(As approved at the evening General Assembly on 31 October 2011)

This policy is a process for dealing with issues that may arise, and a statement of our intentions. We believe every sentient being has an absolute right to live free from oppression and discrimination. We aim to create a positive alternative that allows all people to participate equally in a comfortable and safe environment. This policy describes the type of safer space that we will do our best to create when we meet.

To build a conscious and inclusive movement, we need to be aware of power structures that exist within the 99%. We have no illusions that Occupy Wellington is free from all threats. By occupying this space, and participating in political debate, we take risks. Though no space can ever be completely safe, we can still work towards creating an environment where people are both comfortable with challenging, and encouraged to challenge, oppressive behaviour.

Safer spaces are hard to create and easy to undermine. A conscious approach will help to ensure that Occupy Wellington becomes a space where all can feel safe.

Responsibility to educate on the nature of oppression, and to point out oppressive behaviour, is collective. It should not be left to people who are subject to oppression to challenge that oppression alone.

Be responsible for your own actions and messages. Be aware that your actions and messages have an effect on others despite what your intentions may be. Where possible, communicate your message in a way which respects others needs. Be mindful that each person has different boundaries, and that these may vary depending on context.

Facilitators should ensure that speakers from marginalised groups, less confident speakers, and those who have not spoken before have a chance to speak.

Sexual violence and harassment are not acceptable anywhere, and will not be tolerated here. We must respect physical and emotional boundaries, gaining active consent when engaging with people. If unsure, it is always better to ask.

We must support survivors of abuse, believing them, not blaming them, and keeping the space safe for them in order to give them the space to talk about their issues.

Check in before discussing topics that might be triggering for others. For example, but not limited to, sexual abuse, sexual experiences, physical violence, or encounters with police.

If you are called out for problematic behaviour, do not be defensive. Your intentions and character are not under attack, just the behaviour that is being challenged. Be open to understanding the role your behaviour has in other people’s experiences of oppression.

Respect the pronouns and names of everyone. Do not assume anyone’s gender identity, sexual preference, survivor status, economic status, background, health, etc.

Everyone should try to respect people’s opinions, beliefs, experiences and differing points of view.

Be mindful of the presence of children, and of people’s varying ages and access requirements. Try not to leave anything lying around that could endanger someone.

Respect people’s personal property. If you believe it has been lost, take it to a communal area and ask.

This is a collective space. Where challenging behaviour has not resulted in that behaviour ceasing, the person enacting that behaviour may be asked to leave, by a decision of the Occupy Wellington General Assembly. The amount of challenges will be determined by the severity of the behaviour. If by including one person, we are excluding others, that person may be asked to leave.

When a formal process of challenging someone’s behaviour or a proposal for exclusion has begun, both any aggrieved party and any party accused of breaking the policy are entitled and encouraged to have a support group to ensure that their needs are met. People are welcome to ask for help to address their behaviour. Additionally, a list of Wellington based organisations that can assist will be compiled and available for all.

If you want support to confront oppressive behaviour, or need someone to listen, please contact a member of the safer spaces team.

Filed November 1st, 2011 under Uncategorized

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