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International Women’s Day lunch venue highlights lack of understanding from the Government

How out of touch is the government when it comes to addressing domestic violence? Totally, reports Jennifer Ellem.

There are times when you hear something so utterly stupid in the news that for just a moment you assume it’s a comedy skit or satire. Well yesterday was one of those days. I wasn’t quite sure as to whether or not to save this for the Weekend Funny as in some regards it is hilarious. However, when you look at it the proper light it really isn’t that funny at all. In fact it says a great deal about how little our Minister For Women/Prime Minister understands about the issues relevant to his portfolio (he’s also Minister for Indigenous affairs and no he’s done nothing to assist and has in fact cut funding across the board).

So here’s the funny – the Federal LNP decided to host the lunch for International Women’s Day on March the 8th at the Tattersall’s Club in Brisbane. The kicker here is that this club is one of the few left in Australia that is Men Only (well really it’s rich white conservative men only). Hilarious, right? And yet … not so much when you think about it.

Here is a government that has cut funding to Domestic Violence Support Centers, shelters and assistance packages to an all-time low and telling us it was necessary due to a budget emergency left to them by the previous government. At the same time they increased funding to ‘border protection’ and ‘stopping the boats’ by 129% growing from $118 million to $3.3 billion dollars in 12 months. On top of this they have increased funding to a variety of law enforcement agencies but only as it applies to terrorism, as well as $670 million for new measures to deal with terrorism.

Yet in Australia figures show that the real terror threat is much closer to home with one women being killed each week due to domestic violence but the funding for this atrocity is set at $25 million a year up until 2017 where it will be reassessed with the view to reduction. For some strange reason they believe they will be able to reduce domestic violence by providing less support (yeah, makes sense to NO ONE).

In New South Wales, refuges for women and children are being shut down as the state government cuts funding in an efficiency overhaul intended to replace more expensive specialist services such as women-only shelters with generic services that experts say are less likely to be used by victims of domestic violence. As with pretty much everything else, shelter services in regional communities and Indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable. Women and children in regional and rural communities, Indigenous women and children and disabled people are much more exposed to the risk of domestic violence.

On the other hand one hundred and fifteen civilian Australians have been killed in terrorist related incidences since 1978 (and all but two were killed overseas, not on Australian soil and not as a result of being Australian, mainly a case of wrong country wrong time). The last two were killed in the Sydney Siege in December of 2014 and debate is still going on as to why the event was labelled a terrorist act as the man was a known criminal who was out on bail for murdering his wife and raping a number of women. If anything, it is an example of just how unbalanced sentencing is when it comes to crimes against women and children. The only reason it is labelled a terrorist act is because the man was ‘apparently‘ Muslim. One of the oddities of the exchange (and there were many) was that the flag prominently displayed by all the papers was not his. He did not enter with it. When the place was surrounded by police, he started making a number of demands – strangely the ONLY one the authorities complied with was to bring him that flag to portray. (curiouser and curiouser said Alice to the Cat).

In direct contrast are the figures regarding domestic violence. According the NSW crime statistics in Greater Sydney alone there were 15413 domestic violence related assaults in 2013 – 2014 and yet the government of that state as well as the federal government has cut funding and closed over 100 shelters in the past 18 months. So you can see why I’m not really up to laughing at the arrogance (ignorance?) of this government hosting a lunch meant to highlight the achievements and changes in gender relations but also spotlight the areas where there is much ground still to be covered, in a bastion of male chauvinism.

The inner club itself isn’t available for the lunch but it does have function facilities on the premise that are used to host weddings/dinners etc. The laughable part is when questioned about the venue the PM seemed to think it was a wonderful idea but did concede the arrangements were made at the last minute.

This government has been under fire for their vicious attacks on Gillian Triggs and the Human Rights Commission as well as their sexist language and behavior in the senate hearings. This was obviously a last-minute decision designed to shore up the leaky boat and paint them in a less misogynistic light.

In all honesty I don’t think they could have chosen a worse venue if they sat down and tried unless it would be to host the lunch in a strip club and even then as far as I know strip clubs don’t exclude women from entering.

Queensland Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman of the Labor party appeared surprised at the move by the federal LNP and I think her words sum up the situation quite well:

“Seriously? You can’t make this stuff up,” she said. “It shows how out-of-touch the LNP are and their excuse of organising the event at short notice just doesn’t stack up, because International Women’s Day is held on the eighth of March every year. “They would have had plenty of warning it was coming.”

This article was first published on Jennifer’s blog, Unload and Unwind.


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  1. Dagney J. Taggart

    We are having a morning tea at work next week to celebrate IWD. Ladies are to bring a plate, gentlemen are to donate a gold coin according to the e-mail.

  2. Kyran

    You’re opening sentence says it all.
    My concern is that “something so utterly stupid” is now so commonplace that nothing of substance can be achieved.
    In years gone by, International Women’s Day was used as a milestone to celebrate the positive role of women in society and to reflect on the disparity between how women act and how they are treated. Everything from wage equality to domestic violence (which I still think is best described as criminal assault) was on the table. It served as a reminder of societies failure to address the issues and encouragement to redouble our efforts.
    As with everything associated with this ship of fools, the headline became our leaders “inspired response” signalling a “return of confidence”. Really?
    The litany of substantiated criticism is regularly dealt with by dismissal of the subject and ridicule of the critic (regardless of the subject matter). I no longer find anything this mob does as laughable. They are dangerous. Take care

  3. Jenni

    Kyran – it is one of my greatest concerns also. The fact that it’s become almost common place to hear this government and the PM in particular speak with such little understanding and an obvious disdain for many groups in their day to day business of governance makes me more than a little uneasy. We’re becoming numb to the litany of abuse and you are right too in the fact that those who still continue to speak out only receive abusive diatribe rather than debate from those in power. I’m actually scared to see where this is all heading. I know that may sound melodramatic but I’m pretty sure that I’m actually under reacting to the reality of where all this will lead.

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