WEL has a new website!

Keep up to date with all the Women’s Electoral Lobby’s campaigns, policies, and events at wel.org.au

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“Zoe’s Law” a Trojan Horse for Nile’s anti-choice agenda

Media release: Monday 1 July, 2013

The Women’s Electoral Lobby of NSW is calling for the O’Farrell Government to withdraw its support for the Christian Democrat Fred Nile’s bill, dubbed “Zoe’s Law”.

The Bill proposes an amendment to the NSW Crimes Act which would create an additional criminal offence for any person who “who engages in any conduct that causes serious harm to or the destruction of a child in utero.”

Chair of the Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia, Melanie Fernandez, is deeply concerned that the O’Farrell Government is negotiating away women’s rights. “This bill is a Trojan Horse for Reverend Nile to run an anti-choice agenda in NSW,” she said.

“The move to give a foetus legal rights would be a disturbing step backwards for women in NSW. We cannot accept a foetus being considered as a “child” in NSW law. This will set an unacceptable precedent for the way foetuses are considered in the law through granting them rights.

“The Women’s Electoral Lobby is deeply concerned that this Bill is a way for Mr Nile to establish “personhood” for fetusues, and use this to attempt to legislate against abortion in NSW.”

Ms Fernandez said Rev. Nile was attempting to argue that this is not an anti-choice bill due to the exemptions written in.

“It is no surprise that Rev. Nile is the person sponsoring this bill, we know he has a long history of attempting to attack the rights of women in NSW. This Bill seeks to undermine hard-fought wins of women to control their own bodies.

“It is a tragedy when any woman loses a foetus in an accident or violent crime. However, our current statutory framework has adequate provisions to deal with these offences, we do not require additional offences regarding foetuses.

“It is an outrageous perversion of our democratic system that the Christian Democratic Party, which received only 3.12% of the vote at the 2011 election, is determining outcomes for the three and a half million women of NSW,” said Ms Fernandez.

The Women’s Electoral Lobby will be calling on all members of the NSW Coalition to publically state they will not be supporting this Bill.

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Remembering Una Gault – Feminist, psychologist, feisty advocate, dedicated mentor and valued friend

Wednesday 15th May 2013 3:00-5:30 

Una Gault, psychologist, was born in Young in 1925. She studied psychology at the University of Sydney and after graduation went to work for the Department of Repatriation at Concord Hospital.  Una later gained an  MA (Arts) and  PhD in psychology and worked as a lecturer and later senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales and Macquarie University in Sydney.  She was an avid feminist and was actively involved with numerous women’s groups including the Women’s Electoral Lobby, Jessie Street National Women’s Library, Women and Psychology, Women at Macquarie and Women in Education.  She and four other female psychologists published Emotion and Gender: Constructing Meaning from Memory in 1992 based on their research using their own childhood memories. Her other passions were literature, classical music, movies, and cats. She maintained an enormous library, housed in Sydney and Coledale. She remained fully engaged in women’s issues until her death in 2012.

A celebration of Una Gault’s life is being held at the Jessie Street National Women’s Library in conjunction with Women and Psychology Interest Group of the APS and the NSW Women’s Electoral Lobby.  


WHERE: Jessie Street National Women’s Library, Ultimo Community Centre, 523-525 Harris Street, Ultimo NSW

Level Access is through Bulwara Road entrance and across the courtyard or Harris Street upstairs. Please press buzzer. No parking in streets after 3.30 pm. 

CONTACT:    Please RSVP by 10th May Dori Wisniewski

Phone  9534 4434  Mobile: 0411 353 434  Email: dori.w@bigpond.com

COST: Gold Coin Donation for the Library

The Library is a 20 minute walk from Town Hall station through Darling Harbour or a ten minute walk down Harris Street from any bus travelling along Broadway. Bus 501 (Ian Thorpe Pool stop from Town Hall or Railway Square) Bus 443  (Harrris and Allan Strs Stop) from the Quay or Wynyard. Light rail from Central or Lillyfield to Exhibition stop.

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The government got it wrong – the facts on sole parents cuts.

The attack on our welfare system has intensified by the axing of the Sole Parenting Payment, forcing single parents onto the totally inadequate Newstart allowance.

The Government claims that moving 110,581 sole parents onto lower income support payments when their youngest child turns eight will push them into paid jobs. However, 60% of those to be impoverished are already in part-time paid work and will lose more than $100 per week.

There is no evidence this shift to Newstart increased sole parent’s workforce participation over the past 5 years. In fact, it is the reverse. Similar cuts imposed on 40,000 more recent sole parents since 2006 have already failed to increase their paid work involvement. So why continue this policy?

