The Federal election is scheduled for July 2. Now is the perfect time to let your local candidate know how you feel about the objectification of women, sexualisation of girls and pornification of society. The research is solid. There is no longer any doubt about the devastating harms to our children and young people – indeed to all of us. We need our political leaders to act. But they will only take action if they see there is a constituency for change.
We’ve done the hard work for you. All the latest research is contained in three recent submissions on sexualisation of children, harms of pornography and links between gender inequality and domestic violence.
Here are some points you can make. Request a 15-minute meeting with your candidate. Or email or call them with your thoughts. You can approach them out on the ‘hustings’ at shopping centres and other public places. Or when they turn up on your doorstep! You will find them more open than ever to hearing from you. The main political parties keep tabs on what constituents are raising with them so make your views known.
Our recommendations from NSW sexualisation submission
- Recognition of the harms of sexualisation as a public health crisis requiring swift and decisive action on behalf of children and young people.
- The restructuring of the current regulatory environment to bring the regulation of all media and marketing together under one encompassing independent federal regulator, including a division with the primary responsibility of protecting the interests of children and young people, addressing both the direct and indirect sexualisation of children in all media modes from a child-rights basis.
- Equipping parents and carers with the appropriate media literacy tools and institutional supports, to raise children who have the ability to be critical consumers and creators of media.
- The evaluation and implementation of appropriate school-based education programs to educate children and young people about the harms of sexualisation, and funding to help schools secure these resources.
- For a child-rights based approach to addressing the harms of media hyper-sexualisation, including respect for the voices and points of view of children and young people.
- That the prevalence of sexualised images of women in our society be recognised as a significant underlying contributor to violence against women and girls.
- The commissioning of comprehensive research to establish the extent of the exposure of children and young people in NSW [and your own state] to sexualising media content. However, this research should not preclude swift government action on the basis of the evidence that already exists.
Our recommendations from Federal porn harms to children submission
- The Australian Government should work with Internet Service Providers to establish a scheme for all existing and new customers to be provided with a default family friendly setting (no pornography) with opt-out only permitted by account holders who can establish that they are aged 18 years or over. Regulations to impose this requirement should be considered as a backup if after 12 months insufficient progress has been made by ISPs towards this goal.
- New programs should be designed with respectful and mutual relationships as the starting point, not just ‘sex education’. Young people want content based on their real lives and experiences – information that empowers and equips them to make healthy decisions about their sexuality.
- All children and young people should have access to comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality and relationships education that promotes respectful and mutual relationships.
- The school curriculum should, in an age-appropriate manner, specifically address the influence of media, including the influence of pornography and the sex industry more broadly. We believe it is not enough to adopt a public health perspective, but that a gender equality perspective is also crucial in understanding these problems.
- School communities – including teachers, wellbeing staff and school leaders – should have access to quality professional learning, support and resources, to support them in implementing comprehensive relationships and sexuality education. This should include specialist support to address the influence of pornography.
- Pre-service teacher training should include learning about the influence of pornography and how to address it through respectful relationships and sexuality curricula, and in other relevant learning areas.
- Parents and carers should have access to information and resources to support them to parent effectively in this relatively new context of easy and anonymous access to pornography. This should include support to understand the issues, and practical advice about how to manage technology to minimise exposure and how to support their children’s reflective and critical thinking.
- Other adults involved in children and young people’s care and education – such as youth workers, doctors, counsellors and health promotion staff – should have access to relevant professional learning and resources addressing the influence of pornography.
Our recommendations from our submission on domestic violence and gender inequality
- The objectification of women be made central to government policy makers in understanding the connection between gender inequality and domestic violence.
- Prostitution and pornography be officially recognised by the Government as forms of violence against women and as factors both caused by, and contributing to, gender inequality.
- The objectification and sexualisation of women and girls be a central consideration in the regulation of advertising, marketing, and the media.
- The prevalence of sexualised images of women and girls in Australian society be recognised as a significant underlying contributor to violence against women and girls.
- The role of the Advertising Standards Bureau be reviewed, and a new code of ethics on objectification form part of the ASB’s criteria for complaints.
- Restructure the current regulatory environment to bring the regulation of all media and marketing together under one encompassing independent federal regulator, including a division with the primary responsibility of protecting the interests of children and young people.
- The Nordic Model be adopted as Australia’s legislative approach to prostitution.
Here are some recent examples of objectification and sexualisation you could pass on to your candidate (you will find many more on our website and Facebook page): Honey Birdette, Jay Jays, General Pants, & Sexpo on buses.
You can find out who your candidate is on the website of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). After the close of nominations, the AEC publishes a list of candidates in each seat, along with the contact information that candidates have chosen to make public. For the 2016 Federal Election, the Declaration of Candidate Nominations will be after midday on Friday 12th June.
Another source is Wikipedia. Contributors to Wikipedia’s candidate page are already tracking media statements and party information about who the candidates may be. There are detailed profiles and links to personal websites for some candidates.
Some of the major parties have published online directories for their candidates (parties are listed in alphabetical order).
Let us know how you go!