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Tag Archives: Domestic Violence

Pauline just attacked women and I don’t like it!

In her latest sick attempt to grab votes so she can secure a seat in the Senate and claim her holy grail – a bigger pay cheque for herself; Pauline Hanson has stooped to yet another low – attacking female victims of domestic violence.

If you can stomach it – her outlandish claims that women make frivolous claims about domestic violence and women, wasting police resources and tying up the court system can be seen here

To those who think that Pauline Hanson “speaks for me” she “speaks her mind” and “she says things people are not game to say.” No. Just no.

She isn’t trendy or cool or ‘speaks her mind’, she doesn’t represent the ‘views of the people’. She is a puerile, inane, mendaciously lying, antagonistic, self-aggrandizer who flies on the coat-tails of creating hatred and division where-ever she can sniff it out.

In short – she wants to drive you to hate others, just so she gets a bigger pay cheque and give herself an ego boost.

Her entire history is about creating division and hatred for personal gain, not to make this country a better place. She never talks about inclusiveness or harmony, just divisive rhetoric about us and them – the ‘normals’ and the ‘abnormals.’

Ms. Hanson has ridden on the back of negativity and fear mongering of Asians and Indigenous Australians to create groups who can be bracketed as, not fitting in, not like the rest of us, different – ‘abnormal’.

Ms. Hanson’s 1996 Maiden speech to Parliament warned Australians of the damage that Aboriginal people and Asians do to our society. Now the fear and hatred in the 2016 campaign has turned to Muslims and she is milking that cow until it is dry. She is the Jimmy Swaggart of the Nationalist set.

If you are still thinking of voting for her then why is her platform in 2016 not about stigmatising and creating division between white Australians and Indigenous People or Asians? It was so important last time she put her hand up that ‘Australia is being swamped by Asians, or Aborigines get too many privileges.” Why not now?

Answer: Because Pauline Hanson knows there are no votes in it. She knows people will be outraged in these days of reconciliation and people know that Asians have not swamped Australia.

However, there are still many people who are fearful of Muslims, do not understand their culture, are not ready to accept them as Australians and underneath that is fear and that fear equals votes where she can get them.

Indeed, there are always pockets of men who feed off ensuring women are kept weak, meek and not heard. There are always pockets of men who think they deserve a bigger space than women in the world; even if an epidemic is so severe that women are the focus first; these types of men simply must insist that the experiences of men must be the primary focus, regardless of the implications for women or the burdens or consequences women suffer.

Pauline has pricked her ears up and she is listening to these men. Even where the system does recognise men are victims and there are men specific programs (many created BY women), and the language is changing to intimate partner violence to be more inclusive.She simply does not like it.

Pauline won’t speak to any of this because she wants people to believe this is a gender issue. She wants people to believe that men are the most hard done by and women are ‘winning’ tax payer funded supports over more deserving men like it is some sick contest.

If the welfare bludger who gets it all versus the hard working tax payer who gets nothing could be an uglier colour – this is what it looks like.

So apparently there must votes in appealing to this group. To get these votes, today’s latest target (bullies have targets) are victims of domestic violence.

Hanson’s allegations that women victims of domestic violence make frivolous claims, is the same divisive, attack dog, them and us mentality of those who seek to stigmatise those on welfare as dole bludgers, cheats, lazy and frauds. Or those who seek to label people of different ethnicities as ‘bludgers and job stealers, murderers and rapists.’

The main aim of Hanson’s breed of politician is to stigmatise a particular group. Today that group comprises of women who are emotionally tortured to the point of self-worthlessness, beaten, threatened, stalked and killed.

Stigma aims to socially discredit a group of people. Stigma seeks to bracket people so they are not ‘normal’ and when people are seen as ‘not normal’ people who think they are ‘normal’ are afraid of the ‘abnormals’.

When people are afraid, opportunistic, egocentric politicians put themselves forth as ‘the protector’ of the ‘normals from the ‘abnormals.’ No one needs protecting from women victims of domestic violence.

No Pauline, you do not need to protect anyone from women victims of domestic violence.

No Pauline, you do not need to plead a case for less tax-payers money going on women’s services.

No Pauline, women victims of domestic violence will not be threatened by your ignorant rhetoric and be bracketed as ‘abnormal.’

No Pauline, just because men experience domestic violence, it does not invalidate the experiences of women and make their claims frivolous.

No Pauline, women victims of domestic violence will not be shamed into thinking they are ‘wasting the big strong policeman’s time and not speak up.’

No Pauline, women victims of domestic violence will not sink to the depths of silence when so many people around them are trying to lift them up to speak up.

Instead of giving examples of why or when men are not believed, or what services we need for men; Hanson’s ignorant allegation is that women are frivolous in their claims.

This is to give the impression that women are creating a false epidemic with their mendacious lies and this gives no real space for male victims. (Just read the comments following the original article linked above.)

We do not need to shame or silence women, or make them think that they are a burden on the system, so women shrink even more and create a bigger space for men who are victims of domestic violence.

If Pauline Hanson is unable to argue a bigger space for men in domestic violence services, without putting women down, then why does she deserve anyone’s vote?

If you are still thinking of voting for Pauline Hanson up to this point, ask yourself, “How does it benefit our country to start a narrative which is only meant to stigmatise and shame women who are victims of domestic violence and make it harder for them to speak up?”

To appeal to enough people to win votes with this latest outlandish claim; Pauline Hanson will want this message of ‘women victims of domestic violence making frivolous claims’ to get louder and louder and the following to grow bigger and bigger. Just like she did back in the 90’s with Indigenous people and Asians.

Imagine the same aggressive, hateful, divisive rhetoric raising its ugly head as Hanson has done to Asians, Indigenous people, those on welfare and now Muslims; towards victims of domestic violence. Imagine that kind of Australia.

The more aggressive, the more hateful, the more divisive the rhetoric, the more doubts that are created in people’s minds, the more women remain silent because of this narrative and the more perpetrators believe women will not speak up, then the more women will die. Is this what you really want to vote for?

When Pauline Hanson attacks diversity, she doesn’t recognise how other cultures enrich us and teach us and how we can learn respect for customs and traditions. Multiculturalism helps us to stop being insular and selfish and gives us the gift of inclusiveness. Now she wants to widen the gap between women and men. She wants to give the impression that women are getting more in this space than men are. She wants us to position men and women victims to compete. She wants us to think about how unfair that is and how she can help correct that ‘unfairness.’

