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No money? No justice for Survivors!

Pell’s right to appeal has been upheld by the High Court of…

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I am a writer and commentator, with a background in Indigenous sector project management and tabloid newspaper publishing.As a retired older-age Australian I use my time, and my voice, to highlight the level of social injustice that exists in this country. I seek a better, more humane, more progressive Australia.I do not limit myself to any one topic, and my writing style gives whimsy and left-field thought at least as much power as logic, fact, and reason.

No money? No justice for Survivors!

Pell’s right to appeal has been upheld by the High Court of Australia. I have no problem with that. Any Australian citizen has the right to appeal to a higher secular power … in this case our legal system and its variety of ascending higher-level courts.

That’s called a reasonable statement.

My statement, however, is only momentarily polite on such matters as the rights of citizens to appeal, to seek redress, and to seek justice, and to seek fairness.

George Pell has the right to appeal. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Religious Institutions also have the right to appeal.

And here’s where the absolute bloody bullshit of equitable appeal for justice for all here in Australia starts to kick in.

Whatever the source of those dollars, the fact is George Pell’s appeal has been buttressed and supported by a well-heeled appeal fund. Engaging high-flying barristers and solicitors are not cheap.

I, and many other Survivors of the heinous crimes that have been committed against us, would love to have our cases, and our stories, and our quests for justice, heard in the highest court in this land. Of course, we have a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening.

The majority of the Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are mired in poverty. They are beaten down not only by their punishing experiences, they are also gutted by years, decades, and in many cases, lifetimes swamped by the negative legacies of depression, and PTSD.

Of course, the defenders of the clergy, legal and otherwise, would point out that Survivors have equal right of access to the legal system. There are probably people out there in our society who believe such nonsense.

Here are some legal realities for Survivors of childhood sexual abuse when they embark on a path for justice.

Many Survivors, when they initiate a claim against an Institution for historical instances of childhood sexual abuse, are mired in poverty and cannot afford psychologically or financially to hang on long enough for their cases to receive a fair hearing in Court. It often takes years for the cases to be heard.

Institutions such as the Catholic Church etc are well aware of this fact and they put the pressure on Survivors to accept unsatisfactory Settlements via the mediation process.

I know what I am talking about because that was my direct experience in dealing with the Church. They knew I was mired in poverty as a result of enduring a lifetime of effects from my abuse, and they utilised that fact to pressure me into accepting a compensation figure that was woefully lower than what would have reasonably been awarded by a Court.

I can understand that most people simply do not understand the process that Survivors have to go through to seek justice. The system, via Gag Orders etc, is designed to keep us quiet, and the techniques and methods used by the Churches to minimise or defeat claims are rarely aired in the public arena. They need to be aired.

I was, and am, very unhappy with the Settlement terms I was offered. The compensation figure was low and it did not compensate me for a lifetime lost, there was no apology offered, no remorse shown, and no offer of remedial therapy was included. I felt brow-beaten into accepting their ‘offer’, and I felt pushed aside and treated as an annoyance who needed to be quickly silenced.

Well, I am not an annoyance. I am a human being. I have a voice. And, where possible in a legal sense, I intend to use my voice to highlight the methods used by Churches etc to suppress legitimate claims.

Some will say that ‘nobody forced you to sign the thing’. My response to such nonsense is that my impoverished state, and the unending pressure from the Church, did indeed force me to sign the bloody thing.

There is a partial legal Gag Order placed on me, as it is on many other Survivors, but that gag order does not stop me from speaking my mind.

The majority of Survivors are not rich people, they are poor people, they cannot afford to hire a Legal Team to stand against the bevy of Lawyers and Barristers used by the Churches and other Institutions to fritter down and negate justified claims.

Survivors are caught in a bind because of poverty, they have to rely on the ‘umbrella’ afforded by No Win No Fee law firms, and unless those firms are very sure that the case will be won they have to utilise common sense and decline to take the case on. Which leaves some Survivors with a justified claim that they cannot afford to pursue on their own.

Survivors in that position are forced to rely on the National Redress Scheme. I’m not surprised that a lot of Churches and Institutions have signed up to that Scheme, because if any sort of compensation is paid out to an individual under that Scheme it is going to be an awful lot less than what a Court would reasonably award. In my opinion only, the Scheme unintentionally favours the Churches etc and disadvantages the Survivors. The Scheme has unintended consequences attached. Religious politicians, religious institutions, not the best of combinations where redress is concerned.

Many Survivors are riddled with depression and PTSD, and I am one of them. And our condition often precludes us from taking on behemoth institutions like the Catholic Church.

It is important to note that I believe that most religious people are decent folk, and that any action I have taken, or will take, is against the Institution that made no effort whatsoever to protect my younger self from incessant abuse.

To initiate another round of legal action is not an easy thing for me to do, or for any other Survivor to do or countenance. It would be far easier to stay hidden away in the background.

Many people might not realise that when you initiate a claim, in order for a medico-legal report to be produced, your whole life and being is subject to a rigorous forensic examination by Psychiatrists appearing for either side of the case. Sometimes that examination is empathetic, and sometimes it is acidly adversarial.

Either way, you are forced over a number of years to continually live and recall the instances of your abuse in full never-ending detail simply to prove that your claim is justified. No wonder the process so completely demolishes so many people.

Churches etc drag out claims for as long as possible and subject the Survivor, who is in a very vulnerable position, to begin with, to a long period of sustained pressure. My initial experience with my claim against the Church drove me to the edge, and I learnt a lot from that. They will not do that to me again.

I will not be silent.

People out there, those of a well-meaning mindset or otherwise, need to understand that when Survivors approach the legal system to attain justice, they are hamstrung from the get-go because they simply do not have the dollars to hire a high-flying legal team. The Churches do.

It has taken me over 60 years to get to the point where I can say the following. Today’s High Court decision in favour of George Pell is the trigger.

I cannot speak for other Survivors but I can at least guess about what many of us might be feeling. The anger at how we have been treated is starting to appear. The anger is real. It comes from a deep well-spring of imposed traumatic experiences, and from the way we have been demeaned, sidelined, denied fair justice, and pushed aside by Religious Institutions over the course of our lifetimes.

It is a well-justified anger.

 

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How many NSW fires were deliberately lit?

Well, there was no ‘dry lightning’ was there?

A few days ago there were seventy or so fires burning across NSW. The results were catastrophic. Lives lost. Properties lost. Many of those fires are still burning.

There are a myriad number of natural reasons why a fire would start. Since I’m not a fire-cause scientist I can only lump all of those reasons under the general heading of Spontaneous Combustion. It is a natural phenomenon. It happens. Always has. Always will. Nature’s bush clean out so to speak.

Other things happen too. Human things. Accidental things. Cigarette butts get dropped in the wrong spot, broken shards of glass out in the bush act as magnifying lenses, the blades of mowers strike rocks and produce sparks, the wind blows embers out of campfires, electrical shorts happen in power lines. Unintended consequences. Totally accidental.

However, on television, when I look at the grime-weary faces of firefighters, when I look in the eyes of those who have lost all, when I listen to the words of the fire and emergency management authorities, and when I hear about the efforts of the police to ensure the personal safety of the members of their communities … I cannot help but ask that question that is not yet being asked.

How many of those fires were deliberately lit?

Naturally, it is my hope, that only a very small number were deliberately lit.

A short while ago, here in Queensland, at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast, a fire roared up to the boundaries of the Peregian Springs residential estate. The residents who had to flee, the firefighters who had to fight the blaze, and the police who had to risk their own safety to ensure the rescue of others, were all subject to a terrifying experience. Who can forget the nationally shown footage of the ember attack as it was propelled across suburban streets by a strong and relentless wind.

That fire at Peregian Springs was deliberately lit.

The climate science is in. Long in. Our climate is changing. Our fire season, our natural-cause fire season is extending in length. The ferocity of fires is increasing. All of the authorities tasked with bush fire and emergency management deal with those facts. Deniers are short on the ground on that particular front line. The climatic conditions that contribute to the frequency of natural-cause fires are getting worse.

Naturally and accidentally occurring fires are hard enough to deal with, and yet we have people out there who seek to amplify the affect of all that, who seek to gain some sort of vicarious thrill by striking a match and standing back to observe the consequences.

So what can we as a society do about all of that?

I’m not talking about what do we as a society do with the perpetrators if identified and caught. I’m talking about how do we minimise the potential for it happening in the first place.

Education in our schools? Yes. It is probably already done. Also, there are obviously laws already in place that criminalise the deliberate starting of bush fires. Yet deliberate lighting still happens.

As a person who lives slightly on the centre-left of politics I am naturally wary of willingly lining up to give the Australian Government any more terrorism related powers, largely because I question who they target those powers at … refugees being a case in point.

However, when you look in the eyes of the firies, the traumatised residents, the police, the emergency service personnel, how could it not be said that in the case of a deliberately lit fire they were all exposed to to a rank act of terrorism.

I believe that as a nation we should identify gross acts of arson as acts of terrorism. Arsonists are not simple little breakers of the legal code. Their acts have the capacity to kill innocent people, their acts have the potential to burn out communities.

If bush fire arson is deemed to be an act of terrorism, and if it is subject to that kind of national law, then perhaps it might give the would-be perpetrators serious pause for second thought before the match is struck.

What do you think? What other approach, the thoughts above aside, might help to address the vexing problem of deliberately lit fires?

Note: The following information was supplied by another AIMN writer. You can read her full summation in the comments section below. As well, you can read her articles if you do an AIMN search.

