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Category Archives: Your Say

“Our national identity has become defined by our participation in wars”

By Maria Millers

Anzac Day’s evolution as a national obsession has been cleverly manipulated by politicians, companies, organizations and clubs all trading on the lucrative Anzac brand.

In recent years Prime Ministers of both persuasions have seen political gain in the Anzac legend.

Prime Ministers from Hawke to Howard and beyond have seen political gain in promoting the Anzac myth. An exception was Keating, who rejected the obsession with Gallipoli and turned his attention to Kokoda.

With the heavy pall of the Brereton report’s disturbing revelations of gross misconduct by our elite force in Afghanistan, commemorations should return to quiet reflection; not the noisy spectacles with jingoistic overtones at a time when serious soul searching, beyond the easy clichés, is needed.

On my own patch the local RSL is collaborating in hosting a local derby football match on the 24th. There will be a flyover of 9 war birds, 50 pigeons, a canon to start the game and a full battalion brass band to march the players onto the ground.

Not surprisingly, the sitting members from the three levels of government will be there.

Engagement of the young is seen as crucial in maintaining the Anzac legend. But like all legends, the Anzac legend is very selective in what is taught as history to our young. According to James Brown, Defence Analyst and former army officer, the awful pain of the reality of Gallipoli has become reconfigured into a heroic narrative that belies the truth. The emaciated, dehydrated victims have been turned into bronzed heroes of Greek mythology

Our national identity has become defined by our participation in wars. The Frontier Wars are, however, a notable omission.

Furthermore, the Anzac troops who fought and died at Gallipoli are always idealized and portrayed as heroes fighting in the cause of protecting democracy and freedom. Ironically, most of the much lauded freedoms we enjoy are not due to war efforts but have been achieved through trade unions and the reforms of progressive governments.

Historians such as Marilyn Lake and Joy Damousi have pointed to the role of governments in force-feeding us military history not only through the education system but through the promotion of war heritage. This is most blatantly illustrated by the proposed $500 million renovations and extensions at the Australian War Memorial, at a time when other national cultural institutions are struggling to survive; while the welfare and needs of damaged veterans appear to have been marginalized, in fact, totally neglected.

After a great deal of pressure the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has just announced a long overdue royal commission into suicides by Australian veterans and serving Defence personnel.

I’m not sure what the RSL and organizers of the Anzac event at the derby match at my local football ground hope to achieve. And despite asking my local member who was funding the war planes for the event, I have still not received a reply. Perhaps the money could have been put to far better use.

We should take note this Anzac Day of what American writer Norman Mailer once pointed out: that “Myths are tonic to a nation’s heart. Once abused, however, they are poisonous.”

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Time for self control

I was 3 years old, and living in England, when WWII started.

A few weeks earlier, the family had been on holiday in the Isle of Wight, and I have one very vivid memory set on a beach there.

My brother had dug out a car in the sandy beach but I, as the baby of the family, was not allowed to sit in it!

We had a family car, which my father, who was a mechanical engineer, serviced – not always with the desired results – but that is a whole other story!

Once the country had entered into wartime mode, I understand that everything changed – but I was less aware of that than were older people.

Food rationing was introduced, as were clothing coupons, and purchase of petrol for civilian use was very strictly controlled, so our car was effectively off the road until well after V E Day, in 1945.

Children were allowed extra clothing coupons, for obvious reasons, but we still had to be checked and measured to justify their being issued.

In 1945/46, my older sister had been very ill with pleurisy, and the doctor wanted her to get right out of the London smoke and pollution. We lived west of London, about 15 miles (24 km) from the centre of London, in a very built up area, and I still have very clear – or should that be foggy – memories of the London smog!

The parents of a school friend of my sister knew a Welsh farming family, who had a large farm house but no children, and who rented out accommodation in the summer. So we booked to go there for 3 weeks in the mid-year long break in (I think) 1947. My parents and my siblings are all dead, so I have no means of checking my facts!

We belonged to the AA, who provided us with very clear to follow directions for us to reach the village where the farm house was located. Had we but known to ask, they would have got us to the farm itself, which would have saved us a very delayed arrival.

The farm owner, Mr Williams, had left the gate – with the name of the farmhouse on it – open so that we could drive straight in, so our late arrival was even later than it might have been.

I lost count of how many times we had to stop on the way to mend a puncture – a consequence of the ageing of the tyres during a lengthy period of not being able to put the car on the road!

In fact, just after crossing the border from England into North Wales, a local yokel waved a pitchfork at us, which, after initial concern about the nature of the welcome we were receiving, we realised was alerting us to yet another soft tyre!

We took sandwiches and thermos flasks with us for the journey, because cafes had yet to re-open and the 250 mile journey was going to take a long time! English roads in those days were only direct if you wanted to go to London from a few other major cities!

We had, obviously, a pre-war car, a Singer 11, which had a boot which flapped down and had the spare wheel standing against the back of the rear seat, with a majority of our luggage in front of it. So accessing the spare wheel was pretty time consuming!

Because of the wartime restrictions, this was the first time I had been ‘in the country’ since the war began!

The farm was effectively a largish small-holding, with cattle, sheep – which were up in the hills for the summer – chickens, ducks, plus fields of grain, hay and root vegetables.

My father stayed for a few days, while we visited beaches, the two local towns – Pwllheli (with sandy beaches) and Criccieth (with very pebbly beaches but small canoes for hire) and one of them had a fairground – and then he returned to London by train, coming back to collect us to return home at the end of the 3 weeks.

In the following 4 years we went on a similar system, but for 4 weeks, and by the last time we had each of us had a chance to take a friend along, my brother had learned to drive – and took his driving test there – and he was also already at university.

Initially, toilet facilities were primitive, with a nightly lick and polish with a jug of water and a bowl in the bedroom, backed up with regular swims in local rivers or the sea.

There was an outside toilet for the first couple of years but then we arrived to find an added ‘bathroom’ – with no bath but with spring water to a wash basin and – memory is dim on this one – I think an indoors toilet.

Food restrictions did not apply!

We had butter made on the farm, fresh milk every day, eggs, a chicken at least once a week and, as we lived separately, we did our own cooking.

Shopping in the village was an eye opener, with jars of jam and other goodies on full display, instead of being pulled out from under the counter for a ‘regular’ customer, as happened at our dairy back home where we normally bought our groceries.

We always went to bed early in the first year or two as oil lamps did not make reading easy, and there was, of course, no television.

Later, a wind generator had been installed and we had a reasonable supply of electricity, but still fairly early nights.

I also went up there to North Wales by train for a couple of weeks during the Easter holiday in each of two later years, and essentially lived with the farmer and his wife.

Rationing in the normal run of things continued for several years after the war was over, so we were totally used to not having to choose what to wear.

School uniform on weekdays, changing into something old when we got home so the uniform would last longer, and something good for Sundays.

My mother made most of our clothes, and, later, my sister and I took on that chore.

When my sister turned 21, she organised her birthday party for which she made long dresses for herself, our mother and me.

My mother had a treadle sewing machine, and, later in life, after I had married and had children, I continued to make clothes for them as well as myself, but now with an electric sewing machine, until ready-made became cheaper than home-made!

Why am I rambling on like this?

