Fired Up

4 Need-To-Know Takeaways From The National Women’s Safety Summit

Two in five women in Australia have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Let that sink in for a moment. With #FiredUp, Refinery29 Australia makes an ongoing commitment to spotlighting this serious and pervasive issue through survivor interviews, informative features and ongoing news coverage. The ultimate goal? To help dismantle workplace sexual harassment and assault in Australia. 
Family safety advocates, service providers and women who have experienced violence or sexual harassment drove some important conversations on Monday as the National Women's Safety Summit kicked off.
The two-day virtual event hosted by the federal government started with a keynote address from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, followed by panel discussions where attendees shared feedback on how politicians can better address the issues of violence against women and children.
Advertisement
From Grace Tame criticising the PM's use of survivor-victim testimonies in his speech to First Nations activists calling for a new domestic violence plan, here are some key takeaways from Day 1 of the summit.

Grace Tame & Brittany Higgins Have Their 'Own Safety Summit'

Australian of the Year and sexual assault survivor Grace Tame shared a photo on Monday evening of her and former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, along with the caption, "We had our own Safety Summit tonight".
The image came after Higgins – who claimed earlier this year she was assaulted by a government co-worker in 2019 – revealed that she wasn't actually invited by the federal government to the National Women's Safety Summit.
"I’d like to give a big thank-you to the ACT Government and the Victims of Crime Commission who kindly stepped in at the last minute to have me invited as a delegate to listen in to today’s event," she wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Teach Us Consent founder and fellow women's safety advocate Chanel Contos shared the photo of Tame and Higgins on her Instagram story, branding it a moment that represented "serious queen energy".
Contos, who is currently based in the UK, told Refinery29 Australia on Monday she hopes to reschedule a previously-cancelled meeting with the prime minister to discuss consent education reform.
"I would explain how sexual assault occurs at scale in Australian school children," said the 23-year-old, "and tell him that gender equality needs to be at the forefront of political issues in Australia moving forward."
Advertisement

Grace Tame Blasts Scott Morrison

The 26-year-old doubled down on the PM for reading out testimonies from sexual assault survivors during his keynote speech at the summit.
"Scott has just finished his opening keynote address at the Women’s Safety Summit in which he appropriated private disclosures from survivors to leverage his own image," she tweeted. "Gee, I bet it felt good to get that out."
In an interview with The Project on Monday evening, Tame acknowledged that many people were speaking about her reaction, but there also needed to be some focus on what else can come out of the summit.
"Yes, I did have some personal issues with the way that the Prime Minister used survivors’ stories not on their terms, which is completely unethical, but we have to focus on the positives," she said on the Channel Ten news and current affairs program.
In his speech, Morrison said Brittany Higgins speaking out earlier in the year has highlighted "longstanding and serious failings in this Parliament House," and since "turned into a conversation about women’s experiences everywhere."
"Australia does have a problem," he said. "There is still an attitude, a culture that excuses and justifies, ignores or condones gender inequality. And that is on all of us."

First Nations Women Call For Separate Domestic Violence Plan

Indigenous leaders and activists said the existing national plan tackling domestic violence doesn't address issues and dynamics specific to First Nations communities, and therefore a separate or additional plan should be devised.
Advertisement
Well-known Indigenous academic, Professor Marcia Langton said the plan which has existed for 12 years "does not work for us".
"Nobody listens to us," she said. "They talk over the top of us, they tell us what we are going to have in our communities, and no one listens to the women in the communities, the women in the towns, the women in the suburbs who have to deal with all those young women and older women and children fleeing from violence."
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance chief executive Sandra Creamer said the current system "has not really been there for us", while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar said, "We treat women as if they are homogenous, the same and that has got to end."

Kate Jenkins Pushes For More Respect@Work Recommendations To Be Implemented

Last week the government agreed to implement only six of the 55 recommendations made by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins in the Respect@Work report which was based on an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
But Jenkins said during a summit panel on Monday that she's "not giving up" on pushing for more recommendations to be legislated, including Recommendation 17, where the Sex Discrimination Act would be amended to introduce a positive duty on all employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation.
"They haven’t said no to most of the other recommendations," said Jenkins, explaining that the remaining recommendations are not "off the agenda" completely.
Advertisement
"Six of them went in and it could have been none. It’s not been a no, but it would have been fabulous if it all went through."
The National Women's Safety Summit continues today with panels focusing on coercive control, sexual violence and online misogyny. A live stream can be viewed here.
If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual or domestic violence and is in need of support, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), the National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Service.

More from Culture