On Thursday, the ANUSA AGM was held, hovering around quorum for the entirety of the meeting, resulting in a Gender Equality working group being created amongst other constitutional changes. The meeting also saw a heated discussion surrounding Affirmative Action (AA) in relation to gender equality and further diversity in the General Representative cohort.

The working group’s main aim is to determine where the current ANUSA system is failing women and non-binary students and working out barriers and how to effectively address them. It will be chaired by Women’s Officer Siang Jin Law for the first meeting, with members of the women’s department spearheading the working group. The Women’s Officer will report on the discussion being held by the working group at every SRC. 

In terms of the AA discussion, it was sparked by a motion to note a potential AA regulation change that had been discussed at the Electoral Reform working group, but was brought to the AGM as a discussion item. Much of the feedback to the motion related to potential issues of transgender and non-binary candidates being disadvantaged in selecting their gender. Queer Officer Aisling Arnould mainly raised concerns that the Queer Department had not been consulted when the policy was being created, despite being presented to the Women’s Department twice. 

Further, International Officer LC Yip and GenRep Vincent Lee both expressed concerns that international students would be less represented if AA relating solely to gender equality was passed. Law further echoed this sentiment, and said that the department and working group would be aiming to determine why there was a lack of female representation in the 2020 GenRep cohort. 

GenRep Aryanne Caminschi pointed out that despite the fact that there were only two female GenRep’s, the majority of the ANUSA Executive and Department Heads were non-male identifying. 

These changes and discussions were brought to the AGM in response to the election of only two female GenReps for 2020, out of 14 potential spots. 40% of GenRep candidates for the 2019 election were female.