Age is obviously a factor, but I am also concerned that we have become a consumer society.

We need to be entertained and taken care of and we are used to having every possible convenience.

During the war years we just buckled down, coped with shortages and substitutes, because there was no alternative.

We should be doing the same now, if we want today’s children to have half a chance of living in a world which is not completely and impossibly over heated!

Stop thinking about the possibility that it won’t happen.

It will – and the longer we wait before taking necessary action, the worse it will be!

Since 05/02/20 I have sat outside the NT Parliament House from 1.00 – 3.00 pm every Wednesday afternoon – bar 2.

On the evening of 15/01/21 I experienced a mild stroke. As I live alone and I was not affected in any way that stopped me moving normally, I did not realise what had happened until the next morning, which was actually my 85th birthday!

A friend rang, and I was struggling to talk coherently, so she ended the call and rang for an ambulance.

RDH put me onto blood thinners and admitted me for a bare 3 days, but I was not allowed to drive for a month.

So, coming home on the Tuesday, I had not organised transport for the next day, so failed to turn up.

In March I had a check up with the neurology department – to which I drove – on a Wednesday afternoon, so my vigil was cut short.

But I am now back to routine, there every Wednesday for 2 hours, keeping check on progress on the new greenery outside Parliament House – which is replacing a now demolished building and its surrounds – and talking to anyone who wishes to know why I am there.

I fear the increasing storms and extreme weather events will become the new norm, but real efforts to phase out fossil fuels and single use plastic – as well as a whole heap of other unnecessary sources of pollution – just might enable us to keep the severity of those events under a modicum of control.

But it will take all of us – including a clearly reluctant national government – plus the rest of the developed world if we hope to leave behind us a world in which our successors can survive!

Your help is really needed!

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A grand love affair …

I’m not a royal commentator or biographer. I’m a Republican. I have next to nix interest in the British Royal Family. The passing of a Duke resonates on a very low level with me … however … the passing of a man who loved and appreciated his partner over the course of his long lifetime does resonate at a very high level.

Over the next day or so the mainstream media is going to gush and gush everything royal. Commentators are going to wax lyrical about the Royals and how the passing of a Duke is not only the end of an era but also a good enough reason for all of us to drop our flags to half mast and abjectly fall into a period of national mourning and flower laying.

The death of any human being (with the exception of the Hitlers of this world) is a sad thing. The death of Philip is a sad thing.

But what a legacy he leaves behind!

As far as I am concerned Elizabeth and Philip were/are two ordinary human beings who met and fell in love, and that love endured over the course of their very long lifetimes. Their story greatly transcends the fact that they were protected elites sitting atop the baubles of an irrelevant crown-based power. The power of their story would be as strong had they been a couple who lived their lives unseen in the outer reaches of Dagsville.

In one way Elizabeth and Philip remind me of every other old couple we occasionally spot wobbling their way through a park hand in hand. Their story reminds me that, in this era when relationships have temporary tenure, and when too many men treat far too many women atrociously, there still does exist a thing called enduring unconditional love.

I’m not going to falsely eulogise Elizabeth and Philip, it is a given that they would have had their ups and downs together. However, they stuck with and supported each other until they reached very old age, and it only ended because one of them died.

So I salute Philip and Elizabeth. Two ordinary human beings. I salute the long life they shared. As a Republican who salutes no royal standard, I do salute the fact that they did show that the only enduring thing of value in this life is friendship and love.

I pay tribute to the power of love.

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Women demanding respect in the workplace isn’t being “emotional”

By Annasis Kelly

It seems, to some so-called journalists, they consider women who have to remind men to be respectful in the workplace as being “emotional” has shown exactly why there was a Woman’s March after the mishandling on the Brittany Higgins issue in Parliament House. They expect us womenfolk to be quiet. To be any louder than that is being “emotional”. Well, I would be angry if I was grabbed on the buttocks by a fellow worker and being hit with suggestive talk. I would be angry if I was raped by someone I worked with, too. I would be angry if I was shown disrespect just for being a woman. In fact, it is being disrespectful. And anger is a normal response.

The men who have written these “articles” have no idea why we are angry, but like to use the same things that try to keep us under thumb. But if the shoe was put onto them and they were hit on by someone who they didn’t want to hit on them, they would be angry too. Of course, they would no doubt use violence to rectify their actions. Then they go “but I was angry”. Yeah, mate, the same thing but instead of using our fists we use our collective voices.

It is common sense and respect not to treat women like they are a piece of meat. If you don’t like that type of behaviour directed to your wife, sister, mother, daughter; don’t do it towards someone else’s. This isn’t emotive – this is logical and to reduce it to “women are just too emotional” for having their boundaries entrenched puts you into two categories. One, someone who does not respect women and their boundaries and, two, not fit enough to be talking about this topic.

For those who consider women speaking out about this as being a “leftie” whatever happened to being human? Did you forget that? Human rights and dignity are not a left or right scale of political madness, it is the epitome of human existence. We are far off in equality for many reasons; the thinking that a woman speaking out about injustices as being “emotional” is one of such examples. But by saying that women are being emotional because they are speaking out about travesties and workplace indecencies, just shows you do not want equality at the end of the day.

Well, guys, the 1950s called and they want their ideology back.

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RAPE – the view of a quiet ‘voice’

Much lucid commentary on the treatment of women has appeared in the media over the last month and a half, and rightfully so. Largely I have stayed out of saying anything on the issue because all the stories that are being aired, all the stories about rape, sexual assault, inappropriate behaviour, careers diminished, objectification and powerlessness, and all the expressed opinions on such matters, can have such a powerful triggering affect on an older person like me, and on so many other older women and men who are like me.

The last few months has not been the time to try to fully re-raise our older voices, the voices of aged childhood sexual abuse survivors, but I do believe that the time will soon come when our voices, and the many things they have to say, will begin to be fully heard and truly listened to by society, or at least that is my hope.

Human beings like Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins and others like them, to me, represent a young vanguard of fearless articulate women who are not just politely requesting change of real substance, they are out there putting their lives and reputations on the line as they confront the protected bastions of male power. I note that their focus is not just entirely upon themselves and their own terrible experiences, I note that they are standing on the shoulders of their own experiences and calling for societal-wide change.

I think that many aged survivors have simply kept quiet, and tried to deal with their own maelstrom of triggered feelings, while the legitimate rage of women has found a powerful collective voice, a collective voice that I believe will enable real change not only in the way that Parliament treats women, but also in the way that society treats women.

I have a very deeply held belief, a belief that is not necessarily shared by all. I believe that the most pervasive form of violence in our society is the level of violence directed at, and experienced by, women. I believe that unless society truly addresses the level of violence directed at women first, then we as a society have very little chance of starting to address all the other forms of sexual violence and misuse of power that exists out there in our suburbs, and in our care institutions.

Some older survivors of childhood sexual abuse are right now treading a delicate path where the issue of ‘voice’ is concerned. I certainly am. Right now is not the safest of times for our feelings and for our hopes. Social media is a brutal swipe-fest and any older survivor trying to raise legitimate concerns in the current climate are likely to be attacked as diversionists or deflectors or whataboutists, so little wonder that so many of us have stayed quiet because we not only do not deserve the rage, we have no wish to attract it.

