We live in a hierarchical society. We are part of this society, but a part which wishes to challenge and improve it, starting with our spaces. In designating this event a safer space, we are making an explicit political decision to promote the voices of people who experience oppression so that they feel empowered to participate and feel supported by a radical community. We are not a judge and jury, we are not the cops; but we are a community with shared ideals about the rights of people to be free of oppression.
We would like the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair to be an inclusive, anti-authoritarian space. Everyone who attends the event is expected to engage with respect and actively create and enforce the maintenance of a space that contrasts with the oppressive norms of mainstream society. This means actively challenging exclusionary or oppressive behaviour, including but not limited to transphobia, queerphobia, sexism, racism, ableism, whorephobia, ageism, religious vilification and prejudice based on appearance, gender presentation, language ability, migration status, or class. This is no space for violence, for touching people without their consent, or for being creepy and sleazy.
If you’re unsure about what any of the ‘isms’ or other concepts listed above mean, that’s fair enough. If you don’t make an effort to find out, though, and to challenge the indirect (or direct) ways you perpetuate those oppressions, that’s not fair and you risk alienating some people from the space. We all (to varying degrees) reproduce patterns of domination and hierarchy through our behaviours, unless we challenge them and try to find ways to deal with them.
We fully encourage people to raise concerns with others who they believe are acting in an oppressive or discriminatory ways. Challenging people’s behaviour can help make our spaces safer and better. If someone does not feel comfortable or that they do not have the skills to do this, they can look to Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair grievance collective members and organising collective for support.
There will be a no-tolerance policy for sexual or physical violence, persistent harassment, or threats of sexual or physical violence. Anyone violating this may be asked to leave and will not be welcome at the event.
Alcohol and other drugs are not an excuse for bad behaviour. For this reason we ask that you be aware of your capacity to remain in control of your emotions, actions and reactions when consuming alcohol or other drugs.
Things we all need to do to help create a safer space:
- Respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries.
- Always get explicit verbal consent before touching someone.
- Respect people’s right to hold their opinions, beliefs, and different points of view.
- Be responsible for your own actions.
- Be aware that your actions do have an effect on others despite what your intentions may be.
- Look out for children and try not to leave anything around that could endanger them.
- Be mindful of how children are interacting with each other (i.e. bullying dynamics).
- Keep the inside conference space and all workshops alcohol, nicotine and drug-free. Respect designated substance-free spaces at all times.
No Tolerance for Violence
The Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair’s safer spaces policy includes supporting survivors of violence by asking people who have perpetrated sexual or physical violence (including threats and harassment) not to attend this event, or to amend their behaviours at the event (i.e. not drinking alcohol), at the discretion of those harmed. We see this as a political stance in amplifying the empowerment and inclusion of survivors and challenging an oppressive culture.
If you would like to request that a perpetrator of violence or harassment be asked not to attend the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair by the Grievance Collective, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any contact with the Grievance Collective will be treated with the strictest confidence. If you would like to know who these people are in regards to your own comfort/safety levels at the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair, please email us.
Need Some Assistance?
The Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair will have a grievance collective set up with people on-hand to help with possible conflict, mediation, support and enforcement of the safer spaces policy.
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 grievance collective. These people will be readily identifiable and will not breach your confidentiality without your permission.
However, Anarchist Events would like to encourage a culture of ‘calling in’ rather than ‘calling out’ See (Link) for an full explanation of calling in.
There may be conflict during the time that we are at this event and the organisers have designed a basic process for dealing with this. This 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.
If any conflict arises that anyone feels cannot be resolved without some help, they should seek the assistance of one or more members of the grievance collective or the organising collective. If the harmed person in a conflict (i.e. survivor of abuse or harassment) is not satisfied with a proposed resolution, they have the option of taking the issue to the whole event to make a final decision on what action needs to be taken.
In dealing with conflict, the grievance and organising collective will be survivor-centred, meaning that the survivor’s rights will always be prioritised.
Anarchist Events have held workshops on transformative justice and consent at many of our past events. These workshops have contributed to this document to ensure that it is a working document. Anarchist Events therefore asks that if you have a problem with this document that you attend our workshops in order to provide appropriate and thoughtful feedback in dialogue with us.
**** This is a working document. Participate in our workshops to further our communities’ capacity to transform.
We would like to add more links so if you have any suggestions please let us know.