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The Network Of Women Students Australia (NOWSA) was established in 1987, and founded on ideals of creating a grassroots, autonomous network concerned with issues that impact women and women students.


NOWSA provides a platform for women’s organising across universities and in the wider community through resource, skill and knowledge sharing both in conference and through web branches of the network. The network continues to shift, grow and change, but constantly places feminist agenda at the forefront. Women of all ages, sexualities, abilities, and experiences have the opportunity to be involved.

The annual NOWSA conference is organised by a collective of women students and hosted by a different university in Australia each year.

The NOWSA conference usually runs for 5 days, giving voice to women students and allowing them to engage with personal, political, social, and cultural issues that are relevant to women. NOWSA is now an annual conference, held from year to year at different universities, and encourages networks to be developed with women from across Australia.

List of Past Years[edit]

Year University Location
2016 University of Technology Sydney Sydney, NSW
2015 University of Tasmania Hobart, TAS
2014 Edith Cowan University Perth, W.A
2013 The University of Melbourne Melbourne, VIC
2012 The Australian National University Canberra, ACT
2011 The University of New South Wales Sydney, NSW
2010 The University of Newcastle Newcastle, NSW
2009 Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, QLD
2008 Flinders University Adelaide, SA
2007 The University of Sydney Sydney, NSW
2006 The University of Melbourne Melbourne, VIC
2005 The University of Adelaide Adelaide, SA
2004 Southern Cross University Lismore, NSW
2003 Macquarie University Sydney, NSW
2002 James Cook University Townsville, QLD
2001 University of Technology Sydney, NSW
2000 Flinders University Adelaide, SA
1999 RMIT Melbourne, VIC
1998 University of Western Sydney, Nepean Sydney, NSW
1997 Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, QLD
1996 Edith Cowan University Perth, WA
1995 The University of Melbourne Melbourne, VIC
1994 Macquarie University Sydney, NSW
1993 The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD
1992 The University of Adelaide Adelaide, SA
1991 RMIT? Melbourne, VIC
1990 The University of New South Wales Sydney, NSW
1989 The University of Adelaide Adelaide, SA
1988 The University of Queensland Brisbane, QLD
1987 The Australian National University Canberra, ACT


2012: The Australian National University[edit]

2012 marked the 25th anniversary of NOWSA’s establishment, in 1987 at the ‘Women on Campus’ conference held at ANU. Hence the theme for that year's conference was ’25 Years On: Her Story, Her Future’, a nod to the body of herstory that NOWSA has contributed to over the years. The conference hosted speakers and workshops that surround this theme over the course of five days.


Advanced Consent

BDSM and Feminism

Body Positivity

Environmental Feminism

Feminism Online

This workshop discussed the good and bad points about online activism, organising, and educating. It discussed the merits and drawbacks of different software and internet platforms. Participants also talked about misogyny online and how to deal with trolls and harassment.

Grappling with Consent

History of Feminist Porn

Ladies for Liberty

Herstory is uncommon enough in history as we know, but within the history of the feminist movement, the role of classical liberal proto-feminists and feminists (men included) is often overlooked at the expense of a proper understanding how statist ideologies have hurt women. This facilitated discussion will involve some history-telling, including the basic principles of a classical liberal approach to feminism, and the merits of an anti-statist approach in today’s world. Warning: may contain traces of free markets.

Local Media and Feminist Frontiers

Local MC’s from WHAM radio's 'Hey Grrrl Hey' hosted this hands on radio workshop and discussion about using local media avenues to challenge contemporary barriers faced by feminism.

Sexual Health & Contraception

Roller Derby and Feminism

This was a repeat workshop from NOWSA2011, and was run again by Professor Pitts for purely egotistical reasons. This time there was more stories, more glory and more derby. There was a presentation of the current scholarship analysing roller derby, gender performance, women’s sport and sporting communities as discussed through the lens of a feminist critique.

Understanding Southeast Asian Womyn

This workshop aimed to allow participants to get to know more about South-East Asian womyn and their perspective of Australian society.

Visualising Feminism

A fun workshop which combined art and gender equality, incorporating a range of art herstory books and videos and the like.

Working Women

This was an interactive workshop on the herstory of the Trade Union Movement and unionisms feminist future. This workshop explored the amazing contributions women have made to making our participation in the workplace possible and question what needs to change to get more women unionized and active.

2011: The University of New South Wales[edit]

2010: The University of Newcastle[edit]

Organised by a collective, the conference was filled with workshops, lectures from well-known women and local activists and events. The theme was "Intersections" and explored the diverse experiences of women. Notable Speakers included:

  • Debbie Kilroy of Sisters Inside
  • Kathryn Bendall, stand up comedy room operator

2009: The Queensland University of Technology[edit]

The 2009 conference essentially consisted of morning lectures on a variety of subjects, followed by a number of workshops in the afternoon.


  • Katherine Cunningham


  • Campaign Activism
  • Life Drawing
  • Menstrual Education
  • Protest March on Abortion Rights
  • Violence Prevention

2008: Flinders University[edit]

Hosted by Flinders University, South Australia. the 2008 NOWSA Conference had a myspace page, with photographs and a blog.

2007: The University of Sydney[edit]

NOWSA2007 was held at the University of Sydney, from Monday the 2nd to Thursday the 5th of July, 2007. The conference gave women from across Australia the chance to discuss the big issues facing women all over the world and plan for the upcoming year. The conference was instrumental in strengthening ties between students and campus women's departments. This was a rare opportunity for students to overcome huge geographical distances, and develop relationships that allowed women to work together as a committed, cohesive movement.

The week dealt with three broad themes, one for each substantial day of the conference: Violence Against Women, Women's Health, and Women & Power.

Speakers included[edit]

2006: The University of Melbourne[edit]

The 2006 conference was held from July 10 to the 14th. The theme was "Pushing Boundaries": though broad, it aimed to interrogate privilege, build community, and inspire action. Some questions broadly pondered by the conference:

2005: The University of Adelaide[edit]

1988: Brisbane[edit]

1987: The Australian National University[edit]


External links[edit]

NOWSA 2012 conference website

National Union of Students NOWSA post 2010

Women of Colour blog speech from NOWSA 2010

NOWSA 2008 Myspace Page

International Women's Day broadsheet 1998

"NOWSA A Herstory", Green Left Weekly