Violence in our society is disproportionately genderised and women are the main recipients, and my own experiences as a male recipient of childhood rape and violence does not diminish that unassailable fact.

I know what being the recipient of rape feels like. I know what powerlessness feels like. I know what being punched and controlled feels like. I know the legacies that such events can impose on the life of human beings. I know that now is the time for men to stand against other men and stand with women.

Empathy cannot be taught. If it does not exist within it does not exist at all. The current politician who has been sent for empathy training is nothing less than a smokescreen to protect a parliamentary majority that is whittling itself away day by day.

Our Parliament is a cesspit of male misogyny, as is our society, it is beyond time for real change.

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How do religious beliefs affect politicians’ decisions about women?

This post is written by @StopLyi58491572, a social media account that looks at the reporting of mainstream Australian media, particularly on stories relating to politics at both state and federal levels.

They are constantly dismayed at what they see by a member of #This Is Not Journalism, an online movement that holds media to journalistic standards.

Can we please talk about a significant issue currently affecting Australia? The Prime Minister is a member of a cult and its influence is pervading our society. No, this time I am not going to talk about Prosperity Theory and how evident it was during JobKeeper and the “snap-back” to the incredibly generous $44 per day, now that most businesses are on their feet and Gerry received a squillion dollar bonus. This is about women and why improving the lot of 51% of our population is diametrically opposed to the religious beliefs of Mr Morrison and a disproportionate number of his inner circle.

Firstly, let me be clear. I am an atheist but 100% respect the right of others under law to have faith. It is also imperative to note that Mr Morrison has stated he does not consider the Bible to be a “policy handbook”

Mr Morrison has often spoken about how important his faith is to him and his family. Who could forget his belief in miracles acceptance speech? Miracles are a central tenet of Pentecostal belief and his religion, in fact, is central to who he is. He has frequently spoken about how he prays for us, whether during the Covid pandemic (when he seemed to compare himself to Moses), the droughts or floods. There are also fairly regular calls for the blessings of God.

I suspect that most of us have a vague understanding of the core beliefs of Pentecostalism, as perhaps we do of fundamental Judaism or Islam (Pentecostals are not fundamentalist Christians BTW). Vague understandings can be dangerous as often they are tinged with bias both conscious and unconscious. Let’s look at a few of the actual beliefs and why I feel they matter in relation to the advancement of women in Australia.

Firstly, let’s consider the fact that, by nature, Pentecostal Christians are socially conservative. They tend to view issues like abortion, same sex attraction and single parenthood as something to be frowned upon at the very least as their belief is what was considered normal during the times of the New Testament should still apply today.

That anyone could believe we should have the same standards today as we had 2000 years ago is tough for me to accept but this obviously should be seen as a significant concern for the women of Australia if you’re viewing it through a prism that recognises that massive steps are not only required but are being demanded both here and around the world. It’s interesting to note that Mr Morrison himself abstained from the #SSM vote.

Next is Pietism, or the belief that someone’s personal relationship with God guides their life path. This is entirely at odds with strong legislation designed to promote women above where they find themselves today, often due to policies that amount to structural disadvantage. Matters such as abortion or addressing the significant problems around provision of greater childcare as well as methods of equalising superannuation opportunities (rather suggesting women withdraw theirs to escape domestic violence) could well be hamstrung by such strong, and many would consider archaic beliefs.

It’s little surprise that, at least financially, women are proportionately worse off post-lockdown than men. Despite the rhetoric around job figures, close examination of the facts show that average earnings per participant in the workforce per hour have decreased and that many of the industries most affected are more likely to be staffed by females. The recent debate around and gutting of the proposed changes to IR law was also seen by many a demonstrably damaging to female workers over men.

Finally, Evangelical Christians adhere strictly to certain passages of the Bible including Ephesians 5:21-25, which calls for a woman to submit herself to her husband’s will “as she would to God”. Unfortunately, there are many cases where this has resulted in both sexual and physical violence within the household.

Again, I reference the LNP policy of women accessing their superannuation to escape domestic violence situations and the apparent lack of support for both social services for the many women caught up in such situations but also the lack of action in provisions for domestic violence leave in the workplace.

Interestingly, the Church seems to have a similar underrepresentation of women in the ranks of the hierarchy as does the LNP

In the 2016 Census, 1.1% of Australians identified as Pentecostal. There are now several in Cabinet meaning there is a massive over-representation of people whose belief system includes the above examples. If, like the Prime Minister, their religion defines who they are, these views are simply not in line with broader Australia. Neither are they about to progress equality and equity for women in this country.

You can have as many women in the Cabinet as you like and even a Prime Minister for Women but unless they passionately believe that we need to see real change, it’s simply not going to eventuate under the Morrison government.

There was a time, not so long ago, where mainstream journalists not only turned a blind eye to sexual misconduct in Canberra, in some cases they actually enabled it or were directly involved. This has partly contributed to the “Toxic Culture” we are now hearing about within the walls of power. Will their reticence to discuss religion also have an equally negative effect on the women of Australia?

I fear it may.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Doxxing the Whistle Blower

On Monday, March 22, Peter van Onselen, working with Channel Ten News and The Project, broke a story provided to him by a whistle blower that revealed more of the culture surrounding workplace sexual activity in Parliament House, Canberra.

The story concerns a Liberal staffer masturbating on the desk of his female boss, videoing his performance and sharing it with his friends, including the whistle blower who was at one time in a relationship with him. The whistle blower claims that male sex workers were/are brought into the House for a former and a current MP. The so-called prayer room is allegedly used for sexual assignations.

Naturally, the story holds considerable interest for the public at a time when we have over the last few weeks learned of the alleged rape of Ms Brittany Higgins by a senior staffer in Parliament House; the alleged rape of a sixteen-year-old girl by Attorney General Christian Porter when he was seventeen; the sexual harassment of several other women by the same Liberal staffer, and a myriad of other sordid revelations of sexual harassment, assault, assorted sleaze and cover-ups perpetrated by Liberal MPs, Senators and staffers. The list of those involved in some way is too lengthy to unpack here, but includes such Liberal luminaries as Eric Abetz, Alan Tudge, Michaelia Cash, Linda Reynolds, Marise Payne, Andrew Laming, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as well as senior public servants and staffers in the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Department of Finance.

Today, Saturday March 27, the Sydney Morning Herald published an article by Chip le Grand, currently chief reporter at The Age, late of the Australian where he worked for twenty-five years. In this piece, le Grand names van Onselen’s whistle blower.

This practice is known as “doxxing,” that is, revealing information about someone who has chosen to remain anonymous, that can lead to their identification. It’s a dangerous practice that can result in serious harassment of the doxxed individual, sometimes to the point of death threats. It entirely contravenes the ethics and practice of journalistic principles with regard to whistle blowers.

The doxxing of a Project and Channel 10 source by the SMH is a startling turn in Australian journalism. It sends a powerful signal to would-be whistle blowers that there are journalists who cannot be trusted to respect your role as a source, and the reasons for your anonymity. It is a long way from journalists’ traditional protection of their sources.

Indeed, can we be confident that such protection exists any longer in Australian mainstream media after today?

