Agenda 27

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gender stats bluestocking week 2019 a history of gender violence scholarship winners #mymum

women’s conference 2019 sexual harassment in wa Gender bias & workplace stress peacekeeping in bougainville women of “the squad”

ISSN 1839-6186

Volume 27, September 2019

Women’s Action Committee (WAC) The role of the Women’s Action Committee is to: • Act as a representative of women members, at the national level. • To identify, develop and respond to matters affecting women. • To advise on recruitment policy and resources directed at women. • To advise on strategies and structures to encourage, support and facilitate the active participation of women members at all levels of the NTEU. • To recommend action, and advise on issues affecting women. • To provide editorial advice on Agenda and the women’s website. • To inform members on industrial issues and policies that impact on women.

WAC Delegates 2019 Aca Academic staff representative G/P General/Professional staff representative

National OFFICERs

• To make recommendations and provide advice to the National Executive, National Council, and Division Executive and Council on industrial, social and political issues affecting women. • Monitor and review the effectiveness of issues, policies and structures affecting women. WAC is chaired by the National President and is composed of one academic and one general/professional staff representative from each Division plus one nominee of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee.

Alison Barnes National President (Chair) Gabe Gooding National Assistant Secretary

A&TSI Representative Anna Strzelecki UniSA

act Aca Bel Townsend ANU G/P Jo Washington-King ANU

NEW SOUTH WALES Aca Karen Lamb ACU G/P Julia McConnochie UTS

NORTHERN TERRITORY Aca Donelle Cross BIITE G/P Sylvia Klonaris CDU

QUEENSLAND Aca Leonie Barnet CQU G/P Gwen Amankwah-Toa QUT

SOUTH AUSTRALIA Aca Darlene McNaughton Flinders G/P Cécile Dutreix UniSA



ISSN 1839-6186 (print), ISSN 1839-6194 (online)

Editor: Alison Barnes Production: Paul Clifton

Editorial Assistance: Anastasia Kotaidis

Aca Nataliya Nikolova UTAS G/P Jenny Smith UTAS

All text and images © NTEU 2019 unless otherwise noted.


PO Box 1323, South Melbourne VIC 3205 Australia

Published annually by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). Phone: 03 9254 1910

ABN 38 579 396 344


Fax: 03 9254 1915

Aca Virginia Mansel Lees La Trobe G/P Sara Brocklesby Melbourne

WESTERN AUSTRALIA Aca Suzanne Jenkins Notre Dame Australia G/P Corinna Worth Curtin

In accordance with NTEU policy to reduce our impact on the natural environment, Agenda has been printed using vegetable based inks with alcohol free printing initiatives on FSC certified paper by Printgraphics under ISO 14001 Environmental Certification.

MIX From responsible sources



Cover: Bluestocking Week cupcakes at CDU, Darwin. Photo by Sylvia Klonaris


Volume 27, September 2019





The biennial NTEU National Women’s Conference held in Melbourne on 12–13 July was a festival of ideas, plans, celebrations and commiserations.




Dr Alison Barnes’ address to the 2019 Women’s Conference, her first as NTEU National President.








NSW Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi delivered the keynote address to the 2019 Women’s Conference.


Bluestocking week SECURE JOBS. SAFE WORKPLACES Bluestocking Week 2019 followed the theme of secure jobs and safe workplaces.

FROM PUBERTY BLUES TO #METOO 10 Jeannie Rea reflects on the progress and purpose of Bluestocking Week since its relaunch in 2012 to this year’s event.

WOmen’s Conference MY FIRST NTEU WOMEN’S CONFERENCE 11 Gwen Amankwah-Toa reflects on her first NTEU Women’s Conference.

delegate profiles D E L E G AT E S . N T E U. O R G . AU







Cathy Day reflects on her role as a peacekeeper in Bougainville 20 years ago.

gender & equity

THE SQUAD: WHERE DIVERSITY IS STRENGTH 28 GENDER PAY GAP PREVALENT ACROSS ALL INDUSTRIES 18 WGEA data shows there is a gender pay gap favouring men in every industry and occupational level, regardless of whether they are male or female-dominated.




Work-induced stress is as much a workplace health and safety issue as a physical hazard to our safety is.

INVISIBILITY IS NOT A SUPERPOWER 21 What is the position of women in 2019 working in administrations and operations of universities, some years into the corporatisation of higher education?

HISTORY OF GENDER VIOLENCE IN AUSTRALIA 22 Julia McConnichie reviews Gender Violence in Australia: Historical Perspectives, declaring it a book all feminists must read.

NTEU scholarships


For the 8th year in a row, Agenda charts the statistics for women in higher education and the broader workforce.


“The Squad” are a group of four outspoken and progressive Democratic US Congresswomen who have been targeted by Donald Trump.



Sharon James is the 2019 recipient of the Joan Hardy Scholarship for postgraduate nursing research.



Beth Muldoon has been awarded the 2019 Carolyn Allport Scholarship, a postgraduate scholarship in feminist studies.

#feminism #MYMUM 32


only A strong union can fight discrimination


NTEU National President

Welcome to the 2019 edition of Agenda, my first as National President of the NTEU. With institutions enrolling increasing numbers of students, higher education has expanded markedly across Australia. The consequences of this expansion have been a continuing growth in insecure forms of employment and a persistent gender pay gap (see p. 18). The impacts of insecure work for those who perform it are well documented. They include, but are not limited to, chronic financial strain, difficulties in planning for the future and the anxieties that engenders, and the prospect of large numbers of women retiring to poverty.

harassment is still rife on our campuses with just under one in every five respondents having experienced sexual harassment. The survey also uncovered a link between those who were insecurely employed and a reluctance to report incidents. The findings indicated that fewer than six per cent of women were prepared to lodge a formal complaint despite high levels of awareness of university sexual harassment policies. Significantly, the survey also told us that women members had faith in the Union to tackle sexual harassment.

Although there are currently more women than men enrolled at and employed by our universities, women are clustered at the lower end of both professional and academic staff levels rather than spread proportionately among the professoriate or senior management.

My years of teaching industrial relations and researching the gender pay gap in such areas as early childhood education have reinforced in me the conviction that the only way workers, be they in academic or non-academic environments, are able to effectively challenge workplace discrimination is via strong unions.

Pay equity and insecure work are only two of the systemic forms of discrimination women across universities and TAFE encounter. A recent survey of 1,350 NTEU members demonstrated that sexual

The NTEU will continue to work towards improving working conditions that reduce gender inequality – such as access to flexible leave provisions, better parental and carer leave, transparency around remuneration

and improved career advancement opportunities – but we need your help to do so. We need your help to make sure our Union remains strong enough to challenge discrimination and win. Only by building our power at the grassroots level will we be able to effectively confront gender-based discrimination in our workplaces. Evidence shows that by far and away the most common reason why people join the NTEU is because a friend or colleague asked them to. If everyone persuades a work-mate to join, our enhanced collective strength will oblige employers in our sector to treat sexual harassment and assault, sexism and gender-based bias as serious workplace risks. This is vital if we are to ensure that our workplaces are safe, free from threats of sexual harassment, and gender-based discrimination becomes a thing of the past. Alison Barnes is NTEU National President and editor of Agenda.

AUR is published twice a year by the NTEU.

Since 1958, the Australian Universities’ Review has been encouraging debate and discussion about issues in higher education and its contribution to Australian public life.

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2nd student survey welcome, but sexual harassment in our universities remains a serious workplace risk The announcement by Universities Australia (UA) of the second national survey into sexual harassment and assaults on university campuses has been welcomed by the NTEU, but we remain concerned at the lack of concrete action by universities on addressing sexism, sexual harassment and assault as a workplace health and safety risk. NTEU agrees with UA that more needs to be done to address the drivers of violence against women across society and that universities have an important role in that respect. However, while the focus of universities has been on addressing the concerns of students around the prevention and reporting of sexual harassment and assaults, the Union’s own research has shown that many staff in our universities and TAFEs who have had similar experiences have been left in the cold. NTEU’s survey, conducted earlier this year and used to support the Union’s submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, found similar responses to UA’s first student survey, undertaken in 2017. The NTEU survey found that under one- in-five respondents had personally experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and that, alarmingly, just under 40% of all respondents said that they were aware of others who had been sexually harassed in their workplace. However, our survey also revealed deep problems with how universities have dealt with staff complaints over sexual harassment, sexism and sexual assault. More than 90% of respondents to the NTEU survey said they were aware or familiar with their university’s policy and complaints processes, yet only 3.25% of men and 5.64% of women respondents, who had experienced sexual harassment, made a formal complaint (with similar numbers for informal complaints).

While there is a vast array of institutional policies relating to reporting and complaints processes, the Union’s survey revealed significant concerns over their effectiveness. This can best be seen in the extremely low rates of reporting of sexual harassment, sexism and even sexual assault by staff, with 38% of respondents stating that they didn’t have faith in their university’s processes and almost 19% saying they were fearful of losing their jobs if they did complain. Of those that did make a formal complaint, close to 60% were unhappy with the process and the results. Furthermore, 30% of these respondents reported that their action had a negative impact on their careers. NTEU believes that the failure of university managements to properly address sexism, sexual harassment and assault as a workplace issue lies with current attitude of both employers and government, which views the sexual harassment as a personal problem for the individual and not as a workplace hazard. NTEU has called on universities to join us in pushing for legislative change, including within the Fair Work Act and Work, Health and Safety (WHS) Act, so that sexual harassment and assault, sexism and gender-based bias are treated as industrial issues. NTEU is lobbying the Australian government to sign onto the new ILO Convention on Violence & Harassment in the World of Work later this year, which treats sexual harassment as a workplace risk. Terri MacDonald, Policy & Research Officer

2-out-of-3 nteu national officers are women Reflecting a membership that is now made up of a majority of women (58%), for the first time two out of the three full time National Officers of the Union are women. National President, Dr Alison Barnes comes from the ‘shop floor’, having previously worked as an academic staff member at Macquarie University in Sydney, where she was also the NTEU Branch President. National Assistant Secretary, Gabe Gooding was previously the full time WA Division Secretary and won the National Assistant Secretary position in the national election held last year. They are joined by new General Secretary, Matthew McGowan, only the second person to fill this role in NTEU’s 26 year history. Alison said on taking up the position that “we must continue to work together to build grassroots power on our campuses by building our membership and our levels of organisation and activism, so that we can ensure our current agreements are enforced and secure significant wins for members in the future. It’s this grass roots activism that is vital to the health and strength of our union and our universities.” Gabe added that “we are determined to make sure that what we do at the national level not only provides what members need but also provides the leadership that empowers our members. As a collective, we should be strongly committed to working together to protect each other and to working together to improve the working conditions and lives of all.” Michael Evans, National Organiser Above: Gabe Gooding, Matt McGowan & Alison Barnes




Establishing women’s networks

ANU WAN campaign Not long after its formation on International Women’s Day (IWD) in 2018, the ANU Women’s Action Network (WAN) prepared a 12-point charter of our overarching goals for the network. After presenting this to the ViceChancellor, Brian Schmidt, we then got together and turned the 12 points into a detailed action plan, with short-term and long-term tasks and goals. For example, for the charter point “Improve parental leave conditions and return to work”, our short-term goals were to have pro-rata parental leave and to reduce or alter the requirement for continuous service for parental leave eligibility.

In 2019, NTEU NSW relaunched a Division-wide cross-university Women’s Action Network to assist with a more coordinated union approach to address issues of gender equity in our universities. Following confirmation of new NSW WAC representatives, Dr Karen Lamb from ACU Branch (Academic rep) and Julia McConnochie from UTS Branch (General Staff rep), we held a number of statewide, cross-university video conferences to discuss key issues facing women in the higher education sector.

