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Minister for Women, you are CRAP at your job

In what other portfolio would a minister who remains consistently silent about his responsibilities to the huge demographic covered by that portfolio, even in the face of a staggering number of the cohort dying, be permitted to retain his job? Yet Tony Abbott continues to claim for himself the title “Minister for Women.”

Has there ever been a greater political insult to Australian women than this? He’s having a laugh. He always was.

In spite of an enormous recent increase in media and public attention directed towards intimate and family violence, the Abbott federal and the Baird state LNP governments have cut funding to specialist women’s services since Abbott won government in 2013.

These cuts have resulted in women’s refuges in NSW urban and regional areas being re-situated under the umbrella of homelessness services, thus denying the specific difficulties faced by women who are not primarily homeless, rather who are fleeing their homes because those homes are inhabited by a violent partner.

Many refuges are now run by faith-based organisations. Experience in addressing intimate and family violence is not a prerequisite for winning a contract, indeed the criteria for determining the awarding of contracts don’t even mention domestic violence concerns.

This Women’s Agenda headline would seem premature: Our Watch Awards celebrate the power of journalism in ending male violence against women. Neither journalism nor anything else has ended male violence against women, and while media attention to the appalling statistics and the stories behind them is absolutely necessary, the power of journalism alone to end violence against women and children is yet to be demonstrated. There has to be action with the talk, and I mean direct action against perpetrators, such as immediate custodial sentences when an AVO is breached, for a start.

As long as we have privileged and ignorant male politicians redesigning frontline domestic violence services in ways that can only make the plight of women and children fleeing violence worse, we will not end that violence, indeed we will only make it easier for perpetrators, as women’s options are eroded. Already, the legal aid situation is so dire a perpetrator can access free advice and representation, but the woman he assaulted may not be so lucky.

The toll of one man’s violence against his partner is inestimable. It has long-term effects on children, immediate family members, extended family members, neighbours, workmates, and when perpetrated in public, as have murders and attacks in the last week in Queensland, has traumatising effects on every witness, and every member of the public who attempts to intervene.

Then there’s the cumulative toll domestic violence takes on services such as police, paramedics, hospital staff, counsellors, and those who provide legal aid services. In terms of its capacity for widespread and generational damage, intimate and family violence is a catastrophic event far exceeding any terrorist threat we face.

Yet the Minister for Women’s only intervention is to cut funding to frontline services when they ought to be urgently increased, and by tenfold.

As a salve and to appear as if he’s interested, Abbott promised an awareness campaign. However, he’s failed to address where women and children will go for assistance and shelter after our collective awareness is raised. We don’t need another government awareness campaign when services are inadequate, or don’t exist. We need the services. Abbott’s promised awareness campaign, in conjunction with service cuts, is one of the most cynical moves this government has made. That is saying much.

Tony Abbott is a crap Minister for Women. Probably the most crap Minister for Women in the world. The sooner he takes his sorry arse out of that portfolio and appoints someone who gives a damn, the better. With Abbott at the top, violence against women and children is never going to decrease in this country, and with his funding cuts he’s making it easier for perpetrators to be left on the loose and unaccountable.

Someone once said you can judge the state of a country by the way it allows animals to be treated. I think you can judge the state of a country by the way its government allows women and children to be treated. And by any measure, this government’s attitude to violence against women and children is absolute crap.

This article was first published on No Place For Sheep.

 

21 comments

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  1. Shevill

    Abbott as Minister for Women means it locks out any other minister doing something positive. Our Tony believes a womens place is in the home, washing, cooking, ironing, etc. etc.He might act dumb but he is not stupid. A sad state of affairs for 50% of the population. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will follow exactly the same path as his mentor, Johnny Howard.

  2. babyjewels10

    I believe he gave himself that title purely to thumb his nose at Julia Gillard, with no thought to actually improving the lot of women.

  3. stephentardrew

    No he took the job because he knew it effectively removed any chance of their being a minister for women because he demonstrably does not give a damn.

  4. diannaart

    …and a tiny percentage of women are violent too.

