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Category Archives: Social Justice

We were abused children. Do you have the guts to handle our truth?

After the Royal Commission … most of us still remain unheard.

“The plaintiff has broad-ranging and chronic symptoms of persistent depressive disorder, from which he cannot escape.”

We, the Survivors of childhood sexual abuse, have been called many things. We have been called whingers and worse. But we are none of those things. We are you who were subject to experiences that most of you cannot even begin to imagine.

I am not asking you to walk a mile in my shoes, I am asking you to spend a day in my mind. Here’s but one day in the mind of a Survivor.

Depression is not a black dog. One black dog is easy to deal with. Depression is an ocean of black dogs who snarl and rip and tear at my bones.

When 35mm film runs across the cogs in a movie camera it makes a flickering sound. Flicker. Flicker. A movie plays across the inside of my forehead. I don’t want it to. But it does. Frame after flickering frame. No pretty filters to soften the view.

You are now looking through my eyes. You see what I see. You feel what I feel. You are in my mind. If I could swap places with you I would. All of the below goes through my head all of the time. I cannot stop it.

Flicker.

Can’t breathe, the bastard is pressing me down. He’s ripping me apart. Can’t breathe. Bless you my son. The punch smashes my ear.

Flicker.

I don’t know you. We are just meeting. You’ve just started to read this article. To me, until proven otherwise, you are a predator, you are a killer. Your eyes are measuring me, looking within, seeking advantage. I don’t, and cannot, trust you.

Women and men. You damaged me. I don’t trust you on first meet.

If male, are you a killer of women and children, a rapist of women and children, a shit dressed up in artifice?

If female, are you one of those rare killers of children, a mental torturer of children and men, a purveyor of malevolence?

I hope that you are none of those things, I desperately hope that you are none of those things, but history proves that some of you are. Are you one of them? Yet I’m human, I want friends. Loneliness is fucking awful.

I am absolutely hopeless at small talk with you. I’m on my guard, but I don’t want to be on my guard. I’m waiting for the attack. Who cares who is winning the cricket, who cares about that bargain at Aldi, who gives a shit about the weather and your new house and your new car and your view of how good you are? How about the murder of refugees in your name?

I’m about to swear a lot. Run away now. Trot trot for the shallow.

The freedom to say anything I fucking like. No editing. The freedom to say What Is, for me. Oh, he is such a gentle man, never says anything harsh. A real hippy.

Wow, what a couple of lines for all the psychologists and psychiatrists of this world to peruse. Some are good, but ha, the others. Case study wet dreams for their bookish edification. Haven’t lived it, they don’t have a clue, chasing their own intelligent tails around in circles. Fucking me off with their useless techniques and their games.

Haven’t sworn so much in all of my life.

Flicker.

Her punch shatters me, rocks me, here’s another hail mary, she does it again, the belt whips, god delivering love, oh boy the nuns of christ, the nuns of fucking christ. If I could hide I would, I can’t.

Flicker.

That movie plays on the inside of my forehead, it is on a never ending re-loop. Flicker. Flicker. I have to look through it to see you. You are out there, we are trying to meet, trying to talk, trying to connect, trying to have a coffee. I am sick of what the bastards did to me, sickened by what the bastards did to me. I write. I write. I try to reach you.

Damage. Worst seen. Worst expected. Worst received. Damaged. Where’s the exit from the bloody cinema?

Birds fly free, freedom, the lift of the wind, beautiful lucky little winged shits. Soaring in the sun. Beautiful lucky little winged shits.

Women are killed all the time, they know what rape feels like, society makes no more than a passing reference to that but oh we do have jobs and growth for the mindless. I am not killed all the time, what do I know, I know what being raped feels like.

The last 67 years of living? Jesus Fucking Christ I want my trip money back, I want a refund. I want to be four years old and starting all over again.

Flicker.

You. You with your white collar and your church and your phallus. You predatory scum. If you weren’t dead I’d kill you. I’m a shot child man. I’d fucking kill you.

Flicker.

Sitting at the table, looking out the window. Looking out the window. Desperately trying not to think.

Love. It spins faster than a neutron star. My children. Love.

Women, making love, making love, making love. Spinning faster than a neutron star.

Oh! So you are a Survivor of childhood sexual abuse? I’ll fix it up for you. Here’s three tears, how generous of me. Snuffle, snuffle, Parliamentary tearful apology be grateful. Job done. I’m sure I’ve helped. The head has been patted. Now piss off and don’t mention it again.

Mention it again. It killed us. No Survivor survives. Not a zombie movie, just ghosts of the living dead. We walk, we talk, our feet wade through molasses in a vacuum, stuck, stuck, stuck.

Go shopping. Try to appear normal. Hide in the crowd.

I feel your pain, I feel your pain, I look into your eyes and I feel your pain. No you don’t. Rejoice in the fact that you don’t feel my pain. You are a lucky sod.

Beauty, the blue sky, the grass, the trees, a woman’s smile. Will she see my damage? I can love you know, it is not an impossibility!

Get up in the morning. Sit on the verandah. Stare at the sky. Go to bed after dark. Get up in the morning. Sit on the verandah. Stare at the sky. Go to bed after dark. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

I do not recognise your authority over me. I will fight you. You will not defeat the bit of me I have left.

That amazing thing called truth that everybody says that they want. Truth is, they don’t. They want the veneer of it that’s all.

Australia is a fascist country, that’s truth. Aboriginals are treated like dirt, that’s truth. We torture refugees who flee our bombs, that’s truth. Tinder is a fuck-fest for the brainless owners of ovaries and balls, that’s truth. Take note nuns and priests: if you fuck a child you will fuck them up for life, that’s truth. Nobody gives you a tax break without somebody else probably the poor having to pay for it, that’s truth. You won’t escape, AI and robotics will eventually blow you out of your job, that’s truth. Men like sex, women like sex, men fuck, women fuck, that’s truth. That’s truth. That’s truth. That’s truth.

What’s truth?

Oh, we are getting married! That white dress, that pin-striped suit. The church is bigger than a cathedral. Blessed by an unknown priest I could kill. I wanted succour at your breasts, I wanted your beauty, and your love, and your friendship. I failed. We ended.

Oh, we are having a relationship. I like your passion, your guts, your practicality. Let’s move away and start afresh. You in the fields, a sight to behold. I failed. We ended.

Oh, hello there. We both carry damage, we are both aware of that. We understand each other. If I could buy your zest for life, I would. Let’s give it a go. I failed. We ended.

I wanted security, and love, and family. I failed. We ended.

Depressed. They saw me as I am. Depressed. Joyless. Ended. Swimming in an ocean of black fucking dogs.

Depression kills relationships. Wish I’d read that when I was four years old, wish I didn’t have a future need to read that when I was four years old. Wish the nuns and priests had read that when I was four years old. The bastards couldn’t read, wouldn’t read, didn’t want to read. The bastards were too busy fuck-killing children to read.

What’s truth?

So you think that my blue eyes are piercing, and that they look right into you. They don’t. They are watching the movie that is running on the inside of my forehead. I am trying to see you through the flickering of the frames. No Oscar for me. I didn’t want to be in the movie.

Plod plod. Go to work. Stick on a smile. Plod plod.

Light up another cigarette. Suck the breast. Suck for comfort. Light up another cigarette.

In my time did nuns and priests screw each other. Yes. Did priests screw each other. Yes. Did nuns screw each other. Yes. Did upright community matrons in all their frocked and gloved hatted finery deliver casseroles and head jobs to their venerated local neighbourhood priests. Of course they did. Did nuns screw orphanage old boys. Yep. Furtive thrusting. So if the bastards received all that sating why did they come after us?

Write an article. How come I can do that yet I can’t step forward and do other things?

Flicker.

That’s a nice tall fence. Orphanage fence. Clinging to the top looking down the entrance road. Will they come and get me out of here? Nuns circling in the background, Sisters of Mercy, you’ve got to be kidding me they call themselves the Sisters of fucking Mercy, clawed hands reaching out.