The whistle blower was not doxxed by van Onselen, but, alarmingly, by another media outlet altogether, bringing into question the capacity of well-intentioned journalists to protect their sources at all.

What does this mean for investigative programs such as Four Corners, for example? How can any journalist guarantee the safety of a source, if their colleagues are willing to dishonour the traditional commitment to protecting them?

Le Grand has attempted to argue that the whistle blower is not, in fact, a whistle blower. Let us look at the definition of whistle blower. A person who informs on a person or organization regarded as engaging in an unlawful or immoral activity, is a whistle blower. It isn’t complicated.

I don’t know if ejaculating on your female boss’s desk is illegal, but I’m going to stick my neck out here and call it as immoral. Likewise, the provision of sex workers to the Parliament House workplace for assignations in the prayer room may not be illegal, but I don’t think I’m entirely prudish to consider it immoral. What the whistle blower has done is to disclose workplace practices that are entirely unacceptable, and reveal to an appalled public yet another level of abuse in an inherently abusive culture.

That there are, apparently, no boundaries to the gratification of male desire in Parliament House, whether that desire is for sex, and/or power, demonstrates just how abusive that environment is.

In return for this disclosure to the public, in our interests, the whistle blower has today been doxxed by Chip le Grand, who has described his disclosures as a “hit job” against the government. Le Grand also does a good job of maligning the whistle blower in an attempt to discredit him.

It is not a huge stretch to speculate that le Grand and the Sydney Morning Herald under the chairmanship of former Liberal treasurer, Peter Costello, are acting in the interests of a besieged LNP government, and not the public.

Regardless of your personal opinion of the man, there can be no doubt that he acted in the public interest in taking his story, with videos and texts as proof, to van Onselen. Whatever his other motives are, and is there one among us without complex motives for much of what we do, he acted in the public interest, which is all that need concern us as citizens struggling to deal with the outrages visited upon us by a government entirely bereft of all morality.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Mere men are not godly beings

Australian politics is filled with men and women who have and actively practice their Christian beliefs. Whilst I do not fault the individuals nor the religions themselves, I do not condone many of these values guiding the society of Australia today. Before I go any further, I must point out my own bias here as a descendant of the Stolen Generations. Christian ideals at the core of this country have resulted in me being a survivor of acts of genocide, on more than one occasion. Please know I am not trying to upset nor create any hatred towards anyone, but I think it’s about time we have this talk with ourselves as a nation to define our society’s values.

Recently, I spotted an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (‘It’s our turn’: Inside the Christian Right conference plotting a political takeover) that left me alarmed for many reasons. Firstly, due to my family history with the values that meant my Old People were slaves in all but name; dispossessed of everything in their lives to make room for the colonies. Or they were simply slaughtered. Christianity enabled slavery for more than eighteen centuries, values that established the White Australia Policy many suggest still exist in the country today. Christianity enabled the racism shown not merely on a historical level, but likewise in the systematic version seen within all aspects of Australian society towards my people.

But my fear of these groups dives deeper than my own prejudices against the religion’s history. Over the decades the world has witnessed numerous accusations of sexual violence from within this highly private system; went denied for as many years. Australia is currently in the middle of a debate regarding women’s rights in the light of alleged sexual assaults revolving around Parliament House. Many of the politicians and staff who surround the people accused, and in fact the individuals themselves, are active participants in their churches.

Whilst Aussies debate a new level of respect and normalcy for women, the groups mentioned in the above article, advocate for the conservative factors of their religious values to once again guide the nations in a deeper manner. My fear is that Christianity will be used as another shield for the powerful men who have never ceded the control of said power to the women who stand alongside them. What I find more frightening is that they are openly encouraging these potential politicians not to reveal their true purposes until they have created enough political power around themselves. Personally, I feel that is misleading the individuals who would vote and elect them to Parliament, how are the wider public to know what they stand for? How will these potential politicians guarantee they are acting in the best interests of the people they serve and not those of the church? Secrecy has caused widespread backlash across Australia in the face of legislation such as Immigration, Indigenous Rights, the Indue Card for welfare recipients, and even the report in the Prime Minister’s Office regarding who knew about Brittany Higgins’ allegations. My amazement that the general public are not more wary of these groups advocating for secretive ways before they even run for office.

During the middle of a pandemic the leaders of Christianity are counselling against a vaccine. As someone who has members of my family who belong to what we call the ‘anti-vax community’ I do not want to undervalue their opinions; but advocating against vaccines that will save millions of lives worldwide is something that horrifies me.

Many religious groups around the world refuse breakthroughs the medical industry have made and individuals whose lives can be saved are left to die when treatments are denied upon beliefs of faith. Raising fears that value placed with Australia’s various scientific research networks will be considered less important to these groups.

Most alarming to me, the article speaks of a panel discussion where the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, Martyn Iles, joked about a war with China as a distraction to concerns over climate change or gender identity. When asked if he was “advocating violence or revolution… today“, he replied, “Not yet, that’s down the line.” The use of such words by Mr. Iles worries me about his intentions. Speech like this reads to me as a threat of acts of violence they wish to see: anarchy as it could quite possibly turn out to be if left unchecked. Lawlessness of the same value right wing members of society have accused those standing alongside the Black Lives Matter movements of creating.

Whilst Australia is experiencing increasingly difficult relations with China, the last thing our international interests need, are individuals involved with Parliament House, making jokes about wars with China to distract us from our political complications. Not only would these issues re-arise after a war, but the devastation such conflict would create is not something anyone should take lightly; least of all with humour.

My apprehensiveness of disorder or lawlessness fall along similar lines to these right-wing groups. Except mine differ with regard to raising the rights of all people including individuals with black skin as equal to those Colonial Australia enjoy. Fears I harbour are with respect to the oppressive values that come along with Christianity. The denial of the position the LGBTQIA communities have fought to achieve. What I can only describe as a refusal of women’s rights, as seen by the lack of females in the heights of church’s ranks. Terrified at the possibility the systematic racism underpinning everything in the Lucky Country will deepen and widen the divide between Colonial and Indigenous Australia, in fact I fear this will occur for all the nationalities calling these shores home. Dread that I and other First Nations people like me, will be open to unfair criticism more pointedly racial discrimination as seen in our past, purely because we follow our own religious beliefs over those written in the bible.

Mr. Iles is quoted as talking about needing to get more Christians into politics as the belief of rewarding the good people and punishing the bad has gone by the wayside. But I ask how many more people do we need in politics pushing Christian beliefs before we acknowledge this has been part of the problem within our system? Since the first politicians in Australia who were mostly Christian, can we genuinely suggest any of these individuals behaved the way God intended? Were this true then a large percentage of our nation would not be currently living below the poverty line. Aussie citizens would all have access to fresh, nutritional foods and adequate housing with running power and water at all times regardless of what they can or cannot afford to pay. Preventable and treatable medical conditions such as Acute Rheumatic Fever or Trachoma would not exclusively be affecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at epidemic levels. One third of working Australian women would not have endured sexual assault in their workplace. Aged care residents would too not have experienced staggering amounts of these same crimes, combined with all the atrocities the most recent inquiry have revealed.

