Background image_edited_edited.jpg

Inclusivity

& Community Care

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Seven Sisters Festival acknowledges the deeply rooted and continuous living cultures of the land on which we live, work, and gather. Our festival is gathering on the lands of the Taungurung people of the Kulin Nation and we offer our respect to elders past and present. We offer our deep gratitude for the care and custodianship that they have exercised over this land for tens of thousands of years. We also extend our welcome and respect to all attendees who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, First Nations or Indigenous. We acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded and that this is, and always will be, Aboriginal Land.
Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 3.02_edited.jpg

Inclusivity and Community Care 

Seven Sisters festival is a transformative and important place for many; women have attended our festival for ten years now, and we’ve seen so much joyful growth in that time. In our journey towards equality and empowerment it's important to acknowledge that our society is not equal, and that while some may benefit from privileges, many others are marginalised and left behind.

 

Over the past 10 years we’ve become more aware of the areas in which we as a festival need, and want, to change, grow, and learn. We want to ensure that every woman who attends our festival has the opportunity for transformation, joy, and fun, without the risk of feeling that, due to their identity, they are not safe. We acknowledge that there have been times in the past that our festival has not provided that. We deeply apologise and are committed to doing the work to deepen the culture of Seven Sisters to be even more inclusive, compassionate and respectful going forward. We acknowledge that this work is ongoing, and we will continue to show up for it.

This page is an invitation for YOU to be an active part of this important and powerful journey with us 

to co-create a festival where all women attending feel safe. 

 

We understand that each topic is complex and deeply nuanced and we have designed this very basic guide to offer information and small steps you can take at Seven Sisters to allow all women to feel safe on site.

Remember each of these suggestions are only small changes in how we say or do things, but they could make a massive impact on someone's experience at the festival. We encourage you to be honest about what you don’t understand yet, and show a willingness and openness to learning and growth. We’re all on this continuing journey together.

Transformation should never be confined to a festival. Imagine a world where every woman felt safe, connected, seen, respected, and empowered. That is a world we are committed to being part of.

Discover more

Discover more

Discover more

Discover More

THE VENUE

Discover More

Cultural Awareness & Inclusivity

 

What first steps can I take to craft an inclusive and safe environment at Seven Sisters Festival?

Many of our workshops at Seven Sisters offer tools to encourage being in harmony with nature, a nature that includes human beings and being in sacred reciprocity. In the new age/spirituality movement, practices have often been drawn from diverse cultures and places of wisdom. That hasn’t always been done well and has sometimes unintentionally caused harm. Cultural Appropriation is a real problem and a symptom of a larger cultural issue of racism and colonialism. 

 

What are some ways we can be mindful of this in our offerings at Seven Sisters?

 

Inclusive and Safe Environments - Naming Origins.  

Where does your workshop or offering originate from? Which Land? Whose People? Are you able to name your teachers? Maybe you didn’t meet your teacher in this life or in person.  Maybe you have been inspired by the writings and works of many, from books, from social media...if you are able to identify any of your Teachers in this way, consider naming them in the spirit of reciprocity, acknowledgment,  and ensuring a safe, respectful and inclusive environment. This is not just about ticking culturally respectful boxes but about being in right relationship with the offerings/teachings, and the people today whose culture your practices come from. It’s also about creating a safe environment for everyone who attends.

 

It is a practice that calls us to be aware of ways we may be being extractive and exploitative of other's cultures and traditions.

To create a sense of ease and safety for participants, naming the origins and Teachers of your offerings at the start of your class is ideal. For example, beginning your class or exercise with “This technique is from…” or “The practice I follow was taught to me by…”. 


Naming the origins and Teachers of your offerings has no expiration date.  In the ways that we continue to acknowledge the country we stand on, to remind ourselves that sovereignty was never ceded, that the Indigenous Elders past, present and emerging, have fought for justice.  

We do all of these things to acknowledge that collective healing is a responsibility that belongs to us all 

 

Some suggestions towards creating a safe environment for people of diverse cultural backgrounds:

 

  • Do not assume someone's cultural heritage by their appearance. For example, presuming that all your attendees are white may be incredibly disrespectful and damaging to anyone with a mixed heritage.

  • Don’t assume you’re entitled to know someone's cultural history. Be mindful of your own curiosity, and the ways you express that. For example “Where are you from?” type questions can be inappropriate and offensive.
     