Flicker.

Hello Lawyer person. I’m so desperate for justice, for damage to be undone. Thank you for running your I believe you script. What a legal actor you are, it drew me in. What? Do I have any money? No I don’t. Oh, ok then, I’ll piss off.

Don’t talk about suicide, the squeamish will cringe. Bang. Bang. Maybe nirvanah, probably not. Time is painless, but very long. Hang on, hang on, it might get better. Better than what?

It is quite true. All you find at the bottom of a bottle is the view of the bottom of a bottle. Let’s have another Shiraz. Let’s not. Didn’t needle, the thought was never attractive simply because the thought was so attractive. Can’t smoke the Dope, it rushes the movie into starker focus.

Men are lucky. One of the most beautiful things in life is to be there, right there, when your child is born. The little eyes try to open, the little fingers curl around your thumb. But we are not lying back there thinking that shit I’ve just had ripped out of me something ten times the size of Manhattan! Men are lucky. One of the most beautiful things in life is to .…

Hey Keith, you are supposed to be this happy long-haired hippy person. You’ve got a Kombi and you wear Indian cheesecloth shirts but I don’t want to talk about anything real with you because that would mean that I’d have to momentarily drop my own shallow mask too.

You cannot be helped. Well I sure as shit had hoped for a better response than that!

Bloody hell. Here I am at a party with a glass of wine in my hand. There are all of those other people here with a glass of wine in their hands as well. All those eyes. I’m anxious. I’m afraid.

Roll up, roll up, grab your popcorn, take your seat, dim the lights. Here’s a movie produced for you by the media arm of catholocism, by god’s holy rolling fuckster company pty ltd. They’ve directed thousands of movies. Many thousands of movies. Survivors are the unheralded Stars.

You are a beautiful man, and I love you. Am I? Did you?

Friends fade away from me, I fade away from friends. I can’t small talk. My talk is intense. I talk about what I see, can’t do otherwise.

There is always the dog. Zoe the dog. Beautiful loving Zoe. Bullshit speakers say that dogs don’t have a spirit. Bullshit speakers are wrong. Zoe became dead after I did, what a conundrum that is, because I’m still alive and she is not.

Predatory male on a dark night street. I’m not a predator. I’m a male. Why are you afraid of me? I’ve met a few predators in my time. I’m the one full of fear.

Hello famous celebrity type person. You’ve got to be kidding me! Someone called you a name and you are going to sue them for two million dollars! In a comparative sense of damage done then I and other Survivors should be able to sue for 10 billion dollars each for fuck’s sake! But oh, I do see your point, you are a celebrity after all, and society is far more interested in the insignificant slight you suffered than they are in the fact that our childhood vaginas and anuses and mouths were stretched and ripped and bloodied by stiffed-up clerical cock. So please accept my apology for playing down the immense amount of suffering that you went through. Gosh, you were called a name. It must have been awful for you, it has probably wrecked your whole life. I feel your pain. Here’s your three tears back. Oh, you’ve stubbed your toe as well.

Lonely lonely lonely lonely. If you have a companion do you value them? I sure as hell would.

Beauty. How do you measure that? When a woman looks you in the eye and throws you the biggest shit-eating grin that you have ever seen in your life, then you will have just seen the most beautiful thing you will ever see in your life. If she does it twice you just have to tap dance down the corridors of love.

Hello next Lawyer person. I’m so desperate for justice, for damage to be undone. Thank you for running your I believe you script. What a legal actor you are, it drew me in. What? Do I have any money? No I don’t. No problem. Glad to hear it. No Win No Fee. I’ll bare my soul to you. Come in spinner! Here’s your pittance. Fuck off. Apology? Don’t be silly.

At the height of erotic and loudly proclaimed mutually enjoyed passion I never mirrored the screamed out request from the woman to ‘fuck me dead’, because I figured that it must have been pretty obvious to both of us that, in my case, somebody had already beaten us to it.

Children, children, children. Love them. Protect them. Die for them.

Sitting at a desk writing. Keyboard thump. Keyboard thump. Keyboard thump. Writing truth, writing open truth, writing unfiltered truth, writing swearing truth. Just skimming the fucking surface. The well’s much deeper than that.

Many people who have not had a hard life like to say that they did. They go pretty quiet when you show them what hard really looks like.

Standing in the middle of the road with my placard. Save the ABC. Save the World. Save the Universe. We are all behind you, you say. Hang on a sec while I turn around. No you’re not.

Pillars of the community. You are aspirational arseholes. You’re sucking up to the god of greed, twenty houses isn’t enough, you’re shafting the poor, you’re voting for those I love god politicians, you’re a proud shareholder of a company that is polluting the planet, you’re a rich and fat and compliant drone, a killer of the future of our children.

Flicker.

Her fist smashed into my teeth. She cut my buttocks with the edge of her razor strop. She headlocked me and covered my mouth and nostrils with her sweaty fat hand. A bitch of christ. Take off your clothes, show me your waggle bits. That fucking bitch of christ. Thump.

Flicker.

Flicker.

Well hello young Altar Boy. Come into the Sacristy with me. Let me bless you. He did. With his seed. The bastard. The stinking-cocked holy bastard. Let me bless you. Keep your mouth shut or I’ll thump the living daylights out of you. I’m a priest, everybody loves me. I don’t. I hate you. I want to kill you. I’m a child. I can’t.

Flicker.

god. No capital G for that bastard. And those dumb prats sit in their pews and kiss his arse. Dumb prats who can’t think for themselves. Smarmy dumb prats. Kissing the arse of the venerated molesting priests.

I can look after and care for others. But not myself. I’m the movie, I cannot care for that.

Keep losing my jobs. Can’t get a job. So much wrong here. Everybody just puts up with it. I can’t stand it. Ha, social justice for the workers? Keep fighting with management. Sacked. Sacked. Sacked. None of you have beaten the little bit of me that is left to me. I’d rather be me than you.

Oh, sad sod, depressed sod, PTSD sodded sod. Chin up chap. Endure. Move on. One foot after the other. There’s gold at the end of the rainbow. Fake it until you make it. Here’s your six step plan. Silver lining and clouds. Think positively. Smile and the world will smile with you. What sort of idiot believes that nonsense?

Looking through that window I can see the ocean, the blue sky, the coastal strip, the buildings, the concrete, the greed, the exploitive middle class, the fascist rich. Beautiful view. Shit view.

Have a glass of wine. Eat a pretzel. Smile at your friend. Make appropriate eye contact. Whoops, that was too long, look away, look back, look away, look back. I’m not even fucking there.

Flicker.

Your special pants are dirty you skinny little shit. Shit-filled pants. Blood-filled pants. Semen-filled pants. And then she, the bride of christ, launches into me. Could kill her, I’m a child, I can’t. Punch. Punch. Another fucking punch. Be grateful for the love of god you skinny little shit.

Flicker.

Fathers. Where’s mine? Dead. Damaged by war man. Brain-box blown up by Japanese bombs man. Loved him.

Mothers. Where’s mine? Long dead. Dumped us all. Three years old and on her knee. What was she like? Who was she? Loved her.

Religion. Don’t make me laugh! Pillocks in pulpits. Rapists in pulpits. Killers in pulpits. god loves you. Bend over.

You ask me if I believe in god. I ask what put the need in you to believe in something that does not exist.

My anger at them is vaster than vast. Spewing out pointlessly into the sponge of absolute shitty nothingness. Blown away on the wind. Phut!