Australians seriously need to ask ourselves as a society if we truly desire more hard-right Christian politicians running our country and pushing the ‘conservative’ messages of their past.

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Consent and Flirting

By Tina Clausen

I am sick and tired of the many ignorant comments by all genders that I keep coming across in the current climate of discussions around ‘consent for sexual activity’ and ‘flirting’.

Firstly regarding ‘consent for sexual activity’: Unless you have a very clear, happy and enthusiastic consent expressed to you (in whatever way) then you must automatically assume that you do not have consent.

If you feel uncertain or confused about consent in any given situation then, very simply put, you do not have consent.

Someone asleep, severely impaired or incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, illness etc is incapable of giving consent which means you do not have consent. At this point, whatever type of sexual activity you may proceed to engage in is sexual assault or rape.

Secondly, regarding flirting: I am over seeing ordinary behaviours which all people engage in (eg smiling at, looking at, talking to, making eye contact etc) getting falsely interpreted by recipients as you obviously flirting with them or somehow leading them on. No! Unless there is a wider context where corroborating evidence and behaviours exist then you do not have the right to assume that any kind of flirtation or expression of sexual interest is taking place.

As for comments about how everything is now confusing and nobody dares to flirt anymore, all I can say is this: If your ‘flirting’ gets ignored, rebuffed, maybe judged as inappropriate or gets an angry response then it is because you have either forgotten or ignored one of the core tenets of flirting; namely, ‘mutuality’. Flirting is a two-way street that both participants are taking part in and enjoying. If only one of you is enjoying it then it is sexual harassment.

People have the right to choose whom they want to flirt with and whom they want to respond positively to. Don’t just launch into what might be unwanted flirtation. Talk to people normally and nicely and try to establish a connection. If they rebuff that approach, then assume they are not interested. If they are happy to talk to you at that level but then non-responsive to subsequent flirting attempts, then they are very likely not interested and are just being friendly or polite. Either way, it’s time to back off. And no, you do not have the right to get pissed off or abusive for being friend-zoned.

If you are at all uncertain about anyone’s level of interest, then you need to assume that you do not have the go-ahead for anything even remotely sexual.

It must also be noted that just because someone engages in playful flirting it does not automatically mean that consent is given for anything more than that to occur. Nor must an assumption be made that any kind of interest in taking things further must exist purely based on that bit of flirtation.

Oh, and one last thing: Don’t ever tell a stranger in a pub or club (or a colleague or casual acquaintance for that matter) to ‘smile’. Nobody owes you a smile, especially not a stranger. Besides, you have now put that person in a really shitty situation. If they don’t smile, they get judged as rude or stuck-up, and if they do smile out of politeness, they leave themselves open to being seen as receptive to further interaction when that may not be the case or, even worse, the smile is falsely interpreted as flirting or showing interest in you. Telling a stranger to ‘smile’ is patronising and demeaning however way you look at it. Just don’t do it!

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Patriarchy has had its day

By Loz Lawrey

When it comes to toxic masculinity, neither Labor nor the Coalition occupy the moral high ground.

Both parties have male “rats in the ranks.” Women in both camps, whether politicians or staffers, continue to suffer from the insidious repression of their power, forced upon them by our patriarchal system.

It’s clear that our overarching Australian male-dominated social culture itself is the problem and, when it comes to the mistreatment of women, neither side of politics is beyond reproach.

Liberal MP Nicole Flint has called out sexist attacks and stalking she has endured, claiming that the safety of women should be “above politics,” while in the same breath accusing Labor of refusing to condemn the perpetrators.

As a woman, she deserves support and redress for any mistreatment she has suffered, yet her Labor-blaming demonstrates the usual right wing conservative politicisation of issues and response to criticism: avoid responsibility, refuse to address the facts and deflect, deflect, deflect…

Yet patriarchy is non-partisan. Male privilege and entitlement is everywhere.

It’s on the right, the left, and in the centre. Our system entrenches it as if this is nature’s way, the “natural order.”

It’s so easy, as a man, to accept that this is simply “the way of things” and thank our stars we weren’t “born a woman.”

To my shame, at times in my own life, I have had this very thought.

I’m now in my seventieth year. Yet still I continue to try to learn and grow my understanding. We can all improve on our former selves.

As I hear more and more women speak out about the mistreatment they endure,

I learn. My instinct is not to try to shut them down, but to listen. I know that if I do, I will learn, grow, and become a better person. I will connect with my own empathy and understand in some small way what it is to walk in a woman’s shoes.

Whatever my own political affiliation, I must listen and act on the knowledge and understanding that listening delivers.

At this moment in time, our federal parliament stands exposed as a disgusting cesspit of sexism and exploitation.

In the parliamentary workplace, which has no human relations department to address the issues of those who work there, a toxic culture endures, nurtured and maintained by men of privilege from across the political spectrum.

There’s an opportunity here.

Australia needs to change.

Who should lead that change? Our federal government.

Who speaks for them? Scott Morrison.

Is this man capable of even comprehending and addressing the problem?

Sadly, no. Scott Morrison is the emperor with no clothes, a hollow man of “faith” devoid of the consideration and understanding needed to change our system.

The activist Grace Tame highlighted his gormless response to the issue of women’s safety during her speech at the National Press Club, pointing out that; “It shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience.”

Morrison’s pathetic reference to his own wife and daughters, while intended to imply; “I understand the problem – I get it,” did just the opposite.

He doesn’t understand the problem. He simply doesn’t “get it,” which is why he sought guidance from his wife.

Scott Morrison is, purportedly, the leader of our nation.

He sits at the top of the very system that perpetuates the repression of women.

He himself is a product of that system, and thus a part of the problem.

Will he do anything to address the issues of women’s safety and inequality at their source?

Will he encourage cultural change in schools, sports clubs and churches, those petri dishes of toxic masculinity?

Will he call for mutual respect our streets?

Will he speak for “equal rights for all, regardless of gender”? Probably not.

Make no mistake. Private boys’ schools exist to entrench and maintain the patriarchy and the “male power” that sustains it. They are breeding grounds for the sexism that preferences one gender over another, and the entitled men these institutions produce go on to infect our culture and society at large with their toxic attitudes and behaviour.

I myself am a product of this system, and it’s taken me a lifetime to understand this.

Toxic masculinity exists everywhere – in all pollical parties, in the business world, in our wider communities. It is not partisan, and the issue of women’s safety should certainly be above and beyond politics.

Addressing this issue requires more than the mumblings of a conservative evangelist, one who appears completely unable to even understand the problem.

We need a real leader.

Australia needs a female prime minister, one who can foster greater understanding and acceptance between men and women.

We had one once.

Her name was Julia Gillard, and we all witnessed the champions of patriarchy in Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian attack and revile her throughout her term in office.

What a cringeing embarrassment that was to witness: our nation at its very worst. What a poisonous presence in our society Murdoch has been.

Ms Gillard did her best. Her “misogyny speech” resounded around the world.

History will remember her kindly. Murdoch? Not so much.

In Australia, sadly, the patriarchy is entrenched.

Dismantling it requires the collective effort of us all.

Our nation must change.

Our culture must change.

The education and upbringing of men must change.

These things will only happen once we all work together to change the very system that entrenches patriarchy and male entitlement.

