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Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins help launch Safety. Respect. Equity. campaign ahead of International Women’s Day

Tired of inaction, a group of prominent Australian women have reinvigorated the outrage many felt last year and launched a national campaign to end injustice and inequity for women.

Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, former Liberal politician Julia Banks and former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate are some of the faces behind the Safety. Respect. Equity. initiative.

Brittany Higgins, Lucy Turnbull, Madison de Rozario, Michele O’Neil, Larissa Behrendt, Chanel Contos, Yasmin Poole, Wendy McCarthy and Georgie Dent have also lent their voices to the campaign, which calls for systemic reform in how women are treated.

In a video on the group’s website, Ms Tame starts by telling viewers, “Australia, we need to talk.”

The video explains “2021 wasn’t the first year that Australian women were harassed or unsafe or violated or ignored or disrespected”, with the lines delivered by Ms Tame, Ms Higgins, Ms Poole, Ms O’Neil and Ms Banks.

“And it wasn’t the first year that women spoke up,” the video continues.

Christine Holgate, Lucy Hughes Turnbull, Grace Tame, Michele O’Neil, Brittany Higgins, Yasmin Poole, Georgie Dent, Julia Banks and Wendy McCarthy want the events of the past year to lead to reform for women.(Supplied: Safety. Request. Equity website)

“But in 2021 more Australians started to listen to women of different ages, occupations and beliefs, who stood up and spoke out, exposing discrimination, harassment, sexism, disrespect and intimidation.

Revealing terrifying statistics — that one in five women in Australia will be sexually assaulted or raped in her lifetime, that two in five women have been sexually harassed in the workplace in the last five years — the video also highlights that for First Nations women, women of colour, women with a disability or queer women, those statistics are even worse.

The group is calling for the prevention of sexual harassment and bullying toward women and wants all 55 recommendations in the Respect@Work report implemented.

It also called for more responsibility to be put on employers.

The Safety. Respect. Equity. movement is also called for:

  • 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave
  • Acting on the National Plan for First Nations Women and Girls (support and fund the seven recommendations in the 2020 Wiyi Yani U Thangani Report)
  • Ensuring effective employment programs for women with disability
  • Stronger, consistent child sexual assault laws
  • Eliminating the gender pay gap including necessary legal reform
  • Free, accessible and quality early childhood education and care
  • Expanding paid parental leave
  • Embedding respectful relationships and consent education everywhere, including schools, universities, workplaces and homes

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Women’s Agenda contributing editor Georgie Dent said she was “proud to stand alongside these women in calling for action to ensure all women can enjoy safety, respect and equity.”

Australian Council of Trade Union president Michele O’Neil was also behind the movement.

“A safe place to work, a safe place to live, fair pay, quality free early learning & care, and a justice system that works for survivors should not be too much to expect in 2022,” she said.

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