Barrister Catherine Gleeson scurries away November 21
Report hearing fourth day of trial October 18
Report hearing third day of trial October 17
Report hearing second day of trial October 16
Report hearing first day of trial
Leaflet handout for local court October 15
media release October 14, 2019.
The Women’s Justice Network, previously known as the Women in Prison Advocacy Network (WIPAN), was established as a grassroots community that works to raise awareness of the structural inequalities that exist for criminalised women and advocates for change to redress these injustices. Lived experience is crucial to the practical impact and success of the organisation’s functions.
Currently, however, the WJN Board is comprised only of white, middle class women from corporate backgrounds and no experience in being personally subject to the criminal justice system, contrary to the organisation’s constitutional mandate that the Board be made up of 50% ex-prisoners. This loss of prisoner input in decision making has removed its link to its community. The Board’s decision to call the police on its former CEO and co-founder Kat Armstrong is a symptom of that distance from its community culture.
Pictured: Kat graduating from her law degree in 2017
Kat, who was en ex-prisoner, initiated the organisation in 2007 and worked without pay for seven years as the CEO, doing all training, mentoring, fundraising, accounts and media work whilst training to be a lawyer. In 2017, Kat was found to have conducted a transfer of money disputed by the WJN Board, who then refused to meet with her, or her lawyers, or to talk with others involved to negotiate a restorative solution. Instead they complained to the police, defamed her to others and disgraced her with a front-page Herald article. Kat was charged with nine offences on 17 December, 2017. Her hearing is scheduled for mid-October 2019.
The irony of these proceedings appear to be lost on the WJN Board; an organisation with the vision of ensuring that all women affected by the criminal justice system “are treated with dignity and respect and are empowered to secure and preserve their individual rights”, now working ruthlessly and without consideration for any alternative courses of action, to convict their very founder and a true champion for women in the prison system.
Justice Action will be in support of Kat throughout the upcoming hearing, but in the mean time we are calling on changes to be made within the WJN. A collectivist, bottom-up approach to advocacy for women prisoners was and still is vital in ensuring the greatest level of engagement with a vulnerable community. We call on the current WJN Board to stand aside and support ex-prisoners to replace them.
Leaflet for Parliamentary Breakfast September 18, 2018: Empowering Women - Keeping Women out of Prison
Return to Consumer Controlled Funding - Political and enconomic analysis of situation