It would be a safe bet that if people started to be doubtful of cute kitten owners or didn’t understand them, Ms. Hanson would jump on that bandwagon as well to serve her own ego. I don’t believe any nationality, sexuality, gender or religion or anyone who is slightly different than in Pauline Hanson’s world of what is ‘normal’ is safe from being a target, if she thought it meant more votes.

The growth of this type of Nationalist, divisive and hateful politician, can be summed up in the words of Aboriginal Elder and former Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Senator Patrick Dodson:

“In a climate of uncertainty and fear, without strong and visionary leadership, people panic.”

On July 2, we will decide the Prime Minister and his Government. This Prime Minister and his MPs and Senators must listen to Mr. Dodson’s words and work hard to build a future where Australians live with certainty, hope and inclusiveness of all Australians and put an end to politicians pitting us against each other.

That future Australia will not be built with any contributions from Pauline Hanson.

…and if you are still thinking of voting for Pauline Hanson: Hang your head in shame.

stigma goffman

Originally published on Polyfeministix

Listening to voices of domestic violence and other talking points

John Paul Langbroek brought me to boiling point the other week with his comments about domestic violence.  This shows how out of touch and neanderthal the QLD LNP’s thinking is on this issue. Langbroek blamed the QLD economy for Domestic Violence.  He had the audacity to use the serious crime of domestic violence to take a political stab.  If any issue needs to be bipartisan, it is this one. Mr. Langbroek, domestic violence can happen to anyone. It is caused by controlling and violent behaviour by the individual perpetrator. Nothing else. There are no excuses.

For Langbroek to say this sickens me, as it gives the perpetrator an excuse for their violence. To use the recent tragedies as political point scoring deeply disturbs me and his own party should question his leadership and personal character.

I think it is important that many people speak up about how we as citizens see what important changes are necessary to develop an effective system to eradicate domestic violence.  Many victims, survivors and their family and friends need a safe space to share stories and provide recommendations.  I have outlined some of the changes I feel that need to occur to protect victims, below. These are simply talking points and do need further debate:

National Domestic Violence Portal – Listening to voices
Although domestic violence is receiving a lot of attention and progression and enhancement of services is now in the spotlight, I believe we need to hear more. I have discussed this issue with many women and some men and everyone’s story is different.  We need to gather data about the stories and concerns of victims who have suffered and are suffering and listen – really listen to their recommendations.  I say this because our country is a diverse country.  Something that may work for people in the inner city in Melbourne, may not work or be enough in my town of Rockhampton in Central Queensland  or further out west in rural communities.

There are so many antecedents of domestic violence, so many antecedents of victims not receiving the support they need and so many factors which prevent victims from remaining safe from harm. There are many victims who do not want to speak up about their own ordeal in public or online and that should be completely respected.  The fear of domestic violence for some never goes away. For some people in small towns or close knit suburbs, there are family and friends to deal with, as well as the ex-partner forever more.  If a victim is suffering from domestic violence in their current relationship, it is highly unlikely these victims will speak up.  Sometimes for child custody reasons, or caring for aged parents, both people from the relationship need to remain in the same town.

I believe a National Domestic Violence online portal will also capture the men who do not want to publicly speak up.  The issue of men as victims of violence is relatively silent. We need to understand the underlying constructs of domestic violence for both genders in heterosexual relationships and also same-sex relationships, as well as many men and women from different ethnicities.  These people should have a confidential voice, which is linked to a Government Department with professionals working in this area to receive their stories and recommendations. Alternatively, Universities could be paid to collect this data and analyse findings for recommendations.

Violence is violence
Domestic Violence perpetrators need to be viewed the same as a stranger. Government, agencies, law enforcement and our justice system need to stop looking at domestic violence through a lens of ‘a personal situation.’ If it was a stranger who committed these violent acts, then they would be arrested and charged and the victim could probably even sue them as a victim of crime. Police and the legal system need to treat this as individual violent behaviour on another. Justifying the violence within the relationship as not as important as if committed by a stranger, gives the perpetrators even more power and it says that violence within a relationship is acceptable in our society.

The line of questioning
I hope this doesn’t happen now; but if the police still ask questions about what the victim did to provoke the violence (do you make his meals on time for him etc.,), that needs to cease immediately (this example is from a story from a victim of domestic violence more than 20 years ago). A review of the line of questioning needs to be undertaken so that victims are understood and supported.  A victim should never feel that the violence is their fault, or the violence is acceptable due to the line of questioning developed through a gender-role lens, a religious lens, a disability lens or a culture lens.

Rape is Rape
Rape and excessive violent rape within a relationship have been crimes for a long time. It needs to be treated that way in all cases and the perpetrator arrested and charged and complaints taken seriously. Domestic violence agencies, need to promote advice about the safest procedure to victims. The authorities need to treat this as serious violence inflicted onto an individual. Victims of rape need to be supported. Legislation needs to be scrutinised and court processes need to be scrutinised. For example, if a woman was raped and remained in the relationship out of fear, would the police drop the case or pursue it? This is a question I do not know the answer to, but I fear at times victims of rape are not supported due to current procedures in our police work and legal systems.  However, considering the current climate, a review in my opinion would assist as well as collating and analysing the data from stories from victims, who have gone to police or the court process with rape as a factor and improvements could be recommended from there.

Media portrayal of domestic violence
The portrayal in the media of domestic violence using pictures of women with black eyes etc., does disturb me. There are many techniques a perpetrator can use which show no marks.  For example, being dragged around the house by the hair and given Chinese burns, placing a plastic bag over a person’s head, being locked in cupboard and covered with vile filth etc., does not give a woman a black eye. Making a woman beg does not give a black eye. Controlling every move a woman makes and not allowing her to have any of her own thoughts or decisions or autonomy does not give a woman a black eye. My main fear with this is some women will think they need to be battered, bruised and bleeding before they are in a domestic violent situation. My other fear is that there is such a gender focus on women, that this will make men even more reluctant to speak up if they are victims.

