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Speak even if your voice shakes

In the past couple of years, we as a society have removed the stigma around some previously ‘taboo’ subjects. Assuming the Turnbull conservative government ever stops infighting, they might actually get around to legislating the support mechanisms recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse. Regardless of inaction from the Government, it is now an accepted fact that several groups failed to adequately discharge their responsibility to provide care and concern to those in their care who deserved far better.

Less than 20 years ago in some jurisdictions, homosexual acts were still illegal. It is a sad indictment that even more recently the criminal convictions as a result of homosexual acts between consenting adults were still recorded against the ‘offenders’, resulting in restrictions in travel, employment and other areas of daily life. Recently, Australia’s first legal same sex marriages were held.

Unfortunately, there are still some ‘taboo’ subjects for ‘polite’ discussion in this country. Bullying is one of them, self-harm and suicide are also closely related. Unbeknown to her, a talented and intelligent 14-year-old young lady from the Northern Territory helped to start a discussion in January 2018 linking bullying and suicide – something that is way overdue. Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, the young lady in question suicided after repeated cyber bullying. A short time prior to her death, she completed a drawing that contained the words ‘speak even if your voice shakes’ which is an abridged quote from Maggie Kuhn, a leader of the US ‘Gray Panthers’ movement and author.

Amy had a higher profile than most 14-year-olds – she was the face in a number of marketing campaigns for Akubra hats. A number of well-known and lesser known Australians made sincere tributes to the tragedy of a life taken far too soon. One of them was Prime Minister Turnbull who posted on Facebook

“Dolly’s passing highlights the devastating impact that bullying can have on its victims,” he said.

“Every step must be taken to reduce the incidence of bullying, whether offline or on, and eliminate it wherever we can.”

Mr Turnbull said the rise of online social media platforms presented new challenges.

“Cyber bullies can harass and intimidate their victims from any location and at any time of the day,” he said.

“Much more work is needed, from governments, health groups and the internet companies themselves, to prevent cyberbullying, stop it when it occurs and to minimise its impact when it does occur.”

Turnbull is correct, cyber bullies can harass and intimidate their victims from any location and whenever they like. Turnbull’s words are also obviously sincere, meaningful and convey his sense of shock.

So why does he do nothing when Immigration Minister Dutton (and Morrison before him) bully and victimise refugees, both in this country and those held in what could be described as concentration camps both on-shore and off-shore?

To be brutally honest here, the current jailers are not the only offenders. The current round of victimisation goes back to Howard and Reith before the 2001 election claiming that refugees coming to Australia by boat were throwing their babies overboard and those that were picked up by the freighter ‘Tampa’ were ‘jumping the queue’. All sides of politics since then have not been afraid to invent increasingly nastier punishments to refugees when in power to demonstrate they are ‘better’ than the other mob. The ALP and Coalition governments of Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull stand equally condemned.

Early in January, Immigration Minister Dutton let fly at the Victorian Government for ‘not doing enough’ about claimed gangs of African people in Melbourne and Turnbull claimed

“[But] this is a failure of the Andrews government. Victoria police is a huge organisation. Much larger than the federal police. It’s got the capacity to do the job.

“But what it is lacking is the political leadership and the determination on the part of Premier Andrews to make sure the great policemen and women of Victoria have the leadership, the direction and the confidence of the government to get on with the job and tackle this gang problem on the streets of Melbourne and, indeed, throughout other parts of the state.”

Dutton is an ex-police officer and Turnbull is an ex-lawyer. Both of them should be well aware of the need for evidence before making accusations against others.

First of all, are there organised gangs of African youth in Melbourne? Victorian Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Patton suggests there aren’t:

Patton’s preferred term is “networked criminal offenders”, which is harder to work into a headline.

A “gang,” he says, is something like an organised motorcycle gang. That’s the kind of body groups such as the gang crime unit were established to target.

“From a Victoria police perspective, we have been consistent all the way along that what we traditionally view as organised crime gangs are those high-level organised crime gangs,” he told reporters. “We don’t shy away from calling people gangs, it’s not an issue for us.