Oh, gosh Keith, you are so brave and courageous for sharing your story and not enough people do it and I am genuinely inspired by you and do you want to repeat all the lurid details especially the dirty bits please and I love who you are and I want to hug you and I hear you and I feel for you and I empathise with you and I think you are amazing and I also do the same for celebrities and movie stars and musicians who have died or been zapped and other people who I don’t know and neighbours who have been murdered and I drop lovely flowers on the spots where they all carked it or had things happen to them and I can cry on cue for the television cameras which they love and I love and which makes me look great and gets oodles of sympathy sent my way even though nothing bad actually ever happened to me and just because I’m a professional at mourning by proxy and a bit of a grief-fiend and even though I’m a you should bare it all for my wrapt delight workshop junkie it doesn’t necessarily mean that the flowers I just pinched from that most recent dead celeb’s shrine weren’t plonked down at your feet Keith with love and sincerity and care does it? “I wasn’t speaking to you. I don’t want your sympathy. I was speaking to people who can gut-stomach truth. So pick up your flowers and fuck off.”

According to tests that test such things I have a reasonably high level of intelligence. Yet, all things considered, I cannot even tie the shoelaces of my own life.

Flicker.

White habit and glaring eyes. The back-hand sent me sprawling. She grabbed me by the scruff of the fucking neck and shoved me into the cupboard. The darkness. The darkness. No wonder I cried in the Separate Prison at Port Arthur in Tasmania. My mind IS the Separate fucking Prison. My mind IS the Separate fucking Prison. My mind IS the Separate fucking Prison.

Flicker.

Get on the bus. Nobody will notice you. They will not be thinking anything. It will all be ok.

Fuck. You think this is all over the top? You’re getting the light polite version. The let’s not go the whole hog or really offend anyone version. Flicker. Redact. Hide. Hide. Gosh, you can’t say that.

Why did they weaponise their penises? Did they hate themselves that much?

Go the whole hog.

Survivors were fucked and beaten, fucked and beaten, fucked and beaten, over and over again. Thumped into the dirt and then the boot was jammed into our neck. Do you get that? The Royal Commissioner said that the problem with the catholic church was that they saw the rape of children by their clerics as a moral dilemma, but not as a crime. The church is still as sick as it ever was.

I’ve sworn more here than I have in my whole life. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck to the tenth fucking degree of the tenth fucking degree of that tenth of a fucking tenth degree of that tenth fucking degree. With piles of shit on top. We live with this stuff each and every day. And some of you call us whingers, and whiners, so fuck you if you do, and hello to you if you are a reasonable person who does not.

Do you dream? I don’t. Well I do, but they are never remembered. I wonder what I dream about? Early on my mind learnt to shut some things away in little boxes and that apparently is where my dreams go. That’d be an interesting little dream box trip, wonder what would be in there, free flying birds probably. I wish there was a box for the movie. How come that shit of a movie didn’t go into a little box? That’s a bastard of an unfairness.

Damage done. Neil Young sang about damage done.

Let’s go to church, let’s be seen to go to church, let’s be the pillars of our communities, let’s get into politics as well, they’ll pay us to fuck them up. Let’s give them a mantra, they suck that shit up.

Hello therapist. Hello psychologist. Hello psychiatrist. Can you fix me up? So I’m not bi-polar. So I was not rendered asunder. So I’m not psychotic. So I’m not a denizen of Bedlam. So you can’t fix me up. So what I see is fucking unfortunately really there. Really there. Trouble is mate, you see what is there, you’d be better off with the understanding level of a newt. So me is still mine, minutely. I knew all of that already, but here’s your bucks anyway.

So I’m saner than sanity can be. What a fair measure of the damage that being an uber sane observer of my own killing really is, it should have sent me crazy. Being able to think isn’t costless.

Hello Appeal Type Lawyer. I’m so desperate for justice, for damage to be undone. Thank you for running your I believe you script. What a legal actor you are, it drew me in. Oh, do I have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of spare dollars? No, I don’t. Oh, ok then, I’ll piss off.

Flicker.

Come into my room young boy. Why is the nun leaving? Who is that man? Why is he grabbing my head? Can’t breathe. Smothered. That stick bit of him is hurting my throat. Thump. Thump. Keep your yap shut. Say anything I’ll come after you. Scurry away. Hide. Hide. Hide. Where’s my little toy car. Curl up under the covers.

Flicker.

Cook a meal. Say hello to the landlord. Try and make a new friend. Maybe volunteer somewhere. Watch television. Do the washing. Look in the mirror, you are getting old. Hello old friend let’s meet up, have a coffee. Pretend all’s good. Sit on the verandah, stare at the sky. Pretend, pretend, pretend all is good.

He is such a quiet and friendly man. That’s the bit of me I have left.

Fuck them all, the tears are coming again. Fuck the nuns, fuck the priests, I cannot unsee what was done, I cannot unfeel it. I cannot escape it.

My mind IS the Separate fucking Prison.

Sit on the verandah. Stare at the sky.

Flicker bloody depressive ocean of snarling black dogs flicker.

Where is the curtain? I want to draw it across the screen. I want the show to end.

Note from the filtered me:

So that’s just a day in my mind. Actually, it is just a few hours in my mind because that’s how long it took me to write this.

Phew! Let me out of here! It is now three days later. Writing the above left me exhausted. I had to go away and walk on the beach for a bit. It is as I wrote it. I have not, and will not, edit it or pretty it up. It IS my IS. That is the mind I live in. The mind that I want to escape, but cannot break free from.

“The plaintiff has broad-ranging and chronic symptoms of persistent depressive disorder, from which he cannot escape.” If you think that’s a bit of a bummer, I can assure you that it is.

Ok, all of the swearing is done with now. Let’s step outside of my unfiltered mind. Well you can, I can’t. I have never allowed myself to try and write about how I really am, I’ve always done it at a long and safe remove. I feel worn out. The filters are now back in place. Let’s get back to the quiet and correct person who writes for AIM. The quiet person who does not say boo to a fart. The quiet person who is just trying to connect with you.

This was written to take you into my world and the world of some other Survivors, a world where the damage is painfully evident, where the damage can be seen, and where the damage in the sense of where the written word can possibly take you can be personally experienced and felt by you. Where the stultifying, spirit-killing, depressive weightiness of the crushing nature of the damage can be personally experienced and felt by you.

You’ve had a brief taste of it. Not pleasant I’m sure. Well many of us Survivors have eaten that particular sandwich for the whole of our lifetimes, and I am immeasurably unhappy with the fact that for me and others it has been so. It started for me when I was five years old, and I am now sixty-seven years old. What an unthinkable reach of time that is.

I’m a Survivor who was damaged by both men and women, by the Sisters of Mercy and the priests that they brought in to say mass. Not all Survivors have had my experiences, and I have not had all of the experiences of all other Survivors. Other Survivors have their own unique lived variation of most of the above, and I am not saying that they all have a movie playing across the inside of their forehead like I do. For me, the movie is on constant re-loop, permanently flickering away, and that is the only way I can explain it to you.

So now, the you that is out there with this article in your hand, can now perhaps truly understand why it is that we Survivors so strongly pursue justice. And don’t forget that we get out there and try to lead at least a semblance of a normal life. We give it a go. We try our best.

Flicker.

Flicker.

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We, the unheard.

And so the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone a happy and merry Xmas …

And so we, the unheard, sit alone at home on Xmas day and try to endure the silence, the loneliness, and the loss. We try not to hear the happy celebrations of our neighbours, we leave the television off because of the swamp of festive visual fare that shows happy contented people singing carols and exuding joy, and we avoid any sort of human contact simply because we no longer have the ability to pretend that we can either contribute to or benefit from what is meant to be such a day of happy and relaxed and innocent celebration.

Many of us have drifted away from our families, or they have drifted away from us. Our children have drifted away from many of us, or we have drifted away from them. On Xmas day we think about, and live, the loss. We sit on our verandahs, and we stare at the sky.

And who are we, the unheard?

We are a grouping of men and women who as children back in the 1950s, yes back in the 1950s, that long and far away reach back in time, we are the human beings who endured unspeakable abuse experiences while under the care of religious institutions. We are now in our late sixties or seventies by physical age, but we are much older and worn down under the effects of the inescapable legacies that we have carried over the stretch of a full lifetime.