Key issues identified by the network include, the gendered nature of insecure work – women are disproportionately represented in casual or fixed-term roles within our universities. This, in conjunction with career breaks for caring responsibilities, results in significantly lower superannuation outcomes for women. Employment and career paths within universities continues to be an issue for women. Although more women than men now enter the academic workforce, women still comprise less than one third of the professoriate. Similarly, despite the university professional workforce being almost two-thirds women, men still predominate in senior roles. Members of the network felt that much of the administrative and pastoral work performed by women in our universities is “invisible”, and therefore unrecognised and under-valued.

Our long-term goals include having options for sessional and out-of-hours childcare on campus, the opportunity for salary sacrifice for childcare costs, subsidised childcare and gaining Australian Breastfeeding Association accreditation.

Anecdotal feedback from members indicates that women in part-time roles or of pre-retirement age are often targeted for redundancies and that applying a gender equity lens to workplace change was also needed to ensure women were not unfairly impacted. Dr Lamb said Universities needed to be held to their own self-proclaimed standards on gender equity, “our Universities often ‘talk the talk’ about gender equity and social justice in the workplace, but we need to ask them to ‘walk the walk’. Promotion processes tell a similar tale: ‘relative to opportunity’ clauses exist in the application documents, however, based on promotion outcomes for women, it would seem they have not necessarily been taken into account in the decision-making.

Our planning and action are already starting to The network has also provided a space to build interest and participation in pay off. On IWD in 2019 we launched a campaign the NTEU Women’s Conference (17 representatives from NSW Branches for paid parental leave for all staff, including those attended the conference in July), and to brainstorm ideas and activities for with less than 12 months service and casual staff, with Bluestocking Week. an action outside the ANU’s official IWD public event. Plans for the next Women’s Action Network meeting include This included the start of a petition to demand paid parental debriefing Bluestocking Week, reviewing the 2019 WGEA leave for all staff, which we presented to Chancellery eight data for universities and discussing ideas for future weeks later with hundreds of signatures. campaigns and preparations for the next round of We have continued the campaign, raising the issue at every enterprise bargaining negotiations. opportunity. During Blue Stocking Week, we conducted a WAN Kiraz Janicke, NSW Senior Organiser Women’s Walk, in which we walked across campus stopping at buildings and roads named after prominent women to hear their stories, all the while carrying NTEU flags and large corflutes with our demands regarding paid parental leave. This gained a lot of attention, with many passers-by asking questions, including ANU Security! We are quietly confident that the ANU will make an announcement about extending paid parental leave on IWD in 2020, but we’re not resting until we see this happen. Cathy Day, Acting ACT Division Secretary Right: Deb Cleland spoke about Beryl Rawson during the WAN Women’s Walk. Here she sports her blue stockings outside the Beryl Rawson Building. (Lachlan Clohesy) Top: WAN delegation presenting signatures to Chancellery in support of Paid Parental Leave. (David Vincent-Pietsch) Bottom: WAN protests in support of Paid Parental Leave outside the ANU International Women’s Day Lecture this year. (Lachlan Clohesy)




NTEU champions breastfeeding accreditation For many breastfeeding mums, it can be confronting to decide when to make the call to stop breastfeeding. Pressure can come from other mothers, partners, teething babies, or the general community. Often, that pressure comes from the workplace or a need to return to work. There are countless horror stories about mums being told to pump in the toilet, store breast milk in the lunch fridge or made to feel bad about needing to express. These are all things that can lead to women stopping breastfeeding earlier than they’d like to. The challenges faced by mums returning to work are more starkly faced by those with insecure jobs. The need to return to financial stability, because of the limited access to paid parental leave, means those casually employed, or on fixed-term contracts, are more likely to return to work while breastfeeding. They’re also more likely to feel vulnerable about requesting time to express breast milk. Like other workplace issues, the issues for breastfeeding mothers dramatically compound for women employed in nonongoing roles. There are also women in higher education who, because of their deep connection and passion about the work they do, want to return to the workplace to continue to progress their work or research. Whatever a new parent’s circumstance, the ability to return to work with all the necessary support can make an already challenging time less stressful. That is why NTEU is seeking to combine forces with the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) to encourage all Australian universities to obtain the status of Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace. A Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace:

• Normalises breastfeeding through support for breastfeeding women. While many universities already have some of these features (indeed some have already taken the step and obtained accreditation) there exists a shortfall in many universities to ensuring the transition back to work is seamless for all parents, but especially breastfeeding mums. NTEU intends to write to each university in Australia providing them with information on how to achieve accreditation. We are seeking universities’ commitments to working with ABA and NTEU, to become a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace. The goal is to ensure that the higher education sector is the first to be completely ABA accredited so that breastfeeding mums are welcome at any university across the country.

Universities that have achieved ABA Accreditation: well done!

NTEU & ABA seeking universities’ commitment to accreditation Some friendly features

Need more work






















La Trobe














If you’d like to find out more, speak to your local WAC member or check out the ABA website: www.


Kelly Thomas, Senior National Industrial Officer

• Has a dedicated area which is clean and private to breastfeed or express milk. • Offers paid time during the workday to breastfeed or express milk.

marian baird makes top 100 in international gender equality list

Marian Baird AO has been named in Apolitical’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Gender Equality list for the second year in a row. Marian Baird is one of Australia’s leading researchers in the fields of women, work and family. In 2016 she was awarded an Order of Australia for outstanding services to improving the quality of women’s working lives and for contributions to tertiary education. She became Professor of Gender and Employment Relations in 2009, distinguishing her as the first female professor in industrial relations at the University of Sydney. She is a Presiding Pro-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, and Head of the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies and Co-Director of the Women, Work and Leadership Research Group in the University of Sydney Business School Reflecting on the Top 100 listing, Marian said “From the late 90s I’ve been advocating for, and then protecting, Australia’s paid parental leave scheme and my research was able to contribute to the success of that campaign. Being recognised for this is very exciting, but I also know all such wins are a collective effort, and even more so, to advance them requires further collective effort and the support of the union movement along with research evidence.” View the full Most Influential People in Gender Equality list at: VOLUME 27, SEPTEMBER 2019



WA universities respond to sexual assault & harassment incidents

Jayne van Dalen

WA Division

In May 2019, a reporter from The West Australian obtained documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA) from Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University and The University of Western Australia detailing allegations of sexual assaults, sexual harassment and indecent filming on each of the university campuses.

According to the article published in The West Australian by Josh Zimmerman on 9 July 2019, when asked for comment, the universities provided the following responses: A Curtin University spokeswoman said the Staff Code of Conduct and the Student Charter set out strong and clear behavioural expectations. “Curtin University has a zero tolerance to sexual assault and sexual harassment,” she said. ECU is preparing to roll out the Consent Matter training program to all students from next year and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Angela Hill said even one incident of sexual assault or harassment was one too many. “ECU will always respond to complaints, carry out a robust investigation and take appropriate action, which may include exclusion,” Professor Hall said. UWA has recently completed a campus-wide security audit and upgrade and Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater said the University was working with the student guild on a campaign to raise awareness and reporting of sexual violence. “We need to encourage reporting, so that we know what we are facing and can deal with it accordingly,” Professor Freshwater said. A Murdoch University spokeswoman said key initiatives included confidential online reporting and the introduction of a mobile phone app providing access to safety and emergency services on and off campus.


FEB 2018



13 3

0 male












Edith Cowan University Edith Cowan University provided information spanning April 2017 through March 2019 in which all but one of the complainants were female whilst the respondents were all male, leaving aside one report where the details were unknown. The incidents involved 16 students, 5 staff members and one member of the public as complainants making allegations against 7 students, 8 staff members and 3 members of the public with details of 4 reports being unknown.

IncidEnts at Edith CoWan UniveRsity APR 2017


MAR 2019

21 16 5

1 male

Curtin University In the information provided from Curtin University, which spanned February to July 2018, all of the reports of harassment and assaults were perpetrated by males against female complainants other than two incidents where the details of the respondent were unknown. Of the female complainants, 3 reports were made by a staff member and 13 by students whilst 5 incidents involved a male staff member and 7 involved a male student as respondents.

JULY 2018



Members of the NTEU nationwide have indicated that there is considerable under-reporting of sexual harassment in the workplace despite the awareness of the relevant University complaints processes and policies. There are also concerns around making a complaint including not trusting the complaints process, thinking a complaint may impact negatively on careers and fear of employment being terminated.

IncidEnts at Curtin UniveRsity


NTEU has been collecting data from members for some time to gain a picture of how widespread and prevalent the issue of sexual harassment actually is and, nationally, one in five members indicate they have personally experienced sexual harassment in the workplace with these incidents being reported by twice as many women as men. So, the information revealed under the freedom of information requests placed on the universities comes as no surprise.









0 male



University of Western Australia

IncidEnts at Murdoch UniveRsity

IncidEnts at uWa MAR 2017

MAY 2019




3 male









1 male




Murdoch University During the period of February 2017 to July 2018 the data from Murdoch University showed 19 incidents of sexual misconduct or harassment with all of the complainants being female and all of the respondents being male. These incidents occurred on the South Street, Mandurah and Dubai Campuses where 18 of the complainants were students and one a staff member. Of the respondents 4 were students, 2 staff members and 13 incidents involved a member of the community.


JULY 2018




0 male


The University of WA provided details of reports during the period March 2017 to May 2019. Of the 37 incidents, 33 complainants were female and 3 male with details of one incident being unknown as it was referred directly to the Police and CCC. Staff members made 5 complaints, students made 28 and the details of 4 complaints were unknown or from a community member. The respondents were 35 males, one female and one person identifying as transgender, with 9 of the reports being against staff members, 11 against students and 17 against a community member or the respondent details were unknown.

FEB 2017












NTEU Survey NTEU conducted a survey of its members in all Australian universities to gather information on their experiences of sexual harassment, sexism and gender bias in their workplaces. In a statement released on 28 February 2019, NTEU National President, Alison Barnes said “The NTEU survey confirms that sexism, sexual harassment and assault, gender-based discrimination and bias is not only both widespread and prevalent but appears to be growing. This is despite universities having a plethora of policy and process around harassment and discrimination. Clearly, the current approaches are not effective.” “The strong view of the NTEU is that the current attitude of both employers and government, which views sexual harassment as a personal problem for the individual and not as a workplace hazard, is the primary reason we are failing on these issues,” Dr Barnes said. NTEU considers sexual harassment and assault, sexism and gender-based bias as serious workplace risks and is calling on the following measures to address the issues: • Legislative change, particularly within the Fair Work Act and Work, Health and Safety (WHS) Act. • A commitment from the Australian Government to sign onto the new ILO Convention on Harrassment in the World of Work. • Reforms to the Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) 1984, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and the Fair Work Commission. The results of the 2018 survey Sexual Harassment in Australian Universities: Findings of the NTEU’s survey of members on sexual harassment, sexism & gender bias in universities can be found at: respect_now_always_campaign



12-16 AUGUST

Bluestocking SECTIONweek

This year marks the 7th annual celebration of Bluestocking Week by the NTEU, together with NUS and CAPA. This time around our theme was “Secure Jobs. Safe Workplaces”, which was selected by the WAC as a way of highlighting the links between insecure employment and unsafe workplaces and how women are affected disproportionally. Activities were held around the country, with seminars, fund raising events, lunch and learns, library displays, campus walks and even a wiki-a-thon. Below is a short summary of the activities held nationally, but for a complete run down of events visit women/bluestockingweek/events.

