NOWSA 2016: Penrith Women’s Collective


By Winnie Dunn:

When women get together there is a specific type of talk that cannot be replicated. It is a specific conversation of experience. It is a specific type of empathy. It is a specific type of feeling. This is what NOWSA16 at UTS from 11-16 July was all about: the specificity in the talk and togetherness of women – something yet to be completely recognised and supported at Western Sydney University.


The Women’s Collective here at WSU is young for all the wrong reasons. The Collective is yet to go through the major changes other university women’s collectives have had the privilege to grow with. Whether through funding cuts, the stretch of multiple campuses, or simply a level of student apathy towards learning, our women’s collective is yet to be a forcible and recognisable movement within and outside of the university. I love my fellow women, but I feel we have yet to stand in complete togetherness on campus and beyond.


The chance to attend NOWSA and surround myself with fellow women who are engaged in changing the institution of our education has been a fundamental learning curve in, what I feel, will be a substantial growth in Western Sydney’s Women’s Collective over the coming months in my officer duties and beyond.


NOWSA held important conferences in understanding: intersectional feminism, equity movements in disability and LGBTQIA+ spheres, and the institutionalisation of sexism, racism, and misogyny in all facets of life including the cyber realm. The chance to talk to all women’s collectives and movements nationally has been the most important opportunity for our young and growing Women’s Collective. To be able to share ideas along Kasandra (Parramatta) with more established Australian Women’s Collectives has shown that our own need the following:


  • To be an autonomous group.
  • To have a Culturally Linguistically and Diverse branch for women.
  • To be more accommodating to single female identifying parents.
  • To have our new room be a safe space for breastfeeding parents, transwomen, and people who have once experienced female based oppression.
  • To reach out to Western Sydney Community spaces to grow in understanding for the women who live near and around the university location.
  • Hold more constant and relevant Collective meetings and events.
  • Open our space for Indigenous female yarning sessions.
  • To advertise and create awareness for female safe spaces and sexual safety.
  • To make aware that our existence is a reaction against the harmful and still very real patriarchy.
  • Educate city-based universities, and especially other females in those areas, on the rich culture and education of Western Sydney University.


I am thankful for the subsidy the university has provided for me to attend this meaningful experience both as an individual brown female but also as a representative of the women on Penrith campus. NOWSA has made me more aware of my responsibility to my female caucus on campus. It is a position that I have been, and will continue moreso, to work incredibly hard in.


Attending NOWSA has given me the valuable tools, knowledge, and connections to do so.

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