Even as the Taliban swept across Afghanistan, overrunning cities and ultimately seizing the capital, the Australian government was telling some Afghan asylum seekers they should leave Australia and return to a country plunging back into civil war.
As late as 28 July this year, with the Taliban brutally ascendant across Afghanistan and days from capturing the capital Kabul, Afghan nationals were told by the Department of Home Affairs they were “expected to depart Australia”.
After the subsequent rapid fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, the Australian government announced “no Afghan visa holder currently in Australia will be asked to return to Afghanistan while the security situation there remains dire”.
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Universities have begun a new national survey to collect data “on the scale and nature” of sexual assault and sexual harassment on Australian campuses.
Universities Australia, the peak body, says the 2021 National Student Safety Survey “deploys today across Australian universities as a crucial step in preventing sexual violence and supporting those who have experienced it in their communities”.
The survey, to be conducted online by the Social Research Centre in partnership with violence prevention expert Dr Anastasia Powell of RMIT University, will run until 3 October.
It will randomly sample students from universities across the sector, with up to 10,000 students asked to participate from each university, depending on its size, according to a statement issued by Universities Australia today. It will also allow all current and recent university students enrolled in the past five years to share their story anonymously online.
The chief executive of Universities Australia, Catriona Jackson, said any incident of sexual violence that occurred inside or outside of Australia’s university communities was “one too many”.
Our universities recognise their responsibility and are determined to build on their commitment to prevent sexual violence and support those who have experienced it.
National Women’s Safety Summit will be held today
The National Women’s Safety Summit will take place today, but domestic violence and homelessness groups have raised fears that the agenda does not devote enough attention to the critical role of affordable housing.
More than 130 organisations, including the Australian Council of Social Service, Shelter and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, have signed a joint statement that calls for a commitment to safe and affordable social housing. The signatories also include women’s refuges, homelessness services and community legal centres.
Everybody’s Home, the national campaign against homelessness, said in its own statement:
Housing only has a fleeting reference in the agenda, despite the fact 7,690 women return to perpetrators of violence each year because they have nowhere to live. And an alarming 9,120 women a year become homeless after leaving their homes due to domestic and family violence and being unable to secure long term housing.
A spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, Kate Colvin, said it was unacceptable that “thousands of women across Australia are currently having to choose between staying in a violent home and homelessness”.
You simply can’t talk about women’s safety without talking about safe and affordable homes. Women and children in danger need a safe haven and it is incumbent on the commonwealth government to address this crisis.
The joint statement calls on the federal government to set a target to end homelessness for women and children and other victim-survivors fleeing violence; investing in the delivery of an adequate supply of new social and affordable housing; and fix social security to protect women and children from poverty and homelessness. Labor backed the calls. The party’s housing spokesperson, Jason Clare, and NSW senator Jenny McAllister issued a statement saying the government had “failed to listen to the voices of advocates, experts and victim-survivors who have been crying out for social and affordable housing funding for years”.
Everybody’s Home says it has arranged its own special online event focusing on the importance of housing and women’s safety, viewable on Zoom from 8.15am AEST, which is separate from the National Women’s Safety Summit.