The Priority of the grievance policy is to make QC as safe and beneficial an experience as possible for all participants. In relation to grievance and conflict resolutions specifically, our aim is to enact a process that is defined and controlled by the wishes and needs of the parties involved. Our aim will be to resolve the process in a way that allows for everyone to feel safe and able to participate in QC. Having said this, in any situation of violence, threat, harassment or abuse that is sexual, physical or otherwise, our primary responsibility is to the aggrieved party, and to their needs and desires. We also recognise that conflicts, violence and other incidents can have impacts beyond the parties immediately involved and affect the space more generally. As such we think that it is important to have an open and transparent process, and one that is broadly accountable to all QC participants. It is probable that there will be some conflict during QC. A basic process has been designed for dealing with conflict, based around the principle that a resolution deemed positive to all parties involved should be sought first. Any conflict arising in the space that at least one party feels cannot be resolved without some help should seek out the assistance of one of the members of the Grievance Collective.
Standards of Behaviour
As participants of QC, we all have the right to expect a basic standard of behaviour from each other. These behaviours are outlined in the Queer Collaborations 2017 Participants Agreement, and Safer Spaces policy. Any harassment, non-consensual violence, abuse or disrespect is completely unacceptable and it is our responsibility as a community to respond to and address this behaviour. If anyone feels they have been treated in a way that doesn’t meet this standard of behaviour they can expect the full support of the Grievance Collective and the wider QC conference in responding to the situation in whatever way they prefer.
The Grievance Collective
A Grievance Collective will be elected by Conference Floor in the opening session of conference. All participants will be able to nominate for a position on the Grievance Collective and vote for the election of the Grievance Officers. After the first election of Grievance Officers, the autonomous caucuses may elect their own representatives if they feel that they are not adequately represented within the collective. The Grievance Collective will endeavour to represent people from as many organisations and places as possible, and training and support will be provided to all participants interested in the role of Grievance Officer. This training will be provided at earliest convenience.
Grievance Officers will be identified by a coloured ID during conference proceedings and while on duty. Grievance Officers not wearing the coloured ID are unable to accept grievance; however, the Grievance Collective will communicate to ensure that there are a reasonable number of officers on duty at any one time. The role of members of the Grievance Collective is to accept grievances and facilitate the constructive resolution thereof. In the case of a Grievance Officer having a grievance raised against them, the officer in question will be removed from the Grievance Collective for the remainder of the grievance. Another Grievance Officer will be elected in the same manner as the original Grievance Officer election if the need arises.
In addition to Grievance Officers a number of Listening Posts will be elected at the first session of Conference Floor. The role of Listening Posts is to listen to people with grievances that do not require further action. They provide an informal way of venting frustration confidentially. These people will be identified by coloured IDs. Listening Posts may nominate themselves at any time or decide to stop acting as Listening Posts either temporarily or for the remainder of the conference.
Every situation needs be dealt with individually and in a way that reflects the needs and wishes of the parties involved, and the wider QC conference. We also need to recognise that QC is a temporary space and, as such, cannot offer ongoing support or mediation in response to any situation. The first priority will be to attempt to resolve the situation in a way that ensures safety and comfort for the duration of the conference. For issues that require an ongoing plan for resolution, strategies and actions should be collectively developed with the Grievance Collective and parties involved.
Any participant with a grievance or dispute is encouraged to, in the first instance, approach a member of the Grievance Collective. A Grievance Officer will then attempt to mediate the dispute, however the aim of the process is to give primacy to the wishes and needs of the aggrieved parties involved. Confidentiality will be guaranteed unless all parties involved indicate otherwise.
Collective Community Response
As QC is an event based on collective struggle, solidarity and community philosophies, we recognise that we all have responsibilities to each other and to the broader QC conference. Any serious grievance matters will take priority on the agenda of the conference. As participant safety is the highest priority, we understand that the running of the conference may need to be interrupted to deal with an issue of conflict, violence and safety. Again, the aim of the process is to give primacy to the wishes and needs of the aggrieved parties involved in the dispute.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of outcomes that may be enacted during the dispute resolution process:
Mediation/ apology: Many situations can be addressed through a simple verbal mediation and an apology, or even a clarification, by one or other of the participants.
Changing behaviour: The collective may ask someone to be mindful of their behaviour or change the ways in which they are interacting in this space or within particular spaces such as workshops. For instance, someone may be asked to attempt to be less intimidating, to stop speaking over or silencing other people’s contributions.
Avoidance: The parties involved in a specific incident, or someone who has been subjected to harassing/threatening or otherwise harmful behaviour may wish to simply agree to avoid each other for the remainder of the conference. This may include asking one party to not attend small spaces and discussion (e.g. workshops) that the other party is participating in, as well as giving that person space at larger areas and events. Preference should be given to an outcome that seeks to constructively resolve the dispute if possible.
Specific exclusions: There may be specific concerns with an individual’s behaviour in a specific setting, environment or event. For example, if there are particular issues with someone’s behaviour involving drugs and alcohol, there is the option of asking them not to partake of these substances at QC or in asking them not to attend a particular event. Similarly, a delegate who has acted in a way that has made another delegate feel unsafe may be asked to not attend workshops or conference floor that the aggrieved delegate intends on attending.
General exclusion: It is recognised that there are situations in which no resolution is possible other than asking someone to not attend the remainder of QC. Participants should recognise that this is a serious action and one that will only be taken if there is no appropriate solution. Once this decision is made, it is asked that all participants respect it. In particular, this solution may be appropriate in instances involving violence, sexual assault and threats to the safety of individuals or groups.
Returning Grievance Officer/s
At Queer Collaborations 2015 it was decided that returning grievance officer/s assist with grievance handover for the next year’s conference. This ensures continuity and encourages shared information on grievances that may need to be addressed again by the new organising committee. The returning grievance officer/s will be elected at the end of the conference at the same time as the next year’s Querelle and QC nominations.