    OK, back to what would be considered an epidemic if partner violence was a virus:

    http://www.bethehero.com.au/index.php?id=9

    Just over 20 per cent of homicides involve intimate partners. Males commit homicide seven times more frequently than women

    http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/abbott-government8217s-cuts-threaten-to-trap-women-in-domestic-violence-20150128-12zzmr.html

    …the money for one national program which supported 14 family violence prevention services has been entirely cut. The worst affected by those cuts are Indigenous women and children all over Australia. That group has the highest rate of family violence.

    More? Community legal services all over Australia – cut and closing. Six million dollars to save lives all over the country. Gone and further cuts are rumoured.

    And men’s behaviour change programs in Victoria down to zero dollars. There are new rules as to where the money goes. Relationships Australia has been forced to reallocate money. That was a decision by Kevin Andrews, the former minister, who thought that advocacy on behalf of our most vulnerable was not relevant….

    I do believe the Minister for Women is good mates with those men who claim how much they love women – not really – it’s just a good sound like “stop the boats”.

  5. Abbie

    A man hits another and the victim dies. There is a change of law.
    A shark attacks a man or two and there is an outpouring of plans to keep ‘people safer’ in the water.
    62 women are murdered by men and the “Leader” of the Nation is as dismissive in his silence as was the case for domestic (‘a private matter’) violence over the past 200 years.

    Australian women are being murdered by their own Intimates. Before that last act of horror there is usually years of Terror leading up to that point. Years of emotional, psychological and financial abuse with intimations of physical threat if not overt ‘reminders’ in fact to ‘do as you are told’.

    This is real ‘Terrorism’.

    Abbott wanted to be a ‘war PM’. Pity he could not have set his sights closer to home and threw all his bovver-boy ambition at a ‘War against Terror’ plaguing the women in Australia right now.

    But then again such a PM would not have been crass and contemptible enough to have made a man, let alone himself, Minister for Women!

  6. Helen Noonan

    I wonder if the surge in Domestic Violence has something to do with the fact that the Minister for Women is a chauvinist, a misogynist, a male of the 50s. It casts a pall over the stature of women in this country. Yes he anointed Rose Batty as Australian of the Year, but he has basically left her to her own devices it seems, and no ringing voice of support or approval from his Ministery is ever attached to the various calls and moves Rose Batty has made…in fact I wonder if there is much funding for her at all, more cuts than growth in this sector. It seems the “big man- daddy PM – head of a family of virgins” has done his gesture towards DV and now on to a “real” war. His attitude towards women as belonging in the home is emphasized by the lack of women in the cabinet – such a bad look. I believe that having this male Minister for Women – a misogynist – will mean there will be little or no change in the DV statistics while he so clearly believes there is no problem to worry about and “shit happens”

  7. M-R

    HE didn’t appoint her, Helen – he merely fronted up to be seen giving her the award.
    Abbie: I agree absolutely.
    Of course, I agree with all the people commenting. Abbott is not a joke because the subject is far too serious – he is dangerous, mad, bad and arrogant.

  8. diannaart

    …PM – head of a family of virgins…including his wife; conception by turkey-baster doesn’t count as sex does it?

  9. gangey1959

    How very true.
    One thing though Jennifer. You used too many words in your headline. You should have stopped with CRAP.
    @Diannaart. Our beloved leader has no balls. Lucky turkey-baster. Or maybe his ‘missus’ shopped elsewhere.
    I sure as shit hope so, that might give her girls a chance in life.
    Mind you, the one who gained a scholarship (one of 2 ever granted) into the Whitehouse School was too stupid to check with daddy’s security detail before she signed her lease, and then had to use his big name lawyers and OUR money to get out of the shit she was in.
    Can we please send them all back to england ?

  10. Kaye Lee

    We condone violence in many aspects of our society. Until all of us take responsibility for change then we will have a problem. Punishment cannot be the answer. We need societal change. As I have said before, the behaviour shown by our politicians in Question Time is abuse. We watch violent movies, play violent video games, adore footballers who can hurt their opponents, make threats on facebook. We must educate our children that this is not ok and hope they bring about the change we seem unable to.

    But what does our government do?