And so the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone a happy and merry Xmas …

Our abuse experiences do not stand unique against those who were abused in the 1970s, the 1990s, the 2000s, or yesterday. The horror of the crimes committed against us in the 1950s are equal to the horror of the crimes committed against other children in the 1990s or in the present era. Nobody, no victim or survivor depending on how you as a society wishes to view us, escapes the legacy imposed by those crimes. The only difference for we, the unheard, is the fact that we have carried those legacies, those legacies of depression and PTSD, and the acute memories of what happened to us, for well over sixty years now.

Did some of us escape from under the weight of it all? We would like to think so, we would hope so, some must have surely, but for many of us, such cut through did not come our way.

The Royal Commission came far too late for us, the reach out from society via the Parliamentary apology was woefully too late for us, and both those events combined simply served to remind us how isolated, unheard, and unbelieved we were over that more than half a century ago.

We lived, as young children, and as teenagers, in an era where the churches and their clerics were venerated, and where those who had experienced scouring trauma were expected to just suck it up and move on, and, under no circumstance, speak out. We lived in a conservative and hypocritical society.

For us, back then, there was no inrush of supportive therapists and counsellors such as automatically happens today immediately post any sort of traumatic event. Society was quiet during our abuse, society was quiet after our abuse, society did not want to listen, society did not want to know. There was no such thing as early remedial intervention in our day, with the result that many of us carried our load of depression and post-traumatic stress for far too long in silence, and that long period of silence ensured for many of us that the state of those afflictions would become permanent.

As we hit our fifties and sixties, and as we saw the unfolding details of the Royal Commission, and as we sensed the new move within society to listen and believe, we started to open up. We approached therapists and psychologists, and for many of us, it was the first time in the totality of our lives that we were able to speak of what had been done. Our speech may have been halting, but at least for us, it was a welcome crack in the veil of silence.

After sixty years of being pushed aside, we were faced with the very new experience of being listened to. We had to try and draw ourselves out from under the blanket of silence imposed upon us by the society of our era. And it was at that very time, at a time when society was prepared to listen to our words, prepared to listen to our stories, when the Royal Commission was at its height, well, that was the exact time because of our decision to engage with the remedial therapies that many of us received the news from our therapists, our psychologists, and our psychiatrists that the damage done to us had been untreated for far too long, and that the damage could not be undone.

That blow was shattering for many of us. The last vestige of our hope for some internal relief or sense of normality was taken away.

And the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone a happy and merry Xmas …

So our anger rose, and many of us entered the legal redress system, either under the civil system or the government promoted and subsequently watered down Redress Scheme. For many of us, our mental state was such that we could not clearly discern the ramifications for us of the decisions we made about the various levels of settlement offered to us by the religious institutions. For many of us, it was a depressing experience that added to the level of abuse that we had received from those institutions. We saw, and felt, their response to our requests for justice as an extension of our abuse at their hands. Many of us simply signed settlements in order to stop the further perpetration of abuse upon us.

As the Royal Commissioner recently stated, the problem with the largest abusive church of them all, the one that affected so many of us, is the fact that they saw and still see the molestation of children as a moral dilemma, and not as a crime. Well, we, the unheard, are the living proof of the effects across our whole lifetimes of the crime of childhood sexual abuse that was perpetrated upon us by representatives of that church. A church that does not have the moral courage to change itself from within.

This new era of societal redress and focus on abuse will end, as all things do, and society will move on to other things, as in this era society more and more quickly does. But we remain here locked into a world, not of our own creating, and many of us are faced with the impossible reality of accepting that how it always was for us, then so it will always remain to be.

On Xmas day many of us will just sit on our verandahs, and many of us will just stare at the sky. We remain quiet, and hidden away. It simply IS our IS. A bit of a brutal truth the churches don’t care to acknowledge. The age of being listened to arrived too late to be of benefit for many of us, and within ourselves, we feel and remain unheard.

And the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone, including one assumes us, a happy and merry Xmas …

So we, some of that grouping of men and women who were children way back then in the 1950s do not in any sense wish you to not enjoy your festive season. But there is something that we would ask of you.

We want you to enjoy Xmas with every fibre of your being, and we want you to appreciate the beauty of your family, the beauty of your children, the beauty of your friends, and the beauty of being able to laugh and dance and celebrate and shout with unaffected joy at the freedoms that you have. We want you to fully appreciate and live your lives well. We want you to spread love and kindness to all you meet, and we want you to extend to and receive compassion from all on Xmas day. We wish you much success in the raising of your children and in the creation of positive legacies for them.

We, the unheard, would take it as a wonderful Xmas present to see you manage to do all of that.

Peace and love to all of you from all of us.

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Failure to resettle remaining offshore detainees to cost Australia $1.2 billion

Media Release 

New figures released today reveal that the Australian Government’s failure to finalise resettlement for 535 offshore detainees currently in PNG and Nauru could cost taxpayers $1.2 billion over the next 3 years.

The independent economic modelling, commissioned by Save the Children Australia, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) and GetUp, calculates the cost of offshore processing to be in excess of $573,000 per offshore person, per year.

Updating the report released by Save the Children and UNICEF Australia in 2016, todays report outlines the economic cost of not resettling the remaining 535 people who remain offshore.

Director of Policy and International Programs for Save the Children, Mat Tinkler said the high cost of offshore processing shouldn’t be forgotten.

“We’ve seen first-hand the devastating impact of offshore processing on children, but this report shows that offshore processing continues to come at a huge financial cost to Australian taxpayers.

“Better and more affordable alternatives to indefinite and offshore mandatory detention exist, and there is an opportunity for the Government to change course and embrace greater regional cooperation which continues to disincentivise unsafe travel by boat but also minimises harm to asylum seekers and refugees.”

ASRC Advocacy Director, Jana Favero said:

“More than 6 years of offshore processing has cost Australians billions of dollars, taken 12 lives, and harmed the physical and mental health of 1000s of refugees and people seeking asylum.

“The Morrison government must negotiate to find a permanent solution to urgently resettle people held indefinitely for none other than its own political agenda.”

Shen Narayanasamy, founder of corporate responsibility organisation No Business in Abuse and Human Rights Director at GetUp said:

“The responsibility for this $1.2 billion cost sits squarely with this government’s abject failure to resolve the offshore situation.

“Keeping people detained offshore indefinitely isn’t just morally irresponsible, it makes no economic sense.”

Background:

In total 3,127 people seeking asylum have been detained on the islands of Manus and the Republic of Nauru since offshore processing began in 2013.

Despite some attempts at resettlement, six years later, 535 people are still trapped offshore, the vast majority (83%) assessed as refugees with a further 39 yet to be processed.

The updated analysis outlines that on the available public information, without the removal of the final 535 people to safety and resettlement, offshore processing will cost Australian taxpayers $1.2 billion over three years (2020-2023).

For each offshore person, the cost is more than $573,000 per year, compared to $10,221 per person, per year for those living in the community on bridging visas.

In At What Cost, Save the Children and UNICEF Australia argued that the human, strategic and economic cost of Australia’s offshore processing regime was untenable without significant variation.

The analysis found that the financial costs of at least $9.6 billion were incurred by Australian taxpayers between 2013 and 2016 in maintaining offshore processing, onshore mandatory detention and boat turn-backs.

The full At What Cost report released today is available here.

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We older ‘burdens’ on society

Here we go. Here we go. Yet again. Doesn’t pay to be over 60, does it?

Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Sydney Morning Herald:

“Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will on Tuesday signal a drive to get people in their mid and late 60s to work longer and undertake training to keep in touch with the jobs market as the government confronts long term pressures to the budget bottom line. Mr Frydenberg will use an address to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia to argue a “new dynamic” in the way the country’s population is ageing will require new policies to ensure the nation’s economic heavy lifting is not left to a diminishing number of younger people.”