Sole parents face potential bias from employers, who know they are likely to need time off to their children’s needs. Often therefore sole parents are only offered casual jobs (often low paid) that lack predictability, have no security or possibilities of promotion. Research shows that bad jobs damage parental confidence and skills. Well-paid jobs that fit children’s time needs are scarce[i].

Some facts you need to know,

The cutback on income hasn’t increased workforce participation. The most recent ABS family workforce data[ii] showed the employment rates of sole parents from 2005-2011. The annual changes over those 5 years rise and fall in ways that cannot be correlated with the policy changes, let alone allow anyone to claim for causality.

The employment rates for those on Newstart are much lower than for those on parenting payments. DEEWR statistics show that 60% of those left on parenting payments already were employed in paid work against approximately 25% of those who moved onto Newstart.

The official requirement is that sole parents take on 30 paid hours per fortnight. At $17 per hour, just over the minimum wage, this would contribute $510 extra per fortnight. However, this is not the net income, as the Newstart payment reduces by 40 cents per dollar earned over $62 per fortnight. This contrasts with a parenting payment threshold of $176 plus $24 per extra child, before the 40 cent cuts in.

So now out of a fortnightly $510, a sole parent now nets only $369.80, a loss of around $114, plus the basic $130 difference in the base payments. Out of this sum come the costs of any care, the related costs of going to work and the loss of time for child related activities for little over $10 per hour.

Get informed + Get active!

You can act! You can learn more! You can be vocal! You can connect with the community leading for change.

Here is how we are starting:

The Women’s Electoral Lobby and the F Collective are holding a forum:

Why pick on Sole Parents? Sexism, welfare and bad policy decisions

Thursday April 11th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

At the Wesley Centre, Level 3 220 Pitt Street Sydney.

Come along to this forum and talk about the role of the feminist movement in fighting for a decent social safety net, and what we can do to create change before the election!

Cassandra Goldie will be speaking about ACOSS’ appeal to the United Nations to challenge the Sole Parenting Payment cuts.

Speakers include:

  • Amanda Parkinson – journalist and F Collective member
  • Beth Goldblatt – Research Fellow at UNSW Social Policy Research Centre
  • Dr Cassandra Goldie – CEO Australian Council of Social Services
  • Eva Cox – feminist activist, the Single Parents Action Group

Child minding: Let us know at thefcollective@gmail.com if you require child minding, and the age of your child.

To see the full event details click here.

Not in NSW? That’s okay. We want to hear from you! Contact: alustica@welnsw.org.au for information on reaching out in your local community.


Research provided by Eva Cox

[i] Eva Cox (2013), How can the government justify a policy that penalises working sole parents? from The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/how-can-the-government-justify-a-policy-that-penalises-working-sole-parents-12643

[ii] 6224.0.55.001 Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families, June 2011)

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International Women’s Day March 2013

At midday on Saturday 9 march over 300 people gathered at Town Hall square in Sydney for the annual International Women’s Day march. An amazing array of women and supporters came from all over Sydney to mark this important day.

A delegation from WEL NSW were in attendance, as were a huge delegation of women from Asian Women at Work who came to raise the profile of migrant women workers in Australia. Lots of Unions turned out to mark the day including the FSU, MUA, TWU, USU, United Voice and others.

Sole parents from Sydney were there to protest the Federal Government’s recent cuts to the Sole Parenting Payment, which leaves single parents on the inadequate Newstart allowance. The F Collective delegation were promoting the (joint WEL and F) forum on how these cuts to the welfare system disproportionately impact on women, and what can be done to address this in a federal election year.

Colectivo Mujer brought pink crosses to represent women who have lost their lives due to the femicide in Juarez, Mexico. Women’s Collectives from Sydney University and UNSW were there with banners, their year of activism is just getting started!

United Voice activists came to talk about their Big Steps campaign, which calls on the Federal Government to put more funding into the Early Childhood Education and Care sector in order to pay educators an equal wage.

The Women’s Abortion Action Coalition marched behind their banner, standing strong against Fred Nile’s recent attempts to undermine a woman’s right to choose in NSW. Representatives from the Older Women’s Network marched, reminding everyone of the vital role that older people play in our community.

Speakers addressed the crowd on a diverse range of issues from the rights of breastfeeding mothers, to equal pay, to human rights. The diversity and passion of women at the march was a powerful reminder of the breadth and depth of the Sydneyfeminist movement.

– Gabe Kavanagh
IWD montage
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