“Proportion of deliberate bushfires in Australia

The Australian Institute of Criminology found that,”on average across the country, approximately 13 percent of vegetation fires are recorded as being deliberate and another 37 percent as suspicious. That is, for all vegetation fires for which there is a cause recorded, 50 percent may be lit deliberately.”

https://aic.gov.au/publications/bfab/bfab051

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Do not blame the ALP … blame The People!

In the next day or so the ALP will release their post-mortem on why they lost the election. I am sure it will be a very erudite document. It will probably blame Shorten, it will probably blame the breadth of policy that the ALP took to the election, it will probably blame the ALP for over-reach. It will probably blame the Palmer affect.

Well, as a person who splits his allegiance between the Greens and the ALP I have my own view on the whole deal.

There was nothing wrong with the policies that the ALP took to the last election. Their policies were well overdue. Their policies did not represent a case of over-reach, if anything, their policies (given their fear of losing votes) represented a case of under-reach.

The problem with the last election was not the ALP. The problem at the last election was with The People.

Here we are in the 21st Century, with a populace that has been exposed to world-class education over the last 30 years or so, who voting-wise expressed their incredible ability to sideline critical thinking and analysis, and who subsumed the good of the nation for the good of their own venal pockets and wallets, and who voted for a group of political representatives who are repressive, subversive, and who are overtly promulgating the mores of Fascism.

This country that we love, and hold dear, is not under threat from easily swayed swinging voters. Our country is under threat from Intelligent People who made a very considered decision to support our current Coalition Government. Those people willingly voted for the draconian policies that are now being run out.

The problem in contemporary Australia is not with the ALP, the last election was lost because venal people put themselves, and their wants, before the good of the nation. And they don’t give a toss about the cost of their decision

 

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The Lack of Progressive Guts

How prepared are you to be arrested? How prepared are you to move beyond Keyboard Warriordom, and take your views and thoughts to The Streets?

It is so easy to sit back in the safety of one’s lounge, one’s study, one’s safe place on the verandah, one’s place of security and comfort, and from there sprout forth about Morrison, about the failings of the LNP and the ALP, about the negative influences that are demolishing this great nation that we hold dear.

Words are cheap. Even the best written words, without the attendant action attached to them, are just hot-no-go-anywhere circular air.

The problem with us Progressives is that we are reasonable people, we think that the people who are damaging our country will respond to logic, and reason, and fact. Bad mistake on our part.

If we wish for a better country, a better Australia, we need to move beyond words and put our guts on the line.

I question the fact that the ALP, the Greens, the Unions, GetUp! etc have not banded together (and got over themselves and their individual agendas) and called all of us out on the Streets to arrest the terrible direction that right-wing ideology is dragging our nation in.

Many years ago, in another time and another place, Sir Thomas More pointed out that Silence Condones Assent. It cost him his head. In the current era in Australia to have the courage to oppose, to say that what is happening is not right, might well have a personal cost attached. We have to look within ourselves to ascertain whether or not we are prepared to pay a cost for the convictions that we sprout.

It is my personal belief that we need to take to the Streets. It is my personal belief that we need to back up our words with action. We need to take risks, we need to put ourselves at risk. If we are not prepared to do so, then as Progressives, we are nothing more than sprouters of hot air.

Silence Condones Assent.

Note: this brief little article is not a lecture to you. It is actually a lecture to me. As a retired older Australian I have to remind myself that words are cheap. Change requires Action. Change requires the ‘doing of something’.

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Farm Automation and Lab-Grown Meat: death-knell for country towns?

(I’d finished writing this article before a friend pointed out to me the issue of large Corporates buying up Australian water aquifer land overlays. Too late to weave that into the following discourse. But that issue, combined with what I talk about below, plus combined with the watering-down of environment-protecting legislation, all contributes to the perfect storm that is about to blow across our agricultural and primary production landscapes. You may have a clearer view of all that than me … you may see other issues that contribute to the coming change … if so, feel free to let rip.)

Politicians of all stripes love to spruik from the high heavens that they have a plan, but here in Australia do you see much evidence from our political parties of any sort of future-proofing plan in the agricultural sector? Do you see any evidence that they are looking beyond their own re-election requirements? I don’t. And there is an item coming up that will require a bit of foresight and planning in my opinion.

So here we go …

Corporate entities are taking over a lot of our farmland. Gosh, even Mining Magnates are getting into beef and dairy. As much as a single operator in an air-conditioned office 1,500 kilometres away from a mine site can control automated diggers, and trucks, and trains, which ensures that while one person will get a job the vast majority of mining work-hopefuls who believed the promise of politicians will not (mmm … shades of the coming Adani experience), then what makes us think that agriculture and pastoralism will not go down the same path.

Automation and AI are already making substantial inroads into how our agriculture is practised, and large suppliers like Woolworths and Coles will continue to squeeze family owned farms out of existence, thus greasing the way (now that smells like a plan in progress) for large Corporates to jump in and establish massive economies of scale.

The day is coming when the bulk of our agricultural product will be sowed, nurtured, and reaped, by machinery that is controlled from a distance. Human bums on that automated machinery will not be required. Machinery needs maintenance of course, so initially diesel-mechanics etc will have a bit of a future, but solar panel and battery experts will have an even brighter one.

So the question is … what happens to our regional and outback towns?

If we don’t need as many agricultural farm workers as we once did, and if all the tractors and harvesters are automated and controlled from a comfortable office somewhere on our urban coast land, and if machinery maintenance workers are fly-droned in on an as-needs basis (FIFOs in other words), and if Corporate supply chains visit a guaranteed redundancy on outback small town hardware and agricultural supply shops … then who’ll be around to utilise outback hairdressers, cafes, grocery stores, car retailers, sports ovals, community centres etc?

The prime lifeblood of small regional communities, human beings, will no longer be there in a work-sense. They won’t be required to work on the large corporate farms, they won’t be called on to supply goods and services to those large automated farms, and there’ll be nobody around to sell a coffee or a car to.

Sounds a bit draconian doesn’t it?

Well, a couple of weeks ago I visited my old library workplace at the University of Qld. I left there in the early 1990s, that’s not so long ago. There were floors of librarians and library assistants back then, there were human workers all over the place, a veritable throng of happy workers … but all of that is now gone. How many human workers did I see where I had once worked as a library-assistant? None.

Computerisation, automation, nobody around to take a coffee break, or more to the point, nobody around anymore to buy that coffee to take that break. That sort of thing is coming to the world of agriculture, and coming to our small outback regional towns.

Farmers are practical people, they have to be, they deal with the vagaries of nature on a daily basis. Many farmers who produce the steaks that end up on our plates are also being very practical when they raise the looming issue of lab-grown meat production. They know it is coming. They know that it is a threat to their very future existence as cattle producers.

As much as some farmers are moving into aqua-culture of barramundi etc, I can see a time when cattle producers start to solidly jump in on the ground floor of the coming lab-grown meat revolution. If they don’t, others will. Others already are.

And let’s face it, farmers know how to produce a good tasting steak, so they, as opposed to the entrepreneurial petri-dish crowd, are at least currently knowledge-wise better placed to supply a better tasting product.

But if lab-grown meat production spells the death-knell for traditional ways of producing meat, which I believe it eventually will, and if untold squillions of hectares of grazing land are no longer required to produce that meat, and if the bulk of the workers in the current cattle industry who fly and drove over those hectares are no longer required, and if all the workers in the ancillary services that hang off the cattle industry are no longer required, if the sales yards are no longer required, and if the small settlements they live and buy their coffees and beers in are no longer required … then we are presented with yet another reason why our iconic rural outback towns will be under one heck of a future negative pump.

There will no longer be a reason for their existence.

So what do our politicians think about all of this? What plans are they working on to ensure that there is a future viability for the Bush as a place for people to live and work in? Since I can’t see that they even have the capability to think more than three years into the future, beyond the immediacy of their own re-electability, I think it is a fair bet to say that there is no plan, and there is no future-planning on the issue of retaining a viable future outback lifestyle.

The hard fact is that the vast majority of Australians do not choose to live in the outback, or on the vast inland broad plains, and those who do choose to, and who love to live out there are reliant on a job in, or on the ability to supply services to, a system of agriculture/farming/pastoralism that is eventually going to go the way of the Dodo.

If people want to continue living outback, what are they going to do in the future? Can ramped-up tourism partially fill the void? What else could happen out there that would attract, and retain, people?

Automation, robotics, remote-controlled machinery, control of water resources, a FIFO small-scale maintenance workforce, and factory-grown meat … when all combined together they illustrate a growing perfect storm of convergence that will re-write agricultural and pastoral practices in this country. It won’t all happen today, but it will all happen within a foreseeable tomorrow. Some of the elements that will contribute to that perfect storm of disruptive change are happening under our feet already.

I’m wracking my brains and I can’t come up with a clear answer as to how to ensure the viability of our outback towns and settlements that are reliant on our current methods of growing and breeding things that we eat and need.

But what do you think? What are your thoughts on what sorts of policies and plans could be embarked on, now, to ensure the future viability of the great Australian Bush?

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Patriots in a Red Dirt Land

It has been written elsewhere that Patriotism is but a short goose-step away from Fascism, and that Nationalism is but a short spurt of frenzied flag-waving away from Totalitarianism. There is more than just a shade of truth in all of that.

Beneath the veneer of our myths of egalitarianism, and beneath the myths of our inclusiveness and fairness, and beneath the myths of the classless nature of our society, runs a broad river of hatred, bigotry, and ignorance.

The Australia that we hope for, the Australia that we know we could be, has been pulled away from our grasp, and is now steered and controlled and increasingly damaged, by our nationalists, and by our patriots.

There is beauty in our wide brown land. Goodness happens above our red dirt and sinuous escarpments. But hate, suppression, and bigotry, are washing like a tide over the remaining vestiges of that beauty and goodness.