“It’s about the offending … Let’s not elevate them to a status they should not be elevated to.”

While you could suggest ‘he would say that’, the statistics seem to bear Patton out in this case. According to the Crime Statistics Agency youth crime rates have dropped in Victoria in the past 10 years and while

About 1.5% of criminal offenders in Victoria are Sudanese-born, the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) told a federal parliamentary inquiry on migrant settlement outcomes, while the Sudanese and South Sudanese communities together make up just 0.14% of the state’s total population.

The majority of crimes in Victoria, unsurprisingly, are committed by people born in Australia. The second-highest cohort were New Zealanders, which are the fourth-largest migrant group in Victoria.

However, by pulling out particular offences you can highlight certain groups. For example, in charges of riot and affray, people born in Sudan made up 6% of all recorded offenders, compared with 71.5% born in Australia and 5.2% born in New Zealand.

It is also interesting to observe that the Victorian Opposition and Liberal Party Leader, Matthew Guy, is rolling out a Law and Order election campaign while

Media coverage of the issue, led by the News Corp tabloid the Herald Sun, has dubbed Victoria “a state of fear” and reported that it could undermine the incumbent Labor government’s chances in the November state election.

For a country built on immigration, we really don’t do the welcoming part very well. While most people just want to live in peace and harmony, there are significant minorities of all the different ethnic groups that have found their way to Australia that hate and detest those that have immigrated subsequently. For example, at the end of the 19th century, the Russians and Chinese were going to overrun the country; as attested by the old gun emplacements in places like Thursday Island, Fort Lytton in Brisbane and the Heads in Sydney.

Despite being on the same side in World War 1, Asian immigrants were going to rape and pillage the country if they were allowed to immigrate. After World War 2 the sponsored immigration of northern Europeans was accepted however the southern Europeans were going to take our jobs and expatriate the money to their families who were left behind in Italy and Greece, despite logic suggesting that as a nation we had helped destroy their country and lifestyle so had to bear some of the responsibility for the countries’ lack of ability to support all its residents.

In the 70’s there was bipartisan political agreement to accept a large number of refugees from the Vietnam War – again we helped reduce their country to the stone age through bombing and chemical weapons and had a moral obligation to help support the people we had forced from their homes and lifestyles. Over time, each group has become less threatening and accepted as productive members of our society.

More recently, the majority of refugees have come from the middle east or northern Africa. When Australia wasn’t involved in the destruction of their country, as we were in the middle east, we sat on our hands and watched others do the destruction, the prime example being Sudan.

So when Dutton starts dog-whistling fallacies on Sydney ‘ratbag radio’ station 2GB on the ‘dangers’ of African gangs in Melbourne, it is bullying. It also gives ‘permission’ for thugs to bully and harass those of the same ethnic background as this poor excuse for humanity recently did to an African family in Brisbane. And whether you like it or not – that is bullying. It is also very confronting, even if you have a computer screen between you and the screen door of the house in question.

As discussed up the page a bit, more New Zealanders commit criminal acts in Australia than people from Africa or anywhere else except people that were born here. If the object of harassing immigrants is to convince them to leave the country, surely those that feel the need should be targeting New Zealanders. It must be far harder to detect people that understand the symbolism of the silver fern than people with different skin colours. And while we’re doing a bit of fact checking, there is a significant community of northern Africans living around Moorooka in Brisbane with seemingly no more than normal levels of crime – but there isn’t a Liberal Party law and order campaign or upcoming state election in Queensland in the next couple of years.

Dutton, Morrison, Turnbull and all the other politicians since Howard have implicitly given permission for bullying and harassment against groups of Australians who have recently arrived in this country, especially those that have different appearance to the majority of Australians. How many other deaths and serious examples of self-harm have there been as a direct result of politicians giving implicit approval for thugs and ‘supremacists’ to abuse, bully and harass at will?

Any untimely death or serious injury to a person is a tragic event and if the cause is known, we all have an obligation to address the issue. Turnbull has made a start deploring the death of Amy Everett, however one has to doubt the sincerity if he doesn’t hold himself and his Ministers to account when they are clearly bullying refugees, unionists or those with a different political view to themselves for solely political ends. After all, he said

“Every step must be taken to reduce the incidence of bullying, whether offline or on, and eliminate it wherever we can.”