Queensland JCU Branch had fun with a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, which encouraged the JCU community to come together and use their expertise to increase the visibility of women on Wikipedia. Participants were encouraged to add women to the entries relating to their discipline or topic, add references to women’s work, or come to help rectify relics of language like “mankind”. Branches at UQ and the USQ held multiple morning teas and a lunch across campuses, while Griffith Branch hosted a display at the QCA Library of Bluestocking Week and other feminist activist posters and news articles from the late 1970s to the present. The CQU Branch was very busy during the week, with a zoom workshop on ‘Secure Jobs, Safe Workplaces’ focusing on bullying and another zoom session about the work of the NTEU and WAC, and to discuss issues for CQU women. The Branch also hosted a lunch for NTEU women and their female colleagues to discuss relevant issues. Finally, QUT Branch raised funds for Share The Dignity, a charity that provides sanitary products for women in need.

NSW There was a hive of activity on NSW university campuses during Bluestocking week. The NSW NTEU Division hosted its annual Feminist Trivia Night fundraiser



in conjunction with the NSW Teachers Federation, which was well attended. Sydney Uni Branch encouraged everyone to attend their rally for secure jobs and to oppose the University’s operating model, a major driver of insecure employment at the university.

women who made significant achievements throughout their careers. At ACU we held a lunch and learn event focusing on the theme of the week, entitled “Conversations over lunch: Safe and Secure – what does that mean in and around our University?”

Bluestocking Week morning teas were held at SCU campuses, as well as at Newcastle (which also hosted a stall), while lunch and learn sessions were held at WSU and Macquarie University.


The UTS Branch also hosted a lunch time event, with a forum focusing on the gender perspectives of the UTS 2027 strategy designed to ensure that the University’s commitment to social justice is underpinned by fair and equitable work through a secure gender strategy.

ACT The Women’s Action Network (WAN) held their first Women’s Walk at ANU, which was a guided tour of areas of the campus that have been named in honour of

Events were held on multiple University campuses, including the University of Melbourne holding a workplace lunch session that focused on combating sexism in the workplace and workplace rights. The Branch also hosted a rose banner, where people could post messages of appreciation for the women and non-binary people at work who have supported their academic and/or professional career. At VU there was a Bluestocking Week book launch and panel discussion of #MeToo: Stories from the Australian Movement, with Dr Natalie Kon-yu and other contributors to the book. Deakin Branch also hosted a panel discussion looking at barriers and challenges for women in higher education,

bluestocking week TAS

and the opportunities for change. Federation University Branch hosted a movie night, while Monash University Branch lead a Women’s Strike Squad Reading Group, advocating for both change and good reading lists!

SA The SA Division annual fundraising Bluestocking Week Dinner was its usual standout success, with NTEU President Alison Barnes one of a number of speakers that included Dr Mary Heath, former Professor at Flinders University and current co-convenor of the SA Chapter of Extinction Rebellion. As with previous years, the dinner’s fundraising was in support of the SA Working Women’s Centre. Adelaide Branch raised funds through its Bluestocking Week stall for Catherine House (who help support women experiencing homelessness in Adelaide), as well as hosting a meet and greet session for members with Alison Barnes. At Flinders University, Bluestocking Week was celebrated with free cupcakes, badgemaking and the opportunity for people to post comments on secure work and safe workplaces on a Bluestocking poster wall.

Lunchtime workshops at the Sandy Bay and Newnham campuses. The Sandy Bay workshop, delivered by Sexual Assault Support Service, dealt with sexual safety in the workplace, while the Newnham workshop, delivered by Laurel House, focused on identifying sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Members at the well attended sessions participated in activities designed to raise awareness of sexual safety in workplaces, the structures that enable sexual violence to occur and ways in which to respond to it. Due to interest from the membership, the Division is looking to follow up with further events in the future.

NT CDU’s celebration this year was a morning tea which focused on the theme of Bluestocking Week with (Secure jobs, Safe workplaces) and how this is important in recognising the rights of every worker to a world free from violence and harassment, bullying and gender inequality. Speakers at the event were Amanda Brain, VET Lecturer Mental Health and Rachael Uebergang, NT Working Women’s Centre. The event covered topics including health & safety in the workplace, what mental health policies can do for universities and establishing the Gender Equity Strategic Committee in order to develop policies and procedures on bullying and harassment, grievances and mental health. The event was supported by Head Space who provided an information display, and raised funds for the NT Working Women’s Centre.

Secretary, and Denise Chesworth, Principal Lawyer, Perth City Legal. Branches at Notre Dame, Curtin and Murdoch held Bluestocking stalls with free food, drinks and information on secure jobs and safe workplaces. UWA Branch hosted ‘Activist Writing: Balancing risk and safety’ with panellists Dr Sally Knowles, Dr Liana Joy Christensen, Sukhjit Khalsa and UWA Branch President, Dr Sanna Peden as MC. Terri MacDonald, Policy & Research Officer Opposite page: Sami Harcombe, Kath Pearce & Jenny Whittard at the Macquarie University event. This page, clockwise from top: Rachael Uebergang, Sylvia Klonaris and Tricia Murray at CDU; Safe workplace cupcakes at CDU; Enjoying Bluestocking cakes at Curtin; UWA’s Activist Writing panel; Kent Getsinger, Nadine Levy and Cheryl Baldwin at the Adelaide Bluestocking stall.

WA Bluestocking Week is a major event in WA and this year was no exception. The annual Bluestocking Week breakfast guest speakers included Meredith Hammat, UnionsWA



bluestocking week

Bluestocking week reflection

From Puberty Blues to #MeToo

Jeannie rea VU

I just taught an undergraduate unit called Gender in Popular Culture where I learned just how much digital communication technology has changed the ‘fashioning’ of gender. A generation ago, with my feminist colleagues, I developed a version of this unit exploring constructions and performances of femininities, masculinities and queer cultures, drawing strongly upon the then dominant discourses in academic feminism and in cultural studies. Coming back to redesigning and teaching this unit after being away for almost a decade added to my wide open eyes, ears and headspace – and apps on my phone. Our class watched the 1981 film Puberty Blues (from the 1979 book), partly to help me explain popular culture and gender relations influences in my generation. But also because I remembered referring to these popular texts in speaking at a NUS event during our first revival of Bluestocking Week in 2012, which coincided with the release of a television series reimagining the 1970s four decades later. The Australian students had mostly watched the film and TV series during their teens, often shown to them by their mothers or grandmothers, and they were aghast at the sexism. Importantly, it also gave them perspective on change and backlash – and on the persistence of sexism and misogyny. (Some recent school leavers claimed the recent SBS series The Hunting was virtually a documentary.) So, I proposed that for our final class, we go to the NTEU VU Branch Bluestocking Week event, co-sponsored with VU Respect and Responsibility, where we had a panel discussion about the new book #MeToo: Stories from the Australian Movement. The panellists were contributors to the book including my colleague co-editor Natalie Kon-yu. The students were particularly attracted to the accounts of Sylvie Leber, a founder of Women Against Rape (WAR), as she described fighting to change the laws and attitudes. Student reflections on our class blog wrote of appreciating the courage of women in the past, and of those today continuing to stand up and fight against male violence against women. They got it – some even citing their own



experiences. They are university students and have the privilege of higher education to help filter the raucousness of the debates about the efficacy and biases of the #MeToo movements. They get that #MeToo should be understood as a call to solidarity and opportunity for organising collective action. So this is why we must keep going with Bluestocking Week. Our universities continue to be cold, dangerous and exclusionary places for many women, despite there being more women on campuses as staff and students. Too many men are still holding onto their privilege and resent the ‘incursion’ of ‘the women’. This is demonstrated in verbal, intellectual, psychological and even physical attacks on women students and staff in classrooms, in the corridors of power, in the labs, online and even on the bus to campus. It is popular now to refer to ‘everyday sexism’ or ‘unconscious bias’ - as though there is no intention of harm and there is no blame. But it cannot be denied that the outcome is diminishing to all those identifying as women, and still continues to have even greater impact on people of colour. Two-thirds of respondents to NTEU’s last survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members reported experiencing racism and prejudice at work. When the NTEU and NUS women’s committees independently came to the conclusion that we needed to bring back Bluestocking Week, it was because despite our numbers, it did not feel like it we had the run of campuses. Too much university

space was dominated by men – and by agendas that reinforced male domination and rewarded toxic masculinity. Not surprisingly, we did encounter pushback within our own union, as did NUS. We were questioned as to whether this was necessary anymore? Look, we were told, we had women vice-chancellors and even a woman prime minister. And yes, we had a woman prime minister, who was constantly vilified, even within her own ranks! Never was this not also because she was a woman – and a feminist. This added to all the other violences against women that led to US civil rights activist Tarana Burke’s 2006 #MeToo idea, bursting out when taken up by women in the entertainment industry – leading to creating variations around the world. The students have ongoing #MeToo moments as they stand up to sexist and abusive bosses, raise unpopular issues in their communities, confront sexism on campus – and, importantly – understand that they do not have to take all this on individually, but should find others ready to organise too. #MeToo and Bluestocking Week are calls to solidarity and collective action. PS: I have found that people do like to know where the blue stocking reference comes from, but we have got past sourcing pairs of blue stockings. ‘Bluestocking’ now means making space to focus on women in higher education – and whatever else we choose! Jeannie Rea was NTEU National President from 2010–2108, and is now back teaching at VU.

Women’s conference

My first NTEU Women’s conference

Gwen Amankwah-Toa QUT

As a member of the Australia-wide university community and a professional staff member on QUT’s governing board, the QUT Council, I am very interested in being kept abreast on issues affecting the higher education sector – especially on matters of ethical leadership, transparency and accountability; self-governance and collegiality. I have always believed that one of the ways of addressing this question is my own personal contribution and commitment to making higher education the best it can be for the Australian community: for our students, our staff, the wider community and offering the best of what Australia has to the world. But, that this could not happen when working as an individual – and therein is the need to work as a collective; that through the collective voices and forces of each individual, our issues as well as the positive impact we are making to the lives of others can be heard. I became a Member of the Women’s Action Committee (WAC) by pure chance. I found myself one day saying ‘yes’ to a question about whether I would be happy to be a ‘Proxy’ to the WAC for the Queensland NTEU Professional Staff Member who was not able to make it to the WAC – twice. Then the position became vacant; and by this stage I had reached an epiphany of what it really means when you start to get involved as an activist. I contested the vacancy through the Queensland Division Council and the rest is history. Thank you Queensland for having faith and trust in me. This led me to my first National Women’s Conference in July 2019. That conference was an affirmation of many things I have always thought and believed and it was re-assuring to know you are not out there on your own; that in fact, there are many people (in this case, women) who hold the same beliefs as you do; that through the collective power of the Union, we can make a difference. What’s also re-assuring for me personally is that the values and principles of the Union’s Mission are no different to my personal faith as a member of the Anglican Church and

beliefs as a Pacific Islander, having originally arrived from Vanuatu, where people are community-minded and share a rich Pacific culture. What have I learnt from the conference? 1. The rich and powerful of this country are against us. We should not forget the people we are up against. They are big; they are powerful; they are rich; and how dirty they can play. We need to continue to fight to protect the right to have a free voice to stand up against authority and power that is vital to a healthy democracy. 2. We need to grow our union membership and union power in the workplace. To be able to fight the big, powerful forces, we need to fight as a collective. To fight as a collective, we need to build our union base. Australia’s national and international education reputation is excellent. We have a duty of care then to safeguard this status and reputation. It is excellent because of the people who are in it – the students and staff. You can’t have a university with students and no academic or professional staff and vice-versa. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President, Michelle O’Neil’s presentation at the Conference made a big impact on me and her words have been ringing in my ears for many weeks now because they resonate with my views on the need to be on guard; the need for us as a society to stop being complacent. I can’t tell people enough about this. It is the foundation block of a healthy and thriving democratic system to be able to stand up to authority and power. Her presentation highlighted point number one made above.

grow the grassroots. This is something we take for granted and I share her sentiments on building on the personal relationships we have on the ground in the higher education corridors and classrooms. There is, in fact, no time for us to waste. I learnt one thing and I learnt it very quickly. We cannot afford to be complacent. Gwen Amankwah-Toa works in Student Business Services at QUT. She is Queensland WAC Professional Staff Representative, NTEU QUT Branch Vice-President–Professional Staff, and a National Councillor. Above: Gwen with NSW Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi at the 2019 NTEU Women’s Conference.

