What does it take to be heard?

Law reform advocates Saxon Mullins, Rachael Burgin and Noelle Martin to attend UOW symposium on women, listening and law

What does it take to be heard?

Researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) will host a two-day symposium this week (Thursday 3 and Friday 4 November) to explore the politics and practices of listening to women in a range of legal contexts.

Organised by Dr Sarah Ailwood and Associate Professor Cassandra Sharp, and hosted by UOW’s Legal Intersections Research Centre, the symposium will bring together leading Australian and international experts to discuss important issues including how Aboriginal women’s voices are listened to in the criminal justice system, coercive control, the effectiveness of the #metoo movement and the role of public survivors in challenging law and policy reforms on sexual violence in Australia.

Dr Rachel Loney-Howes, a Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Health and Society, is one of the organisers of the symposium and said it is an opportunity to delve deeper into how women’s voices are elicited, received, and listened to, and the forms of response they receive in legal contexts.

“The event couldn’t come at a more important time in our political climate,” Dr Loney-Howes said.

“We’re witnessing a renaissance of feminist activism across a range of issues including women’s safety, economic security, political participation and representation, the care economy, workplace rights and gender-based violence.

“Women’s voices are central to this activism, and frequently sought after in a range of legal contexts, including policy development, law reform, institutional inquiries, and truth and justice commissions.

Dr Ailwood and Associate Professor Sharp said the renaissance of feminist activism and government action regarding women’s interests make it particularly important to investigate how women’s voices are heard and responded to within the law.

“Women are often asked to voice their experiences in ‘consultation’ processes, but regularly report that they are not heard, listened to or valued, or that their testimony is used selectively to suit a particular agenda. The voices of LGBTQ+ survivors and advocates, Indigenous women, and women living with disabilities, are further marginalised or silenced completely in hierarchies of listening and attention.”

“This Symposium will work towards a best practice approach for listening to women in legal contexts, to improve law and policy for all women”.

The event will also feature presentations from law reform campaigners and activists, including Saxon Mullins, Dr Rachael Burgin and Noelle Martin, who will share their experiences within law reform processes addressing violence against women.

The symposium’s keynote speakers include Dr Tanya Serisier (Reader, Birkbeck College, University of London), Scientia Associate Professor Kyllie Cripps (School of Law, Society and Criminology, UNSW) and Associate Professor Tanja Dreher (Scientia Fellow, School of the Arts and Media, UNSW).

The symposium is a hybrid event and will be held online and in-person at UOW’s Innovation Campus from 9am to 5pm on Thursday 3 November and Friday 4 November 2022.

Attendees must register online: https://www.uow.edu.au/events/2022/women-listening-and-law-what-does-it-take-to-be-heard.php

/Public Release. View in full here.