Safer Spaces and Participants Agreement
(Thanks to ASEN, past SOS collectives, A Space Outside, Belladonna Live and Let DIY crew, the Gleneagles G8 2005, Dissent crew and the Grassroots Gathering Reader compiled in Belfast 2004 for providing info and guides for Safer Spaces)
Why is there a safer spaces policy?
In designating this event a safer space, we are making an explicit political decision to prioritise the voices of people who are experiencing oppression at the hands of another person so that they feel empowered to participate and feel supported by the community. We are a community with shared ideals about the rights of people to feel free of oppression, we will hold ourselves and each other accountable for our actions and attitudes.
We say ‘safer’ realising that no space can be entirely safe for everyone. Although there is often discourse on ‘equality’, we realise that not everyone experiences spaces in the same way as others. Safer spaces aim to be welcoming, engaging and supportive. We want this gathering to be a space where people take care of one another. We want people to feel that they can let their hair down and be themselves, knowing that they will be supported.
We are asking people to be proactive in creating a safer space.
This safer spaces document & the Participants agreement will be available in the SOS program booklet, at registration & will be printed up and on display in a few locations at the conference. People attending this gathering are asked to be aware of their language and behaviour, and to think about whether it might be offensive to others. This is no space for violence, for touching people without their consent, for being intolerant of someone’s religious beliefs or lack thereof, for being creepy, sleazy, racist, ageist, sexist, heterosexist, transphobic, ablebodiest, classist, cisist, or any other behaviour or language that may perpetuate oppression.
The importance of a safer space policy comes with an aim to be the people imagined in the policy. It is important to confront people on their behaviour if you feel it is inappropriate as well as consciously analysing your own behaviour, the things you say and working to be open to others confronting you on that. It is essential to look out for people, asking how they feel and thinking of ways to approach people if they look uncomfortable or out of place.
Safer Spaces Policy
Over the 5 days at the Students of Sustainability Conference we will be learning, teaching, sharing, eating, sleeping and laughing together.
We want to actively create this space as one that is inviting, engaging and supportive, where all people feel comfortable behaving genuinely.
We acknowledge the struggles that so many people face simply to feel entitled to be in a space, or safe in that space, given the prevailing cultures of racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism and classism under our oppressive economic system.
In a safer space, we are working towards environments that are liberating and nurturing for everyone in them. If we are serious about dismantling these systems in the 'outside' world, then we need to practice dismantling them in our own relationships and communities as well.
In a safer space, we recognise and respect that everyone comes with different experiences. That people come from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds, with a variety of sexualities, genders and abilities. We approach people openly, without making assumptions. If we are confused about how someone identifies, we ask, and if we are ignorant, we do our research. We respect that not everyone will want to reveal everything about themselves.
In a safer space, we are gentle and generous with ourselves and each other.
In a safer space everyone has the right to feel confident to ask for what they need, to take care of themselves, to say no, to ask for space. We are sensitive to other's personal space, boundaries and privacy.
In a safer space everyone is responsible for making sure all voices are heard. Look around. Who feels empowered to contribute, and who doesn't? Can you think of reasons why some people might feel more comfortable talking than others? What could you do to make the space more accessible for someone else? It could be as simple as listening.
Look around again. Who is here? And who is not... Are there barriers to involvement due to the way we organise, the way we relate to each other, the time or the location? Can people with children and jobs attend, people who have financial struggles, people who are geographically isolated, people with physical or psychological differences, people who don't fit into activist youth culture? In a safer space we look for these barriers and seek to dismantle them. However, we recognise that it is not enough to 'include' others in 'our' space, and we seek to engage in meaningful solidarity with other groups.
Given the oppressive systems in which we have all been raised and taught, it would be a miracle if we had not taken on (or internalised) ways of behaving that oppress others and ourselves. In a safer space we will all make mistakes, but when these are drawn to our attention, we try not to get defensive, after all, we are all good people in a harsh world. Everyone should feel confident to speak up when something is not quite right, and anyone being made to feel unsafe deserves the support of their community.
Activist culture can be overwhelming, so let's try and assume the best in each other. The goal is not to police people's language and behaviour, or to 'be the best' at safer spaces, but to support each other in challenging some really ingrained cultural and economic systems.
Of course, there is never an excuse for violence or outright offensive language.
While the safer spaces policy is not intended as a set of rules but rather as a vision and an experiment, there are a few rules that we will be observing for the duration of the conference. Hopefully we can come to a consensus on these proposals, including any changes or amendments, at the beginning of the
What we need to do to create a safer space at this gathering:
What: There will be a Guidance Collective at the conference, whose members will make themselves available to listen to and help resolve any problems that attendees might be having. We will be responsible for making sure that people know about the safer spaces policy, and for implementing any grievance procedures when needed. We will be prepared to help the participants with the resolution of possible conflicts to the best of our knowledge and capacity.
We’ll be introducing ourselves at the start of the conference and you can come to us at anytime during the conference, with issues of all shapes and sizes. The Guidance Collective will make themselves known and recognisable to attendees, with a light green arm-band.
At previous SOS’s, the group fulfilling this role has been called the grievance collective. This year we chose a different name to promote the idea of working through any issue you may have yourself, with assistance. The Guidance Collective are not the conference police, nor are they able to solve every issue, but they will listen and assist you in finding outcomes that are the best for the situation.