The second point is from the NTEU National President, Dr Alison Barnes, on the need to VOLUME 27, SEPTEMBER 2019


Women’sSECTION Conference

AnG r O E g N L a pU O E H I n I D

wEr, P N i D EN bU W R s RoG S G n I &M

cathy Day

ACT Division

The biennial NTEU National Women’s Conference was held in Melbourne on 12–13 July and was a festival of ideas, plans, celebrations and commiserations. Delegates came from across Australia to learn from each other, share successes and failures, point out the gender gaps and plan for ways to address them. It was the largest NTEU Women’s Conference to date and bodes well for the future of the Union. The Conference commenced with the acknowledgement that for the first time in the history of this female-majority union, the majority of senior leaders were women. No longer content to be led by male comrades, women were stepping up into positions of power and authority. National President Alison Barnes and National Assistant Secretary Gabe Gooding were key figures throughout the conference, providing guidance not just on issues specific to women, but on the direction and future of NTEU as a whole. The two-day conference was made up of plenary sessions with presentations providing insight on a number of key union issues through a gender lens, and smaller workshops in which delegates discussed their own experiences and planned for the future. The first plenary session was delivered by NSW Australian Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, who spoke about the political landscape for women. Her presentation is discussed elsewhere in this issue. This was followed by an eye-opening account of how other unions do their



business and what has helped lead them to success. Annie Butler, the Federal Secretary of the 280,000-strong Nursing and Midwifery Federation spoke about the nurses’ campaign to ‘close beds’ due to under-staffing and how the Union was able to negotiate the tricky task of sending a message to management without unduly disadvantaging the most needy people in society. As educators, this was a powerful lesson for us to learn. In the following plenary session, we heard valuable advice from NTEU staffers Terri MacDonald, Kelly Thomas and Kiraz Janicke on how to weaponise data and research in campaigning. Being armed with data and facts makes us more powerful in countering the anecdotes and scare campaigns of others. Other plenary sessions covered Women’s Rights at Work (WRAW) chats; international organising and projects that empower women; neoliberalism and cultural trends affecting universities; and young women activists. The workshops, which were interspersed between the plenary sessions, were a chance for smaller groups to tackle

practical problems and develop solutions. Bel Townsend and Cathy Day discussed building a Women’s Action Network in the ACT, Sylvia Klonaris and Donelle Cross showcased the NT’s plans for Bluestocking Week, Ken McAlpine provided tips for running effective meetings, Victorian Division Secretary, Melissa Slee and Assistant Secretary, Sarah Roberts discussed Deep Organising and Gabe Gooding led us into a bold new plan of the NTEU to tackle Workplace Health and Safety (WHS). New WHS legislation will strengthen laws around psychosocial injury and these will have the potential to provide us with more powerful tools to deal with some of the most prevalent and debilitating experiences endured by our members. For too long, union focus on WHS has been on workplace fatalities, but that’s not the whole story, and is not prevalent in NTEU workplaces. We plan to turn the discussion towards other WHS issues, particularly psychosocial injury and mental health, so that a strong union voice on safety can build union power in safer workplaces. Below: Conference delegates (Paul Clifton)

women’s conference

Finally, Alison Barnes and Gabe Gooding spoke to us about the direction of the union, which is now facing a crisis in density. Our numbers continue to fall, and with that, our power to influence management for the good of the workers. The NTEU has recently had a major cultural shift, with a change in leadership and focus. We are turning away from being a service organisation that members only engage with when they’re in trouble, to focus instead on engaging the membership, growing the membership and thereby increasing union power and influence to effect change in the workplace. We will be working towards harnessing our energies on growing and engaging membership, being reminded that the Union is not separate from us: we are the Union. In between the heady talks about building union power and empowering women, there were many long and energetic discussions over coffee, cake, dinner and wine, sometimes all at the same time! This was an invaluable opportunity to meet and connect with powerful and inspiring NTEU women from all states and territories: staffers, elected officials, rank and file. I’m looking forward to the next Conference in 2021 when we can report on all the progress that we’ve made. Clockwise from top:Carla Chung (activist from the Timor-Leste community), Caterina Cinanni (National President, National Union of Workers), Alison Barnes (NTEU National President), Annie Butler (Federal Secretary, Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation) Gabe Gooding (NTEU National Assistant Secretary) and Kara Keys (National Campaign Coordinator, ACTU); Kara Keys; Annie Butler; Alison Barnes, Michele O’Neil (ACTU President) and Gabe Gooding; Alison Pennington (Centre for Future Work, The Australia Institute); Romana Begicevic (CAPA Women’s Officer); Celeste Liddle (NTEU A&TSI Organiser) addressing the conference. (Helena Spyrou)



women’s conference

national President’s Address

Building union power and purpose


NTEU National President

I would like to acknowledge you all for being here. Your time, commitment and participation in today’s conference is valued. I hope you find that it helps you to develop the skills that are needed if we are to empower the NTEU on your campuses to confront the discrimination that women in our sector face and the challenges that confront our sector more generally. Today I am going to talk briefly about these challenges and then how we might best respond as a union. But I thought I should start by telling you a little bit about myself.

An unlikely academic I was/am an unlikely academic, I am dyslexic and, stemming from this, I have a deep dislike of public speaking. My father died when I was in my final year of high school and, coupled with my dyslexia, this meant I failed my HSC. Indeed, I was in the bottom 15 perc ent of the state. Having failed my HSC I got a job and saved my money and went overseas where, in order to keep travelling, I worked in a factory in Holland. Nothing could have made me want to go to university more than standing for 12 hours a day at a moving assembly line with a team of women putting washing powder and tampons in boxes while our male supervisor looked on to check we weren’t nicking the goods or talking too much and slowing down the pace of the assembly line. Factory work not only made me want to go to university, it cemented my politics and, most importantly, the conviction that unions are the only way workers can effectively challenge and improve the conditions in which we work.

preparation course, and was given conditional entry to the University of NSW. It was there that I participated in the first of a number of occupations in various university chancelleries. In fact, it was at UNSW as an undergraduate that I participated in my first NTEU strike. Those strikes were a valuable lesson in the effectiveness of strong and well organised collective action. They sparked my research interest in industrial relations in union campaigning and strategy. They also proved to be an excellent example of NTEU activism leading to long-term union involvement. Two of my fellow students who stood with me as we watched the Deputy Registrar drive over the foot of one of our lecturers are now super NTEU activists. One is on the Branch Committee at Swinburne University and the other is Branch President at UNSW.

union activism

Factory work also started me thinking about the contested nature of women’s work. Much later this led to my research into areas of the labour market dominated by women such as early childhood and how this affected definitions of skill and pay equity.

Sometimes, and probably not often enough, we celebrate our achievements and acknowledge the work being done by NTEU members and activists around the country. It’s important that we do so. This last year or so has seen a tough round of bargaining with hostile employers utilising new tactics to break the Union and attack core conditions of work. We should all celebrate our success in maintaining and improving those conditions.

So, after leaving my job in the factory, I came home, completed a university

But, in spite of our success in bargaining, we need to be honest with ourselves. Things



are not okay in our sector. It’s not okay that people are spending ten or 15 years in the revolving door of casual contracts. It’s not okay that managerialism is running rampant, workloads are growing, and sexual harassment on our campuses remains rife. It is not okay that funding has been frozen while the average wage and benefits packages of vice-chancellors stand at million dollars, a level that is 12.5 times higher than that of someone employed at a HEW level 6. It is not okay that pay equity remains an ongoing issue within our sector with a disproportionate number of women clustered at the lower classification levels of academic and professional work. None of this is okay.

building union power Why has this happened? Because we don’t have sufficient power to change it. We can make all the arguments for secure work, for quality teaching, for academic freedom, and for free education that we want, but decision makers in our sector will remain deaf to those arguments no matter how well we make them so long as we lack sufficient strength to enforce our proposals. As a union we need to focus more than ever on organising to build the power that we need to bring about the changes we want to see on our campuses and in our

women’s conference

sector. This conference is one small step on the long and difficult path to building that power. This conference, albeit with a greater focus on issues facing women, in many ways echoes last week’s Elected Leaders Conference. And as occurred there, we hope to signal a shift in the way we do business. As a Branch President until very recently, I know our Branch committees have served us well, but my experience tells me they are not enough. Similarly, our Women’s Action Committee has campaigned tirelessly, but we need a broader base from which to fight university managements that have spent the last few decades undermining our ability to organise. Sometimes they have done this insidiously by denying us access to new staff inductions or by their ever-increasing use of insecurely employed staff. Occasionally they have been more overt, as witnessed by the manifestly hostile actions of management at Murdoch University. The good thing is that we know how to fight. We can always improve and innovate, but we know what works and we know how to grow. What we need to do is the work. This doesn’t mean asking the same people to do more. This means spreading the tasks of building our union among more of our members – we have amazing potential in delegates, women’s networks and leaders out there, supportive of the Union but waiting to be invited to play an active role in it.

Delegate structures

getting involved

As we know, the two biggest things that determine the level of union membership in a workplace are, simply, whether or not there is a delegate in that workplace and whether a member asks a colleague to join.

Second, have a conversation with nonmembers and ask them to join.

If we build our delegate structures and our membership base we will have the strength to confront the problems that beset our sector and win. With strength we can be bold and ambitious and shape the sector so it reflects our vision. A vision where staff don’t face chronic insecurity or crippling workloads, where universities are valued as vital to the functioning of a civil society rather than as something to be starved of funds. So there are a couple of simple things I’d like you to do. First, if you’re not a workplace delegate or active in a women’s network, think about becoming one. If you are a delegate or activist in a women’s network, think about who among your friends and colleagues might also be a leader in their workplace. Think about who you can mentor. Terry Mason and Cathy Rytmeister, who are well known to many of you, played an invaluable role in mentoring me as a delegate and then as a Branch Committee member at the University of Western Sydney and later at Macquarie University. It is through building robust delegate structures in every work unit and department that we will build the membership and engagement that we need.

Finally, if you are involved in your Branch Committee or campaigning committee or women’s network, incorporate an aspect of union building into every single action, event, meeting, email, speech, or flyer that you contribute to. Trainers across the union movement always tell us that when speaking to people such as yourselves you have to build hope about what we can achieve by acting collectively. I don’t think I have to convince you of what we need to achieve for our sector. Rather, I see all of you as embodying our means of building our already strong union into one that will continue to withstand attacks from conservative governments and emboldened management, a sector that not only reflects the interest of chancellery but those of us who work in higher education and care passionately about it. Without your efforts to build our union’s power, our members will struggle and our power base will decline and with it our ability to hold to account not only vice chancellors but also governments that seek to starve our universities or shackle our union. Above: Alison Barnes addressing the National Women’s Conference, July 2019. (Helena Spyrou)



women’sSECTION conference

keynote address

mehreen Faruqi

Mehreen Faruqi

Australian Greens

The keynote address at the NTEU Women’s Conference 2019 was delivered by Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Senator for NSW and Spokesperson for Education. I’ll start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land we are gathered on and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. This land was never ceded. It is, always was, and always will be Aboriginal land. It is such a privilege to be here with you, talking about education and organising for change – two of my passions. I feel really honoured to be the spokesperson on Education for The Australian Greens. From our first steps to retirement, the opportunity to learn and discover unlocks our potential and helps us live a good life.

