Prog rock

#MeToo has brought women’s rights ahead in leaps and bounds, but we’ve still got a long way to go, says Julia Weller.

Organising her second Women’s Fest Freo, which is at Clancy’s Fish Pub tonight (Saturday March 7), Ms Weller says she’d barely spoken the words “I’m doing it again” before a dozen female musos were clamouring to get on the bill.

She says they were all keen to donate their time to help empower women; their work in pubs and clubs means they’ve all been privy to, or experienced, harassment.

• Poster designer Peta Roebuck and Women’s Fest Freo organiser Julia Weller. Photo by Steve Grant


“Without meaning any offence, it’s really hard for guys to understand what every single woman goes through every day, just because they are a woman,” Ms Weller says.

Pretty empowered these days, she’ll quickly round on any man who oversteps the mark, but Ms Weller said while working in bars and restaurants back in her home country of Holland, her bottom would be slapped or pinched about four times every shift.

“I just thought it was normal,” she says.

While she’s turned around her way of dealing with it, she believes many women still suffer in silence as they’re fearful of challenging the stereotypes that have pigeon-holed them into silence.

She says events such as Women’s Fest Freo can help create a community space where women can feel comfortable, issues can be talked about and experiences shared.

But it’s also open to men, as she says they need to be on board for the journey. Ms Weller says Australia’s sex education curriculum needs a rethink.

“From a young age, you need to be teaching communication skills and using role play to show how easy it is to make someone feel uncomfortable, even if you didn’t mean to make them uncomfortable,” Ms Weller says.

Peta Roebuck designed the poster for the event.

“My perspective is that I am living within a bit of a bubble in Fremantle and surrounded by people who are respectful and educated, but outside that bubble [discrimination’s] still a problem,” Ms Roebuck said. 

To that end, funds raised from ticket sales will go to UN Women, a branch of the United Nations that promotes women’s empowerment throughout the world. They’ll have a stall during the festival to provide more information on their programs. 

Last year the festival earned $6500 for UN Women. Tickets to Women’s Fest Freo, which starts at 6pm, are available through or on the door.


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