Today, an email was sent out to all Deakin students the Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO. Because the Deakin Law Students’ Society believes this is such an important issue, we have reprinted the transcript of the email below.
Dear Deakin students and staff
As you know the debate in Australia about marriage equality (commonly called Same-Sex Marriage) has been going on for quite some time. Last week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a vote on Same-Sex Marriage will be held in Australia. He also determined that this vote would be by a postal ballot process, subject to the outcome of a High Court Challenge which will be heard on 5 and 6 September.
While it is not compulsory to take part in the voting process I urge you all to have your say.
We live in a great democracy where we are able to debate the issues of the day and then determine the outcome through the ballot box at a general election or through an additional process such as this postal ballot. Postal ballots traditionally have a higher response rate from senior members of the community but in my view, on this very important issue which will shape us as a nation in the decades to come, it is doubly important for younger people to participate so the whole community is represented. If you wish to shape the future, you will need to vote.
To be eligible to vote, each of us MUST be registered by 6pm Thursday 24 August. You may need to change your address if you have recently moved house and it is probably worth doing this now. You can enrol or change your address online.
Same-sex marriage is an emotive issue and there are some people in our community who are vehemently in favour, and then there are some who are vehemently against the idea. During the time that the vote is open until polls close in November there will be campaigning from both sides which may adversely affect some of you and I would like to remind you of what is expected of all Deakin staff and students.
At Deakin, we work together to build a strong culture of safety, mutual respect and inclusion to ensure all members of our community can study and work in a safe and supportive environment. I therefore expect that all debate and dialogue on this issue will be respectful, regardless of a person’s position on the issue. Staff and student Codes of Conduct apply at all times, including during the campaign period. This means that we will not tolerate harassment or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Please make use of our Counselling Services (students), EAP (staff) or Deakin Safer Community (students and staff) at any stage if you need support. If you would like external support and advice you can call Switchboard Victoria, Headspace or QLife.
Deakin has always had strong values of inclusion and participation. We support diversity in the higher education sector and we recognise the rights of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex students and employees to learn, live and work, free of prejudice and discrimination, with all the essential freedoms enjoyed by other members of our University community and the broader population.
For those who are interested, I intend to vote Yes.