My story I have been involved with higher education and a proud, card-carrying member of the NTEU, for most of my adult life. When I moved to Australia from Pakistan 26 years ago, the University of New South Wales was my first home – where I did my Masters, where I taught environmental engineering and where I completed my PhD. I spent 14 years at UNSW either as a student or an academic and have watched the sector change dramatically.

The state of universities I’ve seen universities become businesses where access to the privilege of education is being sold at a higher and higher price – the courses, the reputation, the buildings and a plush job are now all part and parcel of rampant marketisation.

corporatisation and cements the layers of management necessary to sustain competition for students and resources.

for meaningful funding increases that bring with them secure and permanent ongoing employment for university staff.

The neoliberal system has pitted our education institutions against one another at the expense of their staff, students and of the university itself.

Ideological intervention

These days, when I meet university staff the first thing they often talk about is how low the morale of their colleagues is. This is the consequence of decades of neoliberal policies across the Western world that have re-shaped the very purpose universities serve in our society. This reshaping is ideological in its essence, seeking to replace the collegial, public-focussed mission of the public university with a research and teaching agenda centred on production of workready students and profit-maximising commercialisation of research. The challenges arising from this ideological shift are many and varied, but a few Australian examples illustrate the challenges we face.

Funding environment First, funding has been structured to incentivise universities adopting the methods and cultures of corporate institutions, replacing formerly collegial and democratic academic governance. If the Liberals have their way, universities will be funded only to the extent they are able to contribute to the profit-driven economy.

Management has grown bigger and bigger, vice-chancellors salaries have exploded, and bottomless advertising budgets are deployed to show off new buildings and happy students. But we know this is too often detached from the reality of work, study and life on campus.

Ongoing funding uncertainty and the Government’s impending performance measures will be deployed in our already harsh regulatory and industrial environment to curtail scholarship and teaching that doesn’t meet the conservative benchmark of economic contribution.

We see universities now in open commercial rivalry with one another – rivalry that fosters vicious cycles of

It is our collective responsibility to fight back against every bit of funding taken away from higher education and to build a movement



Our second challenge is the blatant ideological interference that accompanies financial austerity. Former Minister Birmingham’s veto of 11 Australian Research Council grants in the humanities typified the Liberals’ willingness to violate academic independence to please conservative ideologues who are unable to grasp the importance of all research in our universities. Now we see the Government chest-beating over a confected free speech crisis on campuses for the benefit of a select few Murdoch columnists, instead of taking seriously the need to safeguard academic freedom. When I joined the Senate just under a year ago, the first Bill I introduced was to remove the Education Minister’s power of veto over research grants and I remain absolutely committed to keep your work free from government interference.

Ramsay Centre Aside from Government interference, the saga of the Ramsay Centre has crystallised the incursion of private money and interests on academic independence. The Centre, headed by John Howard and his conservative mates, wants nothing more than to churn out students with an uncritical view of Western Civilisation, and they’re willing to shower our public universities with huge amounts of money to make that happen. The NTEU’s work to oppose Ramsay-funded degrees should be applauded. I stand with you in opposition to the Centre having any influence on campuses, and condemn any universities that accepts their money or bypass normal academic review processes to do so.

women’s conference Security of work & casualisation Current feminist challenges

have to fight the neoliberal conception of the university itself.

Finally, we see the impact university corporatisation has on industrial conditions. The imperatives of efficiency and productivity have resulted in tens of thousands of insecure and casualised workers struggling to put food on the table and pay their rent. There are workers in our universities left unable to plan for their futures with any certainty at all.

These daily injustices and fights for fairness in the workplace are inseparable from the larger challenge dismantling patriarchy poses for women.

The best antidote to the marketisation of universities is to recognise learning and scholarship as intrinsic values in and of themselves, not just as means to an end.

From poverty, rising homelessness among older women and the crisis of sexual and domestic violence to shocking rates of incarceration of our Indigenous sisters and the persistent gender pay gap, each individual injustice is a challenge for our whole feminist movement.

Education is a fundamental human right and a public good, and that’s why we must continue our work for a completely state-funded higher education system where university and TAFE are fully-funded, feefree for all and workers’ rights are protected.

Too few people outside meetings like this realise that one of the worst industries for insecure work is now higher education. This ought to be a national shame. Universities in Australia now employ far more people in casual jobs than they do in permanent ones. Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows a majority of our universities have rates of casualisation exceeding 40 per cent. 71 per cent of the staff at University of Wollongong are casual, with RMIT following closely behind at 63 per cent. And these numbers do not include staff working on precarious fixed term contracts.

I always say the personal is political, and this is especially true for women. We are still fighting for fundamental rights from reproductive autonomy to a fair wage. To win these fights we must resist and agitate against the system, patriarchy and male control wherever it may be.

It should be a fundamental principle of a democratic society that learning and knowledge should be as widely shared and available as possible, not confined to privileged elites.

In my time at UNSW, I never saw the levels of anxiety, stress and constant worry in academic environments that I see now where a majority of the staff are being forced to work without paid leave, without sick leave and with no certainty of an ongoing job.

Women’s position in universities For me, this precarity of work is very much a feminist issue. The reciprocal relationship between insecurity of work in a sector and the feminisation of that workforce has touched all of our lives.

Just as primary and secondary schooling are available to all, so must be tertiary education and training. Why should a society as rich as ours find it feasible to provide universal high-quality education at primary and secondary levels, but continue to regard tertiary education as an optional and unequal add-on – available only to those who can afford it.

Call to radical action Realising this principle requires a reimagination of our universities. The idea that universities should only serve as factories, churning out workers for so-called economic growth is a far cry from the role universities need to have in society. I think this is particularly true in universities because of their historical role as organising centres in the fight for our rights. If our campus and university based activism is not feminist, then it simply isn’t, in my view, good enough.

Universities should be communities of learning, concerned with seeking the truth, concerned with advancing societal development and equality, and concerned with producing new knowledge, scholarship and ways of thinking.

Women are massively overrepresented in casual employment in academia, with 58 per cent of all casual staff being women. Research has shown time and again not just the high concentration of women trapped in temporary work but also the long length of time they remain trapped in insecure work compared to our male colleagues, who are transitioned to secure jobs more often and more quickly than women.

The demands of our political situation

Raewyn Connell’s book, The Good University, which I had the honour of launching earlier this year imagines possible futures for tertiary education.

The reality is that we are now faced with another three years of a Liberal Government, with a more hostile Senate that offers little hope for advancing a progressive agenda.

But the gendered aspect of how academia treats women isn’t just limited to casualisation either. While we know that 57 per cent of all university staff are women, this percentage drops dramatically with just 34 per cent women working above the level of Senior Lecturer.

As a proud feminist, unionist and a Green, I know we can’t rely on parliament to see the radical change we need. It is only in the community and in our workplaces that we can organise and activate for that change. This makes the work of activists like you more important now than ever.

She outlines a vision of institutions that operate democratically and serve democratic purposes, that are engaged in the social needs of their world, that are creative and truth-seeking in the generation and safeguarding of knowledge, and that are sustainable for centuries to come.

The sexist attitudes that undermine working conditions for women in universities and throughout society are disturbingly resistant to change.

We need to turn the tables and change the conversation entirely. That is the big challenge in our hands, and it goes beyond fighting this Government for every dollar they’ve cut from university funding. We

I think that’s a vision worth fighting for and few people are better placed to fight for what universities can and should be than unionists like us. We’ve got our work cut out for us. Nelson Mandela once said, “it always seems impossible until it is done” – so let’s roll up our sleeves and get it done.



gender & equity

Gender pay gap prevalent Across all industries

Terri MacDonald NTEU

The latest data on the gender pay gap finds it to be prevalent in all sectors of our economy; in fact, the WGEA data shows there is a gender pay gap favouring men in every industry and occupational level, regardless of whether they are male or female-dominated. The reasons for this are present even before graduation – while women represent 58.4% of students in higher education and out-number men in higher education completion rates, areas of study remain highly segregated by gender. The segregation flows into industries and has impacts in areas such as the gender pay gap, access to paid parental leave and sexual discrimination and harassment.

gender Factors in universities In our universities, factors such as performance-based bonuses and special allowances, together with the pooling of women at mid and lower levels, has seen the gender pay gap overall shift very little over the years. However, when broken down further, there are some interesting differences within tertiary education. Looking at the WGEA data on the gender pay gap (total renumeration) by employment designation, the lowest gap is for casual staff (9.0%), which is on par with all industries. The gap for full time staff is slightly higher at 10.7%, although significantly better than the 21.3% for all industries. However, it is with part-time staff that our gender pay gap blows out – to 20.4%, compared to -5.8% for all industries (a difference of over 25%).

as to the reasons for these gaps. In full time employment for tertiary education, the proportion of women is at 51.6% compared to 37.4% all industries – and as a result, the gap in tertiary education is significantly lower. In casual employment our gender pay gap is only slightly higher at 58.5%, compared to 56.0% across all industries – resulting in on par levels. For part-time employment, with 75.8% of workers in tertiary education women, one would assume a significantly lower result for all industries, given the gap. Yet for all industries the percentages are similar – 75.2% are women. However, tertiary education has large numbers of part time workers in comparison to other employment modes – which has seen the gap exacerbated.

Reducing gender inequality

Women in the university workforce

This information is useful for the Union in determining what areas need to be targeted in order to address the gender pay gap and gender equity more broadly.

While overall the tertiary education workforce consists of 57.6% women, the proportions of women employed in full, part-time and casual work give an indication

While we will continue to work towards improving working conditions that reduced gender inequality – such as flexible leave provisions, better parental and carer leave,



transparency around remuneration and better career advancement opportunities – as a progressive Union, we know that we need to deal with the broader social drivers of gender inequality, including sexism and gender bias. On this, we will continue to lead the way. Since its inception, the NTEU has not only advocated for improved gender equity in the tertiary education sector but led the way. Through both our bargaining and lobbying, ground-breaking industrial provisions such as 28 weeks of paid parental leave and more recently domestic and family violence leave have become the standard across the sector. The Union continues this vital work in improving gender equity by targeting its drivers such as sexism and gender bias. Earlier this year the NTEU undertook a national survey of members to support our submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace. We found that sexual harassment, sexism and gender bias is still prevalent, and is one of the reasons why, despite the feminisation of higher education, we still have a significant gender pay gap of 11.7 per cent. Terri MacDonald, Policy & Research Officer

gender & equity

australian gender & higher education stats 2019 12.4%

the average gender pay gap* is now

a drop of only 0.1% since 2018. at this rate, women will not achieve parity until 2036.

* calculated using base salary, not By total renumeration

all industries total renumeration pay gap is education & training total renumeration pay gap is


full-time staFf =


full-time staFf =

21.3% 10.7%

percentage of graduates entering workforce within 4 months of graduating Source: Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) (2017), Graduate Outcome Survey National Report.

Part time Full time



14.9% 73.3%

12.6% 72.2%


93.4% 7.1% 86.3%

92.1% 4.3% 87.8%

91.7% 10.3% 81.4%

postgrad (coursewk)

postgrad (research) Source: NTEU analysis from Department of Education and Training (2017).

women in the university workforce all staFf

full time eQuiv.



all casuals



teaching & research 44%

research only

teaching only



academics By level excluding casuals D&E C levels d & e level B 32%



91.8% 8.4% 83.4%


level c 52%

general/ proFessional 64.6%


level a 51%

general/proFessional By level excluding casuals vc/dvc senior eXec lvl 9 & 10 37.2%

lvl 7 & 8 59.1%

employer has provided sex-based harassment & discrimination training for all managers


lvl 5 & 6 70.7%



lvl 4 & below 72.5%


all industries tertiary education

part-time staFf = -5.8% part-time staFf =

casual staFf = 9.0% casual staFf = 9.0%


undergraduate gender pay gap by sector dentistry architecture & built environment agriculture & environmental studies pharmacy law & paralegal studies Business & management psychology science & mathematics median health services & support humanities, culture & social sciences creative arts social work communications teacher education nursing medicine computing & information systems engineering rehaBilitation

23.5 12.2 12.1 10.3 7.7 7.5 7.3 4.8 4.5 4.3 4.2 3.8 3.3 2.7 1.8 Source: WGEA analysis of Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) (2018), Graduate Outcome Survey National Report.