I get it that the balance between older and younger in our society is changing, and that in the future the number of older people in our society will increase, and that the Government needs to take all of that into account when planning future health, education, housing, and ‘where’s the revenue going to come from’ type policies.

What I don’t get, and don’t like, is the frequency with which words like burden, and economic heavy lifting, are used by politicians to condescendingly swipe us oldies over the head.

Are we burdens on society? Have we not heavy-lifted and contributed to the economic well being of the country over the course of our working lifetimes? Now that we have been pushed aside into the invisibility of older age are we, now, to be targeted and punished by this Government because employers steadfastly refuse to hire us?

The major problem with this Government is that they hold vulnerable cohorts within our society solely responsible for the condition that they find themselves in.

The unemployed for example, of any age, are tagged as bludgers and burdens and are subject to such a punishing regime of compliance including: the bad joke that is JobActive, the deliberate suffering that is imposed by the starvation level of Newstart, the restriction of even the tiniest amount of freedom of choice left available to the unemployed by the imposition of the Indue Card.

When you are an oldie caught up in all of the mess that is the Government’s Welfare Policy, whether you are currently stuck on Newstart, or whether you have managed to transition to the marginally more welcoming climes of the Old Age Pension, which at least allows you to breathe with some dignity at least once a week, it is enough to make you tear out whatever hair you are lucky enough to still have left.

Frydenberg and Co need a reality check.

We oldies who want to work are not the problem, the employers who will not hire us are the problem.

We oldies who are not rich are not the problem, a society that measures the worth of a human being by the level of their ability to consume, and spend, and accumulate wealth, and a society that denies the most basic social dignities to the disadvantaged and the old, is the problem.

And what is the Government’s answer to the issue of older Australians whose job applications are continually rejected? Well, we have a startlingly new brilliant idea, we’ll re-train you. Gosh … we’ll all be re-trained up as coders and data analysts and rocket scientists in order to secure our share of the ‘jobs of the future’. It would be funny if it wasn’t what it actually is – sad and demeaning.

And where will we be re-trained up? Not in the TAFES, they’ve been gutted. We’ll be re-trained up in the profit-making private training industry, that plethora of Registered Training Organisations with happy and profitable links with the JobActive network.

Josh and Co need to sit in on some of the job interviews where employers tell us oldies that we are too over-qualified for the job. Already too over-qualified for the job. And the Government’s answer to that pernicious form of ageism is to offer to add to the level of our qualifications thereby ensuring that the employment door that has shut closed on our feet, will shut even harder.

The fact is that the proportion of older people who cannot find a job is going to increase, and increase, and increase. It is not going to increase because we are burdens, or bludgers, or light-weight lifters, or any of the other crap mantras that this Government throws towards our aged bones. The number of older people out of work will increase because employers have made it brutally obvious to us that we are not wanted.

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Money and power completely out of balance

Reading today of Bill Gates being once more top of the tree of billionaires left me feeling a bit sick.

I do realise that he is a philanthropist and does much good work, particularly in Africa.

I also realise that America prefers to have individual philanthropists meeting the needs of the poor, because if the government were doing it, they would be seen as socialists – and that is totally unacceptable in a land where you have to look after your own needs if you want to rise to the top.

That’s right isn’t it, Mr Donald Trump?

To be honest, I struggle sometimes these days to understand why we elect and pay politicians, because it is increasingly hard to find any benefits to the general population of such work as the politicians might do to justify the level of benefits they claim!

We also pay public servants to support the government, but it ignores their advice and spends zillions on consultants, who come largely from firms which both help business prepare their accounts, finding every loophole in the tax laws, and then go on to audit the financial statements. Conflict of interest? Oh, really!

The following information regarding national leaders basic benefits might be slightly out of date and there are indications that some countries believe that if leaders are paid more, they will be less open to corruption. I think the jury might still be out on that one!

But, seriously, when it comes to CEOs of mega businesses, including banks, it is really hard to find any justification for the amounts that are paid. Even more so for the rate of tax which they are charged!

It used to be said that people would lose the incentive to work harder if their tax rate increases the more they earned. But in business these days, unlike a bricklayer or a concreter, most of the mega-wealthy have acquired their stacks by letting money make money, rather the sweat of their physical labour or even the length of their working hours! Capital not labour wins every time!

And – of course! – having wealth goes having hand in hand with having power, which is why our governments’ policies are more influenced by wealthy business CEOs than by the needs of the poor.

In recent times, government policies have steadily eroded support for the vulnerable.

Centrelink has spent incredible amounts of time and money developing a flawed system which demands money with menaces from thousands of people, who, they claim, have – not just in the last year or two, but more than 7 years ago in many cases – received benefits to which it is claimed they are not entitled.

Many are puzzled as to how this can happen. After all, if you are made redundant and cannot immediately find other employment, it is not as though you can just waltz into Centrelink for help and get it at the drop of a hat!

You have to have exhausted pretty much all of your reserves and prove it by having your finances gone through with a fine toothcomb!

Simply put, Robo-debt works like this.

A Centrelink computer will access your tax return for the year in question, divide your annual taxable income by 26, and compare the resulting amount with your fortnightly benefits for the period in question.

This completely ignores the fact that you might have skills which mean that, normally, you earn a handsome salary, but it may involve appreciable outlays at the same time, so your ability to set money aside is limited. If you are made redundant, and remain out of work for, say 3 months or more, during which you eventually obtain some benefits from Centrelink, the amount you are actually receiving will be well below your previous regular salary.

It will also be well below what the inappropriate Robo-debt algorithm will have calculated, using the notional average income you were receiving – as any experienced Centrelink staff member could tell the idiot who dreamed up the system.

Being out of work is stressful.

Being put through the hoops of the Centrelink processes is stressful.

Being told to find proof of what you earned several years ago, while at the same time you are being accused of defrauding the government – and also being threatened by debt collectors – is not just stressful! It can push people over the edge!

And there are rumours that this flawed process will be extended to other Centrelink beneficiaries, including age pensioners, some of whom are living below the poverty line.

Oh – and being dead does not exempt you from attention!

Another group of people who are being disadvantaged by government policy are those being forced to use the cashless debit card – which is provided by a private organisation which makes lots of money out of it! Money which ought to be going to help the people concerned!

Again, the system has major flaws. Many people cannot afford to buy new, branded goods – assuming they are retailed by a firm which has registered to recognise the card. The alternative is to buy privately second-hand through, say, eBay or Gumtree.

But they definitely cannot use the cashless debit card in those systems.

And how about cash for school outings for the kids?

What is becoming abundantly clear is the massive gaps – not just between rich and poor, but also between policymakers and those directly affected by the policies.

This has always been the case with policies affecting the people of our First Nations. Lack of effective consultation has always been the complaint.

Now, whatever the colour of your skin, if you are not employed in a reasonably well paid job, sooner or later you will fall foul of policies, devised by people who have almost certainly never experienced severe hardship, and who lack the ability to even realise that this will almost certainly mean their policies will fail to produce valid outcomes.

The most recent example of a government organisation trying to recover recently established old debts comes from South Australia.

Whatever happened to the Statute of Limitation?

Meanwhile – in the millionaire’s haunts, life rolls on smoothly while governments work their butts off, taking from the poor to give to the rich.

Sorry – Robin Hood. It is a whole new world. You are better off being dead!

At least you do not now have to deal with the insanity of a world that lives, with its head in the sand, while fires are burning out of control, releasing even more carbon into the atmosphere, in amounts which inexorably increase, creating a climate of continuing self-destruction!

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The backlash of change

By RosemaryJ36  

When I was a child, “In the olden days” as my children when younger used to say, Robinson’s jams had a Golliwog emblem and I had a golliwog to play with, as well as traditional dolls.