The way societies belief system is shaped so quickly through intense media, I fear, will have some victims not be believed by people they reach out to if they ‘don’t look like a victim.’ I am concerned this will reduce the self-efficacy of victims to use the complaints system. The Government through the media needs to be more three-dimensional and tell people what exactly constitutes violence and the many different forms of violence and use strong words to explain the actions.  “This behaviour is a crime and we will take you seriously.”  The Government through the media also needs to discuss all relationships including male victims and LGBTI victims in same sex or various gender-spectrum relationships.

Dedicated response units
The Government needs to have special dedicated response units for immediate response in every single town. This should be their only job. There are so many anecdotal stories by victims who say that the police did not show up, or there wasn’t an officer available. My concern is for regional and rural communities where they often have skeleton police staff. I understand some people think a surplus is the most important thing for our country; but I would be happy to excuse the debt or pay extra into a levy to fund a dedicated domestic violence response unit in all towns. It should not be something that ‘we desire when we get the money.’ It is an absolute necessity right now.

There are also many victims who flee to another town and live in constant fear they will be found. If we established dedicated response units, we have the technology to enable victims to register with these response units to be on high alert.  A victim is not always safe just because they have left the immediate area where the perpetrator lives.

Safety is paramount
Many times victims are embarrassed to go to the police and they just think everything will be OK – they can deal with it, there are children and extended family to worry about too and the judgements passed by family and friends.  It is a complicated situation and everyone’s situation is different.  Police need to put in place a process where a victim is immediately counselled by a professional (not a police officer) about their safety needs. It should not just be a statement to the police and you go home.  The threat of violence and the violence towards men by other men or women also needs to be treated seriously.

A network needs to be set up so victims are removed from their town immediately if they are in immediate threat of their life. Being in the same town is unsafe. The Government needs to pay for flights and immediate accommodation in another town. Victims should not have to save on no income until they can have enough to get out. I knew a woman once who told me that she had an allowance from her husband of $10 per week and she saved out of that for six years to get out.  This is not acceptable.

Safety rights versus custodial and access rights
There are victims forced to remain in towns due to custody arrangements.  If violence has been a factor in the relationship breakdown, this in no way should apply.  The safety of the victim and children must be the only concern. The custodial and access rights of the perpetrator should not ever be given a higher priority than the safety of the victim.  I understand this is a complicated issue and I do have a concern that some will use this as a tool to prevent access from the non-custodial parent in a non-genuine case. However, it is a point worth debating and solutions provided by those within the family courts and domestic violence systems.

Relationship Awareness
Relationship awareness needs to start in Primary School. I think if girls and boys are educated about how we should treat each other in relationships all through primary and highschool, warning signs will be evident and it will strengthen people.  Relationship awareness must include the cycle of domestic violence. Victims must be made aware that some perpetrators will continually be violent, plateau, adorn the victim with gifts and love and then back to violence and how to recognise these signs and how to respond.

Often, domestic violence is a slow progression in a relationship, from manipulation and control, complete erosion of self-esteem, to financial dependence to physical violence, some victims do not understand that what is happening is not normal, as it is gradual.  They do not understand the violence they experience is a crime. What goes on within a couple’s walls sometimes, some women and men think is normal and they are reluctant to go to the police when the violence starts to occur. If relationship education was put into place early in life and continued throughout, warning bells would occur and hopefully many will end the relationship before physical violence occurs.

Disclosure to religious organisations and other organisations or professionals
Victims disclosing to professionals such as doctors and counsellors must have an obligation to act. Domestic Violence agencies also need to work with churches and other organisations and professionals to educate them on the advice that should be given to victims of violence. It is not helpful to a victim if a religious organisation, doctor or counsellor encourages a victim to stay and ‘work it out.’ It is my concern that there are some organisations or professionals who victims feel comfortable to disclose to, but the response is ill advised and harmful. I do not know the answer to convincing a religious priest or pastor or a deeply religious doctor etc., that the sanctity of marriage is more important than the safety of the victim, but the conversation does need to be started and solutions need to be recommended from the hierarchies within these establishments in conjunction with the Government and penalties should be applied where appropriate.

Parents
It is our duty as parents to speak to our children about what a respectful relationship means.  I am not going to say how this should be done as each family is different and each family has different dynamics; but it should be as essential as driver safety, drugs and alcohol and stranger danger. It is a continuous conversation we must have.

Be a real friend
Speak Up.  There is no point being sympathetic after the victim has left the relationship.  There is no point recounting the number of times you thought about how wrong it was the way the perpetrator treated your friend after the victim has left the relationship and is probably in more danger now than if they got out earlier.  Tell your friends that what is happening is wrong at the time and support them to speak to someone who can help them leave the relationship and stay safe. Don’t just sit back and think you are interfering.

Mental Health funding
Some survivors of domestic violence can spend the rest of their lives suffering from PTSD, Anxiety and Depression and other illnesses.  Mental Health funding needs to increase so victims can access services that can assist them to heal.  This is critical for victims and perpetrators for not only self-healing but also for future healthy relationships.  Once again, this is not something we ‘should do when we have the money’ it is a necessity now.

Perpetrators
There are undoubtedly going to be some perpetrators who are violent and will have an intent to cause harm regardless and our legal system does not keep offenders jailed indefinitely. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that there are many antecedents which do enable controlling and violent behaviour in people and that there are some perpetrators who can be rehabilitated and never offend again and go on into healthy respectful relationships. Sometimes this could repair a family and sometimes they may move onto another relationship.  If we want a collegial and civil society, we must invest in community education and programs to assist perpetrators in changing their behaviour and thought patterns forever and provide any other treatments they need. This must be treated in the same way as other offenders for other crimes. Like other offenders rehabilitation must be a consideration and a commitment from Government and funding to community organisations provided. As with other suggestions, this is not a ‘we will do when we have the money, we need a serious investment in this now.’

Conclusion
These are my suggestions, built from my own awareness of domestic violence and discussions with many people over many years. I welcome any further suggestions or continuation of a discussion on any of the points I have raised.  I have purposely kept this post gender neutral, as I do not want to discount any individual who may be a victim of domestic violence or discount their lived experience or what they may recommend.

 

We need a feminist

Australia now has a female Minister for Women. The only trouble is, she isn’t a feminist.

Now I know many people attach all sorts of connotations to the term feminist, many critical, but all it means is an advocate for women’s rights, something we desperately need more of.

Unfortunately, our new Minister for Women thinks “that movement was a set of ideologies from many, many decades ago now”, a view she shares with Miranda Devine who used her own delightful turn of phrase, saying “feminism is now well past its use-by date. It has just become an excuse for unhinged individuals with Daddy issues to indulge a mean streak.”

