Girls’ Uniform Agenda is an Australia wide group, comprising parents, academics, educators and public health executives. We aim to:
- Support parents and girls who seek to have uniform policy changes implemented in their schools;
- Encourage school leaders to recognise that girls should be offered a range of suitable formal and informal uniform options, including shorts and long pants;
- Work with uniform suppliers to increase the range of girls’ shorts and pants options available; and
- Campaign for legislative and policy change in this area.
Girls’ Uniform Agenda Executive include:
Simone Cariss (Co-founder and Victorian representative)
Simone is an Occupational Therapist, small business owner and mother to two children, Asha and Baxter. Simone began the fight for the right of girls to choose between shorts, pants, skirts and dresses in school when her primary school aged daughter Asha was denied the right to wear pants to school.
Simone created the Change.org petition to highlight the need for legislation that requires all schools to offer girls choices in their school uniforms. The petition has now been signed by more than 21,000 people. Simone co-founded Girls’ Uniform Agenda with Amanda Mergler in Feb 2017. Read more about Simone and Asha’s story here.
Dr Amanda Mergler (Co-founder and Queensland representative)
Amanda is a psychologist and mother to two children, Benjamin and Sophie. Amanda began the fight for choice for girls at school when she realised that her son could wear shorts to school, while his female classmates could not. By the time her daughter entered Year 1, the school had allowed girls to wear the boys shorts, but refused to offer shorts made for girls.
Amanda’s article for The Conversation asking why girls are made to wear skirts and dresses to school has been read by over 128,000 people. Amanda co-founded Girls’ Uniform Agenda with Simone Cariss in Feb 2017. Read more about Amanda and Sophie’s story here.
Janine Rees (Queensland representative)
Janine is Founding Director of Sparkt, an organisation that advocates for equality, respect, diversity and compassion. She is an education consultant, workshop facilitator, primary teacher, small business owner and mother of three beautiful children, Hannah, Emily and Luke.
Janine is passionate about holistic education and wellbeing. She is an advocate for women’s rights and empowerment and believes it’s high time girls had equal right to wear pants and shorts to school, as they do outside of school.
Janine became active in this campaign after seeing her daughters wearing skirts and shivering whilst standing at the bus stop on a freezing cold morning, while the boys next to them were warm in their nice long pants.
Krystina Myhre (Western Australia representative)
Krystina is an occupational therapist and mother to three children. Krystina began the fight for girls in relation to school uniforms when her daughter’s public school refused to allow her to wear shorts to school. After many conversations with the principal, and a few well researched and carefully worded letters, the School Board agreed to allow girls to wear shorts.
Krystina and her daughter Sofia were successful in convincing the Minister for Education in WA that all girls in all school should have the right to wear shorts, and the state dress code was amended accordingly. Read more about Krystina and Sofia’s story here.
Lizz Clarke (Western Australia Representative)
As a registered nurse with postgraduate qualifications in Sexology (Curtin University) and Medical Science (Glasgow), Lizz has worked closely with teens and adults in the health arena across the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. She is concerned about the fair treatment of girls and women worldwide.
Lizz joined Girls’ Uniform Agenda when learning that future high school choice for her daughter was compromised by inequitable uniform policy. Lizz believes in fairness, kindness and wine, and tries not to take life too seriously. As a Mum to a high school aged boy and a primary school aged girl, Lizz is currently experiencing all the thrills of parenting. Read more about Lizz and her daughter’s story here.
Alison Boston (New South Wales representative)
Alison is a writer and communications specialist, and mother to two children, Wesley and Sadie. Alison is passionate about the rights of women and girls, and joined Girls’ Uniform Agenda to advocate for change in schools so that her daughter, now aged 4, will not be disadvantaged at school when she starts, but also to support girls across NSW and Australia.
Alison was disappointed to learn that most schools in her local area do not provide appropriate short and pant options for girls, and is frustrated that her schooling options for her children are limited by this situation. Read more about Alison and Sadie’s story here.
Associate Professor Susan Thomas (New South Wales representative)
Susan is Founding Director of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Writing Hub and Writing Program at the University of Sydney, and mother to one daughter. Susan was part of a group of concerned parents who successfully lobbied their north shore public school to amend its uniform policy for girls. The original uniform consisted of only dress/skirt options year-round, but the revised uniform includes pants, shorts, and culotte options for girls. Anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws were cited throughout the campaign and were critical to the successful outcome.
Susan hopes that unisex uniforms will one day be the norm in all Australian schools, but believes that, in the meantime, schools should provide a range of uniform options year-round for both girls and boys. Read more about Susan and Elizabeth’s story here.
Dr Diane Caney (Tasmania representative)
Diane writes novels for teens and children. Charlie Gets Frocked is the book she self-published in 2014 after being SO frustrated in the early 2000s that her daughter’s high school did not provide suitable formal shorts options for girls in summer, and only provided itchy, unstylish pants for winter (which no student ever wore). Her daughter’s former school no longer provides any formal pants option for girls after a recent uniform makeover.
Diane’s day job involves planning and managing projects in a large department of health and human services. She hopes that over time more and more Australians will realise how very odd it is for girls not to be provided with the same sort of clothing options they enjoy in everyday life … just as working women are … in the 21st century. Read more about Diane and Elsie’s story here.
Dr Sarah Cohen-Woods (South Australia representative)
Sarah is a Matthew Flinders Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, and a mother of two girls. Sarah has been fortunate with her daughter’s school agreeing to introduce trousers in response to her enquiries, however the inequity of uniform choice struck a chord with Sarah.
Sarah’s research into the genetic and environmental risk factors for poor mental health and physical outcomes (such as obesity) made her acutely aware of the importance of equal opportunity for active play and comfort. Sarah is now leading a study into the impact of new uniform procedures in South Australia, and investigating how uniform choice may impact childrens’ well-being. Read more about Sarah and her daughter’s story here.
Amy Blain (Australian Capital Territory representative)
Amy is a passionate gender equality advocate, most recently focusing on preventing violence against women. Amy is a full-time parent to a vibrant nearly-four year old, Evie, and fiercely guards against gender stereotypes limiting children being who they want to be.
Amy sighed when seeing that uniform debates are still raging a decade on from her having the same arguments at school back in the UK. Amy is determined that Evie will not face the same restrictions because there’s actually no good reason for girls not to have the choice of wearing shorts and pants. Read more about Amy and Evie’s story here.
We would love to hear from you if you are also seeking to create positive change for girls in schools. Contact Us Here.
Girls’ Uniform Agenda was co-founded by Dr Amanda Mergler and Simone Cariss.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is general in nature and is not intended to be formal advice on any matter. It is for information only and is not legal advice.