Sunday, July 5, 2015

NOWSA conference calls for Queer Collaborations Conference to be boycotted

5 July 2015
For immediate release

NETWORK OF WOMEN STUDENTS AUSTRALIA CALLS ON COMMUNITY BOYCOTT OF QUEER COLLABORATIONS 2015

The Network of Women Students Australia today calls on student organisations and members of the queer community to boycott Queer Collaborations 2015, in light of serious failure by its Organisers to ensure the safety and welfare of attendees.

A motion condemning the organisers of Queer Collaborations 2015 (QC) passed unanimously by attendees at NOWSA’s annual conference, held in Hobart last week.
The motion was put to NOWSA’s annual conference in response to revelations that the 2015 QC Organising Committee had failed to adequately prioritise or respond to concerns regarding the safety and well being of delegates.

Grievances included organisers’ refusal to enforce bans on attendees removed from previous conferences, resulting in at least one instance of a student association registered to attend QC2015 failing to be notified of the attendance of a previously-barred individual who had been removed for sexual assault.

NOWSA spokesperson Innes Finn said, “We condemn the organisers of QC 2015 for their shocking failure to value or respect the safety of women at their conference.”
“As a result, the safety and well-being of all delegates registered has been jeopardized,” Ms. Finn said.

NOWSA has called on the community and student organisations to withdraw their support for Queer Collaborations 2015 in an official boycott.

Reasons for delegates’ removal from previous Queer Collaborations include:

  • Bullying and harassment of women, targeted especially towards trans women, indigenous women, women of colour and women of low social and/or economic status; 
  • Forcibly ‘outing’ trans women by trans-exterminatory radical feminists;
  • Both overt and covert threats of bodily harm;
  • Extreme harassment online, including hacking and disclosure of individual’s personal details; and, 
  • Refusal to respect physical, emotional and sexual boundaries.

Delegates on NOWSA’s conference floor recounted “legal barriers” being cited by Organisers of QC 2015 as grounds for being unable to enforce ban on previously removed delegates, and subsequent refusal to release details providing evidence to these claims.

Members of the 2014 QC Organising Committee present at NOWSA described multiple instances of QC Organisers failing to respond to correspondence providing police reports and lists of previously banned individuals.

Organisers of NOWSA have been handed official notification from QC 2015 to a concerned party, in which the Organisers dismiss an instance of non-consensual, sexual and predatory touching. The letter states, “We don’t believe that these claims constitute a clear and significant threat to the well being of QC delegates.”

Last year 84 women were killed by violence in Australia. Destroy the Joint’s “Counting Dead Women” campaign has so far recorded 49 deaths under similar circumstances in 2015. Based on currents rates of Australian statistics, 104 women will be killed in instances of domestic violence this year.

NOWSA formally calls on student organisations and members of the community to withdraw their support for Queer Collaborations 2015, asa sign of respect to all delegates no longer attending due to concerns over their safety.Organisations listed in NOWSA’s motion include:

  • The National Union of Students;
  • Council of Australian Postgraduate Student Associations;
  • Council of International Students Australia;
  • Blacademy;
  • Australian Student Environment Network;
  • State-based Queer Student Networks;
  • Other community organisations;
  • Student Unions; and,
  • The Australian Queer Student Network

 -----ENDS-----
The Network of Women Students Australia (NOWSA) is the peak body for women students in Australia. This year’s annual conference of NOWSA met between June 29 th and July 4th in Hobart, Tasmania.

For further information contact:  Innes Finn, Organising CommitteeNetwork of Women Students Australia Email: 2015nowsa@gmail.com

Original PDF of media release is available here

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