Diversity Policy: discussion

Given that the National Congress is coming up, I would like to start a couple of conversations about our policies and some suggested changes that might be made to them.

I think that PPau has a diversity problem and I also think that long time active members know this - hence why we were asked during the selection process.I am writing this because at least three people have independently asked me about this and then this AM I saw this tweet retweeted by Dr Krystal. The conversation is interesting, the best comment being ‘to “convince” & “fix” is possibly the wrong approach’. Given that PPau has a strong position on science and education, I think that the women in STEM issue is one that we should not only be aware of, but active in trying to address.

Note: I wrote this screed this AM. Since then the twitter discussion has gone very badly for the Science Party and is an excellent example of why we should be prepared with a statement (see below)

So, to this end, I think we need a formal reply and a formal position. Two separate but connected statements.

Our position should be an active attempt to open the PPau space up, to make sure that behaviour within PPau spaces is respectful of all of the people in it, and that we help educate our members and the broader public on how they can be more inclusive.

To this end I think we should have, at the very least, a Code of Conduct applicable to all PPau spaces (discuss, IRC, f2f meets, etc) and a diversity statement.

I think that the Django Project has a good example of a diversity statement and that the Open Knowledge Australia’s Code of Conduct is another that we should borrow heavily from.

I think these two statements go a long way towards having a policy on “race, gender and diversity” without actually writing anything formal. Something more formal can be fashioned from these documents.

Unfortunately without action, I think that these alone are hollow. In terms of becoming more diverse the PPau needs to address these issues:

  • hard due to expense, but childcare at the national congress.
  • more opportunities to interact with the PPau through regular channels
  • to this end: more regular f2f meetups to reduce issues of access, but also to just “get out there more”.

This will need to be broken down into various parts. Meeting for what reason? Either we need to have a party direction or it’s devolves to an informal meet up that isn’t necessarily compelling for new members.

Alternatively we could create a space within another space. Here I’m thinking something along the lines of “meeting at the same time and venue as similar to have a ‘mini-meet’.” Something like having regular “privacy, fair use, digital rights” discussions at Open Knowledge meets for example, or a regular "learn PGP/GPG/IRC/“the s in https” teach ins.

My final thought on this one is, knowing that it will be unpopular, that we (PPau) make the change to use an inferior and unpleasant software for organising, like Meetup. It’s not ideal, but it’s where the people are and it encourages, and allows for, serendipity. It’s also a better and more consistent option that Facebook. Can 100% guarantee that IRC and discuss, for all their power and self hosting beauty and etc, are incompatible with access and diversity - at least until PPau is big enough to draw people into those spaces due to social-gravity.

  • other actions I can’t think of right now.

Finally, I think our statement should say something along the lines of:

(you can add/change here: https://pad.pirateparty.org.au/p/Diversity_Statement_2016 )

PPau acknowledges that all of it’s candidates are white men. PPau also acknowledges that it’s National Council is also homogeneous, but would highlight that there is some gender representation within its committees and has previously run women for Senate positions in federal elections.

We would like that this wasn’t so, but it is.

PPau also acknowledges that there are systemic issues relating to the advancement of women, people of colour and other minorities within the sciences and society in general. These issues include, but are not limited to, experiences of violence, social exclusion and loss of liberty.

We would also like that this wasn’t so, but it is.

We endeavour to do what we can to address these issues when and as we can in a serious and ongoing manner, starting immediately.

We believe that our current Education(1), and Marriage(2) policies in some way address these issues. We would also point to our “Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and prohibition of racial discrimination” (3) and Asylum seeker and Refugee (4) policies as efforts we have made thus far.

Of course, while it isn’t necessarily explicit, we also believe that our Health, Welfare and Digital and Civil liberties policies(5) are all aimed at reducing inequality and addressing issues of access.

  1. https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Policies/Education
  2. https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Policies/Marriage
  3. https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Policies/Constitutional_Reform
  4. https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Policies/Asylum_Seekers_and_Refugees
  5. https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform

The Pirate Party will introduce a Code of Conduct and a Diversity Statement at it’s next National Congress as an indication of it’s commitment to addressing these issues internally, while we continue to fight these issue externally.


I think an official statement on diversity would be a good thing.

A few points:

The NC has previously had women on board. We have also run women in HoR elections (Canning and Griffith). I can’t comment on the race, gender, sexual orientations, etc. of all the NC, committee members and previous candidates because I don’t know all of them - and neither do you, so I think this is overall a very inaccurate paragraph. It’s better to avoid blanket statements like this unless there are hard statistics to back them up.

