On Friday 11 March 2016, the WLA ACT, in conjunction with Legal Aid ACT and the Women's Legal Centre, celebrated the launch of Dr. Skye Saunders’ new publication – aptly titled “Whispers from the Bush”. WLA ACT was proud to support Skye and all her hard work and dedication in raising awareness surrounding the workplace sexual harassment of Australia rural women.
Skye spoke of her experience of growing up in a country town, and how her strong connection to the bush prompted her to address the issues that rural women face in the workplace today. She touchingly remembered her late mother, whose memory she drew strength from while listening to countless rural women who were brave enough to share their story, on a subject that until now, has received little to no attention in the wider Australian community.
Skye’s book outlines how sexual harassment isn’t unique to rural environments, but how it is particularly problematic for rural women because they live in more isolated communities, where entrenched patriarchal practices, values and behaviours still exist. Skye acknowledged that while there are a number of men in rural settings who salute the contributions women make in typically ‘male oriented’ workplaces, there are a greater number of men who still use sexual harassment as a way of making women feel like they are intruders in their own workplace.
Joining Skye, were speakers Melinda Tankard-Reist; author, media commentator and women's advocate, and Belinda Barnard of the ACT Human Rights Commission. Both of these women applauded Skye for the work she had done in opening up a very difficult dialogue, and shared their own, very personal experiences with differing levels of sexual harassment in the workplace.
WLA ACT commends Skye in her efforts as an advocate for rural women. We would also like to warmly thank the women who helped Skye in her research for this much needed publication, Melinda and Belinda for taking the time to offer their own insights on a very important issue within our society, and Legal Aid for the generous use of their boardroom.
Skye’s book is available for purchase online.