It was a conversation that ranged from ‘dick pics’ to sexual consent.
At its crux was the issue of respect… or lack thereof.
Social commentator Jane Caro led the Community Sector Showcase discussion exploring the topic: ‘Does silence mean consent?’
To quote Annie North Women’s Refuge and Domestic Violence Service CEO Julie Oberin: “Implied consent is not consent.”
The five panel members were unanimous: consent should be explicitly stated, and by someone in a fit state to do so.
“It’s not just about the law, it’s about relationships, it’s about respect… it’s about common decency,” said Bendigo Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce.
Discussion then turned to technology, such as the dating application Tinder.
Haven; Home, Safe CEO Ken Marchingo observed that male users seemed focused on ‘how to score,’ while women were concerned by ‘creepy men.’
“Tinder is not the problem. It's the behaviours we need to focus on,” Ms Oberin said.
“It’s really important not to blame technology.”
Panelists included Haven; Home, Safe chief executive officer Ken Marchingo, Bendigo Advertiser editor Nicole Ferrie, Annie North Women's Refuge and Domestic Violence Service chief executive officer Julie Oberin, Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault chief executive officer Kate Wright, and Bendigo Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce.
The Community Sector Showcase was a first for Bendigo, and provided an opportunity for agencies to learn from each other.
Amicus and the Centre for Non-Violence held their annual general meetings during the event.
Haven; Home, Safe hosted its annual stakeholder meeting.
There was a careers expo for people interested in working in the sector, and an appeal for support from Equity Prevents Violence, a new fund aimed at supporting projects promoting gender equity and preventing violence against women and children.
Equality yet to add up
Community Sector Showcase attendees had heard in a previous segment about outspoken women becoming less vocal because of the abuse they received for speaking up.
Less than an hour later, Van Badham took to the stage of the Ulumbarra Theatre.
Her keynote address provided an insight into some of the abuse she had received since becoming part of the media, including that exchange with broadcaster Steve Price on Q&A.
“Since I took up my position at the Guardian Australia I have been subjected to what I can’t describe as criticism, so much as phenomenal personally-targeted hate from people who I have never met, never seen and am never likely to engage with in any consensual form of meeting,” Badham said.
“What’s my crime? I’ve illuminated a truth that no person in this room or anyone of any reason beyond it hasn’t acknowledged: that we live in a society that’s unfair.
“We live in a society where those with money and power and privilege are overwhelmingly men, overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly straight, and overwhelmingly entrusted with positions of responsibility and influence at a level somewhat disproportional to, as a demographic, they perhaps deserve.
“If ever you're tempted to believe we live in an equal society where all women have the same access to social institutions as men do, spend a day at the magistrates court.”
Badham has been trolled online, subjected to physical violence, followed home, sent a package containing images of genital mutilation and gang rape, and had her home life live-tweeted by a man looking in her window.
“What I’ve learnt about my antagonists is [that they are] overwhelmingly a group of men who feel as if equality for anyone beyond their demographic is somehow an implicit threat to them,” she said.
“I genuinely do not believe most men are misogynists, but I believe there is an extremist minority that are fighting for dear life to hold on to a status they don’t deserve.”