Not only would this be prohibitively expensive, but I don’t think it is necessary or expected for a small event run entirely on donations to provide free childcare to attendees. We also offer what I feel is one of the most accessible political events in the whole country by offering 100% remote participation, allowing members who are unable to attend for a variety of reasons (too far to travel, family commitments, work, disabilities, etc) to have a voice in Congress. I think that any efforts to improve accessibility would be better focused on enabling members with (for example) hearing or vision impairments to participate more fully - childcare is an issue so remote I don’t think it should be on the radar right now.

I believe a Melbourne meetup was just organised today and only one person showed up. The main obstacle here is not the lack of meetups but that it is very discouraging to run regular events with low attendance, so people stop doing them. You addressed this a bit further on but I think it should be highlighted as a key issue. Increasing the volume of events does nothing if you don’t address the attendance first.

Yes. IMO this is the most valuable thing that the party could be doing. Reaching out to existing organisations and offering to assist in running events, workshops, talks, etc on these issues would be huge.

I disagree that forums or chatrooms are somehow incompatible with open access and diversity. I do think we need a more gentle introduction to IRC than even the existing webapp, though, and probably a better onboarding process for new members so they can get involved more easily. But organising events on Meetup is a great idea.

As I understand it, a Code of Conduct wouldn’t just be introduced at Congress, it would need to be voted on and approved by a majority of members. Not that I think it would be rejected, but it is misleading to say ‘we will have it’ when at this point it is ‘we will ask our members to consider it’.


Happy to put childcare on a lower priority so long as we push the “remote participation” angle as what we have done to make the congress as accessible as possible (“given the distributed nature of the organisation for it’s size and ability, to provide childcare, for instance” or something like that.)

I was meant to go to the Melbourne one but was too sick. I think that there is a case to be made for semi regular meet ups regardless of attendance - I’m not sure that events/attendance is a chicken/egg scenario. I think it shows there is life, and offers an opportunity for people to still come if they can’t make this one or that one. It’s why I argued that piggy backing on another similar meetup (like Melbourne’s Open Knowledge) reduces the likelihood of lone members waiting at cafes. The OK meets are also focused - “shut up and hack” or “speaker x on topic y” or whatever. I think that’s more important than just turning up to chat. To have and show a purpose - “draft policy for an hour, then go get dumplings”. TBH, I’m pissed I missed edelity - he has a good head for strategy and I could have used the chat.

Oh, you answered that. :blush: Note: Cryptohack meet relatively regularly in Melbourne apparently. They would be another group.

Also, setting up “politics in the pub” style events or appearing on stage at as a PPau rep - to make sure people see us and realise we aren’t fringy and weird. (WE ARE NOT FRINGY AND WEIRD).

Yes, you are right - my wording in that sentence was terrible. IRC and discuss are very good at open access. I think what I was trying to say was that they have a high barrier to entry - people, unfortunately, don’t consume the web that way much any more, and neither technology has UX’d itself into 2016. Discuss has tried hard, I’ll give it that. Now, it’s worth noting that it can be handy that they have a higher barrier to entry in abroad sense. But in a “lets get more members” sense, I don’t think they will work as effectively as we’d like. TBH, the biggest issue I have with my position is that it presupposes that people will continue to use the web the way they have for the last 4-5 years. Which is optimistic and stupid - the web will change as will how people interact with it. Will think more on this.

Code of Conduct
Acknowledged my language could have been better. I just spurted it all out, feeling terrible, as I was watching the Science Party senate candidate dig his hole deeper and deeper and deeper with well respected members of the science community.


Face to Face meetings
Took me a while to figure out what f2f meant, TLAs could do with explanation

I don’t necessarily see how these would do much to make the Party more accessible. In Sydney for E.G., most of our active members are from the outer suburbs or other cities (DanielJ and I travel up from Wollongong). I am not keen to go to Sydney any more than I absolutely have to and I suspect it is the same from anyone not in the inner city, which is most of us. We are a geographically diverse party and this is why online meetings are our preferred way of organising, it actually increases accessibility significantly for our member base.

Social meetings work well in Sydney for this reason, we all work together online all the time and then talk politics and have a few beers at the meetings. It stops everyone just being names on the screen and provides a good chance to let off some steam and build solidarity.

That said, if there is an active population concentrated in a relatively small area, more face to face meetings would be good, particularly if we make a move towards participating in local and state politics. These can be tried as people would like to try them. We may try to hold Wollongong meetings again, but they weren’t worth it when only 2 people showed up each time, it was demoralising to sit around and wait for nothing.

Code of Conduct

We have an old code of conduct for IRC here:


Some of it is obviously only relevant for IRC, but could be used as a starting point for something more comprehensive.

We would probably need to include something about nay-saying. Nothing can gum up a good project more than one random arguing against it without providing alternative ideas.

I’m also mildly wary of raising niceties above clarity of debate in our interactions with each other, but we’ll see how it goes as a code of conduct gets developed.

Diversity Statement

Edited it slightly, good otherwise.

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