    April 26, 2015

    Federal government axes funding for domestic violence education in northern NSW schools

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/federal-government-axes-funding-for-domestic-violence-education-in-northern-nsw-schools-20150423-1mripe.html#ixzz3lVNag4UV

    18 May 2015

    Funding cut for remote Aboriginal domestic violence shelter will ‘put lives at risk’

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-17/funding-withdrawal-puts-indigenous-womens-lives-at-risk/6476132

  11. brickbob

    ‘Minister For Women is just another 3 word slogan for Abbott,i agree with another post who said it was all about having a go at Julia Gillard who he loathes because she beat him to the top job in 2010,and he does’nt give a rats about domestic violence because he is also a violent man,and i know a violent man and a lunatic when i see one,and he fits the bill perfectly.””””

  12. Loz

    Respect for women has not changed much since John Howard was in government. When Alexander Downey while promoting the Liberal slogan “The Things That Matter”, Downer joked that the party’s domestic violence policy would accordingly be named “The Things That Batter”, referring to abusive husbands.
    I too think that Abbott was having a joke at women’s expense when giving himself the Ministry for Women.

  13. Roddy

    Yeah but stop the boats, axe the tax and death cults.

  14. paul walter

    There has been a spike in violent incidents, where is the cultural disconnect that has men reverting to primitivism? I can see Ábbott and his oafish cronies as being part of the problem, they are one dimensional, poor role models for young men, with their swaggering, empty headed thuggishness but is it posible that they themselves are symptoms of something running a bit deeper we can’t see, perhaps to do with cultural change over the last couple of generations?

    Generational disconnects that go with the high speed of techno innovation perhaps also impact as to the “Death of Cultural Memeory”(Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Anxiety) and even a bit of politics, as the Tea Party global right tries to assert itself against forms that its hierarchical outlook can’t cope with?

  15. Kaye Lee

    And for our Minister assisting the Minister for Woman may I present that well known dignified, caring, empathetic feminist, Michaelia Cash

  16. Ginny Lowndes

    As Minister for Women I thought Abbott was advertising himself as the ultimate pants man?

  17. paul walter

    Love Kaye Lee’s Amity Ranty-Pants.

    It is true that the Conservatives have maybe half dozen shrikes likes this; women who assume the outward guise of outrage, but none of the substance of this outrage. In the end they are, like their male colleagues, absorbed exclusivlely in their own victimhood/entitlement and trenchantly defensive of this exclusivity.

    But there is no genuine feminism driving this rage, none of the concern for current social conditions or aspiration for a healthier society.

    Neither
    Cash and Abbott cannot be defined except in terms of the driving force of overwhelming conditioning, thus lack of reflexivity and gut prejudice as the driving force in their lives ensuring behaviours leading to aggressiveness and harm to others.

    Saddest of all, in a way.

  18. diannaart

    Abbott – a cardboard cut-out conservative – doesn’t really approve of women making life choices and follows this up by being anti children. In spite of religion spawned attitude towards abortions, he really doesn’t care much about children and the ability of parents to care for them. Clear evidence is the fact he has retained Labor’s scheme of locking up children in detention as well as, not caring if babies get their first years of life behind razor wire.

    However, here’s how he ‘cares’ about true-blue born little Aussies:

    http://www.kidspot.com.au/abbott-government-slashes-funding-to-fight-pnd/

    Mental health advocates are up in arms over the Federal Government’s decision, passed down this week, to axe funding for the national program that helps women struggling with depression in pregnancy.

    The future of the $85 million National Perinatal Depression Initiative (NPDI) has been in question since 2013 when its initial five-year funding period expired.

    Perinatal is the term given to the period just before a woman gives birth.

    Since the program’s launch in 2008 it has helped thousands of new parents deal with mental health issues surrounding pregnancy and birth. But the Abbott government confirmed that it would not provide further funding to continue the initiative’s works.

    I guess this is Tones way of keeping women frightened (DV), powerless (unless a woman of substance) and, well, pregnant (don’t let him near anything such as RU486).

  19. Sarah Gowans

    I’m trying to set up a program offering temporary billets in private homes for women and children in emergency DV situations, where no space is available in the local refuge. If you’re interested in the concept please like and share the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/908197085919492/

  20. Anon E Mouse

    And Shorten wants a talk fest – how about demanding reinstating the budget they cut from services for dv victims.

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