Specific steps for Presenters:

  • Acknowledge Country appropriate to where you are running your workshop, and also appropriate to where you live and work. See below for an Acknowledgement checklist and the distinction between a Welcome to Country and an Acknowledgement of Country. (Seven Sisters is being held on Taungurung Country)

  • If it feels right for you, acknowledge your own ancestors and cultural history. 

Where can I learn more?

 

 
aleira_moon-7497 copy.jpg

Boonwurrung Dancers- Seven Sisters Festival 2018

Welcome or Acknowledgement, What’s the difference?

A Welcome to Country is only offered by an Elder, Traditional Owner or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of the land.

A Welcome to Country happens at the commencement of a workshop or event and may contain traditional customs.

An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone not of Country, to show respect for the Traditional Owners and the land they are visiting/working on.

Similarly with Welcome to Country, Acknowledgement of Country is given at the beginning of a workshop or event.

 

For inspiration and guidance on how to word an Acknowledgement of Country please see the following checklist written by Melbourne based, First Nations led, NFP organisation, Commonground.

Acknowledgement Checklist

 

  • Name and acknowledge the specific country/nation/language group

  • Identify the Traditional Custodians and their continued connection to their land/s

  • Thank the Traditional Custodians for caring for Country for thousands of generations

  • Make Acknowledgement specific to place (desert country/island)

  • Pay respect to Elders, past, present, emerging and the wayshowers

  • Speak to sovereignty never being ceded. This land always was, always will be Aboriginal Land

Gender Awareness & Inclusion

As a community focused on Women centred issues we understand the importance of gender and respect living hand in hand. Much of the work we do at Seven Sisters is reclaiming truths and unpacking lies that have been constructed about our gender/s. As a woman’s festival we are passionate about empowerment and strength, and will not let gender based prejudice determine how we live.

With this in mind, it is important that we acknowledge that we too may have internalised and perpetuated gender based prejudice and bias, that we too have work to do.

 

It is clear that gender does not fit into the tidy boxes we may have been previously taught “Women are born with this body, and men are born with that body”. At Seven Sisters we believe that all women are our sisters, and all people who identify as women are welcome and deserve to feel safe in our spaces.

 

Our festival is a home to a spectrum of people who identify as women; we welcome trans women, cis women, and women whose identity may also be divergent from the binary, for example gender fluid people who also identify as women.  ( See glossary below)

Gender as a spectrum, gender diverse and transgender languaging may be new to you.. If so, no one  expects you to get it right all the time, we are all still learning. However, there are steps you can take to help all the women at Seven Sisters feel safe, included, informed, and acknowledged.

 

General steps you can take:

 

  • Introduce your pronouns (She/Her, They/Them, He/Him) whenever you introduce yourself. Normalising this (even within women’s spaces) normalises the conversation.

  • Always respect the pronouns you have been informed of, and if you make a mistake, apologise, correct yourself, then move on.

  • Never presume  you’re entitled to information about another person's biology or body.

  • Some people find it easier to refer to people by their name, ie. “ Jenny said …., instead of “ she said”.

 

Specific steps for Presenters:

  • Invite your participants to also name their pronouns. If you are not sure how to phrase this try “Please share your name, and your pronouns”.

  • If your workshop or presentation is focused towards a specific biology (for eg, wombs, vulvas, or menstruation) try to be clear at the beginning of your talk that this is what the talk is about.. An example of this is “For your context, this workshop will be discussing a connection between spirituality and the biology of menstruation”.

  • Avoid essentialist statements like “all women menstruate” or “It’s our wombs that connect us to our womanness”. These statements are not true and may leave women who do not menstruate, or do not have a womb, feeling invalidated. This goes beyond gender and acknowledges that women are women, no matter how their bodies work.


Terms that it’s useful to know:
Cis-gendered - Identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth.

Trans-gender - Identifies as a different gender to what they were assigned at birth

Non-Binary - Identifies as something outside of the binary notion of “man or woman”
Woman - Includes everyone who identifies as a woman

Man - Includes everyone who identifies as a man

Pronouns - Terms used to refer to people eg She/Her, They/Them, He/Him

Assigned Gender At Birth - The “sex” that was written on your birth certificate when you were born

Gender Identity - How you identify, the gender that feels true to you
Gender Diverse - An umbrella term to describe people who do not fit into the binary Man/Woman framework.

