“The current practices of our major political parties are dangerous for women, men and children. They are based on moral premises that are causing severe harm, and we must challenge them.”
— Mary Crooks AO, Executive Director, Victorian Women’s Trust, Australia
In Australia, immigration is an issue mired in political jousting, leaving the vulnerable at risk. Lawmakers are under intense scrutiny for their current policy that mandates any refugee or asylum seeker who arrives by boat must be sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island for offshore processing (read more). Here, their basic protections are denied and abuse is often condoned.
For women this can be particularly dangerous, with many reports revealing that women are routinely abused and raped.
In response to a worsening situation for women refugees, Victorian Women’s Trust, along with leading feminists, women’s groups, and others working to prevent violence against women announced that they would stand with Rosie Batty and sign an open letter to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Rosie Batty had recently been named Australian of the Year for her work advocating for support services for victims of domestic violence after she, herself, lost her son to a violent partner.
The letter demanded the “urgent and immediate” removal of all refugees and asylum seekers held on Nauru and Manus Island on the grounds that their safety could not be guaranteed by the Governments of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Mary Crooks, AO, Executive Director of the Victorian Women’s Trust, said they “could not remain as a silent bystander to the appalling harm being done to women detained in those centres.” To act quickly and maximize visibility, the Trust developed a digital advocacy campaign to do what they do best: bring a megaphone to often ignored women’s issues in the country.
They joined forces with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP), and Refugee Advocacy Network, to launch #OurVoiceTheirSafety: a campaign to build awareness and ensure safety of detained women. It called on individuals and their networks to join in raising their voices to improve the status of women and children on Nauru, and demanded that the Australian government endorse an alternative, humane plan for all people seeking asylum in Australia.
The compelling digital advocacy campaign is part storytelling, part action plan, and part advocacy tool. To start, the Trust released a 3-minute video, Her Story, featuring women reading aloud the harrowing, real-life story of a woman seeking asylum.
Her Story has been watched by over 93,000 people and shared over 1,500 times.
The Trust then developed their Six Point Safety Plan that uncovers the values that underpin the current framework in which the government operates and reframes them into values that respect fundamental human rights. Through promoting the Six Point Safety Plan, the Trust aims to bring about a more humane approach for all people seeking asylum in Australia. The plan provides an effective policy advocacy tool for campaign supporters to use to discuss the issue with their local Member of Parliament.
The resources don’t end there. They collated related resources on the #OurVoiceTheirSafety site, including a 19-page report on asylum policies with suggestions on how the government can do better, a media guide with templates and toolkits, FAQs, and guides to help people meet and discuss the issue with their local Member of Parliament.
#OurVoiceTheirSaftey has now grown to 14 organizations all working to raise public awareness and provide support to asylum seekers. Victorian Women’s Trust currently funds five projects that support women and girls seeking asylum or with refugee status.
To learn more about the campaign and/or how to create your own digital advocacy campaign, contact Allyson Oliver-Perham.
Victorian Women’s Trust is a member of Women’s Funding Network and a strong advocate for women and girls in Melbourne, Australia, promoting true gender equality through annual grants, targeted research, education, policy submissions, events and more.