I guess the bar wasn’t set too high when our previous Minister for Women spent International Women’s Day at a local fire station receiving an award for his volunteer service.

Then again, both Ms Cash and her predecessor come from the party that chose to hold its International Women’s Day lunch at the men only Tattersall’s Club so nothing should surprise. In fact Tony Abbott said the women should consider it a victory that they were allowed to attend, a mark of how progressive the Liberal Party were at breaking down the bastions of male dominance…for one day, invitation from a male member required.

There are countless examples of why feminists must continue the good fight. Here are a just a few that were brought up at the recent Ernie Awards.

Take the Matildas.

The discrepancy between the Matildas and Socceroos was laid bare when it was revealed Australia’s national female footballers would be paid less in match fees if they made the final of the World Cup in Canada than the Socceroos get for a single group-stage game. As it turned out, they reached the quarter finals, better than the men have ever done.

National women’s soccer, cricket, and basketball teams are flown economy as a matter of course, while the male teams travel in business.

When Nick Kyrigos got a bit flustered in a tennis match, he went for the age old “I f*cked your old lady” sledge. Ok, that isn’t quite what he said – his pitiful outburst was even more cowardly.

Too often, when men fail, they need someone else to blame and so it was when our cricket team was annihilated in their recent bid for the Ashes. According to Ian Healey, it’s because having their wives and girlfriends on tour was a distraction. Funny how all the rest of us are able to go to work each day, focus on the task at hand, and then return home to our families in the evening.

With 63 women dead from domestic violence incidents this year, Australian of the Year Rosie Batty has had some success in bringing long overdue attention to this scourge. Her courage has been amazing yet she must endure people like Mark Latham whose many attacks include tweeting “@RosieBatty1 Australian of the Year dividing the nation on the basis of gender. You owe my wife daughter and mother a massive apology.” Seriously?

When much-loved and best-selling Australian author Colleen McCullough died earlier this year, the Australian newspaper published an obituary which began: ”Plain of feature and certainly overweight…” Will the peacock mentality never end? When will women be judged by their achievements and contribution to society?

If Malcolm Turnbull wants people around the world to say gee they really respect women in Australia, I would suggest our Minister for Women better realise that we need some advocacy to change the endemic disrespect and discrimination that is alive and kicking more than a century after the battle was begun.

We need a feminist.

A Problem with Judgement

A ‘story’ by Matthew Mitchell.

Mary was with a group of friends. They went to the shops together. Mary’s friends all took some items of clothing and put them on in the change room before walking out of the store. Mary refused to do this, as she felt it was wrong. After leaving the store they did not get far before they were stopped by a security guard. The whole group was then taken before a judge, and all of them found guilty of shoplifting – even Mary. How would you feel if you were Mary?  To make matters worse, the whole community now knew them as shoplifters (Mary included) and talked of them as such. One of Mary’s friends, Sally, also really felt bad about the shoplifting, and she never did it again. However, the community was not very forgiving and in the eyes of the community, Sally, – as part of that group – was a shoplifter and was always looked on as such.

This is a case of judging everyone in a group by the actions of a few. Certainly there is an element of truth in saying that the group shoplifts, but that is a generalisation, and it is judgement of Mary (and Sally) that is not true nor fair. It is even worse when Mary and Sally cannot possibly leave the group they are part of.  Now you might ask how can they not possibly leave the group?  Well of course in reality they could leave the group, but let me give another example of group judgement whereby the members cannot leave the group, and thus any judgments made of the group always also apply to them as individuals.

The other example group I am talking about is men. And the accusation leveled against this group is that its members have a problem with their attitude to women. The way this, and many other issues, are talked about is exactly like this – very often in the general case. Eg: we need to address male violence towards women. Such statements are a judgement against many innocent men, the same way Mary was judged guilty by association within her group. It connects violence with maleness, as though the two are inseparable. As a society we are just starting to understand the significance of words. Words are powerful. The way some men talk about women is hurtful and demeaning (and the way some people act is even worse). And it is equally hurtful to talk about men in general when what is meant is ‘some’ men – it is manifestly unfair. What is someone who is judged as such to do? They cannot possibly escape the judgement – maybe they are not like this, or maybe they once were but would like to change – no matter, such language still still judges them as though they are amongst the worst offenders. How do you think boys and men are to cope with this? Should they hate themselves? Or since they are to be judged with the group, perhaps they should just adopt those behaviours anyway? The One in Three foundation claims:

Regrettably, while well-intentioned, many past efforts to reduce family violence against women have inadvertently used incorrect or misleading statistics‚ which unfairly stigmatise men and boys as violent and abusive, while simultaneously denying or downplaying the existence of male victims of violence.

If boys cannot escape this stigma/judgement should they then try and turn it into a point of pride? In which case, the behaviours are only likely to become worse as each boy or man then tries to outdo the other in how ‘rebellious’ he can be? How worthy of the title ‘bad boy’? – since in the eyes of society they can never be good?  I wonder how such judgements affect the behaviour of men? Perhaps it is evident in the ‘bad boy’ culture of black rappers? I say this because in America for black men the problem is even worse – many black men there are looked at as criminals – and harassed by authorities as such. Virtually all black men (other than presidents and such like) are viewed with suspicion and often treated as such, regardless of their innocence. Perhaps that fact lies behind the bad behaviour and language of some black American men (specifically evident in the music culture)? If you are to be unfailingly judged as a ‘bad ass’ then why not just be one? Why not make it a point of pride? The alternative is to forever hold your head in shame for something you cannot change, and even if you do personally, you will be judged with the group. The accusation perhaps makes the problem far worse?

