Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair, safer spaces policy, 2013

Uploaded as part of the Anarchism in Australia project.

Author: A Events Melbourne Collective
Originally Published: 2013
Retrieved from: copy of

Safer Spaces Policy

In designating this event a safer space, we are making an explicit political decision to prioritise the voices of people who are experiencing oppression at the hands of another person 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 feel free of oppression.

People attending this conference are asked to be aware of their language and behaviour, and to think about whether it might be offensive to others. This is no space for violence, for touching people without their consent, for being intolerant of someone’s religious beliefs or lack thereof, for being creepy, sleazy, racist, ageist, sexist, hetero-sexist, trans-phobic, able-bodiest, classist, sizist or any other behaviour or language that may perpetuate oppression.

Abuse and discrimination will not be tolerated at the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair; nor will targeted harassment, assault, sexism, homophobic or racist behaviour. Everyone who attends the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair is expected to engage with respect, adhere to, actively create and enforce if necessary the creation of a space that contrasts with the sexist, racist, oppressive norms of mainstream society. 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.

This process is not easy. Please question in advance your capacity to deal with being asked to leave the space if necessary and how you would react in a progressive way if you or a friend of yours was called out for abusive behaviour.

Alcohol and other drugs are not an excuse for bad behaviour. Everyone can expect to be held accountable for their behaviour regardless of the effects of alcohol or drugs. 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 or crossing boundaries.
* Respect people’s 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.
* Take responsibility for your own safety and get help if you need it.
* 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 (ie: bullying dynamics).
* Keep the conference space and all workshops alcohol, nicotine and drug-free, and be aware of and responsible for your actions under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Respect designated substance-free spaces at all times.
* Be aware that raising your voice or other aggressive body language may be understood as abusive behaviour by others.

Attending the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair means agreeing to behave in a manner that is compatible with the safer spaces policy. Any group or individual engaging in violence (including sexual violence, threats and harassment) may be asked to leave at the discretion of the survivor, other affected persons and the organising and grievance collectives.

Our safer spaces policy includes supporting survivors by asking that people who have perpetrated sexual or physical violence not attend this event, or that they amend their behaviours at the event (ie: not drinking alcohol), at the discretion of those harmed and the grievance collective or other affected persons. We see this as a political stance in amplifying the empowerment and inclusion of survivors and challenging an oppressive culture.

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.

Conflict resolution

There may be conflict during the time that we are at this conference 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 (ie: survivor of abuse or harassment) is not satisfied with a proposed resolution, they have the option of taking the issue to the whole conference 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.

NOTE: If any survivors want further support in making this event accessible to them, they can contact the grievance collective at campanarchygrievancecollective[AT]

The Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair’s safer spaces policy includes supporting survivors by asking that certain people not attend this event, at the discretion of those harmed and supported by the grievance collective. We see this as a political stance in amplifying the empowerment and inclusion of survivors and challenging an oppressive culture.

In an effort to make this event accessible to survivors and others who have been negatively affected by gendered violence and oppression, and in taking a strong political stance to support survivors, specific people have been asked not to attend this year’s Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair.

If you would like to know who these people are in regards to your own comfort/safety levels at the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair, or if you would like to contact the grievance collective in regards to someone whom you would not feel comfortable/safe sharing space with at this event, please write to us. Also, any groups or organisations that would like to know who these people are in regards to their own general organising or safer spaces policy, they can write to us at campanarchygrievancecollective[AT]

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