Abby Stapleton

National Womens Officer


0419 471 388

The NUS Womens Department is responsible for advocating on behalf of all women in tertiary education, lobbying relevant government ministers and university administrations, and working with Student unions and activists on university campuses to run campaigns around issues that effect women students. 
In 2016, the NUS Womens Department will be running campaigns around a number of issues including
the SSAF and funding for women’s departments and services, sexual assault and violence on campus, women’s reproductive rights, women’s participation in higher education, and the gender pay gap. 
Stay tuned to this blog for updates on campaign and look out for NUS Womens Department materials on your campus. 

'Talk About It' 
In 2015, the NUS Womens Department ran the ‘Talk About It’ survey, which collected information about the experiences of women university students in Australia. The survey looked at accommodation, safety, student services, sexual assault, harassment and economic difficulties that women enrolled in tertiary education institutions face. 

The full report was released on the 2nd of February 2016, revealing a range of alarming statistics about women’s experiences. 

In the results it was found that women students have a range of experiences which impact on their ability to participate in and succeed at university including financial difficulties, health problems and family responsibilities. 

Experiences of harassment, sexual assault and violence at university were also found to be very common, with over 70% of respondents saying that they had experienced some from of harassment during their time at university. While some respondents said that universities and external services had helped to address their experiences; the overwhelming view was that they needed improving. 

In the final pages of the report, the NUS womens department has provided a number of recommendations for ways that support for women studying at university can be improved, including through providing increased funding for valued services like counselling and advocacy, and clarifying reporting procedures for incidents of support or harassment at university. 

Download the full ‘Talk About It’ report HERE 


During university O’Weeks, the NUS Womens Department will be rolling out a campaign called “Support women, support the SSAF” which is based around increasing support for the Student Services Amenities Fee (SSAF) and the support that is provided through the SSAF for women's departments and other student services that support women. 

The Problem
In 2015, the National Union of Students (NUS) conducted an Australia wide women’s survey titled ‘Talk About It’ which found that the services provided by student organisations are essential to the retention of women at university. In the survey, many women reported having had financial difficulties, caring responsibilities, and experiences of harassment, sexual assault and / or violence while studying which impacted on their ability to succeed at university. These difficulties are even more pronounced for women who faces multiple intersections of disadvantage, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) women, Ethno-culturally diverse women, women with disabilities, and women from regional areas. 

At Universities around Australia, student organisations provide a range of services which help to address these issues including student counseling, financial support, and autonomous women’s departments which provide an independent voice for women students. However, while these services are essential to supporting the well-being of women students, they rely on recieving SSAF funding from universities, which is often not sufficient or ongoing. 

Furthermore, the SSAF is at risk of being removed altogether under the current government which has a longstanding opposition to its existence. Under the current higher education environment, the removal of the SSAF would no doubt have a drastic affect on the ability of women and other disadvantaged groups of students who rely on its services to study, and would likely lead to lower rates of completion. 

The Solution 

In order to ensure that women students are supported at university, it is essential that the SSAF is maintained and that funding arrangements for student services and student organisation women’s departments are strengthened. 
This requires that we demand that our political representatives support the SSAF, and that our university administrations for better fund our services. 
Join the NUS campaign and take the following actions to SUPPORT WOMEN STUDENTS and SUPPORT THE SSAF
  1. Sign the petition NUS requesting that MPS support the SSAF and student services 
  2. Change Your Facebook Profile Picture and Cover Photo to show your support for the SSAF
  3. Hold a stall at O'Week to promote your women's department / services and gain signatures for the SSAF petition
  4. Meet with your University Administrations and / or local MP to discuss why the SSAF, and using the SSAF to adequately fund women's services is important 
Check out the campaign roll out guide and download all of the NUS Women's SSAF Campaign materials HERE  


THESE CUTS ARE KILLING US: End Healthcare Austerity Campaign 

Just before Christmas, the Liberal Government announced that they would be cutting $650 million from the health budget, and removing the bulk-billing incentives currently provided to private providers for over 23 services.Under these changes, patients will be charged for the difference cost for a number of essential services Including a projected $30 for Pap smears and blood tests and $173 for Imaging.

Those who will be hit hardest by these changes include women and individuals with chronic illnesses who need these services regularly, but cannot afford to pay for out of pocket expenses to do use them.

If these health cuts go ahead, many of these individuals will have to give up something else essential such as food or transport costs in order to afford to pay for tests, or otherwise forego them altogether.

Long term this will only lead to more funding having to be invested in the health system, as more people get sick because they couldn't afford to pay for diagnostic testing.

Take Action

In order to ensure that healthcare remains accessible in Australia, the National Union of Students (NUS) are supporting the community campaign and actions that have been organised against the Liberal governments cuts. Join us by:

1. signing the petition, and 

2. Joining or organising a local rally on the 20th of February, 

Download the poster here to advertise on your campus. 





  • encourage the engagement and active participation of women in campaign events and activities
  • promote the welfare of women in tertiary education
  • obtain media coverage and participate in the national debates around womens issues
  • collaborate with other departments, groups and organisations; work together and support campaigns that focus on the multiple oppressions that women can face
  • contribute to maintaining the relevance of NUS as an organisation that will stand up for students

Key dates, events and activities


Launch of 'Talk About It' Survey Report: 2nd February

O’week and semester one campaign: 'Support Women Students, Support the SSAF' Campaign

National Action Against the Healthcare Cuts and increases in cost of health services: 20th February


International Women’s Day: 8 March 


National Day of Action - April 

Launch of campaign against sexual assault / violence on campus - April


Response to the federal budget: May


Network of Women Students Australia (NOWSA) conference: 11th - July 2016 


Semester two campaign: 

Bluestocking week / Women in Higher Education Campaign: 15th-19th August 


Equal Pay Day: September