In relation to judging behaviour there seems to be a long history of generalised judgements of men in feminism. Germaine Greer in her spiteful missive “The Female Eunuch” stated: “Some men hate women all of the time, but all men hate women some of the time”. This unscientific, unsupported, statement is presented as having some worth perhaps due to it being part of a PhD accepted by a major university. However, if made on a blog today, would no doubt be seen as a spiteful rant driven by someone’s own unresolved personal issues. There is one other problem I would like to raise in relation to claims of men’s attitudes towards women (I says men’s but of course, it is not all men, but only some).  One of the most vocal advocates today for women not to be looked at as sexual beings comes from Jane Fonda.  Now in her feminist views Jane Fonda says some very sensible things, and I would not want to hold her past against her – she also should not to be judged forever for what she did or thought in the past. But Jane Fonda is a woman who made her fame and fortune from doing exactly that – sexualising women. The roles she played in films were perhaps some of the most sexualised roles in the history of humanity – in one case involving an ‘orgasmatron’ in which a male operator uses a machine to pleasure young Jane Fonda (in her role in that film). Thus we have here an giant example of hypocrisy. How are men to react to that? How often are men confronted with this contradiction? Women insisting on being treated non-sexually yet being constantly confronted by images of women presenting themselves sexually?

I think this whole issue needs serious revision, and like many of the problems of today – which are wicked in their complexity – we need to move away from simplistic statements like ‘the need to address men’s attitudes’ (or behaviour) and start looking at this problem holistically and with a view to seriously fixing these problems (and violence in general; against children, the Indigenous and whole cultures), not just judging and blaming one half of humanity indiscriminately and responding with moronic slogans (like “real men don’t hit women“, as if the solution is simply to try and redefine stereotypes of men, and that the problem exists with men alone) and superficial approaches which are becoming too much a part of our modern political landscape.

This article was originally published on Matthew’s blog, The Invisible World.

 

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.

 

Say no to abuse

Why do people stay in abusive relationships? What are the warning signals that it is time to walk away?  How many chances do you give a partner, or a government, to hurt you?

Psychological abuse occurs when a person in the relationship tries to control information available to another person with intent to manipulate that person’s sense of reality or their view of what is acceptable and unacceptable.

It seems to me that is exactly what our government is doing with regard to asylum seekers.

Psychological abuse often contains strong emotionally manipulative content and threats designed to force the victim to comply with the abuser’s wishes.

Like when Scott Morrison got children on Christmas Island to ring Ricky Muir begging to be released with Morrison stating he would keep them locked up unless Muir voted for TPVs. (Or when Christopher Pyne threatened to cut research funding unless they agreed to deregulation of university fees.)

The abused person starts feeling helpless and possibly even hopeless. In addition, most mental abusers are adept at convincing the victim that the abuse is his/her fault. Somehow, the victim is responsible for what happened.

By dehumanising asylum seekers, calling them illegal, and locking them up with no hope of resettlement, our government is unquestionably guilty of abuse.

A more sophisticated form of psychological abuse is often referred to as “gaslighting.” This happens when false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.

Example 1

TONY ABBOTT: “As far as school funding is concerned, Kevin Rudd and I are on a unity ticket. There is no difference between Kevin Rudd and myself when it comes to school funding.” –Joint press conference with Christopher Pyne and Alan Tudge, St Andrew’s Christian College, 2 August 2013

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: “You can vote Liberal or Labor and you will get exactly the same amount of funding for your school.” -2 August 2013

TONY ABBOTT: “We are going to keep the promise that we actually made, not the promise that some people thought that we made or the promise that some people might have liked us to make.”  –Ten Network, The Bolt Report, 1 December 2013

Example 2

When Malcolm Turnbull announced the ABC’s budget would be reduced by $254 million and SBS’s operating budget would be reduced by $25.2 million over the next five years despite Abbott promising very explicitly that there would be no cuts to the ABC or SBS, Mathias Cormann told us these were not cuts, they were “efficiency dividends”.

“The Prime Minister absolutely told the truth. We are not making cuts, we’re making sure that what happens to the ABC happens with every other taxpayer-funded organisation across Government, and that’s that it operates as efficiently as possible, and that is our responsibility. We need to ensure that taxpayers’ money is treated with respect.”

Abusers at times “throw you a bone” as if it should erase all of the bad treatment. This is part of the dynamic and cycle of abuse.

Hockey’s second budget is supposed to make us forget about his first. Promises of income tax cuts are supposed to make us ignore the impost of a higher GST. Before every election, football fields in marginal seats will be promised an upgrade to make us forget about all the government services that have been cut.

Abusers are expert manipulators with a knack for getting you to believe that the way you are being treated is your fault. Abusers can convince you that you do not deserve better treatment or that they are treating you this way to “help” you.

The demonization of people on welfare, calling them leaners and rorters, suggesting people just need to get a better job if they want to buy a house, describing remote Indigenous communities as lifestyle choices that we can’t afford, imposing income management – all of these are designed to suggest people being poor or unemployed is their own fault.

Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb.

Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone.

This is what so many people in Australia are currently feeling. It is inconceivable that one in six Australian children are living in poverty. Thirty per cent of Australians who receive social security payments live below the poverty line, including 55 per cent of those on unemployment benefits. Fifteen per cent of aged pensioners live in poverty.

Women are slightly more likely to live in poverty than men while single parents, people with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are significantly more likely to live in poverty.

Yet we see assistance to these people being whittled away while the government focuses on protecting their mistress, big business.

The following is a list of 30 signs of emotional abuse. As I read through them, I could not get the image of Question Time in the House of Representatives out of my mind. Aside from number 27, which Tony has said should be “moderated”, it pretty much describes our government and particularly our Prime Minister.

  1. They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.
  2. They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.
  3. They use sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
  4. They accuse you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.
  5. They try to control you and treat you like a child.
  6. They correct or chastise you for your behavior.
  7. You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
  8. They try to control the finances and how you spend money.
  9. They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.
  10. They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong.
  11. They give you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language.
  12. They regularly point out your flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings.
  13. They accuse or blame you of things you know aren’t true.
  14. They have an inability to laugh at themselves and can’t tolerate others laughing at them.
  15. They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.
  16. They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.
  17. They repeatedly cross your boundaries and ignore your requests.
  18. They blame you for their problems, life difficulties, or unhappiness.
  19. They call you names, give you unpleasant labels, or make cutting remarks under their breath.
  20. They are emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time.
  21. They resort to pouting or withdrawal to get attention or attain what they want.
  22. They don’t show you empathy or compassion.
  23. They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.
  24. They disengage or use neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten you.
  25. They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
  26. They view you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual.
  27. They withhold sex as a way to manipulate and control.
  28. They share personal information about you with others.
  29. They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted.
  30. They make subtle threats or negative remarks with the intent to frighten or control you.