What do you think?

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This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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20 comments

  1. diannaart

    We really do need to not just talk about bullies, but point them out, repeatedly.

    I have been wondering if members of the African-Australian community have stopped going out to restaurants since Duddon’s dumb comments.

  2. Andy P

    Many questions in this article, but lets just call it as it really is. Those in senior positions of government really want a return to the ‘White Australia Policy’. They treat Indigenous Australians with contempt, demonize immigrants unless they are white, or can afford them power or privilege, and have no genuine concern for the well-being of the majority of citizens (unless they are party donors. Their only agenda is gain or maintain power. They have demonstrated contempt for the environment, and their only solution to societies problems seem to be of a punitive nature. If you are of no use to aiding them retain power, they simply do not care or have any interest in making this a better nation. Cruelty and vilification of minority groups are nothing more than an avenue used to cause division and fear; and by doing so, merely a means of garnering votes from those most afraid. I have never despised an Australian government so much in all my life and, if this self-centered rabble is seen as a reflection of us as the Australian community, then it both angers and saddens me to say that I am fast becoming embarrassed to call myself an Aussie. I have served my country but did not sign up to promote or defend the current values displayed by our current leaders. And to top it off, they have the gall to refer to themselves as “Honorable Members of Parliament. They are the true bullies here, not those who they choose to vilify for political gain.

  3. Chris

    Almost all that is said about cyber bullying is rubbish. Even though Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett is dead most media is calling her Dolly and pretending she still was 7 years old, no wonder she wasn’t happy.
    If you put your child in a world wide advertising campaign you could expect they may not turn out to be a happy person.
    I think you can guarantee that the bullying she received was from and related to people from her private school……not online trolls of nowhere in particular.
    The people who comment on this website are cowards who have never stood up to bullying on behalf of themselves or anyone else.
    If this is not true you could tell me the story….
    A rich kid killing themselves does not warrant this much carrying on and associated legislative changes. It is all dishonest bollocks.

  4. jimhaz

    I’d have no problem with Dutton talking about African gangs if it was not done primarily to make the Vic ALP gov look bad. Everyone suffers if problems or trends are ignored.

    My expectation is that African migrants/refugees will result in more negative long term outcomes for Australia than positive ones by about 60/40 at best.

    Your post is driven by ideology alone and ignores reality. This suckhole ideology of equality is weakening us all and I have pretty much abandoned the left entirely in recent months because of it (although I have always been for selective and limited immigration). It creates a lowest common denominator effect.

    Bullying will never be solved, as with weaker people they will be more sensitive to bullying. I suspect Dolly’s suicide relates more to her parenting than anything else.

  5. Andy P

    @ Chris, “The people who comment on this website are cowards who have never stood up to bullying on behalf of themselves or anyone else”. Well Chris, as you have commented on this website, and according to your own view, YOU are obviously one of the cowards who you assert has never stood up for them selves or others. As for the rest of your rant, where is the empirical evidence to support your naive and ignorant assertions? Lastly, what has financial status have to do with someone being worthy of legislative changes? You are an ignorant fool. Go and do some research and enlighten yourself. I would gladly offer you pages of supporting evidence taken from peer reviewed journals to help you gain some perspective but I won’t bother as I doubt you would even bother to read them. Additionally, I speak with some authority on the subject as I hold a degree in Behavioural Science which is the culmination of years of study in psychology and social work. The only dishonest bollocks I see here are the words written by yourself.

  6. Chris

    @ And P Empirical evidence about what ? Oh you have a degree but can’t write a sensible logical comment.