Men must realise that this implies no threat to them, no disenfranchisement nor emasculation.

Empowering women will not disempower men but rather help to, as Robert Kennedy said in 1968; “tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”

In the civilised world, in these troubled times, the very survival of humankind depends upon collaboration, cooperation and mutual understanding.

Patriarchy has had its day.

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Violence in Australia’s Parliament House: Runs Deeper Than Sexual Assaults

Australia has exploded with talk of what has been taboo for all too long, sexual violence. Watching the media reports regarding the accusations Brittany Higgins has made against a former senior staffer, prompting further women connected to Parliament to speak out. I am at a loss for words, other than to thank Miss Higgins for her courage in coming forward. I likewise must convey gratitude towards Chanel Contos for beginning her online petition about sexual violence in schools and lifting the lid in such an important arena. But the individual most deserving of credit in my heart is Grace Tame for smashing the taboo and raising awareness for what seems to be a horrific culture of sexual violence in the Lucky Country. With an eloquence that many survivors of this grievous crime are less able to deliver, Grace has led the charge towards lasting changes empowering those who have been sexually victimised, particularly children.

My words fail me the more I watch what I bitterly describe as the egregious fiasco of the attempt at managing this ‘situation’ by the Morrison Government. Aussie politics is filled with behaviour that would be heavily criticised within the public employment sector, many of the actions seen recently would have resulted in termination, others may have been criminally prosecuted. My point to this article is to express how repulsed I am listening to the people elected to lead the Lucky Country. Unfortunately, the violence in Australia’s Parliament runs profoundly deeper than sexual assaults.

Over the years Australians have witnessed behaviours from the members of our government institutions that can be depicted as lacking. These days we have a word that is becoming increasingly common in our society, gaslighting; more specifically political gaslighting. Described by Medical News Today, “Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. People experiencing gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves.” The description provided by the Political Dictionary is, “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group”.

During Scott Morrison’s denials regarding his awareness of the alleged rape in the Defence Minister’s Office resulted in Brittany Higgins releasing a statement stating that the Prime Minister was engaging in victim blaming rhetoric. Peter Dutton did the same thing when he used the words “he said, she said.” Scott Morrison was likewise gaslighting when he firmly insisted he was listening to Miss Higgins, yet paradoxically he failed to read the accusations against Christian Porter. Jane Norman suggested on the ABC News that she wasn’t sure what Miss Higgins was referring to when she released the statement stating that Scott Morrison had committed victim blaming rhetoric against her. Linda Reynolds used the words “lying cow’” in relation to Miss Higgins account of her treatment after disclosing her alleged rape to the Minister. Or Scott Morrison’s speech that incorporated the words “the mob” and “the tribe” process dismissing legitimate distress from a substantial portion of the population by gaslighting the nation and applying derogatory labels to those concerned that an alleged rape is not being adequately tested against the legal system.

This same victim blaming can be seen in the words spoken by ADF Chief Angus Campbell when he suggested attractive cadets drinking alone put them at risk of sexual assault. Or all the times past ministers have used insults in their discussions regarding old political rivals, such as when Kevin Rudd recently did in a tweet stating, “It’s touching that so many people can imagine me being a trained pugilist like Abbott.” Withholding reports relevant to the public; for example, the results of the research enabling the Cashless Debit Card or the inquiry into the Prime Minister’s Office determining who knew what and when with regards to Miss Higgins’ allegation of rape inside Parliament House. How about that time that Scott Morrison forced an angry bushfire victim to shake his hand when she verbalised a desire not to? In Australia, these things are all called political gaslighting. Examples of a horrible form of emotional abuse, conducted upon that international stage awarded to leaders of countries.

Tactics of political gaslighting have been present in the Australian Government since its conception. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have faced this form of emotional abuse when the Dutch arrived, well before Cook and the First Fleet reached upon these shores. From the construction of laws that included the phrase Settled Colony and the lack of truth in the history books (something many of us Blackfellas call propaganda). But in more recent years individuals such as Senator David Leyonhjelm who has suggested Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders may not be the first people here, or Pauline Hanson when she implied that the name (a noun) Indigenous is the same as the description (an adjective) indigenous she applies to herself. These are all aspects of political gaslighting against the Oldest Living Cultures in the World. Remember that time Andrew Forest suggested before the High Court that because the Aboriginal People had previously had their lands taken away it was grounds to do it again? Recently politicians across the Lucky Country have taken up strong advocacy against China, all while we Aussies suggest there has been no racially driven actions; in the same way we deny the identical divisions towards other ethnicities such as African or Middle Eastern. Yes, we have several politicians who fight for these nationalities, but how many actively advocate against them? Yeah, it’s that nasty title again.

During high school one of my Social Education teachers was covering Australian Politics as part of the curriculum, and incorporated into one of the lessons was a live streaming of Question Time. Unfortunately, at that period there was a commotion going on in Parliament because someone had made fun of another during a media engagement. Which led to the Speaker of the House losing control of the room when one politician after the next stood up to make fun of someone across the chamber; that person has a big nose, this one has strange looking ears. The most pathetic of actions that as a teenager, I knew was not considered socially acceptable behaviour. As a result of my understanding, I stood up and demanded to know why we were watching the leaders of our country behave in a manner that would see the students in the room sent to the principal for bullying. The teacher turned off the TV, and we returned to writing out his lectures in our notebooks, much to the annoyance of the class.

At a time when our nation is considering coercive control laws we have witnessed almost a month of political gaslighting from those in power. Conducted upon an international stage often targeted survivors of an act of sexual violence perpetrated against their will. As previously covered in this article, considered a form of emotional abuse and in many instances a criminal act. Yet our elected leaders are using gaslighting tactics, almost on a daily basis.

Personally, I want to know why Australians are allowing our politicians to behave in this manner towards our own citizens. Calling into question the character of victims is further victimising human beings who do not deserve such treatment. Why are we indulging this behaviour from our leaders? These people are meant to be providing examples for the rest of us. When ABC’s Four Corners released the report titled “Inside the Canberra Bubble” Australia was made aware that a number of women have left politics due to the treatment they received; is this the legacy we want for our children and grandchildren? Why are we accepting this behaviour from those who are elected to serve the people of the Lucky Country? These individuals hold us, the citizens, to higher standards than they themselves are held to. They are our leaders, our institution of lawmakers, they are the core foundation to the civil, democratic society central to the Commonwealth of Australia. They should be held to higher benchmarks than the typical Aussie.

While these issues are not exclusive to the Australian political sphere, I am not a citizen of another country and don’t feel it is my place to comment there. But as Aussies, it is within everyone’s vested interest to be critical of the government that is designed to serve us. The privilege to not experience political gaslighting boils down to human rights, not the ones Aussie politicians parade about as platitudes pinned upon their chests, real equality for all people within our borders. Without it how can we claim to be the Lucky Country owning the Australian Dream?

Realistically, if Aussies wish to retain the title of a first world country, then we had better start behaving like we are one.


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Listen, Men: About Rape, Sexual Assault, Abuse, Misogyny and Exclusion

By Dr Stewart Hase

Dear fellow men,

I’m writing to you at this moment in time because of the recent media frenzy about sexual abuse in the snake pit that is Federal Parliament. However, the issues currently headlining all our various forms of media is a daily, yes daily, problem in our supposedly egalitarian, good onya mate society.