 

Where can I learn more?
More helpful terminology: 

https://www.minus18.org.au/articles/your-guide-to-words-and-definitions-in-the-lgbtqia+-community

Understanding Non-Binary People’s identity:
https://transequality.org/issues/resources/understanding-non-binary-people-how-to-be-respectful-and-supportive

Trans Inclusion in feminism and women’s spaces:
https://everydayfeminism.com/2014/02/trans-inclusive-feminist-movement/

Transformation should never be confined to a festival. Imagine a world where every woman felt safe, connected, seen, respected, and empowered. That is a world we are committed to being part of.

image-from-rawpixel-id-2194565-png (1).png
DSC_9059 (1)_edited.jpg
image-from-rawpixel-id-2194565-png (1).png

Sexuality Awareness & Inclusion

One of the unique and special things about Seven Sisters festival is that it’s a space to drop into our juiciness, whatever that means to us. Many of our workshops encourage and support connection to creativity, sexuality, love, and relationships. So often we see our attendees floating across the site, glowing in the light of their own pleasure and the permission to be deeply seen. What a gift that is.

The outside world is one that is often framed within the lens of heterosexual relationships. The myth is that men should only be with women, and women should only be with men. That relationships are, and should be, monogamous, and that for a relationship to be valid it should lead to children, marriage, and a shared abode. Even the presumption that people need, want or desire sexual or romantic relationships is not always accurate.

 

At Seven Sisters we acknowledge that there is no one way to be “in relationship” with another person. Whether we are looking at sacred sexuality, communication skills in relationships, parenting conversations, or any other topic which considers relationships, it is important that the women who attend our festival feel seen and represented. An important way to do that is to look at our language and the assumptions we make.


Here are some basic steps you can take towards creating a welcoming and acknowledging environment for all relationship types:
 

General steps you can take:

  • Never presume the gender of a person's love interest.

  • Try not to presume someone's sexuality. Even if they share with you that they are dating someone of the same gender, or a different gender, they may not identify as straight, lesbian or gay. There is a beautiful collection of identities out there and unless someone self-identifies to you, it is best not to presume.

  • When appropriate use gender neutral relationship terms, for example partner, lover, spouse, snuggle buddy, soul mate etc.

  • Confidentiality. If someone comes out to you, or shares a personal story about their identity, do not assume that you can share that with other people. It is respectful and ok to ask first.

 

Specific steps for Presenters:

  • If your workshop is focused on heterosexual coupling, same sex or same gender attraction, make this clear at the beginning. This gives the attendees clarity and the opportunity for informed consent.

  • Include terms like “partner or partners” when you speak, as monogamy is not necessarily everyone's reality.

  • If your workshop is open to everybody, regardless of sexuality, be loud and proud about that, but remember to ensure that how you run your workshop reflects that statement. A workshop that claims to be inclusive but still uses heteronormative language, for example, can be traumatic for LGBTQI+ attendees.

 

Remember each of these steps are only small changes in how we say things, but they could make a massive impact on someone's experience at the festival. We encourage you to be honest about what you don’t understand yet, and show a willingness and openness to learning. We’re all on this ride together.

 

Where can I learn more?

LGBTQI+ Language guide:
https://www.minus18.org.au/resources/lgbtiq+-inclusive-language-guide

image-from-rawpixel-id-2194565-png (1).png

Ability & Inclusion

Seven Sisters acknowledges that we live within an ableist society, a society that often makes life more difficult for people by not providing support or options that they need. As a festival, we’re learning how we can make our space more accessible to people. 

 

You’ll see a beautiful array of women at our workshops and it is important that we acknowledge that each woman comes with her own intricate map of challenges she faces each day, and many of those challenges may be invisible to us. Those challenges can be influenced by physical, neurological, or emotional needs, or potentially a nuanced intersection of all three.

 

What defines our capacity and compassion is often dependent on how the world and systems around us are set up. If we are privileged we’ll  find that our needs are met with ease; we don’t have to consider how to access things, because someone else has considered that for us. But there are a lot of people who don’t benefit from daily privileges in that way.

 

It’s important at Sevens Sisters that we don't presume someone’s capacity or ability based on their appearance. For example, assuming  someone can sit on the floor without discomfort, can hear or see you easily, or that someone can’t do or understand something due to their external appearance. This also applies to assumptions around menstrual or childbearing capacities.

 

Our festival has a huge variety of workshops available and there are ways we can be mindful and inclusive for all our participants. Here are some small steps:

 

  • Never presume a person's ability

  • Give the option for people to use both floor seating or chairs

  • Reserve spaces closer to you or the stage for people with sight or hearing challenges, and inform your participants that the option is there for them.