  7. Andy P

    @ Chris, as the topic being discussed is bullying, I would have thought the answer to your question would have been self-evident. Just to make it clear for you though, I was referring to evidence that cyber bullying is real, is often attributed to trolls. It is real, it has serious consequences, and it is not bollocks. If you feel my comment was neither sensible or logical, I suggest you re-read your own again. It comes across as nothing more than opinion and some sort of resentment of rich kids. (And no, in case you are wondering; I was not one). The truth is that most children get bullied at some stage during their formative years; the only difference now is that technology has allowed bullies to pursue their victims on-line; thereby making it a constant source of distress without any respite once they are at home and away from the their tormentors.

  8. Florence nee Fedup

    Dutton says we should suspend Habeas Corpus. #auspol

  9. guest

    Jimhaz,

    you say: “This suckhole ideology of equality is weakening us all…”

    Which “ideology” is that exactly? Is it “freedom of speech”? You have had your say and so have others. Expect some criticism from time to time, even if you see it as bullying. You are allowed to complain.

    Is the equality ideology about “equality before the law”? Or are some more equal than others. Clearly Dutton is beating up a racist fear-mongering campaign in order to attack the Victorian Labor government, using a minority group as target, treating them as if they are somehow different before the law.

    Is it about the way big business is to be offered tax cuts (even if they have not paid tax for years), while the poor and working people are required to take the brunt of stagnating wages and the need for welfare, despite business profits increasing by 20%.

    Is it about “marriage equality”, where the Oz community has voted in favour of allowing people to marry whom they love? Or do you think that somehow SSM is ‘weakening’ the marriages of heterosexual couples? I fail to see how.

    What I do see is that the pervasive inequality of globalised, neo-con, neo-liberal exploitation by the 1% possessing as much wealth as more than half the rest of the world – the inequality arising from the failure of the ‘trickle-down’ ideology of the kind espoused by our present government – is what weakens us all, and deliberately so.

    Choose whatever ideology suits you, jimhaz, but whichever way you go, none will be perfect.

  10. Chris

    @AndP Did I say bullying on the internet is not real ? No
    I said they were are a rich kid the rest is your speculation.
    “the only difference now is that technology has allowed bullies to pursue their victims on-line” and the pretense that this makes it more difficult to deal with or in some way worse is entirely wrong but that is how it is being framed…..and you are lapping it up.

  11. helvityni

    I have always thought that bullying is very much of an Australian phenomenon, I don’t know it’s origins… Maybe it ‘s something we inherited from English Private schools, maybe the poor convicts were punished and bullied in most horrible fashion, and that left them vulnerable to pass the buck and do some bullying themselves….

  12. Matters Not

    helvityni, bullying (depending on definition) arises in all schools at various times. I don’t think it’s peculiar to Australia. As I understand it, the vast majority of schools in Finland have a comprehensive anti-bullying program in place called KiVa (from the Finnish words “kiusaamista vastaan,” meaning “against bullying”).

    Seems to me that they see that bullying occurs. Typically, they make comprehensive efforts to minimise its effects. We need to follow their leadership and give the US a big miss.

    (I note another mass shooting in a school in recent hours. Guns keep us safe apparently.)

  13. helvityni

    MN, does ‘bullying’ mean the same as ‘teasing’….?

    I have always understood that ‘ teasing’ (= kiusata) is a lesser evil; it can even be gentle and humorous. Bullying I see as willingness to hurt, to put down…

    I have suffered from bullying only on a couple of blogs. When I realised that my torturer was the one and same person using different pseudos , I stopped responding… That person even wrote posts using my name, imitating my faulty English.. I wasn’t laughing…

    PS. People learn both good and bad things on Internet; there was a school shooting in Finland few years ago….

  14. jimhaz

    @ Guest

    Not really any of the things you mentioned, although freedom of speech is involved. The media will not allow alternative viewpoints – except where they are right wing and also propaganda tools of the wealthy.

    I was speaking about the automatic reaction to anything negative said about minority such as the Sudanese or in terms of more fundamental muslims the ignoring of problems such as terrorism, where people equate lesser faults of modified western religions as being equal to things like terrorism or some of the horrid sharia laws. The application of a lower standard of expectation simply because someone is from a minority, and the costs to society of pandering for minorities (mostly these costs are opportunity costs). I detest the expectation that minorities are owed anything or given more weight in an assessment, regardless of true merit, just because they are a minority.