I also read Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

A decade or so later, my sister was studying medicine in London and brought home a lonely (black) African fellow student to share Sunday lunch.

About this same time, I was reading ‘Cry, the beloved country’.

Learning is not confined to the classroom, and, over time, through expanding our knowledge and understanding, we are offered the chance to cast off prejudices, respect difference and accept that change is a continuing feature of our existence.

That is perhaps an idealised expectation. Not all avail themselves of that choice.

When I was a teenager, homosexuality was a criminal offence throughout the British colonised world, as well as among those of other faiths. In the British context, this was largely a result of the translation of certain passages in the Bible – which was, itself, penned in more ignorant times.

My mother, a dedicated Christian, who was brilliant in English grammar and arithmetic, but totally ignorant of more than basic science, firmly believed in the Genesis story of creation.

Ignorance of scientific discoveries is no excuse for ignoring them once they have been bought to your attention. There is no place in a changing world for ‘believing’ something which has been shown to be false.

It is a fact, which is still being denied by the intransigent, that mankind’s addiction to increasing use of fossil fuels, with the concomitant increase in polluting emissions, is a major contribution to accelerating global warming.

It is a fact that we are running out of time to take the steps necessary to drastically reduce the level of emissions and the damage being done to our oceans by plastic pollution.

Too many wars and conflicts are already occurring around the world, and the expansion of global corporations, encouraging the greed and selfishness of shareholders, are all features contributing to a refusal by a majority of governments to accept the massive task of declaring war on climate change.

Governments think in terms of winning the next election in 3 – 5 years’ time.

This myopic approach denies them the vision of how their current policies will impact the next generation – or they do not care about others enough to think it worthwhile.

When it comes to politics, I sit on the fence.

No one party has all the answers and the way European governments form coalitions from a wide range of parties is, in my opinion, a far healthier way to achieve consensus and develop policies which are not too biased.

The current ‘Coalition’ government in Australia is setting itself up to develop a police state. The AAT is being progressively politicised by appointing liberal members, many with no legal experience and little in the way of other special and relevant expertise.

Our disgusting treatment of refugees and asylum seekers – worse treatment than is handed out to those condemned of serious criminal offences – even Ivan Milat’s cancer was given more medical attention than are the severe traumas inflicted on those confined to Manus and Nauru.

We have a Minister in Peter Dutton who seems obsessed with sadistically inflicting pain and suffering. The Biloela family could have stayed at home, contributing to the community while all their matters went through the courts.

Instead, two innocent little girls have been treated so badly that we have almost certainly breached our obligations under the UN Convention on Children, while they have probably been as traumatised for life as have the victims of institutional sex abuse.

And the cost to the taxpayer has been exorbitant – certainly more than enough to settle all the excluded refugees in jobs and contributing to the economy!

Australia – the Lucky Country? – I don’t think so!

Australia – the land of the Fair Go? – Only if you are white and wealthy!

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Look on…

By Jon Chesterson  

LOOK ON IN THE ABSENT HALLS OF OUR OWN CONSCIENCE, THE HUNGRY WALLS OF OUR OWN LIVING ROOMS, LOOK ON…

One cannot gloss over what has happened!

We witnessed the brutal cruelty and destruction of Afghanistan and its people at the hands of the Taliban.

We witnessed the brutal wars on neighbouring countries, ethnic minorities and its own people in Iraq at the hands of Saddam Hussein.

We witnessed the total destruction of civil war in Syria and the devastation of its cities and people.

We continue to see the brutality levied by Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu in Lebanon and Israel on the Palestinian people.

We have seen the brutal acts of terrorism across the world at the hands of ISIS; and ignored the far greater threat to democracy by our own western governments, which use this as propaganda against human rights, their own people and constitutional freedom and democracy.

And while all this has been going on, we have silently witnessed and ignored our own complicit terrorist acts against Yemen at the hands of the Saudi king and president, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as the West supply the Saudi- led Arab coalition with military arms to systematically bombard and indiscriminately destroy the men, women and children of Yemen.

We witness Trump rattling his lips and sabre against Turkey, Iran and refugees, and like the fake presidential coward and mercenary he is, he acts only in his own inseparable corporate and political interests, to secure his own moribund electorate and hungry games. We witness Morrison and Dutton in Australia, who in all likelihood are far worse as they tighten their demonic grip on democracy and rattle their delusional snake-strung evangelical tongues.

As a result of our own political navel gazing, we have ignored the catastrophic impact ISIS, successive regimes and dictators have had throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world; and on the eve of the latest campaign, this crusade – withdrawn from Syria’s borders and abandoned the Kurds, who not only fought as allies against ISIS, but now face the brutality of Turkey’s foreign policy at the hands of Tayyip Erdoğan, and more genocide to follow.

The Kurds are a people who are familiar with this cruelty and national obsession, as they continue to be demonised and eradicated not just by ISIS, but Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, they have no homeland and nowhere else to go. By now we should be familiar with this systematic pattern of human abuse across our planet, the repeated history glossed over and our part in it. But are we?

The heinous crime of Western countries is to have allowed extremist groups like ISIS, Taliban, dictators and cruel regimes around the world to flourish, while imposing and justifying our own outlandish empires; and now we do it again. We create the vacuum for their success and look on, worse we install and feed these cruel regimes with sick diplomacy and arms. And when we are done we turn our gaze on refugees fleeing from these rivers of blood and cruel regions, lock their people up in prisons, we turn our propaganda machine on the people who flee the tyranny of their oppressors to be subjugated and demonised within and just off our very own shores and borders.

And when that campaign wears thin, the evil eye of Sauron turns on its own people, lighting up domestic fires, demonising the poor, unemployed, students, the elderly, humanitarians, peaceful protesters, our own social and ethnic minorities, those who are sick of this wretched and cruel neoliberal straight jacket, our commercial bombshell.

As the Kurds defend democracy first against neighbouring countries in the region, ISIS and now Turkey, the West once again abandon their supposed allies. Behrouz Bouchani, a Kurd and journalist fleeing from Iran has been imprisoned on Manus and now PNG for the past 6 years, since 2013. He has become the offshore absent conscience of Australian politics. He is one of Australia’s many political prisoners and yet he has committed no crime, broken no law, there has been no charge, no lawful detention or justice. All he ever wanted was to report the abuse, to tell the truth, to live, to be free. He is one of the many. Morrison and Dutton look on.

We like to watch our TV, we witness, we gloss over and we allow this injustice to continue on all fronts, even in our own country, in the absent halls of our own conscience.

Look on…

GODLESS MOUNTAIN

For sake of the
crusade I learn
to slaughter men,
women and children

For sake of a
godless world
I substitute freedom
for religion

For sake of peace
I keep my mouth
shut, eyes closed
to death and suffering

For sake of
humanity I live
with the knowledge
of shame and doubt

If I could climb a tree
and shake the
mountain, I’d
paint the sky myself

and live without

(AB, 4 July 2019)


Poem first published in Poetry is a Mountain: A Poetry Anthology, 17 September 2019, Kevin Watt (eds), Independently published, San Jose CA, Amazon.
Source: https://allpoetry.com/poem/14593002–Godless-Mountain-by-Barddylbach

Reference: Kurdish refugee Behrouz Boochani warns of ‘genocide’ in northern Syria, Nick Baker, 15 October 2019, SBS Australia.

 

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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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Sanctioning harm under guise of religious freedom

When Attorney-General Christian Porter proposed to prioritise freedom of religion above all other human rights which are necessary for a fair, just and humane society, he gave an orange light to the most wicked entitlement and privilege. The Australian Government’s proposed Religious Freedom Bills are out for public consultation and if passed, create a plethora of unequal rights, where those who subscribe to religious beliefs are benefited above and beyond the rest of the community. The bills weaken existing protections for LGBTIQ+ people, women, people with disabilities, and those from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, and potentially legalise hate speech.