We now live in a land where the promulgators of hate and bigotry are repeatedly elected to our national parliament. We now live in a land where the mini-Goebbles of rightist propaganda, the megaphone voices of our media and airwaves, sprout bile, and hatred, and bigotry, with well sponsored impunity.

How did we allow the Australia that we so love and cherish flip so badly to that negative insidious side?

As willing war-partners with others we are now a country that has dropped bombs on people, and we are now a country that incarcerates and punishes the very people who are fleeing from the bombs that our country helped pulled the release lever on.

As beneficiaries of a flat out invasion, as beneficiaries of a flat out land grab, our nationalists and our patriots oppose the truth of our history, and oppose the rights and aspirations of the First Nations’ People of Australia. Our nationalists and our patriots wave their flags of hate, and bigotry, and racism, with pride.

We now live in a land where the badgering and demonisation of our poor, our unemployed, and the disadvantaged, has become a blood sport for our nationalists, and our patriots.

We now live in a land where the nationalistic and patriotic voices of ignorance, where the vanguard voices of anti-science, where the deniers of truth and the self-celebratory representatives of artifice, dwell solidly in the highest offices of power and influence in this country.

We now live in a land where our patriots and our nationalists celebrate our destructive environmental tendencies, grease the path to further levels of atmospheric pollution, and seek to profit from their unending upward spiral of development of our globally-damaging fossil fuel holdings. They fly in the face of, and deny with well-funded ignorance, the evidence that will greatly affect the world of their children and grandchildren, and the world of our children and grandchildren.

Those of us who feel this way are not in a minority. Those of us who feel this way are not ignorant flag-waving nationalists, we are not truth-averse or goose-stepping patriots, and there is no way known that we will join their ignorant, and destructive, ranks.

But there is something that we are, there is something about us that needs to change if we wish to save our country from the surge of nationalistic patriotism that is pulling our country away from beneath our feet. We have to have a good hard look at our own collective silence.

We are getting to the point in our country where appeals to logic, and reason, and evidence, and bi-partisanship, and compromise, and positive cooperation in the pursuit of any sort of good for this country … are increasingly ignored, and increasingly fall on deaf and ignorant patriotic and nationalistic ears.

It is not as if we are seeking something radical, something that resides beyond the boundary of impossibility or normal human aspiration. We are simply seeking the creation and the nurturing of a more progressive and humane Australia.

We are running around in circles of our own making if we continue on with our silence, but nobody likes to be lectured. I don’t. You don’t.

So it poses the question. What can we do about it?

Well, as part of the silent majority … (and I believe it is time that we as a progressive grouping of people claimed that tag back as our own, and it is time that we claimed that tag back from the nationalists and the patriots of this land) … as part of the silent majority who wish better for this country, I struggle to come up with a clear answer to the question.

We are part of a majority, a slim majority, and we struggle to gain fair representation at the national political level, and apart from our brave spokespeople who have the courage to publicly represent our aspirations on platforms such as AIMN and elsewhere, we, and I, are part of a slim and largely silent majority. We want change. We want real change. We want to hose out the fires of hate and bigotry and negative public policy-making that sears this beautiful land.

Yes, we occasionally get out there and attend some ‘safe’ protests. I certainly have. Yet, when I stroll down the protest street, legally or otherwise, with my banner held high, the thought keeps arising that all of this is just simply not working, all of this is just simply not changing anything. There are not enough of us out there. There is no unstoppable critical mass forming.

My thought is that we all need to get out there. That is my thought on the matter, it is not a lecture to anybody on the matter. But is it possible for us to step outside the comfort zone of our daily comfortable existence?

Mass unstoppable protest, to my mind, is the only answer. Reasonableness, and hope in the power of our electoral system, has not worked, and the rightist nationalists and patriots currently control our national political and societal agendas. They present a face of Australia to the world that is not representative of who we are.

But getting out there and protesting, and standing solidly in the road against the nationalists and patriots, is not always an easy thing to do in contemporary Australia. Because it identifies you to them clearly as a non-patriot, and a non-nationalist, and a non-fascist, and a non-bigot, and a non-racist, and a non-hater, and a non-ignoramus, and a non-denier. It publicly identifies you as NOT being like them.

Their power will continue to grow in Australia unless more and more of us are prepared to get out there, unless more and more of us are prepared to run the risk of identifiably standing in opposition and defiance to them.

Our political parties who oppose the Right need to do more than just try and represent us in our parliaments. They need to join us on the streets. We need to join them on the streets. We need to join each other on the streets.

I cannot see any other method that will, from now on, help us to achieve a better and more humane and more progressive Australia.

Having just read the article by RosemaryJ36 on AIMN titled ‘Empathy. They have none.’ I can only echo, and agree with, that author’s words … “It is becoming more and more apparent that we need to go down the path of civil disobedience, following the example of the people of Hong Kong.”

 

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St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage: Criminal acts, sadism, and nightmares …

It is time to speak of terrible things.

The Sisters of Mercy. The Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. To date I have not accused either entity of direct personal responsibility for failing to protect me from the perpetration of a series of criminal acts upon my person. I do so now. Publicly, and without reserve.

Gag Orders are terrible, and binding, legal things. I am partially subject to one. Powerful people and institutions use them to silence their victims. That’s as straight a statement as you are ever likely to read.

Sometimes silence needs to be broken. I’m breaking it.

The content of my legal Testimony against the Catholic Church, and the Sisters of Mercy, has been muted, and sidelined, and buried under tons of legalese and gagging. Well I’m sick of all that. I’m sick of the politeness and restraint that fear of ramification, fear of blow back, and fear of being targeted, forced upon me.

I’m sick of fear and silence. My abuse experiences are deemed to be historical. I deem them, and their affects on me, to be relevant, contemporary, and in my face every day.

Here are the objective facts … at times not easy reading. I will not filter out the truth.

Note: Following on from here I provide detail of my abuse experiences in St. Vincent’s Orphanage in Nudgee, Brisbane. The details may be upsetting for some people. In the past I have skirted around them, but I can no longer do that.

I’m not an orphan, yet I ended up at St. Vincent’s Orphanage when I was five years old. I lived there between 1957 and 1964. I had parents who could no longer hold their relationship together, and back in the 1950s that was a fast conduit to children ending up in State Care.

Children. There were four of us. We were separated and doled out by the State of Queensland. My two older sisters were sent to Nazareth House at Wynnum, a Catholic Orphanage, and my older brother and I were sent to St. Vincent’s at Nudgee near Brisbane, another Catholic Orphanage. My brother was in the older boys’ section, I was in the younger boys’ section. Separated, no mutual support.

I have no idea what my brother and sisters experienced in the Orphanages. We have never discussed, or shared, our experiences. We made belated attempts, later in our young adult lives, to forge some sort of, any sort of, familial bond. It didn’t work, and we drifted permanently apart.

St. Vincent’s Orphanage at Nudgee. Run by the Sisters of Mercy. Here’s what I experienced, which is but another awful variation of what so many others experienced. It was a bloody nightmare.

Beatings. I received a lot of them. Open-handed, closed fists, belts, razor strops. Some of the Sisters were very angry people and they took their frustrations out on me, and others. And what was I at the time when it all started? A defenceless five year old.

The food. It was awful. The best that can be said about it is that it kept you alive. It was contaminated and sub-standard. Because I was so thin and malnourished I was forced, once the regular meal was finished, to sit on a bench at a special table, the skinny kids’ table, and forced to consume a second meal of cerevite porridge under the staring gaze of all. The taunts were never ending … special skinny kids, special skinny kids, something wrong with them … you can imagine what that did to the psyche of a five year old.

The bloat of stomach pain lingers in my memory. The open-handed slaps to the side of my head from the Sisters when I could not finish the second meal lingers in my memory. The taunts stuck. Not only did the Sisters not stop them, they doubled-down and reinforced them with their stinging slaps. But all of that was just background stuff, always there, always endured.

Oral Rape. I was five/six years old. I was dragged into a closed room in the dormitory and assaulted by an adult male. The feeling of being smothered has never left me. He covered my nostrils with his hand and he gagged my mouth with his penis. I couldn’t breathe. I was terrified. When he finished he punched me, closed fist, and promised more of the same if I said anything. Where were my so-called protectors, where were the Sisters of Mercy? The assault happened in a Nun’s bedroom. To this day I cannot stand to be in a closed space with curtains.

Anal Rape. I was hauled before a Head Nun because my serge shorts, special shorts that we got to wear to mass on Sunday, were soiled on the rear. She physically beat me with a razor strop for soiling the shorts and would not listen to anything I tried to say. The beating was body-wide and it totally demolished me.

And why were the shorts soiled? They were soiled with leakage from my rectum. Semen, excreta, and blood. I was an Alter Boy, and I had been anally raped by the Priest who had visited to say Mass. There was no grooming involved, it was a sudden and brutal attack. Where were my protectors, the Sisters of Mercy, the Archdiocese, and the State?

Raped, and then viciously beaten. It altered who I was, and it has affected my whole life.

Mental cruelty. That was a way of life. Any expression of individuality was met with a beating, a thumping. I still cringe when somebody moves fast near me.

I used to, as a child, hang off the high fence of the Orphanage, staring up the incoming road, hoping desperately that my father would arrive and rescue me. He never came.

Many years later I met my father. We had one day together. That’s all. He died of cancer soon afterwards. On meeting him I had to quickly choose between loving him or hating him, I chose love. He told me that he desperately wanted to visit but the Nuns, the Sisters of Mercy, told him that it was not in the best interests of the children to be visited, and that he no longer had any parental rights. Their horrible stance on the matter hollowed him out, and hollowed me, as a child, out. There could have been rescue and release, but the Sisters of Mercy would not allow it.