  • For movement practices offer a range of interaction levels

  • Never speak down to people, and avoid patronising/infantilizing language

  • Please note the festival provides free onsite counsellors and quiet retreat spaces for those who may be in need.  If you are interested to know what type of support we provide for individuals of various abilities please refer to our website.

Where can I learn more?
Understanding the Social Model vs Medical Model of disability

https://www.afdo.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Medical-vs-Social-Model-of-Disability.pdf


TEDx talk - Stella Young “I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much”
https://youtu.be/8K9Gg164Bsw

Each of the topics on this page go well beyond what we have summarized here. However, it’s good to note that we can do our bit to encourage positive change through intentional language, not making assumptions, and treating people with care goes a long way. We hope that this handbook is supportive in your journey.

 

This document was created for the Seven Sisters Festival by Fleassy Malay and Melanie Abrams. We acknowledge that we are on our own huge journeys with each of these topics, journeys we are nowhere near the end of. We stand on the shoulders of incredible people whose courage to stand up, fight, unpack, and educate has allowed us the capacity to be who we are today. In the spirit of honesty and positionality: Fleassy identifies as a fierce-gentle, queer, gender-fluid, neuro-divergent, white, first-generation settler and co-parenting mother. Melanie identifies as a Black British, first-generation settler, bi-curious, work in progress and a co-parenting mother.

image-from-rawpixel-id-2194565-png (1).png
image-from-rawpixel-id-2765832-png.png
 
 
image-from-rawpixel-id-2194565-png (1).png
 
Screen Shot 2022-08-11 at 10.03.50 am.png

Onsite Services & Venue Information

Seven Sisters Festival is committed to enhancing access and inclusion and aim to create a Festival that reduces these barriers to enable full participation. We recognise that the experience of disability and accessibility is diverse and unique to individuals and that artists and audience members still face barriers to access, and we strive to remove as many of these as we can. 

We understand that we won’t always get it right and have some limitations in place, but we always love to receive feedback and ideas about how we can improve, as well as what we did well.

 

The Site: The venue is held on a farm and all infrastructure is bought in for the event, as such the ground is mainly grass paddocks, which are naturally undulating and structures are temporary. Most patrons camp onsite, however there is the option to stay offsite and come for the day. The site has some paths and gravelled roads and we have designed the layout and paths of the land on the contours to facilitate ease of gradient, however, some areas over the 50 acres of festival ground are steeper than a 1:12 gradient.

Physical Access: All spaces are accessible via wheelchair or motorised scooter.

Camping: There is an accessible camping zone available equipped with an accessible toilet and shower located in close proximity to the event.

Quiet camping zones, mums and bubs camping zone, first nations elders camp and a solo adventurers camping zone also exist to service various needs.

Parents: There is a mums and bubs space hosted by parents with fridge, hot water, change facilities and place space.

Seating: Chairs will be available in every space to assist those who require seated support. 

Toilets: temporary accessible toilet facilities are available onsite at two locations

Parking: Accessible parking spots are available

Counselling Services: Free Counselling services are available to patrons. Please go to the first aid tent and a counsellor will be called to assist

Retreat spaces: There are designated quiet, private spaces for those with sensory overload.

Powered sites: Powered sites are available for those who require CPAP machines or power for other medical services, this needs to be rebooked online. 

Fridges: For those who require refrigerated storage of medical supplies, this will be available at the first aid Caravan.

 

Guide dogs and service animals:

Guide dogs and assistance animals are welcome at all our venues 

 

Companion & Carer Cards

If you have a Companion Card, you qualify for a second ticket (free!) to bring along a companion. If you have a Carer Card, you qualify for a concession-priced ticket. To book, please email info@sevensistersfestival.com

Financail Assistance Tickets: Financial assistance tickets are available on request for those experiencing financial hardship, please email info@sevensistersfestival.com for a discounted ticket.

 

Auslan Interpretation

If you require an interpreter, we offer a free ticket for those patrons who require an interpreter to engage in workshop content.

If you do not have an interpreter, please email info@sevensistersfestival.com and we will endeavour to find one for you.

We are all learning

We welcome your ideas, questions, requests & feedback @
info@sevensistersfestival.com  

BodywiseSurrounds-VickyPalmieriPhotog-25.jpg