Engaging with Women's Organisations

National Women's Alliances

The six National Women’s Alliances (the Alliances) represent over 180 women’s organisations. They bring forward the views, voices and issues of Australian women and, in particular, women from marginalised and disadvantaged groups. The Alliances take the lead in ensuring that the voices of as many women as possible are heard, especially those who in the past have found it difficult to engage in advocacy and decision making.

In January 2013 the Australian Government announced renewed funding for the Alliances to June 2016.  This funding renewal is accompanied with an increased level of funding, almost $4.8 million for six Alliances over three years, up from $3.6 million in the previous three years (2010 – 2013).

In line with their funding guidelines, the role of the Alliances is twofold:

  • bring together women's organisations and individuals from across Australia to share information, identify issues that affect them, and identify solutions, and
  • engage actively with the Australian Government on policy issues as part of a better more informed and representative dialogue between women and government.

The National Women's Alliances are made up of a mix of sector-based and issues-based women's groups each with a distinct focus and a strong capacity for networking and advocacy activities.

The issues-based Alliances are:

  • economic Security 4 Women (eS4W)
  • Equality Rights Alliance (ERA)
  • Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA)

The sector-based Alliances are:

  • National Rural Women's Coalition (NRWC)
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance (NATSIWA)
  • Australian Migrant and Refugee Women's Alliance (AMaRWA)

Additional Information

Economic Security 4 Women

Economic Security 4 Women focuses on the promotion of lifelong economic wellbeing for women. They believe that economic wellbeing and financial security are essential ingredients to achieving equality for women and will enable women of all ages to have an equal place in society. Through advocacy and lobbying activities they aim to change policies which continue to have a negative impact on the long term economic security of all women.      

To learn more about economic Security 4 Women visit the website Security4Women.

Equality Rights Alliance

Equality Rights Alliance (ERA) is Australia’s largest network of organisations with an interest in advancing women’s equality. ERA has a focus on gender equality, women’s leadership and women’s diversity, including bringing young women’s voices to policy and decision making. To advance gender equality, ERA adopts a human rights framework and advocates for adherence to international human rights principles.

ERA is managed by the YWCA Australia and is the evolution of Womenspeak, funded by the Office for Women since 2001. ERA is coordinated by a secretariat staff team based in Canberra and is supported in policy matters by the ERA Steering Group.

To learn more about ERA visit the website Equality Rights Alliance.

Australian Women Against Violence Alliance

The Australian Women Against Violence Alliance's (AWAVA) key area of focus is addressing violence against women in order to 'ensure that all women and children are able to live free from all forms of violence and abuse'. AWAVA recognises that gender violence is both a consequence and cause of gender inequity in all sectors of society and so it must be addressed by promoting women's empowerment.

To learn more about AWAVA visit the website Australian Women Against Violence Alliance’s.

National Rural Women's Coalition

Representing over 250,000 rural, regional and remote Australian women, their families, communities and associated networks, the National Rural Women’s Coalition (NRWC) is the national peak body for six specific-purpose women’s groups, a number of Indigenous groups and several additional collaborative agreements providing even broader consultation, advocacy and capacity-building services.  Throughout rural, regional and remote Australia, NRWC is recognised as the prime voice for women, their ideas and concerns.

NRWC coverage includes Indigenous women, young women, women from non-English-speaking backgrounds, women on the land, in rural and regional towns, professional and business women, socially isolated women, and community volunteers.  NRWC has working relationships with the other National Women’s Alliances as well as with many other groups to ensure the rural perspective is accurately reflected in all emerging policies. To learn more about NRWC visit the website National Rural Women's Coalition.

The NRWC also run the National Rural Women’s Network which is an online space for rural, regional and remote women to meet, network, share ideas, get information, talk about the real issues affecting them and inform government policy. The Network also runs various workshops and face to face events for its members throughout the year. To find out more about the Network visit the National Rural Women's Network website.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance (NATSIWA), a newly established national group currently under the auspice of YWCA, is aimed at empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to make strong, strategic and effective policy advocacy interventions into issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Working with members, NATSIWA will bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s voices to both priority issues for the Australian Government and to emerging and hidden issues that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and communities are facing.

If you are interested in finding out more about NATSIWA or have an interest in joining the Alliance please see the website National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance

Australian Migrant and Refugee Women's Alliance

The Australian Migrant and Refugee Women’s Alliance (AMaRWA), formerly known as AIRWA, is a peak advocacy body for immigrant and refugee women in Australia, with the Network of Immigrant and Refugee Women of Australia Inc. (NIRWA) as the lead agency.

AMaRWA’s vision is to represent the voices and interests of immigrant and refugee women residing within Australia in order to provide a single unified voice by which to advocate such women’s issues and concerns at the national level. In doing so AMaRWA aims to ensure these issues and concerns are considered in all government policy documents.

AMaRWA’s work is informed through its extensive work with its network of peak and grassroots community women’s organisations and individuals across all states and territories.

If you are interested in finding out more about AMaRWA or have an interest in joining the Alliance please visit their website Australian Migrant and Refugee Women’s Alliance

Vision for the Alliances

The Government's vision is for a reinvigorated women's movement where the Alliances take the lead in ensuring that the voices of as many women as possible are heard, especially those who in the past have found it difficult to engage in advocacy and decision making.

History of the Alliances

Since March 2010 the Alliances have been the primary channel for communication between the Government and women, advocating on behalf of women and providing policy advice and analysis to Government. They have contributed to emerging national debates, such as the Henry Australian Tax Review and the Productivity Commission Research into Paid Parental Leave.

The Alliances were established to:

  • amplify the voices of women and the women's movement
  • ensure interests and priorities of women are heard by government
  • broaden women's networks to better represent the views of all women including Indigenous women, women from culturally diverse backgrounds, young women and women with disabilities.

In 1999 three National women's secretariats were established to represent the diverse views of women and to inform mainstream policy formulation in the Government's key policy priority areas.

The three women's non-government organisations (NGOs) that provided National Secretariat services were National Council for Women of Australia, Business and Professional Women of Australia (BPWA), and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).

In 2002 there was a move to involve more women's organisations by creating coalitions, including the Australian Women's Coalition (the agent being National Council for Women of Australia), the economic Security4Women (the agent being BPWA) and WomenSpeak (the agent being YWCA). A National Rural Women's Secretariat was also established to assist women in rural and remote communities to actively contribute to policy affecting them.

In November 2008 Minister Plibersek announced a review of the National Women's Secretariats and their renaming to the National Women's Alliances. This was to reflect a new direction in forming collaborative relationships between women's organisations and Government where information is shared and women's issues are heard by Government.

In late 2009 women's organisations were invited to collaborate with other women's organisations across Australia to submit an application to be funded as a National Women's Alliance.

After a thorough selection process, the new National Women's Alliances were announced in March 2010. In the same period the Australian Government also announced it would fund the six National Women's Alliances. The six Alliances received $200,000 per year for three years until 2013

Content Updated: 26 September 2013