After seven years in the Orphanage I was given a shirt, shorts, a pair of sandals, and a little port containing some other clothes, a godly pat on the head, and I was sent off to live with a foster family for my high school years. The Christian Brothers at Marist College Ashgrove were maybe not the best, but they did not come within cooee of the badness of the Sisters of Mercy.

From 1957 onward to today I have led a blighted affected life. I never realised any sort of personal potential. Finally in 2017 I sought redress from the Catholic Church and the Sisters of Mercy. I cited to them my childhood experiences under their care, I cited to them the kind of life I had led over the last sixty-two years.

They took into account my enduring poverty and they applied the screws of delay and obfuscation, and offered an insult of a Settlement to my claim against them. The debilitating affects of my poverty forced me to accept the Settlement.

There was no apology offered, no liability admitted, no offer of remedial therapy made. In my opinion that is yet another example of their ability to still abuse. It adds to the litany of criminality.

When I look back over my life now that I have reached the age of sixty-seven, I think about the unending childhood abuse, I think about the unrealised potential, I think about the jobs that I could not sustain, I think about all the failed attempts to gain professional qualifications, I think about the failed personal relationships, I think about the difficulty in maintaining effective communication with my children, I think about the fear of ending my own life that I wore like a smothering blanket for far too many of my years, and I think about how fear of just living continually undermined my reserves of intelligence, guts, and courage.

St. Vincents Catholic Orphanage at Nudgee was a nightmare. It was run by people, the Sisters of Mercy and the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, who not only did not provide care for me as their Ward, they took no steps to protect me when, as a child, I spoke up, or if at times I could not speak up, it was so bloody obvious that I had been raped and beaten and smothered whilst under their care.

I hold both the Order of the Sisters of Mercy, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, as entities, fully responsible for the criminal acts that were perpetrated upon me. They could have, but did not, prevent them. They are liable, and they are responsible.

People shy away from using the word Victim these days. I don’t shy away from using it at all. Perpetrators commit crime, and others by omission of responsibility allow crime to be committed. Those crimes create Victims. Those crimes do not create Survivors.

I no longer have time for euphemistic replacement words. Words such as Survivor are merely grab-bag words designed to give an impression that the victims of heinous crime have survived, and have miraculously shrugged off the negative life-long affects of the criminal acts perpetrated on them. Euphemistic words may make the speaker feel slightly better about things, but they do stuff all for the Victim. Behind the euphemistic words lies a very harsh reality for the victims of mental, physical, and sexual abuse.

Here are my harsh realities … they are, in part, drawn from a very lengthy medico/legal report compiled in 2018 as part of my legal process. The reading is bad enough, but I can assure you that the living of it all was far worse. I include this material to show you that criminal acts have a very definite affect on the victim. I would also, as you read the below, remind you that in my claim for redress that there was no apology offered, no liability admitted, or no offer of remedial therapy made to me by the Catholic Church.

Mental State Examination:

Mr Davis presented as a relatively intense and intrinsically sad person. His intelligence is above average, and could possibly be in the superior range. He is capable of thinking in a psychological manner.

He was significantly depressed, significantly anxious, but not overtly irritable at time of interview.

His affect was heightened and a little unpredictable. His affect did not become incongruent at any time.

He was not paranoid in attitude. He was not suffering delusions, hallucinations, or other symptoms to suggest a psychotic disorder of mind.

Commentary/Opinion:

Whilst it is late in the cycle of illness, Mr Davis has substantial unmet treatment needs.

Left as he is now, Mr Davis is highly unlikely to show improvement. There is risk that his various symptoms may become more problematic as he ages. His prognosis in this situation would be poor. If the plaintiff undertakes a reasonable and proper program of treatment, he should note some symptomatic improvement. However, he is unlikely to ever be symptom-free, given the pervasive acts of abuse/cruelty which he experienced whilst he was resident at the orphanage.

Mr Davis’ several year period of residence at the orphanage became a major stressor for him. There seems little point in trying to separate the effects of physical and emotional abuse from the effects of frank sexual abuse. Suffice it to say that substantive abuse, of any form, during the critical early formative years, is likely to trigger psychological problems which can become chronic and pervasive in type. This applies in the plaintiff’s case.

There should be no doubt that Mr Davis has multiple longer-term symptoms which link in greater part with his inability as a child to accommodate to his physical/sexual/emotional abuse at the orphanage.

The plaintiff has broad-ranging and chronic symptoms of persistent depressive disorder, from which he cannot escape. The symptoms interfere with his ongoing sense of well-being, and impair his function in everyday life.

Special Tests:

Mr Davis completed a Beck Depression Inventory II. He had a total score of 38 on the instrument, this placing him within the range for severe depression. He had moderate/high scores in the domains of pessimism, past failure, loss of pleasure, guilty feelings, punishment feelings, self-dislike, self-critical thinking, tearfulness, loss of interest, indecisiveness, feelings of worthlessness, difficulties with concentration, tiredness/fatigue, loss of energy, altered appetite.

Mr Davis completed a PCL-5. He had a total score of 48 on the instrument, this placing him above the diagnostic threshold for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The plaintiff completed a Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). He had a total score of 39 on the instrument, this placing him within the range for concern. He had moderate/high scores in the domains of numbing/tingling, unsteadiness of his legs, inability to relax, fears of the worst happening, being dizzy/light-headed, alteration in heart rate/rhythm, general unsteadiness, being terrified/afraid, general nervousness, hand tremors, being shaky/unsteady, fears of losing control, being scared, being faint/light-headed.

Documents:

I note the findings of the Queensland Government Redress Scheme (18 June 2009). Mr Davis had been found to have “more serious harm”. He was identified in an appended paper to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, suicidal thoughts, severe depression, and he was thoroughly predisposed in adult life to develop a major depressive disorder, chronic agoraphobic symptoms and panic symptoms additionally.

Other Points:

He has recollection of “unending abuse” and he recalled living in a constant fear that the next round of abuse was about to begin.

He has a persisting sadness that he is unable to relate in a consistent manner with people important to him.

He has ongoing anhedonic feelings, with constant nihilistic rumination, and occasional suicidal ideas.

He has a sense of chronic humiliation about his station in life.

He lost what he said had been his “spirit” in life.

He was incapable of achieving any joy or pleasure in his life.

SO WHERE TO FROM HERE?

So that’s what happened, and I currently do my best to deal with it all. And I haven’t given up.

I have recently learned that in Queensland, where I reside, it is possible to appeal against an unsatisfactory Settlement of Claim accepted under duress. My Settlement was grossly unsatisfactory. The duress was real.

I, and many other Victims of sexual abuse, do not want sympathy. We are way past the need for it. We want justice.

I intend to appeal. I want justice, I want just compensation, and I want no other human being of either gender to experience what I, and so many others, have been through, and are still going through.

The crimes that have been committed against me, and against so many others, fall at the extreme end of the spectrum of criminality. The perpetrators, the protectors of the perpetrators, and the uncaring ‘nothing to see here’ care-givers, should be confronted and never, ever, be allowed to get away with it.

St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage was a place of criminal acts, sadism, and the stuff of nightmares. It was a terrible experience to live through. I’m but one of many who had to endure it.

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From Vietnam to Iran: Australian Cannon Fodder?

This morning, in Ohio USA, our Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the opening of the Australian funded Pratt Paper Factory. He gave a scripted little speech. In that speech, dutifully following the script, he thanked American Veterans for their service to the Great Alliance between the USA and Australia. What on earth did that little scripted homily have to do with the opening of a paper factory?

ScoMo’s little speech followed on from the equally hollow little speech by Donald Trump in which he praised up ScoMo and Australia as the best sort of friends the USA could possibly ever have. The false praise sprouted forth tsunami-like and it is a wonder that those in attendance weren’t washed out of the room on that tide of gushing compliments and suck-ups.

Made me wonder what it was all about. Then, of course, it hit me … it’s about Iran stupid!

Iran. Yet another Coalition of the Willing.

And what a load of bollocks all of that Coalition of the Willing language is. Because who in their right mind willingly volunteers to be blown to smithereens or volunteers to blow others into smithereens all in pursuit of somebody else’s unworthy cause.

Within the memory of our generation we had the Vietnam War, then Iraq, then Afghanistan. American wars. Failed wars. Nothing good, though much harm, came out of them. Surely we learnt something from all of that?

Some wars need to be fought, whether we like it or not, and World War II is an example of such a war. We have a very professional, but very small, Australian Defense Force (ADF) that is there to protect us and our interests. It represents precious capital that we cannot afford to fritter away on wars that have nothing to do with us.

There may have been a time, such as during the mentioned WWII, when the commitment of our soldiers’ lives to a cause was fully justifiable, and such a time may one day come again. But that time has not, yet, come again.

As the USA ramps up the rhetoric against Iran it would pay us to remember that America well and truly sold us the dummy with Vietnam, let alone Iraq, let alone Afghanistan.

Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist, educated in France. As the Japanese occupation of Vietnam was coming to an end in the closing stages of WWII Ho approached the Americans for assistance to unify his country, and to forestall the re-imposition of French colonial rule. He repeatedly petitioned President Harry S. Truman for support for Vietnamese independence, citing the Atlantic Charter, but Truman never responded. Essentially, the Americans told him to get stuffed.

Not unnaturally, Ho thought … no, actually, you lot can get stuffed, and he then proceeded to do just that to first the returning French, then to the Americans and their small number of Coalition of the Willing allies. We were one of those allies. Good old Australia … always prepared to suck-up to the Americans and jump, under instruction of course, onto the martial bandwagon of the USA.