It is past time that our politicians recognized that their dysfunctional behaviour is not only unproductive, it amounts to psychological and emotional abuse. Not only does it set a poor example, it has caused the vast majority of Australians to walk away from the abuse, no longer able to trust those who are supposed to be protecting our interests.

 

The war at home

TONY ABBOTT: If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband. Not withstanding all his or her faults, you find that he tends to do more good than harm.

While Tony Abbott spends billions on his war on terror, he has slashed funding to the real terror that so many Australian households face on a daily basis.

In Victoria alone, police were called out to 65,393 domestic violence incidents in 2013–14 – twice as many as in 2009–10. Of those, almost 30,000 were serious enough for police to press charges. Last year, 66,326 domestic violence incidents were reported in Queensland – a 13% increase since 2012.

Despite this growing epidemic of domestic violence, this government wants to make it more expensive to leave an abusive partner.

Yesterday, it was reported in the SMH that the Abbott government will try to raise divorce fees for the third time in an attempt to help restore the Family Courts’ finances.

With their usual negotiating finesse, the government has previously threatened to cut frontline services, close registries and not to replace retiring judges if higher fees were not maintained, saying they were necessary to keep the Family and Federal Circuit Courts financially sustainable.

They now need to convince six crossbench Senators to change their minds to get the fees passed in the next sitting period in September. With their recent success in stopping wind turbines, I wonder what the crossbench may have promised in return.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that this government is only paying lip service to addressing domestic violence.

In the last federal budget, the only new funding was $16.7 million over three years for a National Awareness Campaign to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

Community pressure forced a temporary reprieve from the previous budget cuts with funding to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness and to community and Indigenous legal services extended for two years. Their future beyond 2017 remains uncertain.

Many of these legal services are already stretched to their limits. A&TSI incarceration rates continue to be a national shame and with the government maintaining their restrictions on legal advocacy, the capacity for legal services to work with communities to decrease legal problems is diminished.

In 2014, 1800RESPECT – the national 24/7 crisis line for sexual assault, domestic and family violence – responded to 54,853 contacts but left 18,631 unanswered. This means that one-quarter of contacts made to that service were not responded to when someone called for help. If the awareness campaign increases the volume of calls, who will answer them?

Thousands of NSW school children will lose access to a vital domestic violence education program and support service after the federal government axed its funding. The award-winning REALskills program, which has run successfully for 12 years teaching more than 7000 high school students about healthy relationships and domestic abuse, was axed by Scott Morrison.

Colleen Dowd, manager of community projects at the Family Centre at Tweed Heads, said it was difficult to understand the logic behind the decision to axe the REALskills, when no other service had received a grant locally, to replace it.

“The thrust of our program centres around arming young people with relationship-related skills as well as building up their resilience, ability and knowledge to connect with support services when they need them,” she said.

She said the service also featured early intervention work with students, identified by the schools, as needing support. “Through face to face interaction with service providers in schools, the youngsters are realising it’s not so bad to reach out and talk…whether that be about family violence, their own mental health problems or issues of engagement at school. But it is all about to go.”

Morrison also cut $2.4 million from specialised family violence programs that work with men to end their violent behaviour towards family members.

Last year, the government unveiled its Indigenous Advancement Strategy to streamline Indigenous funding into five categories: jobs and economy, children and schooling, safety and wellbeing, culture and capability and remote Australia strategies.

Of the successful applications in the last round of funding of the Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, over half were granted to large non-Indigenous organisations before the funding round had actually opened.

Funding applications for programmes such as the Thumbs Up program, run by the Jimmy Little Foundation and geared around nutrition for young Aboriginal people, and the Djarindjin Safe House, a women’s shelter servicing 50 communities in Northern WA, were rejected despite the vital work they do.

The safe house was built at the Djarindjin community, 200 kilometres north of Broome, in 2014. The project was driven by local women, who had themselves been the victims of domestic violence and wanted to find a way to protect the younger generations.

The Federal Government contributed $500,000 towards setting it up and provided $180,000 for running costs.

Manager Dawn Thompson said lives would be put at risk by the funding cut.

“To be honest, we were shocked, because this is an essential service,” she said. “Since we opened, we’ve provided a safe place for 60 women and children, so it’s something that’s badly needed.”

Djarindjin Community Council chairman Brian Lee is furious.

He said the safe house project aligns perfectly with the Federal Government’s stated aims of promoting community safety and local employment, and they have been given no explanation of why their funding application was unsuccessful.

“We’re in the situation of telling four or five women that after a month, they don’t have a job,” Mr Lee said.

“And if it’s not funded, we have to tell the women who come here to be safe that we can’t help them anymore, that we cannot keep them safe, all because there is no funding to the safe house running.

These are just a few examples of successful programs that have had their funding cut.

There has also been alleged coercion in making some funding applications for Aboriginal Health Organisations contingent on that organisation being able to show support for the Government campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution.

It is a very worrying trend that this government silences advocacy, makes funding dependent on compliance, and takes no advice about where funds would be best invested. There is no recognition of prevention measures or the necessity to change the culture starting with our kids. It appears they are not interested in the continuation of programs geared around self-determination.

Instead of more bombs for Syria, how about some funding for the frontline services dealing with the war at home.

 

With all that is wrong with Australia, all we hear about is boats

I truly detest how this country is treating asylum seekers and I detest the policies of both the Coalition and Labor – none of which remotely consider the onshore processing of refugees who arrive or attempt to arrive by boat.

I also detest how the asylum seeker issue is thrust front and centre by the government as the issue which will most likely decide who wins the next federal election. With nothing else to take to the election, naturally it’s all that the government wants us to be focused on.

And of course, the compliant Murdoch media is an active agent in promoting the discourse in our popular consciousness that we need to keep our borders safe from ‘boat people’.

I live in hope that one day (soon, I hope) that we witness an Australian government adopt both a heart and a humane policy on ‘boat people’ and I would like to see it embraced by most Australians. The latter, of course, would require an absolute turnaround to our popular consciousness.

End of story.

I don’t want to talk about ‘boat people’ any more. With all that is wrong with Australia, all we hear about is boats.

Instead of the government and the Murdoch media telling us what the important issues are, we should be turning it back onto them.

Take away the blather and the bravado about our ‘right to be tough’ towards asylum seekers and dig into the core of what really is important to us and this is what you’ll find:

As at June 2015 over 753,000 Australians were unemployed. In September 2013 – the month of the federal election – the number was just over 706,000. So since the election 47,000 more people are out of work. What is the government doing about the trend? Nothing. What is the media saying about it? Nothing.

