— With AAP.
Over the past few days, Cricket Australia have come under fire for sacking a female employee after she tweeted her support for abortion reform in Tasmania.
In February, Cricket Australia employee Angela Williamson was forced to fly interstate for a pregnancy termination after Tasmania’s only abortion clinic was closed down in January.
Distressed and fearing for other women who would have to go through the same ordeal, the mum-of-three took to social media to advocate for change.
In tweets on her personal account that have since been removed, Williamson described Tasmania’s abortion situation as a “disgrace” and “gutless”.
But shortly after, a senior Liberal government staffer sent screenshots of her Twitter comments to her employer Cricket Australia, in what Williamson believes was an attempt to have her sacked.
According to Fairfax reports, 39-year-old Williamson was told her tweets, which shared her distress at having to travel interstate for her abortion, had “damaged” her relationship with the government and as a result, she was sacked from her role as a manager of public policy and government relations.
“For speaking up, I lost my job with Cricket Australia,” Williamson told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I was in shock trying to understand the situation I’d found myself in, and how publicly expressing my political opinion in a tweet had led to this situation at work,” she said.
Shortly after Williamson posted her tweets, she reportedly met with a “senior member of government” to discuss her experience with abortion services in Tasmania and to advocate for reform.
But a week later, Cricket Australia complained about her social media activity, so she reached out and apologised to the government member for causing any offence with her tweets.
Days later, she received a termination letter.
“Cricket Australia has now withdrawn its support [and] we have reached the conclusion that your continued employment with Cricket Australia is untentable,” the terminate letter stated, according to documents obtained by Fairfax.
Watch: Women who had abortions before they were legal.
Social media response
Since news broke of Williamson’s sacking, there has been an outpouring of support online and from public figures, with the story even reaching international headlines.
Labor leader Bill Shorten argued that Cricket Australia’s decision to dismiss Williamson was unfair.
“Women in Tasmania do not have access to the same medical resources that women on the mainland have, this is wrong…” he told reporters yesterday.
“If they have released private health information, or if they sought to have this woman blacklisted, that shows why we need a national anti corruption commission in Australia.”
Online, Twitter users condemned Cricket Australia’s decision, deeming their actions “outrageous”.
I’m gob-smacked. This is OUTRAGEOUS. What is Angela Williamson being punished for by @criketaustralia? For having a procedure undertaken by 1 in 4 Australian women? For making sure her advocacy for safe services in her own state had impact by disclosing her own story? #abortion https://t.co/6iGwBy0cFE
— Dr Leslie Cannold (@LeslieCannold) July 30, 2018
Cricket Australia is fine with women playing cricket or working within the game just as long as they don’t tweet or speak honestly about the issues women confront for fear of offense caused to government. The treatment of Angela Williamson tops some really awful decisions by C.A.
— Julie (@jaykay287) July 30, 2018
It’s important we recognise the Angela Williamson case is about access to abortion and also about access to freedom of political expression. Do we live in a functioning democracy? https://t.co/qnSy0HQtFu pic.twitter.com/qMygch5BCY
— Jenna Price (@JennaPrice) July 30, 2018
Cricket Australia’s treatment of Angela Williamson is shameful. It just shows the massive double standard between what it takes to get sacked as a man and as a woman working in sport. https://t.co/RAfx2tWfYW
— Erin Riley (@erinrileyau) July 29, 2018
Equal access to abortion petition
Earlier this week, Williamson launched a change.org petition calling on the Tasmanian government to provide equal access to abortion.
Launched just two days ago, the petition has since gained over 26,000 signatures.
“I flew to Melbourne, alone and scared,” she wrote.
“I was away from my partner and kids and had to take a week off work, so the trip ended up costing me thousands,” she added.
“On my way home on the plane I was so upset that I decided I couldn’t stay silent about this injustice. I took to Twitter – on a personal account – describing the turmoil I went through as a ‘disgrace’.”
“Then, because I spoke up for women across Tasmania, Cricket Australia fired me.”
A rally planned to take place in Hobart this Sunday is expected to draw hundreds of protesters.
We deep dive on why the abortion scene in Glow is some of the most important television you’ll ever watch.
“I’m an educated women with the financial means to be able to do what I did,” Williamson told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
“There are a lot of voices out there in Tasmania that don’t have that access.
“I’m really hopeful that by sharing my story and highlighting this issue it might change our culture about how we talk about surgical terminations and reproductive rights.”
Tasmania government denies role
Williamson believes a senior member of the Tasmanian government accessed her health information and leaked it to her employer.
A senior Liberal government staffer also sent screenshots of her tweets to Cricket Australia.
The state Labor opposition and independent upper house member Ruth Forrest also want the Liberal government investigated for the incident.
State Health Minister Michael Ferguson has flatly denied the government disclosed Ms Williamson’s private information, something echoed by Premier Will Hodgman on Tuesday.
“No one in my government, me nor Minister Ferguson, have ever sought to influence the employment decisions of Cricket Tasmania or Cricket Australia in with respect to Ms Williamson any way whatsoever,” he said.
Angela Williamson is taking Cricket Australia to the Fair Work Commission for unfair dismissal, represented by employment law firm Maurice Blackburn.