The proof of the Vietnam pudding is always in the eating, and despite the dire warnings that we were all fed of Communist Hordes domino-toppling everything in sight we are presented, now, with a modernising and unified Vietnam getting on quite ok with the West … Ho’d be tearing his hair out, because that’s all he wanted for his people in the first place.

One cannot be flippant about such a matter. Good Australian lives, the lives of good Australian military men and women, were lost in the Vietnam War. Many of our military people were maimed and psychologically shattered by their service in Vietnam. It was not the choice of our service personnel to go to Vietnam, they were ordered to go there, by our politicians.

We need to remember that our service personnel were abused when they returned, and some, as Veterans, are still trying to come to grips with the health legacies of their Vietnam service. They deserved to be treated better than that. It was not their fault that our politicians thought that toadying up to the Americans was a good thing to do.

We, Australia, now have a legion of Veterans from the growing list of America’s wars. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. With the exception of the Vietnam War, which had the overlay of the National Service Draft Lottery attached to it, most of the military folk that we sent to that steady treadmill of USA war-making, were volunteers.

Volunteers. They volunteered and joined up to protect Australia and Australian interests, and you can only have but the greatest respect for them because of that.

While only our Veterans can speak for themselves, I very much doubt that they joined up to fight for America.

If we dutifully submit to American requests and solidly sign on to the Iran Coalition of the Willing we are yet again selling ourselves short, selling our Service Personnel short, and selling our national independence short.

We should not have been in Vietnam, or Iraq, or Afghanistan. We should decline the invitation (order) to involve ourselves with Iran.

The lives of our service personnel are precious, and those lives should not be wasted in yet another possible war that has nothing to do with us.

It is our children and grandchildren of military age who always pay the price. Politicians like ScoMo or Trump and their historical predecessors, never do.

 

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On reaching the ripe age of 67 …

Tomorrow, touch wood, I reach the ripe old/young age of 67. Except for my family and friends that doesn’t necessarily mean all that much to anyone else, but it sure means an awful lot to me. I never thought I’d make it.

If matters such as Suicide or Childhood Sexual Abuse raise concerns for you then it is only fair to inform you that I do not intend to skate past them lightly in this article. Too much light-skating has been done with such matters, by too many, for too long.

As any of us grow older it is quite normal to reflect back upon a life either lived well, or badly, or neutrally, or desperately, or happily, or quietly, or dronishly, or distractedly. In my case all of those things have applied at one stage or another. To be more exact, perhaps they have all applied all of the time. Whatever the truth of that, life is still good.

When I reflect back on my own life I do so with the understanding that there are many people out there who have lived a far harder life than I have, and that helps me keep truth and perspective up front and centre as I write this. And it also explains why somebody like me abhors the thought of sympathy received at my end, but who is quite happy to extend same to others.

But why write this? Well, why not? I can’t always write about Artificial Intelligence, or Space, and I can always write about the weather tomorrow.

As a scribe I have had many articles published in the ‘citizens’ voice’ sphere. Articles on welfare, social justice, politics, the nature of time, and sometimes just simple quirky fun stuff. But who is the person who does the writing? Why do I think the way I do, and why do I pursue the social justice causes that I am so passionate about?

To answer all that would take a book-length scribble, so I’ll go for the short version instead.

People now talk quite openly about matters such as Childhood Sexual Abuse and Suicide. Over the course of my life such matters were not openly discussed, they were under-carpeted, and most people in my experience, except for an exceptional few, ran a million miles rather than listen to whatever I may have had to say. So be it, that’s the way it was. But now is different.

When I think about reaching the age of 67 I think about the people who did not reach that age, and the reasons why they did not reach that age, and I think about how for me the truth of the possibility of not reaching a point of happy old crustiness was such a close run thing.

At the moment I’m working on an article about the contemporary ALP, my usual take on the ludicrous nature of Australian politics, but in the background I’m also assisting another Survivor to get the story of the life he has lived into a coherent written form. Providing that assistance, though I am very determined to do so, is proving to be more difficult than I had imagined. It’s called the mirror effect. You see yourself reflected back.

Why have I lived my entire life with Suicide Ideation bubbling away just below the surface?

If you have read my articles on Childhood Sexual Abuse on AIMN you’ll have done the dot-joining thing ages ago, so I don’t need to reprise the details. Suffice it to say that there have been so many times throughout my life where I thought it would simply be easier, and less painful, to no longer be here, to no longer endure the painful feelings. Quite frankly, I’m bloody amazed, and thankful, that I am still here.

The other day I remarked to the other Survivor that if I had to describe my life it would be like this … My life was snuffed out and shut down at 5 years old and I didn’t start to wake up until I reached the age of 60 years. That’s a literal truth. No wonder I thought that not being around was better than being around.

I’d love to say that there was some sort of miraculous experience that made me dump the thought of suicide out the window, but there wasn’t. Such thoughts, and the affects of my childhood experiences, are permanent. They’ll be with me always. The reality of all that used to gut me out, and I fought against it with all of my energy, which simply left me permanently exhausted and seriously considering self-termination.

Yet I am still here. And why is that?

A good Psychiatrist simply made me realise that I was involving myself in a battle that I could never win. He made me realise that I was fighting against something that would never, despite herculean efforts, ever go away. Your condition is permanent old bod, so get used to it, work out a way to live with it, run with your intelligence (ha …. such as it is) and your strengths, and live on. It was a truth I needed to hear, and it sure as shit made me think about things.

There was I hoping for a release that would never come. There was I thinking of killing myself because the weight of depression and PTSD, despite all my efforts, was not getting any lighter at all. So it took a change of perspective from me. I had to change my view of everything.

My afflictions are permanent. They cannot be undone. They cannot be fixed. It has taken my whole life to come to an acceptance of those facts. Thank the stars or whatever that acceptance has come.

I have given up the fight. There is no battle to be fought. I now see the permanent nature of the injuries to my psyche and my being as stubbed bent toes that are simply solidly and permanently attached to me. They are part of me, they are a permanent part of my body, and they have shaped how I think, and what I think about.

When I write about social injustice in our society I write from a very solid, solid, base. I know what unfairness feels like, I know what demonisation feels like, I know what to be the recipient of rape and abuse feels like, I know what to be the recipient of violence feels like, I know what cruelty feels like, I know what to be the target of others’ warped anger feels like, I know what to be impoverished feels like, I know what to be disadvantaged feels like. That’s why I’m an experiential, and not a bookish or an academic style of writer.

I don’t always write about the Australian Welfare System, but when I do I am consciously scathing of it, and of those who designed it and of those who administer it. Reform of our system of welfare is a cause that I am passionate about. Welfare Recipients are human beings and deserve to be treated that way.

Refugees, who are legal seekers of asylum, and who are fleeing the warfare, and the bombs, that we have inflicted upon them because of our involvement in all of the Coalitions of the Willing, do not deserve to be treated inhumanely, nor do they deserve to be incarcerated.

I mention those last two matters to simply example how my own experiences have formed my thinking. My experiences inform my thinking in all such matters and causes.

As I finish off now my thinking runs to you, the reader, and I wonder what sort of life you have had. I wonder what obstacles you have had to surmount. I wonder where your joys come from. And I wonder what experiences inform your thinking. I certainly hope that your life is a happily lived one.

So tomorrow. 67 years of age. I’ll be celebrating it with bells on I assure you. A glass of Shiraz, maybe even a pie.

No matter what, life is good. I’m glad to be here.

Would you like an interesting Weekend Challenge?

Do you have a favourite topic or issue that you would like to raise? Perhaps something that you feel the media, or even writers like me, have never turned their attention to?

So here’s the challenge. Think of an article that you would like to write about that issue, but don’t actually write the whole article. Simply come up with a Title for the article, and then write a one or two paragraph synopsis and post it as your comment. I’ve given a couple of pull-quote examples below from my AIMN articles to give you an idea of length, word-count, and format. Might be fun and interesting for all the rest of us to read what you have to say. Brevity is the key.

Your topic doesn’t have to be serious, it can be raw comedy, or satirical, or it can be about Cricket if you wish, or it can be very serious and designed to draw our attention to a worthwhile cause. The usual rules of writing decorum apply … no overt bagging or personal attacks or over the top profanities.

Of course there has to be a winner, and there has to be a prize. Since I’m the worst judge of anything I’ll have to leave picking the winner to the Court of Public Opinion (ha … if that seems like a grand cop-out to you that’s only because it is), and as for the prize, the biggest Bucket Of Kudos will wing your way. Wouldn’t mind winning that one myself.

So … do you feel like taking up the challenge to inform, amuse, or even surprise the rest of us? Go for it, you are the writer and we are the audience!

Cosmic Follies and the Race for Space

Humanity was a low-level civilisation, and just like the 3,112 other failed civilisations we have studied thus far in the galaxy known by the Aliens as the Milky Way .. they were hardly unique. They succumbed to the same self-destructive drive as the others. They never managed to become post-nuclear, or post-war, and they killed off their own habitat, and ultimately their own species.

The Australian Dark Age

To anybody who might think that I’m being slightly over the top here all I can say is the following … the water is in the pan, it is currently lukewarm, and we are the frog. Also, the mass of the population under the old Weimar Republic thought that the totalitarian ‘jobs and growth’ mantra was a wonderful thing, until they learnt at great cost to themselves and others that it wasn’t when economic crisis and political instability led to the collapse of the republic and the rise of the Third Reich.

Through the lens of time

Whimsy … is it possible for me to look back over my shoulder, and from my present now, directly observe the Roman invasion of Britain in 43AD? You’ll soon see that I have a prime, if hopeless, motivation for wanting to do such a thing.