1.5 0.0 0.0 -0.2 -0.3

postgraduate gender pay gap by sector computing & information systems dentistry health services & support architecture & built environment median Business & management engineering humanities, culture & social sciences law & paralegal studies agriculture & environmental studies psychology nursing social work science & mathematics rehaBilitation medicine teacher education pharmacy creative arts communications

20.8 20.8 18.9 18.0 14.6 13.8 12.1 9.7 8.7 8.7 8.7 6.9 5.5 4.2 3.4 3.1 1.5 1.0 -4.0 -7.7



gender & equity SECTION

Let’s talk about stress

Gabe Gooding

National Assistant Secretary

Stress is one of those things that we tend not to talk about in our workplaces other than in a general “I’m feeling really stressed today” sort of way, but the causes of our stress are things that we need to start talking about. Work-induced stress is as much a workplace health and safety issue as is a physical hazard to our safety. The difference is the stress hazard is not so easily visible, and the effects, while devastating, may not be immediate. Most importantly, not enough of us recognise that hazards to our mental health and safety are exactly that – hazards that need to be dealt with.

Identifying the hazards So let’s talk about the hazards. Safe Work Australia has provided employers with guidance on common psychosocial hazards in the workplace that they should be assessing and mitigating against. It will be very familiar to women working in tertiary education and I’m sure as you read through this list most of you will have suffered or experienced at least one of these regularly. So here’s just part of the list: • Excess working hours (more work that blows out into your private time). • Work intensification (more work forced into the same hours). • Poorly managed change. • Lack of equity in applying policies (favouritism is another good word for this). • Unequal effort and reward (working harder than others and not being recognised). • Lack of control over your work. • Harassment. • Abuse. The list goes on, but you get the picture. Most of these are currently experienced by women, and often disproportionately by women, in our sector. In addition to that, the World Health Organisation has included job insecurity as a psychosocial hazard.



gendered Response to stress When I talk to women about these issues, it is extraordinary how many tell me about how they are made to feel that if they can’t get the job done in their working hours, it’s because they aren’t coping, or they aren’t resilient enough, or they aren’t committed enough to their work. If you do eventually need time off for the effects of that stress, extreme fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, or physical manifestations such as pain, or cardiovascular disease, the victim is pathologised and pushed down the workers compensation pathway. The issue becomes again, your ability to cope. It’s disturbing how many women accept that responsibility for the problem lies with them. So let’s stop there and compare our responses, and the responses of our employers, to psychological injury caused by work with those to physical injury at work. Do you accept responsibility when you fall down an unmarked trip hazard? Is the time you take off work for that broken wrist or ankle because your bones must be more fragile than others? If the answer is No (and it should be) then why do we accept taking responsibility for the psychosocial hazard that is causing psychological injury? There are probably many answers to that question, and it is likely that they are gendered (that’s a piece of work that NTEU should do in the future), in similar ways to what the many studies have shown about the gendered responses to promotion and service work. So let’s ask another question about how we all approach stress at work. If that unmarked hazard was likely to break bones if someone

fell, would the appropriate response of the employer be to remove the hazard, or would it be to provide free crutches to those who break their ankle or wrist when they fall? Clearly, the second response would be widely and rightly condemned. Yet we tacitly accept that position every day.

taking Mental health seriously We accept that the management response to overloaded work, poorly managed change that leaves people doing two jobs instead of one, harassment and abuse is the provision of an Employee Assistance Program that treats the injury, or the preventative measure of resilience training to help us to accept stress. The big question is, are we going to accept injury to our mental health as a necessary feature of work for which we are responsible, or are we going to reject that notion and demand healthy and safe workplaces? NTEU’s response is the latter! The way that we start to move towards healthy and safe work is to start talking about these hazards as precisely that, hazards to our health. Once we have changed the conversation away from “why can’t you cope with the stress” to “why should I have to cope with the stress?” we are on the pathway to meaningful change and genuinely healthy and safe work. So let’s start talking about Stress.

gender & equity

Invisibility is not a superpower

Sara Brocklesby

Victorian Division

What is the position of women, in 2019, working in the administrations and operations of universities, some years into the corporatisation of higher education? Our knowledge is patchy, to say the least. Some challenges we know with certainty, for example, the disproportionate numbers of women working in the lowest HEW levels. I believe that corporatisation has rapidly accelerated in the last few years, creating new and more frequent attacks on the working rights of women professional staff. Raewyn Connell, in her exceptional book The Good University, makes valuable points about professional staff that signal areas for further investigation. She describes general/professional staff as ‘operations workers’, noting that we occupy a strange invisibility in our sector and are so disregarded that our profession does not even have an agreed name. The latest Department of Education data (2018) shows that there are 70, 457 women university staff, making up 57.9% of all university staff. Of these, some 45,837 (65%) are non-academic staff classifications. At my own university, the University of Melbourne, 67% of staff are professional staff. There is no accurate data source that tells us how many are insecurely employed (casual or fixed term). Connell rightly points out that while women make up the majority of operations workers, their conditions are deeply gendered, “… women are a minority in the upper reaches of the pay scale, and that tells an old story of interrupted careers, dead-end jobs, lower qualifications, and men’s structural privilege.” In a survey conducted earlier this year by the NTEU National Working Party for General/Professional Staff Representatives, NTEU Vice-Presidents (General/Professional Staff) identified their key workplace issues, workload; job security, poor classification of new jobs; access to career development; and the reclassification process were raised. These strongly resonate with my experience talking to women members about their issues – I would also add in access to flexible work arrangements. We can do better by our professional staff members on these issues by seizing opportunities to enforce our existing entitlements that address these issues. The

problem is not necessarily an absence of rights in our collective agreements. Our ‘invisible’ status in the sector is our first barrier. Connell reminds us that universities are inherently patriarchal. “Feminist critics from the Women’s Liberation movement showed that men’s domination of the university world is reflected in both curriculum and research; whole realms of women’s experience have been excluded from the kingdom of organised knowledge.” The emphasis is mine – I would include the experiences of women professional staff in this inherent system of exclusion. Interestingly, Connell views the corporatisation of universities and the new managerialism through a gendered lens. “We need to understand the new managers, then, as an emerging social group whose culture is still being formed. Jill Blackmore and Naarah Sawers are not alone in thinking this involves a re-masculinisation of the university, a reaction against the increased presence of women. The managerial takeover installs a form of masculinity that is aggressive, competitive, self-centred and emotionally cold.” In my own experience, universities’ addiction to constant restructures and change has indeed recruited increasing numbers of a type of male corporate executive. They come from workplace cultures where bullying and corruption have long been acceptable. They expect to be able to sack staff on the spot. When

you combine this hypermasculine, hyper-corporate culture with an academic culture that has forever and dramatically advantaged men, I see a terrible hybrid of different systems of sexism. Both systems depend on the invisible work and sacrifices of women professional staff. Perhaps the women brought into universities as labour hire are the most invisible of all operations workers. “Outsourcing is a really important, and little-discussed, change in universities…The labour costs will be smaller, the workers’ benefits fewer, and union membership lower; that is the point of outsourcing. With this move, part of the university’s actual workforce vanishes from the statistics, which do not count contractors as university employees.” Women in this section of the higher education workforce have almost no workplace rights at all. We might call them canaries in the corporate university coalmine. What to do? Professional/general staff women need to put their excellent skills to use organising around their own issues. Join your State or Territory’s Women’s Network (ask your Branch or Division office) and find new ways to have your voice heard. Sara Brocklesby is Victorian Professional/ General staff WAC representative and Victorian Division Vice-President (General Staff). With thanks to Cathy Rojas, National VicePresident (General Staff) for her work on the cited NTEU survey. VOLUME 27, SEPTEMBER 2019


gender & equity

History of Gender violence in Australia

Julia McConnochie UTS

Gender Violence in Australia: Historical perspectives is a comprehensive historical account of gendered violence in the Australian colony that traces the multifaceted dimensions and scope of gender violence spanning the frontier wars until today. It enables readers a deep understanding of the roots of unequal gender relations underpinning the national crisis of gender violence. The historically unjust prosecution of gender violence is critiqued, presenting the struggle for survivors of violence to overcome sexist bias entrenched in colonial legal and economic systems. It unearths horrific reports of atrocities committed against women by intimate partners, by colonisers, by bosses, educators and workplace colleagues.

Piper, A. & Stevenson, A. (eds) (2019). Gender Violence in Australia: Historical Perspectives. 1st edition. Clayton: Monash University Publishing. limitations of law in protecting women, as only a change in cultural and social norms can curb the scourge of intimate partner sexual violence.

Analysis extends into social and cultural spheres where physical and heteronormative manifestations of misogyny and toxic masculinity are doubly aggressive at the intersection of race, class and sexuality. From the outset, editors Alana Piper and Ana Stevenson establish a call to action for all feminists, crucially contextualising the urgency for a unified collective movement against systemic gender violence. The book’s structure demonstrates the pervasiveness of gendered violence in Australia, problematising the dichotomy of the public and private. Fourteen chapters are laid out across three sections briefly reviewed below: Gender Violence in the Home, Gender Violence in the Community and Activism against Gender Violence. The first Chapter by Simic (pp.3-19) importantly frames domestic violence through an intersectional, feminist, decolonising perspective, establishing the dire need to evaluate old research through this framework to generate new transformational knowledge. In Chapter Two (pp.20-33), Evan’s adopts this approach by giving voice to family histories of domestic violence typically silenced, thereby challenging dominant notions of the nuclear family and imaginings of the nation state. As explored by Piper in Chapter Three (pp.3448), domestic violence is also constituted by economic abuse: whether it manifests in



a husband’s desertion of a dependent wife, in financial exploitation and appropriation, or violence driven by paternalistic economic authority. Durnian (pp.49-62) presents the first historical study of patricide resulting from family violence – research which suggests that abuse victims who kill violent perpetrators are usually convicted in contemporary cases, where historically sons who killed abusive fathers experienced some legal leniency. Kaladefos’ (pp.63-77) investigation into historical prosecution of incest and familial sexual abuse is also an Australian first, which suggests that cases of family abuse are underpinned by patriarchal power dynamics where criminal law has ensured a low rate of acquittals. Yet, the examination of rape law reform by Featherstone (pp.7891) critically makes readers realise the

Conor (pp.95-113) powerfully begins section two of the book by recognising Aboriginal women’s agency in consent and labour during the pastoral frontier, destabilising racialised Victorian typecasts of Aboriginal stockwomen that further the colonial project. Autonomy and coercion are also explicitly distinguished by Frances’ (pp.114-130) who suggests a sex-worker positive rights based approach supports victims of trafficking and migrant sex workers. Swain (pp.131-144) reveals that gendered physical and sexual abuse is rife in out-of-home child care. Anti-lesbian violence, Jennings’ clarifies in Chapter Ten (pp.145-159), can be understood as homophobic retaliation for gender non-conformism which seeks control over the female body and sexuality. Fitzgerald (pp.160-174) reframes universities as sites of social, political and cultural transformation through women’s educational empowerment, decrying the historical and continued existence of gender bias and discrimination in academic and managerial hierarchies. The three final Chapters in Section Three significantly recognise the historical contribution of Australian feminist activists. Stevenson and Lewis (pp.177-191) reflect on the evolution of feminist media continued on opposite page...


delegate profile

Cécile Dutreix

Cécile Dutreix has worked as a Field Education Coordinator in the School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy at the University of South Australia (UniSA) since 2010, prior to this she worked as a casual tutor for the Bachelor of Social Work for one year. Cécile is also an alumni of UniSA graduating with a Bachelor of Social Work in 1999. Why did you decide to become a delegate?

