the fires in our bellies.

 

 

And on Monday 15 March, we joined more than 500 people from across the Goulburn Valley and north-east Victoria – and 100,000 people across the country – to come out onto the streets and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

 

 

We’ve had ENOUGH of workplaces that breed a culture of sexism and misogyny, that disrespect and endanger women, and silence their voices.

 

 

We’ve had ENOUGH of the broader national culture in Australia that treats women and girls with disrespect and contempt, as if they, their experiences, bodies and contributions were disposable, exploitable, ignorable and controllable.

 

 

And we’ve had ENOUGH of the toxic power dynamics of our national democratic arena, where men close ranks around each other to justify, rationalise and excuse violence against women and seek to discredit, ignore and smear the women who hold them to account.

 

On Monday, we rallied behind national calls for three tangible actions:

  • an independent review of politicians and staffers exploring experiences of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in parliaments;
  • immediate Gender Equality Audits of all parliaments across Australia and
  • support to enhance the online safety for women in politics.

 

And we will continue to call for these actions to be taken now.

 

We will also continue to take a stand against violence against women, and to call for safety and justice for women in all walks of life – in every workplace, every organisation and committee, every sporting team, every home.

 

To those who joined us on 15 March to March for Justice, we say, “Thank you, well done, and do not give up the fight.” This is just the beginning and we will be here to support you in this good work, all the way to the realisation of gender equality and safety for women.

 

Watch the speeches of WHGNE CEO Amanda Kelly, Indigo Shire Mayor Jenny O’Connor, Bpangerang Elder Aunty Betty Cherry and former Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Dr Kate Auty here:
Read Indigo Shire Mayor Jenny O’Connor’s powerful speech here.

What can I do now?

 

You’ve marched, you’ve raised your voice, you’ve signed the petition. But the good work doesn’t stop now. Here are four more ways you can ensure that genuine, meaningful change comes of our action today.
We highly recommend you read this comprehensive toolkit on intersectional feminist advocacy, created by YWCA, before you get started. It’s a great way to ensure your advocacy is inclusive, respectful and reflective of the diversity of our community.

We would strongly recommend that you get in touch with your local Federal MP to voice your concerns about safety and justice for women and ask them to take action in Federal Parliament. You might do this by arranging to meet them in person, or by writing a letter to them.

 

In your meeting with your MP, it is unlikely that only voicing your feelings about this issue will effect change – the most effective thing you can do is to ask for specific action.

 

Frame your request for action around the three tangible actions that we’ve identified during the march:

  • an independent review of politicians and staffers exploring experiences of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in parliaments;
  • immediate Gender Equality Audits of all parliaments across Australia and
  • support to enhance the online safety for women in politics.

 

The Federal Member for Indi is Dr Helen Haines.

Email her: helen.haines.mp@aph.gov.au

Phone her for an appointment:

117 Murphy Street
Wangaratta  VIC  3677
03 5721 7077

79 High Street
Wodonga VIC 3689
02 6024 6284

 

If you wish to speak to a state member of parliament also, the relevant people to contact are:

The Hon. Wendy Lovell (Northern Victoria)

Tania Maxwell (Northern Victoria)

Tim McCurdy (Ovens Valley)

Cindy McLeish (Eildon)

Tim McQuilty (Northern Victoria)

Steph Ryan (Euroa)

Suzanna Sheed (Shepparton)

The Hon. Jaclyn Symes (Northern Victoria)

Bill Tilley (Benambra)

 

Likewise, we encourage you to write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to demand the three actions, outlined above, are taken.

 

Before writing your letter, please read the following information to help you write an effective letter that is more likely to receive a response.

 

Send a letter to the Prime Minister here.

Creating change of the magnitude that we’re talking about as part of this march requires that every single person recalibrate their way of thinking and behaving. It’s big work!

 

And big work like this can only happen if every one of us puts our shoulder to wheel. It means calling out sexist jokes, behaviour, innuendo, comments wherever you are, where you experience them. It means pushing for inclusive and equitable policies in your workplace. It means having honest conversations with your children about gender stereotypes.

 

There are so many wonderful resources around to support you in this work – check out our 16 Days of Activism campaign from 2020 to see how you might implement gender equal workplace policies. Read up on OurWatch’s internationally acclaimed work, in violence prevention.

 

And don’t forget that we’re here, as your local go-to, for information, advice, resources and training to do exactly this kind of work!

Keep the momentum going – write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. In the Goulburn Valley, you might like to write to:

 

In north-east Victoria, try contacting:

 

Don’t forget to also send your letters to state-wide and national publicaitons like:

 

Oxfam Australia has created a great, succinct guide to writing an effective letter to the editor, which might be helpful to you.

 

And finally, make sure you continue to share your knowledge and women’s voices on your social media account. Use the hashtags #EnoughIsEnough #FedUp #march4justice #WomensMarchForJustice

Spread the word

 

 

Download your own poster and A5 fliers and spread the word about the Wangaratta Women’s March for Justice in your workplace, community group or on your community noticeboard.