What I’d also like to say, in support of my fellow writer Dr Jennifer Wilson, is that males writing about sexual abuse (in all its forms) is about the same as asking hungry fox to provide advice on how to build a fox proof henhouse. So, a few notes from a bloke to other blokes.

The most important thing you (as a man) need to recognise is that when it comes to rape, sexual assault, abuse and harassment of women, misogyny and exclusion is that you don’t understand. You don’t get it. If you get that you don’t get it, there is the possibility that we might understand, or at least as closely as we can.

One of the reasons we don’t get it is because it is not in our best interests. We’ve been taught from birth, that women are goods and chattels, second class citizens, handmaidens, someone who will serve our needs, whether it is in the house or the workplace: even the street. We get this from our families, from the major religions that teach, through text written by old men in caves, and from ourselves.

Fellow blokes, it’s about power. To be brief, there are three types of power when it comes to the sexual, physical, verbal, symbolic abuse of women.

The first type of power is exercised by those men who are socialised as above, and never come to question what they are doing. Sounds apologetic (to women who are reading this) but it is perpetuated because it is in our best interests. We are selfish. Glass ceilings, the ‘tea lady phenomenon’, assuming male superiority in all things, and ‘she was asking for it’ rather than accepting that men need to control their impulses, are just a few examples of how we exert power.

Then there are men in positions of power who think that they can get away with anything they want. Mind you, they do this with all aspects of their lives, not just with the appropriation of women. Note the word appropriation. It means ownership. They assume that it is their god (and I mean god) given right to take.

The third type of power is what I call impotent power. These are men who have appallingly low egos or sense of self. They want to take control of women, to appropriate because it makes them feel better about themselves. This is the bulk of female abusers of all types.

And to be clear, blokes, it is not just overt violent power that underpins rape, and physical and sexual assault.

One women a week, on average is murdered in Australia by her partner or former partner is murdered in Australia. One in 5 women have experienced sexual violence, 1 in 3 physical violence, and one in six women have experienced stalking since the age of 15.

It is also the subtle ways in which we (yes you) downplay women, denigrate them, portray them as less equal, diminish them, and appropriate them. And don’t just point the finger at Prime Minister Scott Morrison and friends, the Labor Party or Barnaby Joyce and his mates. It is alive and well in your local golf club, bowls club, in football clubs, on the cricket field and on all forms of social media.

Let me try an analogy to get my point about power across. Imagine getting into the ring with a really skilful boxer or martial arts exponent. It starts with a lot of shuffling around the ring, a bit of feinting, and the occasional jab to the ribs-taunting you. This results in you being exhausted in about a minute. You’re starting to feel a bit helpless because you can’t lay a hand on him. Then the big punches start. Not enough to knock you out but enough to start you bleeding, close your eyes, make your breathing difficult to catch because of broken ribs. He just keeps jabbing away. There are rest breaks between rounds, and some respite as he dances around. But he keeps on coming back. You are totally helpless and your power is completely taken away.

This doesn’t nearly cover the way in which women’s power is taken from them in rape, in sexual and physical assault and in their appropriation because, often, women’s power is taken away forever. After the boxing match, you can recuperate. Women are frequently scarred forever.

Another analogy may help. I work with a lot of returned service personnel who have PTSD and other problems. They remind me most of women who have been abused because they too have had their personal power seized from them by fear, being overwhelmed and, most of all, helpless in the face of what is happening. Their power has been stripped away.

To fix this problem needs leadership. From us blokes. It would be great if it came from our male Federal Parliamentarians but it looks like we may as well piss into a force 10 gale. So, it’s up to us.

Speak up and, better, fucking stop it!

Stewart is a psychologist with a special interest in how people adapt and also learn. He’s written widely in these areas. He continues to consult, and annoy people who misuse power. Twitter: @stewarthase

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Women’s Rights: Where Are They?

By Jennifer Michel

Historically, men placed themselves above women on ‘matters of importance’ in many cultures, Australia among them. Much has changed in today’s society, that is true, but much still has not. We see many TV shows and movies regarding the past, often there are arranged marriages where the male characters are heavily concerned about how pretty their bride to be is. This sort of narrative aids the misogynistic values placed upon women in today’s society.

As a woman I may come across as a strong feminist on these matters but many of the beliefs shared within this section of society are not values I hold high on my list of priorities. My focus is human rights, not the platitudes pinned upon politicians’ chests in the form of coloured ribbons. Real equality for all lives. But as an Australian Aboriginal my focus in this area is still my fellow Indigenous women. Most women in Australia are nowhere near as invisible as ours. We have a handful of individuals in the public arena we can look up to. Times we do step into it we are faced with racially discriminative behaviours alongside the misogynistic ones other Aussie women face. Take for example the number of times a black woman has been correctly named in the media, but another individual’s image has been used within the story. This happens more often than Aussies want to admit which contributes to the systematic racism seen in all areas of the Lucky Country.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are greatly underrepresented within the political sphere of Australia. The NT has a fairly widespread inclusion of Indigenous People, but that would be because of the high population of our people. Lidia Thorpe was the first Indigenous woman voted into the Victorian Senate in June 2020. The first Aboriginal Person in the NSW parliament was Linda Burney, elected in 2003. Nova Peris and Jacqui Lambie were the first two Indigenous women to enter federal politics in 2014. But each of these women have faced not only the misogynistic abuse against women highlighted in the media, they have likewise dealt with the inevitable racism that goes with being a Blackfella in Oz.

Senior management positions held by Australian women are often not held by those of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, they seem to be reserved for those women who do not belong to the oldest living cultures in the world. Australian’s have held a gripe against our people since the introduction of incentives for hiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People came into play, I have seen Aboriginal women post on social media regarding new jobs only to face individuals imply they are just that company’s token Blackfella hired so they could tick the ethnic diverse box.

When our women attend medical appointments the cultural sensitivities such as dividing men’s and women’s business is overlooked, this causes an enormous amount of humiliation to these women, who Aussies suggest should just get over it. Statistics for domestic violence are drastically higher for our nations too, and while this is in part due to alcohol, the services available to Australian women are not accessible to ours. Contributing to the much larger statistics, in 2020 reports were released that showed our women are 30% more likely to experience extreme physical violence and we are 10% more likely to die from our injuries. These statistics are met with an enormous amount of hatred from the Australian public, all while the underlying issues are utterly overlooked. Trauma is the cause and is something our people have asked for assistance with for generations, these requests have fallen upon deaf ears. Trauma is also responsible for the alcohol intake which contributes to the huge statistics regarding our imprisonment rates, another factor of Australian society that disproportionately affect Aboriginal women too. Combining the systematic racism with the traumas resulting in the alcohol abuse all work together to compound the issues, but Aussies back further punitive measures for the results of colonisation.

Amazing Aboriginal advocates such as Nayuka Gorrie are criticised for her appearance in an attempt to undermine her important words, in the same way that Australian women are criticised for their appearance when individuals want to avoid the hard topics they are discussing. We have the same issues as other Aussie women, yet the fact that we are Aboriginal means we are also undermined by the systematic racism the Lucky Country is founded upon. The processes that tell Australians we are not worthy, or we are not welcomed into the spaces set aside for White Australia.