Hopefully we will all be able to share the conference space happily together, but if you experience or witness any behaviour that crosses your boundaries or makes you feel uncomfortable or if you are feeling like you would like to talk to someone confidentially about anything, please feel free to talk to a member of our Guidance Collective. These individuals will be readily identifiable and will not breach your confidentiality without your permission.
The resolution process is based around the principle that a resolution deemed positive to all parties involved should always be sought first, but that a survivor’s right to feel safe and empowered is the key priority. Of course, a guidance collective is no substitute for well-negotiated relationships and interactions, but we will be able to provide a listening ear and ideas for conflict resolution.
It is important that we talk about grievance, what it entails, and why. As a Guidance Collective member, it is important to make yourself approachable, make yourself known, establish a dialogue with people involved, and make the grievance an issue to be worked through. The main role of the Guidance Collective and a safer space policy is to provide safety and support. It means identifying and acknowledging your own boundaries, and respecting others.
Even though there are specific “Guidance” people, the roles of the Guidance Collective are not exclusive to this group of people. If any participant can offer respectful support to someone in need, who consents you your help, then feel free to provide it. SOS is a community - by sharing these burdens, we are a stronger and more compassionate group.
If you’re seeking the help of the Guidance Collective, please be respectful and patient - they’re volunteers too :)
Where: Look for the people with green armbands.
If you cannot find a Guidance Collective member - go to Registration (inside the gym) and ask them to phone someone who is rostered on Guidance.
What: Autonomous meeting spaces where people facing particular oppressions, or who identify a particular way, will be available for people to talk about their experiences of the conference, raise issues, provide each other with support, chill out in a non-threatening space, etc. Any participant using these spaces are welcome to create a caucus or support group who can provide proposals, comments and criticisms to the SoS Conference at any time, and report back to the Guidance Collective.
The designated autonomous spaces available are:
First Nations Space
A First Nations Space will adjoin the west end of the Main Marquee. This space will have the ability to be closed off from the main marquee if participants using this space require privacy & autonomy.
Chill-Out Space - “The contemplace” W401A
What: We acknowledge that activist culture and issues addressed at the conference can be overwhelming. To support all participants, a chill-out space will be set up in a room away from the main happenings of the conference, where any participant can hangout if need be. Blankets, pillows, books, board games and tea will be available to all participants in this safe and quiet environment. A roster of the The Guidance Collective will be available if needed.
Where: W401A Sturt West building - Get the lift to level 4 and walk along the corridor past the Artspace.
If you're the kind of person who likes to chill outside, then the Nature space is for you. If you're not, give it a visit anyway, as time in nature improves psychological well-being. There are benches and rocks to sit on, or just wander around beneath the towering Karrawirra (red gum forest) with many tree hollows for birds, bats and Pilta (Brushtail Possum). If you come at dusk with a torch you might see Pilta. The wildlife noise makes the Nature space a good spot for relaxation and meditation, but bring a coat!!Where: See map! From the Marquees, walk past the gym and turn right up the path with the stairs. Then turn left down either a ramp or a few stairs, after which take the right path option.
Safety Space & First Aid
What: The SoS Conference will have an emergency response team experienced in First Aid and event management, prepared to address and adapt to any unexpected problem that might arise during the conference. There is a room designated for First Aid, and is available to all participants at any time
Where: G115B Inside the gym building, next to registration.
Participants will be informed and briefed at the beginning of the conference with regard to the Services available to them.
Important/Emergency Phone Numbers
If you see any criminal or abusive activity occurring at SoS, please bring this to the attention of the Guidance Collective or the Organising Collective as soon as possible. (Go to the Registration room
Organising Collective Emergency Phone: TBA
Emergency Services: 000
SA Emergency Services and Information
National sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling: 1800 737 732 (24hrs)
Yarrow House Sexual Assault services - crisis line: (08) 8226 8787 (24hrs)
Mental Health Assessment and Crisis Intervention Service - Phone 13 14 65
Flinders Uni Health Counselling & Disability: 82012118 (9am-5pm Mon- Fri)
Pregnancy, Birth & Baby helpline: 1800 882 436 (24 hrs)
Drug and Alcohol services: 1300131340 (8.30am-10.30pm)
Family Drug Support: 1300 368 186
Sharps (discarded needles): 13 22 81 (8am – 8pm Mon-Fri, 9am – 5pm Sat)
G-Line (problem gambling crisis counselling and referral): 1800 633 635 (24hrs)
Tresillian Parent's Help Line (postnatal support and advice):1300 364 100 (24hrs)
Lifeline (suicide prevention): 13 11 14 (24hrs)
Disability Services - Community & Home Support SA - 1300786117
Translation & Interpreting Service (free): 131450
Shine SA Sexual Health: 1300794584
Women’s Health Statewide: 1300882880
Aboriginal Health Clinic - Southern Primary Health - Noarlunga Village
Address: 13 Wingfield Street CLOVELLY PARK SA 5042
Marion Domain Medical And Dental Centre - Bulk billing, drop in centre.
Phone (08) 8375 7000
(General Practice/GP (doctor) /Youth/Counselling/ Sexual Health/Drug unit etc)
Address: 453 Morphett Road OAKLANDS PARK 5046 SA
For after hours services please contact