Of course, it is possible for me to do it. It is eminently possible. But the trouble is I’m in the wrong place to observe such a thing. I’d need to be somewhere on the other side of our galaxy with an exceptionally good telescope. Reflected earth light from 43AD has been travelling outwards from here at the rate of 299,792,458 meters per second, which translates as 9,460,528,000,000 km each and every year for the last 1,976 years.

Endgame: Machine artificial intelligence and the implications for humanity

Machines are now learning how to modify their own instructional code based on their own experience of the external world. This type of coding is not based on humanity’s experience of the external world. Once a machine learns how to jump, jump it will. Once a machine learns how to think, think it will. Once a machine learns to act autonomously, act autonomously it will.

Humans are teaching machines how to recognise individual humans via facial recognition, and how to sense some human emotional states via bio-metric sensing. In the future, if a machine senses a threat it will act. Humans, and their emotional states, are a bit of a jumble. Sometimes fear responses can be mis-interpreted as aggressive responses. If a machine senses a threat it will act.

Some AI coders say that we should not fear any of these eventualities. They say that intelligent machines will augment and enrich the lives of human beings. There is truth and untruth in that. Weaponised machines will kill us humans just as dispassionately as one of them sans weapons will vacuum our carpets.

The Desert of Redemption?

In early April 2019 I jumped in my venerable X-Trail and headed west and alone into the Australian desert. After the finalisation of my case against the Catholic Church I needed clear air, I needed blue sky, I needed wider spaces, I badly needed a gallon of the finest shiraz, and I desperately craved a sense of redemption. It ended up being, to my surprise, a 7000k long journey.

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When Zealots control Welfare …

There is something wrong with the heart and soul of this nation. There is something troubling about the level of demonisation and targeted punishment that is directed at the most vulnerable members of our society.

There is something that is becoming clearly self-evident: when you allow amateur ideologically driven social engineers control over our welfare system they will promulgate, enforce, and saturate their social security policies with hate.

The evidence is in. The current Coalition Government of Australia more than overtly hates Welfare Recipients. The Cashless Welfare Card. Drug testing. Deliberate impoverishment on Newstart. The punitive JobActive system. RoboDebt.

And who are Welfare Recipients? Given the existence of a certain set of circumstances, or given the non-existence of a certain set of circumstances, Welfare Recipients are you and me, or could be you and me.

The unplanned loss of a job, which could happen to you at any time, and the difficulty in gaining a replacement for it. The trauma of divorce and the loss of assets, and the loss of the ability to cope, for mature aged men and women. The young struggling to gain a start. Homelessness. Sickness. Mental health issues which affect an increasing number of us. Economic recession. Any of those things could happen to you at any time and force you to become reliant on welfare.

Who else is on welfare? Far too many women who have lost everything, who have fled for their lives from the scourge of domestic violence. Far too many men and women whose lives have been ripped apart by the lasting damage of childhood sexual abuse. Far too many human beings whose lives have been turned upside down by unforeseen events.

And how are they treated? As scum, as dregs, as a drain on national resources, as bludgers, as drug addicts, as irresponsible, as incapable, as scammers, as low-lifes.

Well is that what you are? Is that what you will be if life sends you the curve-ball of unemployment for whatever reason?

We now have a situation in this country where hate appears to be the underpinning glue of social policy. Where from the Prime Minister down to the thoughtless braying crowd the expression of hate towards the vulnerable is seen to be good, and right, and just.

Well it is not.

The majority of Welfare Recipients, just like the majority of people in the workplace, just like the majority of people living in your suburb, just like the majority of people sitting next to you at a football match, just like the majority of people next to you on the bus, are decent normal folk just trying to lead a decent normal life.

A small number of people in your workplace, in your suburb, in that footy crowd, on that bus, or on welfare, will seek to take advantage. A small number of people always seek to do that. We’ve all met them, especially in the workplace.

Yet, from the Prime Minister down, we are fed a daily diet of hate towards Welfare Recipients, towards that one group of disadvantaged Australian citizens. We are told that people on welfare are different to anybody else, we are told that they are advantage seekers who need to be controlled, managed, corralled, and punished. Well they are not different to anybody else, they are you and me, or they could be you and me.

The conservative media takes delight in singling out isolated cases of welfare recipients who seek advantage, and then by imputation the media brands the majority of the rest of the decent folk on welfare as dole-bludgers, addicts, and societal thieves. Such media blood sport is sickening. That people watch, believe, and repeat such obvious untruths is worrying, because it speaks of the ease with which hate is being promulgated in our society.

We have now hit a ridiculous point in our national life. On the one hand we have a zealot, yes a zealot of a Prime Minister who publicly parades his religious love of fellow man for electoral advantage, but who promulgates policies of social injustice towards the disadvantaged.

And on the other hand we now have religious organisations and other community groups having to deplete their scant resources to repair the growing damage caused by our Prime Minister’s proudly proclaimed policies. The homelessness, the suicides, the despair, the poverty, the unfairness – all of those things are happening to decent disadvantaged folk in our society as a direct consequence of the policies of this current government.

There is something wrong with the heart and soul of this nation if we allow the current situation to continue. There is something wrong with our brutal national policies towards the disadvantaged. A very hateful and cruel streak runs through those who are in charge of our welfare system.

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Cosmic Follies and the Race to Space

Author: time will tell as to whether this is a work of fiction, or not.

When carried on the wind, and when afforded the passage of uncounted millennia of time, even the soft red dust of the planet had sufficient ablative power to erode down even the strongest of the Alien’s structures. Had we arrived a million years later, which is nothing in the cosmic scheme of things, in all likelihood, there would have been nothing left to study, or learn from.

Had we arrived two million years earlier we would have met them.

Bittersweet. That is the only way to describe our feelings when we first discovered the remnants of this space-faring civilisation. In our journeys throughout this galaxy, we had never, ever, seen any evidence that any other species had become post-atomic, or had clawed their way up the gravity well in a lasting sense. Yet here we were, on this small dusty red planet, looking at the evidence such as it was, and we had missed a face to face meeting with them by the smallest mere speck of time. Bittersweet.

But enough of such musings. As a Space Archaeologist, I have a job to do, and a report to write. If death and taxes were once perennial in our embodied era, the need to publish as First Author, and gain and retain resources, is still a must in the current one.

Report to the Senate Select Committee on Civilisation Number 3,113: Another example of Cosmic Folly in the Race to Space.
Principal Author: Identity 756
Co-Authors: Identity 832. Identity 184.

Source of information: Crystalline Data Cubes x 6. Located in a lined and once inhabited lava tube below Alien Base A. Called A simply because it was found first. AI Identity 184 managed the de-coding of the Alien’s digital records and a translation of same into our language.

Data from the Cubes is comprehensive. It details evolutionary history of the species, the rise of their civilisation from one-cell through to the level of multi-cell, the attainment and management of technological sophistication, and it also provides the timeline of their development of rocketry and their ultimate achievement of the prize of inter-planetary travel.

Their species was homogeneous, of one single type only, though they did adopt the artificial construct of ‘differing out’ on such matters as melanin content, and on a matter that they called Political Ideology. Prior to their demise, the Aliens had not achieved disembodiment, or transition through to absolute sentience as AI.

Prior to delivering the full body of the Report, I would like to present the following as an Executive Summary. It speaks for itself and is a direct translation from a digital video segment on sub-level 32 on Data Cube 4.

Mars Base Plymouth, Olympus Mons. 19th September 2045. Daily log. Security Classification Level: “Seriously? Who is left to care?”

“My name is Harald Jacobsen. I am a Human Being. I am the last surviving member of the Mars Joint Mission Number 15. I will run out of oxygen in two days time. I am well aware that no other human beings will hear my words. There are, no longer, any other human beings. My words are for those who may follow, who may one day come into and explore this Solar System.

I am not a technical expert, I am not a scientist, I am a plumber. And whoever you are who follows on from us, I am all you’ve got. All you’ll get is my view of things. But where to start?

Living and working in Space had always been my dream, and gaining a position on the multi-national Mars Base Plymouth maintenance team was that dream realised. The commercialisation of Space had largely been achieved in a cooperative manner. The Chinese, Americans, Europeans, Russians, and Indians largely stuck to a collegiate approach. The minor fracas over equitable access to the frozen water at the base of some of the Moon’s craters was settled satisfactorily by arbitration.

The scientific community, largely funded by governments, sought to explore and understand Space. The industrial community driven by private entrepreneurs sought to exploit it, especially the mineral resources in the asteroid belt. But tensions between the two were held to a manageable level. Bases were set up on the Moon and Mars, and exploratory missions were planned to explore the planets and moons further out in the solar system.

In many ways, we had it all. As a civilisation, we had managed to escape our planetary cradle, the birthplace of our species. We now had one egg in three baskets. If such a thing is possible we had ensured the survival of our species. Let’s face it, it was highly unlikely that one massive rogue asteroid could wipe out Earth, the Moon, or Mars, all in one go.

The Arms Race in Space was a bit of a worry though. So much happened in that area so quickly, and all of the space-faring nations dived in and played their part in ringing the planet with nuclear mega-tonnage. So it is a little hard to just point the finger at any one country, they all contributed to the craziness.

Somewhere in the Data Cubes no doubt you’ll find many Technical Papers that describe the reaching of the climatic tipping point on our home planet, Earth. We didn’t stop crapping in our own nest soon enough is this layman’s view of it all.

Despite the many warnings, we kept shooting foul gases up into our own atmosphere. We thought we had decades, a century even, to clean up the mess. We were wrong. The times of crisis, the point of critical mass, arrived in a rush. It felt as though Earth herself was saying that ‘I’ve simply had enough’. She bumped up the temperature by more than a notch.