However it’s Tasmanian Archbishop Julian Porteous’s statement on 12 September 2019 which provides one of the most compelling arguments as to why the concept of the proposed laws is so repugnant. Archbishop Porteous, when publicly declaring that priests will not obey the new Tasmanian law mandating that priests report child sex abuse, reportedly stated that the law is ‘at odds with the Australian Government’s religious freedom push’.

Translated into layman’s terms, Archbishop Porteous’s position is that ‘religious freedom’ means ‘mates keeping vile secrets for mates’, while children suffer. Archbishop Porteous’s stance that reporting paedophiles violates his religious freedom is an unconscionable response to the Church being exposed as a repugnant organisation responsible for immeasurable human suffering.

Given its past behaviour, it’s no surprise that the Catholic Church, at its highest levels, prioritises the ‘sanctity’ of the church and it’s religious beliefs over the safety of the most vulnerable in the community. The Catholic Church, at its highest levels, has repeatedly demonstrated a propensity to prioritise privilege and entitlement for its clergy, a culture of secrecy, and the institutionalised protection of paedophiles, above the right for children to be safe and free from abuse, despite the scathing report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. The church still performs exorcisms on LGBT members despite its documented harm.

Along with other religious organisations, the Catholic Church’s fierce advocacy for religious freedom to the detriment of other rights, goes against the universally accepted balance of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”), proclaimed in Paris on 10 December 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly, provides the key principles for a free, just, and peaceful society and sets out the proper balance between the freedom of religion and other human rights.

Article 18, which provides for the right of freedom of religion, is just one of 30 rights and principles in the UDHR; the other 29 Articles are conveniently ignored by the proponents of religious freedom. The right for a person to practice their beliefs must be balanced against the rights of others in the community not to be harmed. This is repeatedly supported when rights are considered in the full context of the UDHR.

The push for greater religious freedom at the expense of the rights of others is a manipulative response to the weakening power of religious organisations in the community. Churches cannot reconcile that it is no longer acceptable to forcefully impose their moral tenets on those who do not subscribe to restrictive and unreasonable codes.

Those of faith argue for religious freedom on the basis it is a human right, yet they fail to recognise that all human rights must be balanced. Where the exercise of one person’s human rights violates another, the line has been crossed. Where one person, in practicing their religion, denies another the ability to participate fully in community life and cultural practices, the line has been crossed.

The religious freedom laws will allow those of faith to treat people as second class citizens essentially on a whim, provided they can somehow tie it in with their religious beliefs.

Allowing greater religious freedom to the detriment of other fundamental human rights violates Article 30: “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.”

When practicing one’s religion causes harm to other people, it is unacceptable.

If by practising their religion, a person imposes their beliefs on another person and prevents that other person from freely participating in a secular society, it is unacceptable.

Religious freedom is, and must be, subject to the law and balanced with other human rights. Those of faith are free to attend their services, drink the symbolic blood of their prophets or engage in other religious rituals if those participating have freely, voluntarily and willingly consented. They can refuse blood transfusions or medical procedures for themselves, but they must not be allowed to deny them to others. They can prosthelytize and evangelise to their hearts’ content, provided they are not offending, humiliating, intimidating, insulting, ridiculing others or otherwise harming others in the community. They can pray or reflect or honour their gods in whichever way they choose, but must not be permitted to deny others the opportunity to participate fully in public life because of personal religious beliefs.

Attorney-General Porter’s proposed laws recognise that those of faith should not have unfettered freedom to disobey all laws. However he does propose overriding the Tasmanian anti-discrimination law for people of faith, and the proposed laws broaden the opportunities for people of faith to actively discriminate against members of the community in the name of religion.

It is evident from Archbishop Porteous’s public commentary how much ‘freedom’ he wishes the church to be given.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse outed the abhorrent practices of religious organisations in harbouring abusers, the resounding ‘YES’ result in the marriage equality plebiscite stunned opponents after the dedicated, religious-right-led, hate-filled rhetoric of the ‘NO’ campaign, George Pell’s conviction astonished believers after decades of institutionalised protection from prosecution, rugby player Israel Folau’s sacking frightened the proponents of ‘hate speech promoted as free speech’, abortion reform, transgender rights and voluntary euthanesia laws terrified the self-appointed ‘moral superiors’ who believe ‘God’s Law’ takes precedence. And now, with the state’s successively enacting laws mandating priests out their fellow paedophiles, the churches power is shriveling. Their response is to fight back and demand superiority, entitlement and privilege is enshrined in law.

The majority of Australians believe all people are deserving of equal rights and to be treated equally before the law. It is unconscionable to provide people of faith with greater ‘freedoms’, to the detriment of others in the community. Attorney-General Porter must not give the green light to bigotry, social division, exclusion and segregation under the guise of religious freedom.

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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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Spikes of Violence: Protest in West Papua

Like Timor-Leste, West Papua, commonly subsuming both Papua and West Papua, remains a separate ethnic entity, acknowledged as such by previous colonial powers. Its Dutch colonial masters, in preparing to leave the region in the 1950s, left the ground fertile for a declaration of independence in 1961. Such a move did not sit well with the Indonesian desire to claim control over all Dutch Asia Pacific colonies on departure. There were resources to be had, economic gains to be made. The military duly moved in.

The New York Agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands, brokered in 1962 with the assistance of the United States, saw West Papua fall under United Nations control for the duration of one year. Once passing into Indonesian control, Jakarta would govern the territory “consistent with the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the inhabitants under the terms of the present agreement.” Education would be a priority; illiteracy would be targeted, and efforts made “to accelerate participation of the people in local government through periodic elections.”

One article stood out: “Indonesia will make arrangements, with the assistance and participation of the United Nation Representative and his staff, to give the people of the territory the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice.” In 1969, a ballot was conducted in line with the provision, though hardly in any true, representative sense. In the rich traditions of doctored representation and selective enfranchisement, 1,026 individuals were selected by Indonesian authorities to participate. Indonesia’s military kept an intimidating watch: the vote could not be left to chance. The result for Indonesian control was unanimous; the UN signed off.

Unlike Timor-Leste, the historically Melanesian territories of Papua and West Papua remains under thumb and screw, an entity that continues to exist under periodic acts of violence and habitual repression from the Indonesian central authorities. A policy of transmigration has been practiced, a point argued by scholars to be tantamount to genocide. This has entailed moving residents from Java and Sulawesi to West Papua, assisted by Jakarta’s hearty sponsorship.

The Indonesian argument here has been ethnic and political: to confect a national identity through assimilation. Under President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”), one keen to push the idea of “Indonesia Maju” (“Advanced Indonesia”), renewed stress is being placed on infrastructure investment, economic growth and natural resources, of which Papua features heavily.

The indigenous populace has had to, in turn, surrender land to those transmigrants and appropriating authorities. “The rights of traditional law communities,” notes Clause 17 of Indonesia’s Basic Forestry Act of 1967, “may not be allowed to stand in the way of transmigration sites.”

Appropriations of land, the relocation of residents, and the odd massacre by Indonesian security forces, tend to fly low on the international radar of human rights abuses. West Papua lacks the cinematic appeal or political heft that would encourage around the clock coverage from media networks. Bureaucratic plodders in the various foreign ministries of the world prefer to render such matters benign and of little interest. Geopolitics and natural resources tend to do most of the talking.

In late 2015, for instance, Scott Busby, US deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and James Carouso, acting deputy assistant secretary for Maritime and Mainland Southeast Asian affairs, ducked and evaded anything too compromising in their testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy. The consequences of demographic policies directed by Jakarta were assiduously ignored. Massacres and institutional accountability in the territory were bypassed, as were Indonesian efforts to prevent scrutiny on the part of human rights monitors, the UN Special rapporteur and journalists.