Are there more people unemployed in Australia than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Housing affordability has gone through the roof (excuse the pun) as have house prices themselves. The median house price in Sydney – our most populated city – is expected to hit $1,000,000 by the end of the year while Australia wide it sits at $660,000. Young people are now struggling more than ever to enter the housing market as the “Australian dream” of home ownership is under threat. But not according to our Treasurer Joe Hockey who insists that houses in Sydney are not unaffordable while the Prime Minister says he wants house prices to rise. That’s right. Rise. With young people struggling to buy a house at today’s prices our Prime Minister wants them to pay even more, despite the fact that housing affordability already represents a long-term structural problem that has been neglected for decades. So, what then can I assume our government is doing about housing affordability? Well based on the attitude of our Treasurer and Prime Minister, nothing. It’s not a problem apparently.

I wonder, are there more people in Australia struggling to or unable to buy a house than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Over two and a half million Australians, including over 600,000 children live below the poverty line. That number represents almost 14% of our population. Welfare recipients are most at risk of living in poverty, yet these are the people most likely to be adversely affected by this government’s budgetary measures. So is the government doing anything to reduce the level of poverty in Australia? No.

Are there more people living below the poverty line in Australia than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

On any given night there are 105,000 homeless Australians with 42 per cent of these being under 25. We do not hear the media talk about this as a damning blight of our society and neither do we hear the government offering any solution to it. But can we expect them to when Tony Abbott says that homelessness is a ‘choice‘?

And by the way, are there more homeless people in Australia than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Around one in five women in Australia have experienced some form of domestic violence. These are “epidemic proportions” to the point that domestic violence has now become a national emergency. As has the number of women killed by a violent partner: with at least one women murdered every week. What is the government doing about it? Not much by the look of it.

Are there more people in Australia experiencing domestic violence than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Australia is now the most expensive country to live in and Australians are “struggling to cope as the cost of living pressures bite“.  An estimated one in three Australians cannot meet their cost of living expenses on their current incomes. What is the government doing about it? Nothing. What is the media saying about it? Nothing.

Are there more people in Australia struggling with the cost of living than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Our economy is “grinding into stagnation” and rather than the three or so per cent growth each year we’ve come to expect, we might have to get used to 2 per cent GDP growth. And as a result, lower living standards can be expected while “everything here is going to be much tougher than before and compared to the rest of the world“. So what is the government doing about it (apart from blaming Labor)? Nothing. “The government neither has no idea – let along any proposal, plan or program – for how to boost Australian growth back up to three or four per cent per year“. They’re not even talking about it. Meanwhile, some of our largest and most potentially-innovative sectors are held back by the Abbott Government’s bureaucracy and regulation.

And will more Australians be affected by a stagnant economy and lower living standards than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Oh how I could go on. I only wish the media would too. I wish the media would tell us not only the truth about the Abbott Government but question their appalling attitude towards climate change, the environment, job security, racism, Indigenous Australians, human rights . . . take a pick!

And how about our spiraling debt?

And how about Tony Abbott’s record of lies and broken promises?

Yet, with all that is wrong with Australia, all we hear about is boats.

 

Absolute crap

One thing that has become increasingly apparent about Tony Abbott is that he gears his words to his audience.  If that meant explaining policies at a level that the audience could comprehend, that could be a good thing, but in the case of our Prime Minister, it means saying what you think they want to hear even if it is inconsistent with, or even diametrically opposed to what you have told a different audience.

When Tony visited a meeting of 130 farmers and townspeople in Beaufort in September 2009, he called for a show of hands on whether the Coalition should support the ETS. Only a handful voted yes.

Abbott, until that point Turnbull’s main defender on the ETS, quickly donned his sceptic’s hat and played to the room discussing how there had been many changes of climate over the millennia not caused by man, leading to that infamous quote

“The argument is absolute crap. However, the politics of this are tough for us. Eighty per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”

His comments were warmly received in this rural heartland and that was when Tony realised that he may have a shot at the leadership if he became a climate change denier.

After he staged his leadership takeover, Abbott tried to cover-up his backflip describing his use of “crap” as “a bit of hyperbole” and not his “considered position” and said it was made “in the context of a very heated discussion where I was attempting to argue people around to what I thought was then our position”.

Absolute crap say the people who were at the meeting.

Event organiser Jim Cox said Abbott’s comment was “very well received” and he quickly realised “he was on a bit of a winner”.  Vice-president of the Beaufort branch of the Liberal Party Joe McCracken said Abbott looked relieved by the applause.

Buoyed by his success, Tony used the same approach when he attended a luncheon event on International Women’s Day in 2010.

What would women want to hear?  I know…we are going to give you universal paid parental leave on replacement wages plus superannuation for six months and we are going to scrap Labor’s $150,000- a-year income limit on the $5185 Baby Bonus.

Instead of being grateful, women, who are in the main smarter than Tony Abbott, realised this fell into the ‘too good to be true’ category.  As subsequent actions have shown, Tony’s feigned concern for women and families was absolute crap as was his promise not to introduce any new taxes. (Who could forget that humiliating interview with Kerry O’Brien?)

Not only have we lost the Baby Bonus, and lost the right to claim paid parental leave from both our employer and the government, eligibility for Family Benefit payments has been tightened up and increases frozen.  The appropriateness of these measures is debatable but Abbott’s backflip is not.

Going into the last election Tony Abbott promised a ‘unity ticket’ on education.  The Liberal Party education policy also clearly stated “We will ensure the continuation of the current arrangements of university funding.”

Absolute crap.

When Tony Abbott addressed the IPA at their 70th anniversary dinner, he spoke of freedom.

Freedom can only exist within a framework of law so that every person’s freedom is consistent with the same freedom for everyone else.  At least in the English speaking tradition, liberalism and conservatism, love of freedom and respect for due process, have been easy allies.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the foundation of our justice. “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” is the foundation of our mercy.

..a democratic parliament, an incorruptible judiciary and a free press, rather than mere law itself, are the best guarantors of human rights.

You campaigned against the legislative prohibition against giving offence and I’m pleased to say that the author of those draft laws is now leaving the parliament. Well done IPA! And, of course, you campaigned against the public interest media advocate, an attack dog masquerading as a watchdog, designed to intimidate this government’s media critics and that legislation was humiliatingly withdrawn.”