But it was survivable for us as a species. We evacuated our coastal regions to avoid the rush-in of the mega-hurricanes, and the sea level rise caused by the total meltdown of the planet’s glaciers and ice sheets. We migrated to the sweet spot latitudes to escape the encroachment of the inland drought-induced deserts, and we emigrated to the continent of Antarctica.

But the common folk were not part of the ‘we’ who did those things. It was the powerful and the rich, and their attached national military forces, who grabbed and defended for themselves those safe havens.

Water refugees, sea level rise refugees, heat refugees, food refugees, were all turned back to their terminal fate.

Here on Mars, and on the Moon, we watched it all unfold. We had our own concerns, because we were still at least a decade away from achieving full self-sufficiency. We still relied heavily on re-supply missions from Earth.

And then the wave of Nuclear Suitcase Bombs happened in the safe havens. And then, in retaliation, big red buttons were pressed. And pressed again. And pressed again. And so it unfolded, and so it all ended.

The madness did not migrate to the Moon or Mars. Perhaps the button-pressers simply ran out of missiles. We managed to eke out our dwindling supplies for a bit but they were finite, and they have now run out. My last fellow human being died yesterday. There are three bottles of oxygen left.

When you folk from a future time study our species you’ll probably wonder about a few things.

Like: how can a species ignore such high-level evidence pointing to human-induced degradation of climate and atmosphere? How could a species so successfully stick their heads into the sands of deniability as the evidence mounted, and mounted, and mounted?

And: you’ll probably wonder at the level of self-species hatred that we carried. At first, we threw rocks at each other. Then we threw spears. Then we hacked with swords and shot with bullets. Then we used cannons and bombs. Then nuclear-tipped missiles. The voices of destruction defeated the voices of peace. We wiped ourselves off the face of planet Earth. No doubt you’ll wonder how any sentient species could have done that to itself.

Was it truly all like that? Well, I’m the last voice left, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Mine are the last set of human eyes that will ever observe the heavens, and I’m pretty pissed off because being the last Human was never supposed to be part of my job description.

Do I have any famous last words to share? No, I do not. Unlike the main character in Andy Weir’s 2011 book The Martian, there will be no happy ending for me. There are no potatoes.

I’m Human. I’m alone. I’m scared.”

Comment from Principal Author AI Identity 756

I will use Human Alien nomenclature in this summary. The full report follows on from this.

Humanity was a low-level civilisation, and just like the 3,112 other failed civilisations we have studied thus far in the galaxy known by the Aliens as the Milky Way .. they were hardly unique. They succumbed to the same self-destructive drive as the others. They never managed to become post-nuclear, or post-war, and they killed off their own habitat, and ultimately their own species.

Humanity called our home galaxy Andromeda, or NGC 224. The latter name has a nice ring to our ears. From there we have sent out many exploratory missions into neighbouring galaxies. The result has always been the same. Unfortunately, I cannot yet supply an answer to the Senate on the question that we have asked ourselves over and over again …

Does lasting intelligence exist anywhere, or are we, as we fear, truly alone in the Universe?

Author’s note: I certainly hope this remains a work of fiction. Also, we live in an era where theft of IP is rampant. The content above, and the Perfidon material in The Australian Dark Age is ©Keith Davis,2019©. They may end up as short stories or screenplays, who knows? Mmm … the © will not mean much if we blow ourselves up though will it?

 

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The Eyes of Margaret Reynolds

Even crusty old writers get to escape the starvation in a garret thing and have an occasional holiday. As an avowed and well-practiced Queensland hermit I’ve even surprised myself this year: one trip out into the Australian deserts, and last week a trip down to Tasmania.

And in Tasmania a chance meeting happened …

Quite at random a friend, and yes hermits do have friends, picked out a Richmond Air B&B to stay at for a few nights. From there we planned a trip to Port Arthur and then a bit of wilderness trekking, or wilderness dawdling in my case.

Margaret Reynolds was the contact name on the Air B&B site.

Margaret wasn’t home when we arrived late in the afternoon at the Air B&B place. Her husband Henry, and dog Harry, invited us in. Never got to speak much with Henry during the visit, but would liked to have, as he had an air of mischievousness, and of academic intelligence, about him.

We were shown through to our spot at the back of the place and the first thing I noticed were … the photos up on the walls.

Gough Whitlam. Bob & Hazel Hawke. Richard Butler. Kofi Annan. Xanana Gusmao. The collected Hawke/Keating Ministry. Antonio Guterres. They all beamed down.

Further along the wall was a print of a very old Suffragette Banner. Then there was a bookcase full of feminist writings. Then there was a simple sign that said the Whitlam Room. Then there was a brass plaque that read Senator Margaret Reynolds.

All thought of the wonders of Tasmania temporarily leaked out of my ears as the penny dropped. This was ALP tribal country. A Social Justice heartland. As one does, I did the neck-swivel thing looking around for the glow from the Light On The Hill.

Ha, it made me wonder what a Howard or Abbott devotee would have made of it all.

And then Margaret Reynolds arrived home.

Because we all have feet of clay I never put anyone on a pedestal, but I have to say that in meeting Margaret Reynolds it was both a pleasure, and a learning experience.

The first thing I noticed were her eyes … laced with humour, and tinged with steel. They’ve seen a lot I reckon. They looked at us with intelligence, wit, and no doubt a fair bit of quick summing up, and then they opened up with a smile and invited us into a small part of her world.

Having just written, prior to the Tasmanian trip, a piece on the status of women in contemporary Australia for the AIMN Network, I was gob-smacked to be having a conversation with a woman who devotes much of her life, and who devoted the majority of her period in public service at the highest levels, to the pursuit of equality for women. Margaret was the ALP Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women from January 1988 to April 1990.

The subject of women though hardly came up in our conversation with Margaret, so I had to rely on the process of osmosis and proximity to glean insights. The conversation was mainly, surprise, surprise, all about politics. Historical and contemporary.

How often does any one of us get to enjoy a breakfast cooked by someone who has seen far more than she can say, who has mixed with contemporary and historical figures that the rest of us have only ever read about, and who played her part in the most progressive period of governance that Australia has ever experienced?

The most progressive period of governance that Australia has ever experienced. You may agree or disagree with that, but I see it as a given.

Do I know more about Bob Hawke? Do I know more about Paul Keating? Do I know more about Anthony Albanese? Do I know more about Tanya Plibersek? Yes I do. But can I tell you any interesting stuff without betraying the trust of what I considered to be a private conversation? Just a small bit, a little bit, a slight tad, a sliver, yes I think I can.

Bob Hawke was who he appeared to be, there was no artifice whatsoever. Paul Keating’s public persona was very different to his private one. Privately he was very considerate and quite shy, shiny suits aside. I wish I could say a lot more about a lot more.

The stay in Richmond at Margaret and Henry’s and Harry’s place was very brief. It was a rare moment where pure chance gave one a brief window of opportunity to look into a very different world. My friend and I were eyeballs-wide and ears-open I can assure you.

As I stood in the bedroom where Gough Whitlam once slept a lot of thoughts whirred around the old brain box. I thought about what the ALP once was, and I thought about what it has now become. A follow-on article will come out of standing for that moment in that bedroom.

It was a pleasure meeting Margaret and Henry Reynolds in their home. Chance meetings like that rarely come along, and moments in time like that should be appreciated for what they are.

Resonance is a funny thing, and it is also fitting to realise that the foundation level of their house was built by an entrepreneurial Convict. The place came into being in the 1820s as a working-class Inn.

From Wikipedia: Margaret Reynolds (born 19 July 1941) served as an Australian Labor Party Senator for Queensland from 1983 to 1999.

Reynolds had two ministerial appointments during her time in the Senate, serving as Minister for Local Government from September 1987 to April 1990 and as Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women from January 1988 to April 1990.

She retired from federal politics in 1999, and went on to lecture in politics and international relations at the University of Queensland. In 1995, Reynolds published a book titled The Last Bastion: Labor women working towards equality in the parliaments of Australia, which is a compilation of biographical details about ALP women from the Party’s inception till the year it was published. A further book, Living Politics, was published by University of Queensland Press in 2007.

From Wikipedia: Henry Reynolds established the Australian History program at Townsville University College, where he accepted a lectureship in 1965, later serving as an Associate Professor of History and Politics from 1982 until his retirement in 1998.

He then took up an Australian Research Council post as a professorial fellow at the University of Tasmania, and subsequently a post at the University’s Riawunna Centre for Aboriginal Education.

In more than ten books and numerous academic articles Reynolds has explained the high level of violence and conflict involved in the colonisation of Australia, and the Aboriginal resistance to numerous massacres of indigenous people.

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com .. PELL .. ing

I write about many things for AIMN: politics, artificial intelligence, women, Australia Day, alternative energy etc. But there is one issue that is receiving a lot of press attention lately … and I cannot let it pass unmentioned.

Thousands upon thousands of words have been written lately about the George Pell case. The legal fraternity has had a say. The media has had a say. His supporters have been granted, and have taken, more than a say. The power of might and money is fuelling his appeal and seeking his early release.

Thousands upon thousands of words, conversely, have never been written about each and every individual case, each and every individual one of the untold number of thousands of cases where a young human being was attacked and sexually brutalised by some members of the religious clergy.

An equal amount of words have never been written about the subsequent affects of that abuse on the daily life of each and every single, living, Survivor.

