Safer Spaces Policy

Background for Safer Spaces policy

Peace Action Wellington activism takes place on colonised lands. We pay respect to the tangata whenua o Aotearoa me Te Whanganui-a-Tara. We support tino rangatiratanga.

We welcome people who want to be involved in our group for the primary reason that they agree with and respect the group’s aims of peace with justice and self-determination.

Covered by this policy

  • Interactions in meetings, on demos and actions, over email and through other group communications channels (e.g. Facebook).
  • Interactions within the group and with people who attend our demos

Not covered

  • Interactions with third parties such as police and security.

The policy is to:

At all times: Create a welcoming space that aims to be free from all forms of oppression, domination and discrimination* (*including but not limited to racism, colonialism, patriarchy, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, ableism, classism and ageism – note: we do not accept claims of “reverse racism” or “reverse sexism” etc.)

Respect, care for and look after each other, and the spaces we use.

Keep our spaces free from violence, harassment, sexual harassment and abuse. Commit as group members not to commit violence, harassment, sexual harassment or abuse to group members and participants in actions.

A culture of speaking out is encouraged.

Comms channels: Any misuse of group communication channels (e.g. riseup lists, facebook, twitter, website) is not acceptable. Any of the above examples of oppression used online will be considered just as seriously by the group as they would be in person.

Individuals’ contact details provided to PAW, including but not limited to official comms channels, are not to be used for non-group related business unless permission has been given to do so.

Interactions with third parties and police: While this is an individual choice, talking with security/police can put you and other activists at risk. Anything you say is highly likely to be used in intelligence profiles and can be taken as evidence against you and others. Please be aware of this both at and outside of actions, and as such do not point out perceived organisers or give information about other individuals to the authorities without their consent.

To uphold a safer space, we will:

Support survivors, believe them, listen to them, and keep our spaces safe for them.

Reserve the right to exclude or block those willfully perpetrating oppression.

Use affirmative action to encourage minority voice and participation and inclusiveness.

Acknowledge that abuse includes misuse of power/privilege and control.

Do our utmost to speak respectfully and productively to all – but we will not enforce tone policing to silence distress about oppression.

Conflict Resolution

If someone approaches you (as a PAW member) with an issue, you have a responsibility to try to help resolve the issue, without putting yourself in danger. This could include bringing the issue to the group, if you have the person’s consent. In the situation of a conflict, a resolution that is acceptable to all parties involved should be sought first. When possible we try to make decisions by consensus so this will be the method of deciding whether people should leave the action or group. In a situation where a rapid decision is required, a consensus process will involve as many group members as are reasonably available to make decisions.

In such circumstances people may be warned and given an opportunity to change their behaviour before being asked to leave.

The person being asked to leave may participate in this conversation unless the group decides to ask them to sit it out.

For the purposes of these two decisions (asking someone to leave, and whether they can take part in the conversation), the group does not require the agreement of the person(s) causing the problem.

In a conflict, we will listen to those with least power as a priority.

Specific examples of a Safer Spaces policy in action

Example 1: Someone came to a PAW action with an offensive banner. Issues about the banner were brought to a group member who discussed with group members in the vicinity. A group member asked the person to amend their banner, explaining why. After some debate, it was agreed that the person would amend the banner. If they had not, they would have been asked to leave the action.

Example 2: Following an action, lots of people posted on the group’s facebook wall. The content was a mixture of positive, critical and offensive. Posts falling into the latter category were removed and the people posting them were blocked to maintain a positive space for people visiting the page. This was done after an email discussion on the internal list led to the decision content needed removing or that someone should use their own judgement to decide what to remove.

Example 3: During an action group members were made aware that person X’s behaviour was making another very uncomfortable. A group member had a discussion with the two people and person X refused to leave or stop. There was a quick discussion had by group members (not many as would be realistic at an action) and consensus was reached that Person X should leave. Person X was asked to leave and did so.

Final notes

This policy has been accepted by consensus of Peace Action Wellington group members in July 2016 and can be amended by the group at any time through a consensus process. While we endeavour to create a safer space, we are not experts and acknowledge that this policy and the way that it is enacted will not always be perfect.

Any amendments to this agreement can only be made at a regular Peace Action Wellington meeting, and when further agreed at a second meeting.