What are you involved with at the moment?

As a social worker who is passionate about social justice and advocates strongly against the influence of neoliberalism in society, becoming a delegate for the NTEU was a natural fit. When I returned to university as a staff member in 2009 I was shocked at the change in ideology and raison d’être that I saw there.

I have recently become one of the South Australian representatives on the Women’s Action Committee (WAC). My SA WAC colleagues and I are planning to develop a Women’s Action Network to provide information, education and support to

The marketisation of higher education, with a particular focus on international education as one of Australia’s largest export industries, did not augur well for the integrity of professions like social work. In line with the neoliberal approach was the increasing casualisation of university staff and being asked to ‘do more with less’.

women employed in South Australian universities. Whilst women are in the majority of staff in higher education the gender pay gap is still evident, the expectations for women with family responsibilities remains unbalanced and the impact of intersectionality on women in higher education requires greater understanding and awareness. These are just some of the areas that we must continue to address as a higher education union. I’m also looking forward to our Bluestocking Week dinner and fundraiser that grows every year, in numbers, entertainment and camaraderie. It’s a fun night with guest speakers, music, a raffle and delicious food and wine. But, most importantly it’s a night to remember the women who came before us and rebelled against the patriarchy and slowly but surely made their way on to university campuses. It’s also a night to encourage each other to continue shining a light on the inequities experienced by women in the higher education sector and to celebrate our successes.

I wanted to do whatever I could to alter the trajectory that universities seemed to be stuck on. To effect what change was possible and to protect staff, students and higher education from the vagaries of neoliberalism.

book review: History of Gender violence in australia ...continued from opposite page production from print to digital, highlighting the use of new technology to embrace gender diversity, centre voices of women of colour and organise collective feminist action can counteract the alienation of neoliberal individualism. Tomsic (pp.192205) examines the importance of feminist filmographies in generating creative spaces for “political expression” to criticise patriarchal violence and build optimism for equality. Theobald and Murray (pp.206221) notably conclude with reflections on the staunch activism of women’s refuges and the feminist liberation movement in

Victoria which ultimately led to social and political recognition of domestic violence services. Overall, Gender Violence in Australia presents the most significant collaborative and collective scholarly effort for feminist historical justice in Australia today. It thoroughly demands reader’s attention: the contribution of its feminist mixed methods research to Australian historical knowledge is profoundly transformative. This is a book all feminists must read, and everyone should read. The disturbing awareness of these histories leaves you

twitching in your seat, reflecting on how much we have left to fight for equality. How one cannot be inspired to build an anti-sexist, anti-racist, sexuality and gender inclusive, collective feminist movement after reading this is a mystery to me. Julia McConnochie is NSW Professional/ General staff WAC representative, and a UTS Branch Committee member. For a full list of references to this article, please see the blog version at



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Delegate profile

Dr Louise fitzgerald

Dr Louise Fitzgerald has worked as an advisor and program coordinator in the Education Portfolio of the Business School at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) since 2014, prior to this she worked as a sessional academic also in UNSW Business School. Louise is an alumni of the University of Sydney and before that, Macquarie University graduating with a BA DipEd in 1980. Why did you decide to become a delegate? I come from a proud tradition of unionism. My Dad taught me that the bosses can be relied on to look after their own interests and workers need to organise and be in a union to protect theirs. When I first started teaching, everyone was in the union, I began my career in a secure position and I had a voice. Now, nearly 40 years later, workers have been hoodwinked into believing they can avoid paying their union dues and still be protected by a union.

What is a highlight? I’m very proud of the NTEU’s stand on important issues like gender equity, refugees and climate change. I have deep respect for the intelligence, eloquence and integrity of fellow unionists and our Branch Committee members. The work we do serves the interests of under-represented groups both in the university and the wider community.

We have participated in the Bring them Home campaign for refugees; we’ve held great feminist events for Bluestocking Week each year and have joined other unions in marching for a Just Transition to renewable solutions to the climate crisis.

What are you involved in at the moment? I am working on preparing our university community to join the Students’ Climate Strike on September 20. We have a great group of union-members, students and activists meeting regularly and planning to get as many people as possible to join the students in standing up for and demanding action on climate. It’s truly inspiring to see how many people care and want to join us.

As a result, in our sector we have overwhelming levels of casualisation, job insecurity, and work-related stress. I firmly believe that an organisation is a collective. It is as good as the collective competence of its workers and when workers think and act as part of a collective, they are strong.

What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a delegate?

I became a delegate in order to get the message out there that if you want a workplace that looks after you, you’ve got to join the Union.

Just do it!

Did you know that all NTEU members are automatically covered for journey injury insurance?

Travel Work insurance Travel Toto Work Insurance

As an individual you could be paying hundreds of dollars a year to get this valuable cover, but as a financial member of your union, it’s absolutely free! Just another great benefit of joining your union, the NTEU.

Find out more at VOLUME 27, SEPTEMBER 2019



Peacekeeping in a civil war

cathy Day

ACT Division

Just like enterprise bargaining, only different As the November 2019 referendum on independence for Bougainville from Papua New Guinea grows near, I’ve reflected on my time as an unarmed peacekeeper during the civil war there, which ultimately led to this referendum and presumably, independence for these South Pacific islands. Over the past few years I’ve been increasingly involved in NTEU activities and the similarities between the work of the Union, and the work of the peacekeepers and peace monitors, has become clearer. Civil war erupted in Bougainville in 1988 over a complex series of claims about environmental damage, land rights, native title, wealth distribution and a demand for sovereignty. It was the deadliest and most destructive conflict in the South Pacific since World War II, with constant battles between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), their enemies the Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF) and the army of Papua New Guinea. After ten years of bitter conflict, in which over 15,000 Bouganvilleans died, a cease fire was declared in 1998. Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu formed an international group to oversee the cease fire and help work towards a lasting peace on the islands. Due to the position of women in Bougainvillean society is matrilineal: all land is owned by women, and access to land for food gardens is determined based on descent through the maternal line. Yet all the deadly inter-family and inter-village fighting was done by men, who obliterated the infrastructure of the islands by destroying power stations, water mains, hospitals, roads and schools. Despite their revered status as landowners and carriers of the family line, women were still expected to do cooking, cleaning, washing and fetching water, so they suffered disproportionately when basic infrastructure like electricity and mains water were destroyed. Women then led the struggle to bring about a cease fire, and ultimately peace, to the troubled islands. Due to the position of women in Bougainvillean society, the leaders in



Bougainville specifically requested that the peace monitoring nations send women to the province as peace monitors and negotiators. They also felt that if the Australian and New Zealand governments sent ‘their women’, (as if we were valued possessions), it would indicate that they were serious about the peace process. A call was sent out to Australian soldiers and civilians in the Department of Defence and other government departments, for people to volunteer for a tour of duty as an unarmed peacekeeper, or peace monitor. Women were particularly encouraged to volunteer. And so in 2001, after a short training course, I arrived in the southwest corner

of Bougainville in a district called Siwai, to monitor the cease fire, investigate murders, open road blocks and facilitate the peace process. Enterprise bargaining is a bit like negotiating a peace process, but without the weapons. One of the first things I did was to try to find out what motivated the various warring parties, in order to think about solutions that would allow as many people as possible to win. Joe, the local commander of the BRA, told me straight up that war was good for his prestige. Before the war he had just been a farmer but now he was an important man, an army commander, so he didn’t see any value in the peace process. I spent many hours with Joe trying to work

international out other ways to increase his prestige, which was so important to him. I eventually offered to send a helicopter to his village, to land in the middle of the village, collect him personally and fly him to a peace committee meeting a few kilometres away. He jumped at the chance to demonstrate to his village how important he was by having a helicopter collect him, and so the helicopter came. Once he was at the peace committee meeting, Joe was obliged by his own desire for prestige to negotiate with his former enemies. This eventually led to a local peace settlement and to this day, I will never forget the sight of Joe striding across the room to shake hands with his bitter enemy, Michael from the BRF. The similarities with enterprise bargaining don’t end there. It’s not just about knowing what each side of the negotiation wants to achieve and why, but understanding their actual beliefs about themselves and how the world runs. In Bougainville, all people are divided into one of four maternal clans, with special rules about what could be eaten and what could not. I had studied anthropology at university and obtained a copy of the ethnography of the people of Siwai, with details of the clans and the food rules. I ensured that whenever we had a pig for a feast, the belly fat was separated from the meat so that some people could avoid it, and other prohibited food was served in different containers. This led to some of the local people believing that I had a deep, spiritual connection with their clans, when in fact I was just the beneficiary of a world-class university education. In these days of intense focus on research impact, Douglas Oliver, the academic who wrote that ethnography of Siwai, can add ‘facilitating peace in the South Pacific’ as one impact of his research!

But it wasn’t all helicopter rides, pork feasts and committee meetings. Almost all men had weapons hidden somewhere and violent retribution for real or imagined injuries were commonplace. I investigated murders on almost a weekly basis, although it was not particularly difficult, since the murderer usually trumpeted his success in eliminating his enemy. Dealing with witchcraft was another thing altogether. Thanks to Douglas Oliver, I had a good understanding of the beliefs of the people of Siwai about the supernatural world. And just like any good negotiator or bargainer, I would sometimes have to operate within those belief systems. On one occasion, a local woman died of liver cancer. The treating doctor wrote a letter to the village explaining that the patient had died of liver cancer and not as a result of sorcery. I think that not many Australian doctors would be prompted to write letters like that. Nevertheless, the patient’s family did not believe the doctor and held a sort of séance, which ‘identified’ the sorcerer: her

uncle who had recently returned to the village from another island. The villagers, who were all members of the BRF, immediately armed themselves and went in search of the uncle, who had fled to the home of the regional commander of the BRA. The BRA in turn armed themselves and before I knew it, the district was on the verge of full-scale armed conflict. I shuttled between the BRF and the BRA, the villagers and the uncle, trying to calm things down and seek a resolution. There was no point in announcing that sorcery was not real, when they believed that they had seen it with their own eyes. In the end, I had to operate within their belief system. The people of Bougainville are nominally Christians and have an understanding of the Bible. I mentioned the Biblical injunction of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’. I said that this meant that it was wrong to kill the alleged sorcerer with a modern weapon, and the only proper response to sorcery was more sorcery. Not really solid theology, but to my surprise, this approach worked. The modern weapons were put away and the grieving villagers paid another sorcerer to cast a spell on the uncle, who then ran away back to the island he had come from. Peace, of sorts, was restored. I’m not suggesting that we use sorcery in enterprise bargaining, but a little divine intervention is always welcome! Dr Cathy Day is Research Manager, ANU College of Health and Medicine, and Acting ACT Division Secretary Opposite page: Cathy and the leader of the BRF beside Yamamoto’s plane, shot down in 1943. Above:The team’s last day at their base in Siwai. Left: Cathy in the town of Koparo. (Photos supplied by the author)



international SECTION

The Squad: where diversity is strength

Terri MacDonald NTEU

You have likely heard of “The Squad” in US politics, the nickname that has been adopted by the group of four Democratic congresswomen of colour who, in addition to being outspoken about their progressive views and political opinions, have been targeted in both racist and sexist tweets by US President Donald Trump. The Squad have drawn a great deal of media and political attention – not always positive – and while many would portray them as a media-seeking clique of left leaning women, banging on the closed door of the Washington establishment, is there more to it than that? The membership of the Squad consists of Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Each woman made both headlines and history following their elections in the 2018 November midterms, with Pressley serving as Massachusetts’ first Black congresswoman, Ocasio-Cortez defeating Rep. Joe Crowley, who held the seat for decades, and both Omar and Tlaib becoming the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. Their elections certainly represent a shift in the political spectrum, and they have in common a tendency towards more diverse and activist forms of grass roots driven political agitation. However, it would be a mistake to assume that their political views are in unanimity; there is diversity of beliefs, interests and priorities. They are each individual members, who represent their own elected constituencies and perspectives. One such area where both their unity and differences are demonstrated is with the issue of Israel. Trump has targeted both Omar and Tlaib for their faith (and falsely accusing Omar of supporting al-Qaida), stating that two congresswomen “hate Israel & all Jewish people”. He successfully encouraged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ban them from entering the country; while Tlaib was later offered the use of a humanitarian visa to visit her grandmother in the West Bank, she tearfully declined, saying that while she may now never see her grandmother, she will not go unless she is permitted to as a democratically elected congresswoman of the United States and able to freely speak



to leaders of the countries she is visiting. Trump tweeted that he did not “buy her tears” – he had also accused her of being obnoxious, violent and crazy in his attempts to derail her planned visit. Tlaib and Omar were strongly supported by Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley; yet on a recent vote on a resolution opposing Palestinianled boycott of Israel, Pressley broke with the group, voting Yes on the overwhelmingly successful resolution – Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez were 3 of the 17 members of the House who voted No. It is therefore worth exploring the differences in the political philosophies of the Squad, in order to understand their unity.