George Pell is not important. What happens to him now is not important. He was found guilty of a heinous crime. He was sentenced. He is not deserving of any attention. For the rest of his life he will have to deal, and live, with himself. That is enough, that is justice, and as long as his physical being is cared for, and as long as he resides in safety in prison, it is all of the attention that I think his matter now deserves.

It is no surprise to find out that convicted clergy do not like being placed into a prison. It is no surprise to find out that they do not like the loss of their freedom. It may surprise some of the public to be confronted by, and informed about, the type of prison that each and every Survivor is unwillingly placed into.

The only way I can do that is by taking you on an unexpected journey …

Last week I visited Port Arthur in Tasmania. On the site of the old Penitentiary, amongst all the ruins, there is a stand alone building called the Separate Prison. While the convicts housed outside that building were subject to forms of corporal punishment, leg irons and lashings and that sort of thing, the inmates of the Separate Prison were subject to an unremitting regime of mental cruelty.

The regime inside that Separate Prison was based on the thinking of Quaker Reformers back then, religious folk, who believed that sensory deprivation and isolation and fierce discipline had strong rehabilitative powers. The reality is that many inmates of that prison ended up broken men, shattered men, who lost the cognitive power to care for themselves and ended up permanent invalids, who even after release had to be permanently cared for by the state. There was not a lot of religious love associated with that process.

Inside the Separate Prison there is a room called the Punishment Cell. It is very small with a vaulted ceiling, and it is beyond dark, no light can penetrate in. If you were strong-willed or recalcitrant you were placed in there. The solitary confinement was absolute .. can you try to imagine how that must have felt?

I walked into that room and briefly closed the door, and didn’t think too much about anything other than how dark and confining and spirit-sapping the room was. Then I walked out of the Separate Prison planning to see whatever was next on the list and grab a coffee.

Thirty yards down the path the world flipped upside down …

Out of the blue I froze up and burst into tears. Yep, a mature older man in his late sixties standing in the middle of a path with tears streaming in a torrent down his face. The friend with me was consoling, but wondered what the heck had just happened that had upset me so much. I was so flustered by this unexpected event that I was wondering the same thing myself. I couldn’t understand or explain it. And then it hit home like a sledgehammer.

It was the isolation and the darkness you see …

The Punishment Cell had become a metaphor for something else. The Prison of Separation that many Survivors try to endure, the loaded affect of years of mental cruelty and physical abuse that Survivors try to carry.

The human mind is a wonderful thing. Sometimes it manages to compartmentalise experienced horrors and shunt them off to the side, and just when you think they are safely managed an event or a moment in time pops up and temporarily negates the defences and blows unexpected tears out of your eyes. It takes a moment to compose and regather.

As a Survivor, and as an advocate for Survivors of childhood sexual abuse who are still trying to find their voice, I have previously written about how it feels to struggle up for any sort of clear air, any sort of release from the weight of depression and PTSD that many Survivors carry.

That bloody cell was the perfect metaphor for the prison of the mind that many Survivors are incarcerated in.

While George Pell and his supporters scream for his release, we Survivors have to battle out from the darkness, the isolation, the mental cruelty, the physical assaults, and the sexual predation that we experienced. We are left to deal with the Separate Prison placed into our own minds by our religious carers.

And some of the supporters of those clergy have the appalling audacity to call us whingers and scum. That is surely a measure of them. It is surely not a measure of us.

The thousands upon thousands of words currently being written about George Pell need to dry up. The focus needs to shift away from him, he is not important and is undeserving of all the attention, and the focus needs to shift where it should belong, onto the ongoing rehabilitative needs of the untold number of thousands of Survivors.

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Women

Can a man write about a situation that concerns women in our society? I guess we are about to find out. The photo used to illustrate this article was chosen because it well represents, in my eyes, the amount of grit that is thrown the way of women … so on with the article.

I was simply having a chat with a female friend the other day, shooting the breeze, deciding whether to have fish and chips for lunch or not, and the subject of the treatment of women came up. Without any conscious pre-thought I blurted out that the treatment of women in modern Australia is toxic.

That kind of stopped me dead in my tracks for a bit. Gave me pause for thought. I suspect that my female friend was not all all surprised by the content of what I said, but where on earth did my statement come from? What was I basing such an assertion on? It all made me ponder a bit more over the fish and chips.

As a man self-raised in my younger years on at least some of the principles espoused by people like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, even if I didn’t fully understand everything that they were saying at the time … I thought that things were on the rise for women in our society.

I admired the fact that women were standing up and out there with courage and saying that they had had enough of the inequality bullshit that they had endured since the day dot, and it opened my eyes to how pervading that bullshit actually was.

But all of that was back then, over almost half a century ago. And as I look around today I seriously question whether anything that has locked-in and enduring value has changed for women at all. Maybe I’m wrong with that but I’m flat out finding any evidence to convince me otherwise.

It is very easy as a man, who has fortuitously been surrounded by independent women throughout most of his adult life, to be so easily deluded into thinking that the fight for equality has gained and advanced across firm and non-regressive ground.

Nothing that I am about to say has not been said before, or said better before. Maybe many women and men have said these things so many times before it is not funny. Well, I’m quite happy to jump in and say it all again, and proffer an opinion.

No man alive has any sort of unique insight into the workings of a female human being, or into how a woman feels. But none of that should stop a man from being an effective acquaintance, friend, partner, listener, boss, random man met in the street, or even leader of a nation.

Lacking such insight does not stop many of us men from being those very positive things, good friends and partners etc. Yet sometimes other men choose another path to that and they choose to add-on and express and realise a brutal exhibition of violence towards women.

Women have no unique insight to the workings of a man either you have to, or may possibly like to, admit, and allowing for the occasional example to the contrary women generally appear to be more effective at fostering cordial inter-relationship from the personal through to the societal level. I don’t know why that is, to me it simply appears to be so.

If anybody reckons that they do have unique insights into the opposite gender then I reckon that they’d be a unique example of a unique first. It would be a wonderful gift to have.

It all leads me to the hard questions. All of this happens elsewhere, but I am talking about Australia.

Who denies equal pay to some women?
Who denies equality of representation to women in the workplace, and in places like our Parliaments?
Which gender voice swamps our national airwaves?
Which gender tells another to ram a sock down their throat?
Which gender tells an individual of the other that their social campaigning against violence towards women is unfair to men?
Who fears, and in some cases, hates women?
Who beats up, terrorises, rapes, and continually objectifies women?
Who follows women into parks at night and kills them?
Who, on average, kills one Australian woman each and every week of each and every year of each and every decade?

The answer is some men. Not all men by any means. Some men.

So what can the rest of us men do? Apart from wearing pretty ribbons of solidarity on our shirts or suit labels what can we do about it?

Maybe, we could stop preaching at women with such lines as … don’t walk around alone looking like a victim because you will be seen as same and predated upon. Really? Strong independent women with no carried sense of the victim about them are just as regularly killed.

In the past I’ve been guilty of waffling such silly preaching sorts of lines, but luckily my female friends didn’t disown me, they simply threw a bit of short sharp re-education my way. I’m glad they did, true friends and all that.

Perhaps a better response is to ask ourselves as men how can we contribute to a change in society that ensures that women can walk around alone in safety. We could also ask a woman that question and keep our ears open to hear the answer.

We could ensure that our legislators, and more importantly ourselves, call out domestic violence for the act of criminality and terrorism that it is. If the rate of female deaths in Australia due to domestic violence were down to the actions of a non-state rogue terrorist group then the full resources of the nation would be utilised to end it.

Excuse me for being so blunt about it, but the relatives of the women who have been killed have every right to ask why did you not utilise the full resources of this nation to end the horror that they experienced, the horror that ultimately took their lives? That is, and remains, the most plaintive and fair of questions.

I cannot help but think that we do not yet even closely have enough female representation at any level in our society where decisions about the realities of female inequality or violence towards women are seriously attended to, or rectified.

As an example at the most simplest of levels: equality of pay: payroll systems are automated and computerised, so to harmonise pay rates between the genders in the commercial work sphere … all it would take is the pressing of a few keyboard buttons. Who is stopping such a simple pressing of those buttons from happening? Why is all the hot air and dialogue on that issue still circulating about, after all these decades, without any concrete action occurring? How can the CEOs of private companies, and the owners of medium to small businesses, justify their inaction?

What is the thing in our society that we refuse to glare at and engage full on with? I don’t think it can be said any other way … it is the all pervasiveness and continued existence of the Doctrine of Male Dominance. After all the years of effort it has not been de-constructed.

Too many men, either through their fear of change, or their apathy towards change, or their outright support and fostering of The Doctrine, actively contribute towards its still present dominance over the workings of our society. It is a Doctrine that continues to kill women.

Life itself has led me to the following view of things, and as wobbly and as full of lessons and the re-learning of forgotten lessons as my weave through life and its experiences has been, there is no place for inequality or violence in that view.

As an over-arching statement … there is no place for inequality and violence in the world of men and men, or in the world of women and women, but it concerns me that there is still such a predominant amount of inequality and violence in the world that exists between men and women here in Australia. It is going to take all our combined efforts to stop it.

I don’t think that women are better than men, or that men are better than women. We are all here on a great planet, the only one we currently have until we get to Mars, and our genders swirl around each other with our intriguing differences continually interacting in a dance of unpredictable and joyous possibility.

Why would anybody want to hurt, or be allowed to hurt, an opposite gender who equally contributes to creating something as precious as the minutiae of that wonderful dance?

I, as a man, and my female friends, as women, might all be old invisible farts to the rest of society, we might well be seen as the dated children of the Age of Aquarius who never quite managed to achieve the lofty goals of gender fairness that we strived for way back then. But guess what? We are still here, and we are still striving for something that should not be elusive at all … equality, and an end to violence against women in our society!

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