This year, more instances of violence have managed to leach out and gurgle in media circles. It took a few ugly incidents in the Javanese city of Surabaya to engender a new wave of protests which have had a rattling effect on the security forces. Last month, pro-Indonesian nationalist groups, with reported encouragement from security forces, taunted Papuan students with an array of crude insults in East Java. (“Dogs”, “monkeys” and “pigs” were part of the bitter mix). The fuse was lit, notably as arrests were made of the Papuans themselves. “Papuans are not monkeys”, proclaimed banners being held at a rally in Central Jakarta on August 22.

Government buildings have been torched in Jayapura. Additional forces have been deployed, and internet access cut. There are claims that white phosphorous has been used on civilians; prisons are being filled. There have even been protests in Indonesia’s capital, with the banned Morning Star flag being flown defiantly in front of the state palace. (Doing so is no mild matter: activist Filep Karma spent over a decade of his life in prison for doing so).

The struggle for independence, at least in the international eye, has been left to such figures as Benny Wenda, who lobbies governments and groups to back the “Free Papua” campaign. He is particularly keen to take the matter of the Free Choice vote of 1969, that nasty instrument that formalised Indonesian control, to the United Nations General Assembly. Last month, he had to settle for taking the matter to the Pacific Islands Forum as a representative of Vanuatu’s delegation. In January, he gifted the UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet a petition with 1.8 million signatures seeking a new referendum for the territory.

The response from an Indonesian government spokesman was emphatic, curt, and conventional. “Developments in Papua and West Papua province are purely Indonesia’s internal affairs. No other country, organisation or individual has the right to interfere in them. We firmly oppose the intervention of Indonesia’s internal affairs in whatever form.”

The hope for Jokowi and the Indonesian authorities will be simple: ride out the storm, conduct a low-level suppression of protests, and place any talks of secession on the backburner. In this, they can count on regional, if hypocritical support. In the words of a spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Australia recognises Indonesia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over the Papua provinces. Our position is clearly defined by the Lombok Treaty between Indonesia and Australia.”

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BREXIT: The Billionaires Coup

If you listen to Boris Johnson, he and his Tory hard Brexiters are enacting the will of UK voters (even though not all British citizens got to vote). But are they really?  It is worth asking yourself, who do the Torys usually go out to bat for?

Could it be their billionaire donors and the new EU tax avoidance laws that the Tories have foremost in their minds?

Yes, some people voted for an extra £350 million pounds for the health service.

But no one voted for chlorinated chicken, massive job losses, shortages of food and vital medicines (which will unquestionably lead to deaths) and decreased relevance on the world stage.

No one voted for a recession, complete with increased prices, a significant drop in the value of the pound, reduced study and career options for the young, and long painful cues whenever they hop across the channel.

I get it. No one likes to admit they have been conned, but this is now getting very, very real, and there are going to be real world consequences. So for those still waving the Brexit flag, here’s a few points to consider.

  • A shortage of vital medicines. Exactly, how many Brexit deaths are acceptable to you? How many deaths would you personally be prepared to sign off on? How many people’s mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters are you prepared to put in their graves for the sake of Brexit? Bear in mind those deaths will not come from the ruling classes. They will continue to have their medicines. The death toll will come from the towns and counties that the Torys have ignored since time immemorial. The likes of Aaron banks, Rupert Murdoch and Boris Johnson will not be going without medicines, I can assure you.
  • How big a dip in household income are you prepared to endure for the sake of Brexit? It is now clear we’re not talking hundreds, but thousands of pounds annually. So name your price. How much would you be prepared to slice off your income, and the incomes of all your family, friends and neighbours?
  • How many ordinary working people are you prepared to see lose their jobs and pushed onto the benefit queues? 10,000? 100,000 maybe 1,000,000? Name your figure. But while you work it out, just know that each one of those jobs is the lifeblood of someone’s family.
  • How many British pensioners living in the EU are you prepared to leave stranded, potentially without health care or pensions and unable to afford to return? Elderly people who worked all their lives, reduced to penury and homelessness, through no fault of their own. (And they didn’t even get a vote).
  • Exactly how many workplace health and safety standards are you happy to abandon in your workplace?
  • How many environmental and food standards are you prepared to scrap? Another chlorinated chicken sandwich on GMO bread, anyone?
  • How many more terrorists/criminals are you prepared to let slip through the net with the loss of EU wide co-operative security, intelligence and policing arrangements?
  • Exactly how much more are you prepared to pay for basics like, food and energy. Put a pound figure on it?

And when you are done answering those questions, please take a moment to make a list of things that will actually improve in your life when Brexit is enacted.

If you find that list alarmingly short, you might want to ask yourself, just who owns all those newspapers, spewing out all the anti-EU sentiment?  Yes, that’s right… It’s the billionaires.

Do you really think these fat cat billionaires have your interests at heart? Or would they rather continue diverting their profits to off shore tax havens? Profits that if taxed properly could provide ordinary people with better schools, hospitals, and pensions?

Forget the Irish backstop. The tax evasion laws are the real sticking point. And the only way for the Billionaires to avoid them is to get a HARD NO DEAL BREXIT.

Seems the only big winners from the no-deal scenario are the billionaires. It’s little wonder they don’t want a THIRD referendum. (The first one was in 1975). They have what they want in their sights, and they don’t want the will of the people, or parliament getting in their way. They have their man on the job, and he is determined to see it through.

Brexit was never about taking back control or the sovereignty of Parliament. (The fact Johnson has said he will shut down parliament and ignore legislation to avoid a NO DEAL BREXIT should pretty well snuff out any doubt about that).

This is a Billionaire’s coup. This is the French revolution in reverse. This is all about the tax arrangements of the ultra-wealthy, and thanks to their media savvy cohorts enough British voters bought it hook line and sinker to get them over the line, once!

But would they be so lucky today? Is it still “the will of the people”?

Britain NEEDS another vote on Brexit. This time with all the facts on the table.

***THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN POSTED UNDER CREATIVE COMMONS, AND MAY BE REPRODUCED, SHARED OR QUOTED FROM IN ITS UNEDITED FORM, WITHOUT COST.

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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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The attack on women by Australian politicians, and Alan Jones

Things have been just dandy for women in the last forty eight hours, with broadcaster Alan Jones declaring that Prime Minister Scott Morrison should give New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern a few backhands to shut her up, and then stuff a sock down her throat.

Jones was supported by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who mildly reprimanded him for his boy talk, before going on to declare that Jones is a “mainstay of our media.”

Then yesterday evening many of us in NSW received a robot call from Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce. Joyce stated that he was calling on behalf of the Foundation for Human Development on the matter of the NSW Abortion Bill.

The Foundation’s contact point is the NSW branch of Right to Lifeand we can presume that the robocalls were paid for by this anti choice organisation.

I will transcribe Joyce’s message:

[The NSW Abortion Bill] prohibits giving critical care to babies born alive following abortion and this will be given to any other baby born alive prematurely.

In other words, every other premature baby will be given critical care, except those born alive following an abortion who will be either left to die, or slaughtered by the medical professionals in attendance.

[The Bill] allows sex selective abortions. It legalises abortion for any reason up until the day of birth.

No, the Bill does not “allow sex selective abortions.” No, the Bill does not legalise abortion for any reason up to the day of birth.

Barnaby Joyce is a liar.

We have now heard that the Shooters Fishers & Farmers Party will refuse to work with the NSW government “ever again,” according to its leader Robert Borsak, if the Abortion Bill is passed.

Given the events of the last twenty four hours, a woman could be forgiven for thinking she’s been teleported to a southern state in the USA, where governments and their evangelical supporters routinely use our bodies as battlegrounds.

There is little more dangerous to women than a cabal of white, privileged, powerful men in politics and media who believe they have the right to control our bodies. What is needed is an equally powerful cabal of white, privileged, powerful men in politics and media who will vocally support us in our fight for bodily autonomy. So far, I hear very few men of influence doing that.

When the Treasurer of Australia describes a misogynist, violent scroat  as a “media mainstay,” I have little hope.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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