Ayanna Pressley Pressley is considered the closest to the Democrat “establishment”; her political curriculum vitae includes working for John Kerry and Joe Kennedy II. She also backed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic race and has sometimes been described as being a change-maker from within.

She is probably the most successful negotiator of the group, sponsoring the highest number of legislative bills. Her deal making skills in this regard can be seen through her efforts to achieve back pay for the hundreds of thousands of low-wage federal contractors, who had been left unpaid following Trump’s 35-day partial government shutdown.

Ilhan Omar Omar’s interests are more outward looking, with a focus on foreign policy which has at times allowed her critics to accuse her of perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes. She recently apologised for her language while maintaining her call for action on the role of political lobbyists, which focused on the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). However, she is also seen as a relationship builder in Congress and shown considerable political insight in navigating the often turbulent tides of Capitol Hill. She is the whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has sponsored


13 bills, including the Student Debt Cancellation Act Bill, which she introduced alongside CPC co-chair Pramila Jayapal and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Rashida Tlaib Tlaib, like Omar, is also a PalestinianAmerican and similarly has drawn criticism for some of her foreign policy views, particularly on the political actions of Israel. She also drew the ire of the President and Republicans (and some Democrats) when, just hours after being sworn in as a new congresswoman, she made the call to “Impeach the motherfucker.” However, her legislative contributions have been primarily focused on local issues for her district and constituents, such as overhauling the credit-reporting system or addressing concerns about the environmental hazard of petroleum coke (both major concerns in her State of Michigan).

Alexandria ocasio-cortez Probably the most recognisable of the Squad however, is Ocasio-Cortez, and this is not by accident. While she has introduced a number of important bills – including a cap on credit card interest rates with Senator Sanders, and a fair-housing bill with Senator Kamala Harris – she is also being seen as a national figure, pushing a different theory of social change.

It was Ocasio-Cortez who coined the group’s moniker of the Squad via Twitter in 2018, and it’s through her use of social media, interviews and other appearances (including a recent documentary) that she has successfully leveraged her star power to focus national conversations around issues such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Ocasio-Cortez differs in she doesn’t want change from within; instead, in a meaningful way, she is seeking to change the political paradigm altogether.

One for all When acting in unison, the Squad has been able to bring national, and even international, attention to issues such as climate change and environmental degradation, the inhuman separation of children from their parents at the Mexican border and racial injustice. While they define and promote a progressive, left leaning and broadly feminist agenda, it would be erroneous to group them together as one cohesive voting block with shared views and political experiences. That said, Trump’s individual targeting of the members of the Squad (noting that he himself has not used the term – which is unusual for a President fond of using labels when describing political opponents) has had the effect of drawing them closer together and giving strength to their voices

– even when there may be differences in their views. Indeed, the congresswomen believe that their differences are a strength; that they are representative of a new, diverse political generation that intends to take over the reins both within the Democrats and in Congress more broadly. After centuries of white male hegemony dominating the American political system, many feel that the time is coming for change; that, in order to lead the nation, its leaders must be representative of that nation, which includes these articulate and determined women of colour. It also provides a necessary counter to a President with what can be most politely described as narcissistic tendencies, with a policy agenda that seeks to marginalise and divide people within his own nation. It is correct that American politics is in a state of change, the question is to what extent the women of the Squad, and others like them, can be the positive drivers of that change. It might be that diversity and differences are what unifies a politically fractured nation. Above, L–R: Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@ocasio2018/Instagram). Opposite page: News graphic of the Squad (CBS News/YouTube)




Joan Hardy scholarship 2019

Sharon James

Sharon James has been awarded the 2019 Joan Hardy Scholarship for postgraduate nursing research, for her work examining the general practice nurse (GPN)-to-patient communications processes about lifestyle risks and chronic disease management. Her research is part of her work towards a PhD through the University of Wollongong. Sharon’s interest in exploring these relationships between patients and healthcare providers arose out of her experiences working as a registered nurse in primary health care and then in general practice, mainly in rural areas. With chronic disease and complex medical conditions a growing issue in Australian health care, it became clear that broader issues around lifestyle management are critical in managing risk factors. But Australia’s health system is geared around treatment of medical conditions, as opposed to a more preventative approach. “Solutions needed time within consultations and the ability to engage in ongoing conversations with patients seemed to be required; but there are many factors in the clinical environment which impact on the ability for GPNs to have these conversations aimed at preventing chronic disease and optimising function,” Sharon said. “These factors include billable Medicare item numbers, social determinants of health, time pressures, nurse education and low prioritisation of lifestyle risk prevention and reduction. From clinical experience, I wanted to understand if other general practice nurses had the same experiences and how they support patients in lifestyle risk reduction.” Sharon said that the current literature indicates that the chronic disease burden has necessitated a shift towards effective approaches to lifestyle risk reduction and chronic disease management. This has created opportunities for GPNs to reduce



Joan Hardy was active in higher education unionism for over 30 years, and was the first woman President of UACA (one of the predecessors of NTEU). Joan was a tireless advocate for union amalgamation and was a key negotiator in the formation of NTEU, becoming Vice-President when the Union was formed in 1993. chronic disease through enhanced lifestyle risk reduction activities. “In general practice, in particular, nurses have the kind of prolonged engagement with patients which facilitate behaviour change interventions. However, to date, little is known about how this is enacted in clinical practice.” Building on-going relationships with patients assists these interventions, but the complexity of the problems are ongoing issues. “Patients with chronic illnesses can get ‘appointment fatigue’, which presents its own set of challenges,” Sharon said. “While health education comprises a large proportion of GPN-patient encounters, little is known about GPNs’ views about the communication of lifestyle risk. This is needed as a basis for further management of chronic disease and the effectiveness of service delivery.” The chronic disease burden, especially as the population ages, requires effective approaches to lifestyle risk reduction. Sharon

This scholarship, established by NTEU in memory of Joan who died in 2003, is available to a student currently enrolled in an academic award of an Australian public university and undertaking postgraduate study of nurses, nursing culture or practices, or historical aspects of nursing as a lay or professional practice and expects to submit the thesis within one year of being awarded the Scholarship. hopes that her research will contribute towards developing better communication processes between nurses and patients, as well as informing the education of general practice nurses in the future. As a mother of three children in a rural area, Sharon has encountered difficulties around additional travel and networking opportunities, which can now be offset with the awarding of the Scholarship. Michael Evans, National Organiser


Carolyn Allport Scholarship 2019

beth muldoon

Beth Muldoon is this year’s recipient of the Carolyn Allport Scholarship, for postgraduate work in feminist studies. Beth is an historian and teacher in her second year of a part-time PhD candidature at La Trobe University. Her research explores the political activism of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women within the Black Movement in Redfern, Sydney, from 1968 to 1973.

their stories of struggle, provide some leadership to future generations.” Beth concluded her application for the scholarship by saying, “For the Australian feminist movement... this research serves as a promising vehicle for strengthening understanding and solidarity between nonAboriginal and Aboriginal women fighting for liberation and justice.”

“This research will make a substantial contribution to Australian feminist scholarship, both through its groundbreaking methodology and by filling a major gap in historical literature on Aboriginal political struggle,” Beth said. “Up until now this has been heavily biased towards male activists, leading to misconceptions about gender relations within Aboriginal politics and Aboriginal communities more broadly. Its methodology draws upon a range of Indigenous, decolonizing and critical research practices designed to democratise research relationships and/or ensure Aboriginal community control over the research from start to finish.” “The first phase of this research involved consultation with several women whose history is the focus of this research, including Dulcie Flower, Alanna Doolan, Cilla Pryor, Ann Weldon, Linda Coe, Aileen Corpus and Bronwyn Penrith.” “Over four group meetings in Sydney and numerous phone conversations and visits, we collectively designed a methodology for recording, interpreting and publishing their oral histories, along with those of up to twelve other women they recommended be invited to contribute, with the option of joining our research partnership agreement if they wished to have an ongoing role in shaping the research.” “After decades of Indigenous scholars, activists and institutional ethical guidelines stressing the importance of Indigenous selfdetermination within academic research, it is unfortunately still rare to see historians forming research partnerships with Indigenous communities. My PhD thesis will include extensive critical reflection on our research process to ensure my learning

Michael Evans, National Organiser

is effectively transmitted and may provide inspiration and guidance for other historians wishing to take a similar approach.” Beth said that the significance of the historical content of this research cannot be overstated. Each of the women currently involved has made an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of social justice in Australia through their activism. In addition to helping set up the first Aboriginal community-controlled services, which included the first shopfront legal aid service in Australia, they coordinated a wide range of political campaigns and programs for Aboriginal empowerment through land rights, civil rights, health, education, childcare, arts, culture and sports. Yet, despite their outstanding achievements, their histories have scarcely been documented. Alanna Doolan said that the real value of the project is the opportunity for these women to tell their stories in their own way. “And it’s also important for people to know that the organisations supporting Aboriginal people were started by ourselves, not by governments.” Bronwyn Penrith agreed. “Nobody has really told our stories before. This was an important period of change for the Aboriginal movement, from integration to self-determination. It’s an opportunity for the people involved to get together and through

Dr Carolyn Allport was NTEU National President from 1994 to 2010, becoming a prominent lobbyist at both the national and international levels. Described as a ‘warrior for women’, Carolyn was tenacious in advocating for women’s rights to employment equity. Particularly influential in the struggle for paid parental leave, she established NTEU as the setter of high benchmarks for other unions and employers to match. Carolyn is also recognised as a leading advocate for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander education, employment and social justice. She was a driving force to ensure that A&TSI business is core NTEU business. Carolyn worked as an academic for over 20 years at Macquarie University in the areas of economic history, urban politics, public housing and women’s history. Carolyn sadly passed away in 2017. VOLUME 27, SEPTEMBER 2019


#feminism SECTION


Right: Ann Shorten graduating as a teacher, and fulfilling her dream many years later by becoming a lawyer.

In May, Bill Shorten made an emotional speech paying tribute to his late mother in response to a critical News Corp article. Prompted by journalist Jenna Price, Twitter users shared stories of the sacrifices their mothers made and the discrimination they faced, via #MyMum.



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