One of my favourite writers, Claire G. Coleman faces a parade of racially discriminatory abuse alongside that directed towards members of the LBGTQIA community. Daily she has demands to prove her Aboriginality and is harassed over her gender she held at birth. Those who troll her have often never read the words of her awe-inspiring books and use others misguided words in an attempt at diminishing her character.

I myself, am faced with similar issues when I write, I do not fit the stereotype Aussies have clung to regarding how I should look as an Aboriginal. Regardless of the fact that stereotype was outdated 233 years ago when the first European man raped an Aboriginal woman, but Aussies still cling to it. The women of White Australia are entitled to claim their forefathers who arrived on a ship 5 generations ago; yet I am told I cannot claim my ancestors from only 3 generations ago. All because I do not fit what they tell themselves a Blackfella should look like. As an advocate for my people, I have often faced both racial discrimination mixed among misogynistic behaviours. During a discussion regarding the gap in education between Indigenous and Colonial Australia someone named Scott on Facebook told me to stop playing the victim then that he was starting to crush on me. Racist followed with misogynistic behaviours.

This is the real Australia and how Aboriginal women are treated, much worse off than the many stories of women from White Australia, and we are just as angry as they are. We have finally found our voices and we are demanding the same acknowledgement too.

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Open letter to Scott Morrison and Christian Porter

By Tracie Aylmer

The first time it happened I was 16-years-old, in 1988 in Sydney. Thinking back, I was groomed by the perpetrator to accept him touching me, with intent to kiss me. If I had known he was going to touch me without the grooming he did to me, I wouldn’t have accepted for him to have touched me in the first place.

I was very vulnerable and had a really hard time at both school and home. I guess he saw me as an open target.

After the event I felt so ashamed. As he had called my place asking when I was going to return to his shop, I told my sister what he had done. I remember her telling him I was never going to go back, and to never call my place again.

There are so many more times. So many sexual assaults. Quite a few lost me my job. All of them had me in tears. I lost confidence. Each time, I had to start my life over again. I crumbled, not knowing how to restart my life (yet again).

I have studied, finding law easy. It didn’t get me a long-term job as by then I was considered too old.

The scars have held me back. I know that now.

I’m studying again – two full-time TAFE qualifications at the same time. I thought that time had healed the pain I’ve gone through in my life. I thought I was strong enough to turn the corner and strive for the incredible person that I am.

The past few weeks have brought it all crashing down on me again. The pain is front and centre again.

Mr Morrison, the fact that, without evidence, you believe Mr Porter is horrifying and disgusting. You believe your boys club without any question yet refuse to believe the mountains of evidence and proof of pain of the victims. You are the problem with this society, as you are not taking these rapes seriously.

You are not showing yourself to have any standard whatsoever. You blatantly lie, and we can all see it. You triggered me beyond anything these past few days, and I hold you in complete and utter contempt for doing so.

I do not need for you to behave without accountability over something as serious as rape and sexual assault. You did wrong, and I hope you lose your job emphatically over this fiasco.

Mr Porter, do you really think the country believes you? A recent investigation revealed your “history of sexism and inappropriate behaviour.” Do you think now that your boys club will now protect you?

Poor you thinks that mental health care is needed (let’s get the violins out). I really don’t care if you’re having mental health care sessions. Women who have been the victims of sexual assault or abuse face or have had a life-time of mental health care sessions. Do you or your government care about them?

You have triggered the whole country over your alleged behaviour and your response to it.

Resign! You are worthless now. You have destroyed the office of the Attorney General by your alleged behaviour. No one will believe or trust the legal system again. And neither will they believe or trust the Morrison government or its Ministers. Congratulations on the part you played in that.

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We Are NOT Prey

By Dee

Years ago, in the office of a counsellor I disclosed about being sexually assaulted. Opening up to the woman on the other side of the room involved more than one instance of sexual assault.

My story with the counsellor started with an event that my friends all told me was not rape, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was. This was not my first experience with sexual violence, I was assaulted by a man who wanted to teach me to protect myself when I was a five-year-old girl, he was my babysitter. I was attacked again as a nine-year-old this time by the man across the road who was the caretaker of a hotel and allowed my siblings and I to use the pool. That was where he assaulted me, and it was the last time I swam there.

But the assault that I opened up about to my counsellor was one my friends told me was not what I suggested it was; rape. I had been in a relationship with someone who was having an affair and was not being secretive about the other woman. Once it was apparent the relationship was over my friends invited me out and I drank too much that night. In my drunken state I expressed an interest in one of my girlfriend’s mates, he overheard me and began showing enthusiasm in me that evening. I had met this man a few times, he had frequented our outings on many occasions, and he seemed like a really nice guy.

I do not remember the ending of that evening, being too drunk to have a cohesive memory of the night. But the following morning I woke up in my bed with him beside me. We were both naked and when I asked what had happened, he seemed perplexed that I did not recall the sexual interactions we had merely a few hours beforehand. He explained that he had carried me inside from his car having driven me home, he undressed my unconscious body and, in his words, “You had said you wanted to have sex, so we did.” While I was in a drunken, unconscious state.

I was shocked with his blatant explanation of how he had just helped himself to my body and felt utterly ashamed that I had been taken advantage of so completely. But the man lying in the bed beside me was oblivious to my horror. It was not until much later on, after I had dressed, and he had left that I spent some time coming to terms with what had happened. I could not move past his explanation that I had said I wanted to have sex with him, and so he just did. Not a single one of the friends in my group accepted my suggestion that it was rape, they tried telling me I was just having second thoughts and not happy that I had given it up. They told me I was making shit up. They were angry that I would even suggest this man would do such a thing to anyone, he was a nice guy.

It took barely a few days before the group had completely shunned me, I would walk into the lounge room of the home I lived in and the conversation would stop. I received pointed, sideways glances and endured odd silences. The moment I left the room the whispering and giggling would start again. He never returned to the home while I was there, but it was obvious that I was no longer welcomed to continue living in the home, so I left. I ended up leaving town entirely, and after a short stint working on a mango farm where the owner also attempted to sexually assault me, I went further out of town. I ended up ‘on country’ to be closer to my Aboriginal culture, which aided somewhat in healing the wounds I had established as a result of that night. But those wounds have become a scar I am forced to carry.

This was not my last experience with sexual assault, I currently have a case waiting to go to court but this time I was believed. Not merely by those around me but likewise by the Police when I went to report the assault. Last time I was re-victimised by having to justify being drunk and encountering a sexual predator who took what he wanted from me. The last time I experienced victim blaming by the same Police Officers responsible for protecting the general public. In the exact way I endured gaslighting and victim blaming from the people who were meant to be my friends. The last time without any support whatsoever I was left feeling as though my sole choice was to flee and attempt to forget the wounds I suffered.

Last time he got away with it.

This time I was believed, and I pressed charges against my assailant. Because I now have a support network who have aided me in moving past the traumas of being the victim of a sexual predator, this time I have been stronger.

I hope there is never a next time, but that is up to the men of Australia.

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