    I am sick to death of white males being picked on and blamed for everything unequal as if we have all done something wrong, when it is actually the opposite. We are just being human and the negative outcomes are generic across humanity – and technology creates structures of power and selfish people will rise to the top and people will protect what they have.

    I look at societies that have had less immigration, thus fewer minority power fights, and what I see is more community cohesion. Take for example the example below from Japan. I cannot see how this could occur in any multicultural environment. We don’t care as much about neighbours that are not like us, as we see our prevailing community identity diminishing (community identity is a big part of our own personal identity).

    https://www.facebook.com/SeekerMedia/videos/10154904903068387/

    For me the US is what is is, and to me it’s dog eat dog ways are fairly awful, due to heavy immigration in its early western centuries – this immigration created the attitude of looking after oneself or ones own kind and this is now reflected in such things as poor public healthcare, business predators like Trump, low wages for many and this sort of foundation birthed modern neocon practices.

    SSM I voted for as there was no cost to society that I could see – it was more a recognition of something fundamental in humans, namely that a percentage of people will always be homosexual.

    I remain left based in terms of economic matters. I grew up in the 80’s 90’s when distribution was much fairer, and in recent decades the power of the most wealthy to corrupt political processes and societies value systems scares me. This corrupted form of democracy is being copied by local predators from examples being set by the US.

  15. jimhaz

    Probably more bullying in Australia as we have a more frontier type identity, than older european countries with more sedate national identities.

    With multiculturalism we also have more groups of children that compete against each other for status. We have probably adopted more of the USA identity than those european ones, as the division of identity created by multiculturalism weakens the Australian dominant identity, enabling the USA identity to usurp the Australian one – it fills the common gap (ie something like self-pitying gangster rap music has multicultural appeal for cultures or sub-groups more inclined to aggression – such as middle eastern lads and aussie bogans).

    I am also convinced that heat plays a role in the levels of aggressiveness between people.

  16. Glenn Barry

    Matters not, I believe you’re correct that bullying isn’t unique to Australia.

    I have however always considered bullying to be resoundingly endemic to imperialist and colonialist cultures – in our case the English. Why, because it’s a marvellous control method – denigrate, berate, insult, threaten, intimidate and dominate someone to the point of total surrender – it leaves them compliant, obedient and useful, essentially cowering and pleased to no longer be the target of abuse if they display total obedience.

    Realistically an honest analysis of most western societies reveals the same method of control to be pervasive, (I am referring to particularly AUS, US and UK) that’s why I’ve always considered Ghandi’s response to the question “What does he think of western civilisation?, to be particularly insightful.
    He though it was a good idea

  17. jimhaz

    My belief system is very close to that of Sam Harris, whereas most folks here, would align with Russell Brand.

    What’s The Biggest Threat To Freedom – Islam Or Consumerism? | Under The Skin with Russell Brand #45

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwiJlQUrwdA (2 hours!)

  18. Chris

    @Jimhaz You stick with being a “biochemical puppet” then. How profound you are.

  19. Chris

    @helvityni

    “I have always thought that bullying is very much of an Australian phenomenon, I don’t know it’s origins… Maybe it ‘s something we inherited from English Private schools, maybe the poor convicts were punished and bullied in most horrible fashion, and that left them vulnerable to pass the buck and do some bullying themselves….”

    I think you are very right (and your next comment is great also).

    ‘Some cultures’ incorporate ‘the fool’ or jester into their community festivals and social culture. In Australia we only have

    “larikinism” which can be a positive and constructive thing but often is not and can be little different to other types of bullying.

    Out of curiousity , do Finland or Scandinavian countries have a tradition of “fools” like perhaps the “Narrenzunft” (Fool’s Guild) in

    parts of Germany ? …..there is not much about them on the internet and what is there is in German (not an insurmountable

    problem).

  20. Shutterbug

    Florence.

    Can we suspend Dutton instead? Preferably from a nearby tree? I’ll sell the tickets and you can organise the catering. We’ll be rich I tell you!
    My people will contact your people 😉

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