The last SRC of the year happened on Wednesday, with several important motions passing after heated debate. The meeting saw the presentation of several policies designed to improve ANUSA’s accountability to its members, including gender equality within the Association, electoral reform and the formalisation of the ethical sponsorship policy.
The Gender Equality Working Group, established at AGM 1, presented its report evaluating ANUSA’s current systems and the areas in which it might improve. The report outlined the reasons why the Association often fails to attract women and non-binary students, as well as those from ‘a diversity of backgrounds’. A survey to help understand the ‘current experiences of gender equality within ANUSA’, had a total of 30 responses, which current Women’s Officer Siang Jin Law noted was a small sample size. It found that 0 of the respondents identified that they were eligible to join the indigenous department, which the report highlighted as ‘something to consider when evaluating ANUSA’s accessibility’. The report also highlighted that many in the community felt as though the Clubs Council had an unhealthy ‘governance bro culture’. The report concluded that the Association’s issues with gender and cultural diversity would be better addressed by preventing the dominance of white male voices in debate and by engaging in better outreach. Despite these recommendations, the report made no formal recommendations for changes to ANUSA policy.
A motion for the ‘Availability of Electoral Policies and Reporting Against Them’, was presented which sought to keep ANUSA members more accountable to their election promises. This would be achieved by requiring all successful candidates to submit ‘accurate copies’ of their electoral policies to the Association and table a written report outlining the candidates goals for their term in the first SRC of the year. These policies would ensure that all campaign material would be made available to members of the Association upon request.
Mover of the motion Benjamin Chesler, who ran for the position of Undergraduate Member of ANU Council in 2020, highlighted the fact that many candidates use websites to host their policies during the election period which often get taken down once voting closes. He went on to argue that this requirement would prevent members of the Association from having their policies retreat into obscurity after the election.
The Ethical Sponsorship Policy was also passed, which looked to evaluate ways in which ANUSA might reduce its reliance on SSAF funding without compromising student services. Future sponsorships would be required to meet the approval criteria to ensure that sponsorships benefit students, align with the organisational values of ANUSA and avoid any conflicts of interests.
The policy will be used to evaluate all sponsorships and advertising agreements ANUSA enters into, ensuring all groups meet the alignment criteria. These criteria include considerations of the sponsors’ environmental impact, respect of labour rights and potential social harm (such as promotion of animal cruelty or gambling). The policy also looked to increase the transparency of sponsorship agreements, by ensuring that all information would be made available to students upon request. The policy also outlines the procedure by which a register of approved parties and rejected parties would be created. These registers would ensure that only those organisations which reach the ethical criteria can be approved to sponsor an ANUSA event.