Talk About It Interviews: Courtney Sloane

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Name: Courtney Sloane,

What Year were you NUS Women’s Officer? 2011

 You collated the results of the Talk About It Survey and created the Safety Blueprint, were you pleased with the final product? Absolutely. Having hard data and a report that had been endorsed by the ERA, Universities Australia and White Ribbon made it a lot easier to demonstrate how widespread the problem was to both universities and the wider community. It also provided an opportunity for students to build constructive relationships with their university on this issue. I am immensely proud of the recommendations: they articulate clearly what can be done to address gendered violence, and they are ours as students – we own the issue and we are driving the shape of anti-violence initiatives on our campuses.

What would you do differently next time around with regards to Talk About It? Tweak the methodology to make it less vulnerable to criticism and dismissal by the bodies we’re trying to influence.

 What do you think should be changed about Talk About It when it’s run in 2012? Partnering with a researcher or research body to ensure the methodology is appropriate and consistent. This is not to say that the methodology was weak the first time around, but having even a slight technical problem made it that much easier for a university to dump the entire report.

 What achievement or campaign are you most proud of? Earlier this year, the ACT Government actually set aside some funding to implement one of the Blueprint’s recommendations across the Territory’s public universities. It’s one thing to have the entire country aware of gendered violence on campus, as they were via the media when the report was released, but to have a government actually implement change was very exciting. I’m probably most proud of the TAI project. From the cooperation that multiple NUS Women’s Officers were able to have, to the development of the recommendations, their endorsement and the subsequent media coverage, the discussion of the issue on our campuses, and the ongoing implementation of the recommendations and other initiatives, the project was hugely successful and a credit to the student women’s movement. It shows what we can achieve when we work together.

When you were women’s officer what couldn’t you leave the house without? My laptop. Maybe some coke.

What are you doing now? Right now, I’m finishing my term on the YWCA Canberra Board and starting out on the ACT Minister’s Advisory Council on Women. I have also just started an organization with another woman named Melanie Poole aimed at harnessing young women in campaigning for reproductive rights in Australia and in our aid policies. We have attracted some seed funding to develop training, campaigns and a website that will mobilise this ‘silent majority’, promote intergenerational sharing, and lobby for full reproductive rights, against a backdrop of the American “war on women” and an increasingly aggressive and radical anti-choice movement here in Australia.

And studying full-time.

What message would you give to young women thinking about getting involved in the student women’s movement?  Do it. There is no greater forum for achieving change. So many “women’s issues” overwhelmingly affect young women. Seeing and learning about the diverse experiences of women, being constantly inspired by incredible women and learning invaluable skills and knowledge in a safe environment will make your experience at university all the more richer.

Would you do it all again?

In a second.


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