Media releases

Statement by CAPA Women’s Officer for International Women’s Day

8 Mar 19

Hello, my name is Romana-Rea, I am the Women’s Officer for CAPA and I’d like to wish all the women from around the world a happy International Women’s Day!

This is an important time of the year to acknowledge university women and recognise their contributions while also recognising that change is needed. My project as CAPA’s Women’s Officer will focus on the safety and success of women in academia because the two are inherently linked. I’m a firm believer that when women are given a safe environment to work in, they will thrive and have a better chance at success.

That is why we find it concerning that individuals feel more comfortable reporting incidents of on-campus gendered violence to their unions, student representatives, and End Rape on Campus than their universities. We believe that reporting incidents should not be a career threatening move. We recently made a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces, where we called for improved policies and support for research students experiencing harassment at their university.

Research students who face workplace harassment primarily through their role as casual staff as well as in rare but detrimental cases of inappropriate behaviour from their research supervisors must be protected. In our submission we recommend that all Australian universities and research institutes formally adopt the Principles for Respectful Supervisory Relationships, which we jointly co-created with Universities Australia, the National Tertiary Education Union, and the Australian Council of Graduate Research in 2017. To date the endorsement of these principles by universities has been disappointing.

We hope that the Coalition Government will give consideration to re-establishing the taskforce against sexual assault and harassment in universities, as has already been committed to by the Labor Party should they form government at the next federal election. We furthermore believe that postgraduate students have unique needs that must be given a voice through representation on the proposed taskforce.

Initiatives for equality and career success for women must be continued through existing programs such as Athena Swan. However, we believe there are many improvements that can be made for women in research, as outlined in our 2018 submission to the Women in STEM Decadal Plan.

Here at CAPA we are incredibly proud of all the achievements of postgraduate women and are pleased that we have a strong female presence on our Executive Committee. We will continue the good work initiated by our predecessors and we will continue to fight until women are afforded the respect, opportunity and safety we deserve.

If you have any questions please contact me at women@capa.edu.au