Abbott sucked up to the IPA telling them what they wanted to hear but where is the due process for citizens returning from the Middle East?  Where is the justice and mercy for asylum seekers?  Where is the concern for human rights?  Where is the freedom to criticise this government?  And who is Abbott to speak of humiliating withdrawals?

That speech had more crap in it than Chinese berries.

Tony speaks of his commitment to tackling the scourge of domestic violence and to closing the gap for Indigenous Australians while slashing funding for frontline services.  We have seemingly endless funds for defence, national security and border protection.  We can even find $40 million to give Cambodia to take four refugees.  But we cannot fund refuges, legal services and advocacy groups.

The lip service paid to the protection of our vulnerable has been proven absolute crap by the actions of Abbott’s mob.

And when it comes to the economy, everything the Abbott government says is crap.  Despite significantly increasing the debt and deficit and having to downgrade projections with every fiscal statement, they try to convince us that they have cut billions from the debt they inherited.  It makes no sense whatsoever to compare trajectories in ten years’ time and claim credit for things that haven’t happened and aren’t likely to.

After campaigning widely on the supposed “debt and deficit disaster” and trash talking our economy, Joe Hockey warns us now of the irresponsibility of such talk because of its negative affect on confidence.  Whilst reining in government spending, he encourages us all to get out there and spend up big to stimulate the economy.  Joe, you are full of it.

On many occasions before the election, the Coalition promised to build our new submarines in South Australia.  It even appears in their defence policy released on September 2, 2013.

“We will also ensure that work on the replacement of the current submarine fleet will centre around the South Australian shipyards.”

When Tony’s leadership was threatened in February, he promised his South Australian colleagues that would be the case – at least that’s what they thought he promised.  Even they must now realise that was absolute crap.

Before the election we were promised “no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS” and no adverse changes to superannuation.

Absolute crap.

In his victory speech on September 7 2013 Tony Abbott made the following promise:

“In a week or so the governor-general will swear in a new government. A government that says what it means, and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses. A government that understands the limits of power as well as its potential. And a government that accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words.”

My judgement?

Tony Abbott will say whatever he thinks people want to hear because, far from being a leader, he is a dishonest inadequate man whose only motivation is to keep his job.  This makes him susceptible to manipulation.  We are in the position where focus groups, vested interests, lobbyists and party donors are dictating policy because our PM is a weak man with no vision whose words mean nothing.

Absolute crap, indeed.

Is ISIS a threat to national security?

Tony Abbott has repeatedly decried the “apocalyptic death cult” ISIS as a threat to our national security but is that true?

Do they present a military threat to, or engage in political coercion in, Australia?

Do they threaten our economic security, energy security, or environmental security?

Perhaps, to a very small degree, yes, but is the risk worth the investment?

Authorities believe that around 150 Australians are currently fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria, making the country the highest foreign per capita contributor to the violence according to Time.

Speaking to the ABC, Julie Bishop said “This is one of the most disturbing developments in our domestic security in quite some time.  There’s a real danger that these extremists also come back home as trained terrorists and pose a threat to our security.”

I guess so.  But none of them have returned and carried out a successful attack here.  Apparently some threatened/planned to and got locked up, which tells me that our security forces have adequate resources to protect us from organised domestic threats.

What they cannot, and will never be able to, protect us from is random attacks carried out by people with mental illnesses.  The man who carried out the Lindt café siege was well known to authorities and deemed not a threat but he snapped, just like the woman in Cairns who, the next day, stabbed to death 8 children.  Where is the report on our mental health industry which has been sitting on someone’s desk since last November?

As has been pointed out countless times, domestic violence is a far greater threat to Australian society, taking a far greater toll, yet compare the money devoted to addressing it with the billions spent on a foreign war and increased surveillance in Australia.

As far as threats to our economic. energy, or environmental security are concerned, our government, in cahoots with big business, pose a far greater threat on that front.

As Jocelyn Chey of the Australian Institute of International Affairs points out,

  1. There is no UN agreement on this campaign
  2. Our Defence policy is to concentrate on regional issues
  3. No clear goals or outcomes have been defined so that the campaign, as the PM has admitted, may well drag on for years
  4. Civilian casualties are likely to be high
  5. Australia’s security threat will be increased
  6. The drain on our budget is hard to justify when the public is told that there is a national emergency and social services are being cut.

Robert O’Neill, from the same organisation argues that

“The size and nature of the conflict which is building there and in Syria suggests that we should be employing political, social and economic means to help local governments and religious groups to settle their differences. The local people have to do it – we cannot force a solution on the region with military means. Military intervention on the scale proposed is likely to undercut other efforts without achieving a lasting result. So it would be better not to send forces now; let us not forget that the lives of the men and women that we send are on the line in such a deployment. We should be very careful about balancing the risks they have to run in the line of duty with the worth of the goals that a forced deployment might achieve.”

Tony Abbott has repeatedly said they we were invited to take part in military action by the Iraqi government.  This is not true.  In his obscene haste to deflect attention from domestic problems by confecting a threat to “national security”, Abbott even caught Obama off guard.  Our defence force was sent over with no diplomatic agreement and then spent months cooling their heels in the United Arab Emirates while our government tried to nut out a deal to allow them to carry out military operations in countries that had no desire to see foreign troops invade yet again.

Many people have argued that our previous involvement in Iraq, combined with draconian sanctions, has led to the rise of ISIS.  Whilst I agree it has been a contributing factor, so have many other issues like ethnic and sectarian violence and discrimination, political disenfranchisement, the subjugation of women, government corruption, poverty and lack of education.

One thing I find very hard to reconcile is Abbott’s rhetoric about an apocalyptic death cult with his desire to return asylum seekers to face it.  Far from supporting those who reject the violence and ideology of extremist cults like ISIS, we revile them, lock them up, and then try to send them back to the horror they risked their lives to flee.

To risk the lives of people who have fled this torment, and now the lives of our armed forces for a battle we cannot win, all for political gain, is unconscionable.  What do we hope to achieve?

As Tony simplistically pointed out, this fight is often baddies vs baddies.  Many of those involved have legitimate grievances against their oppressive, non-representative governments.  We have no business being there other than to offer humanitarian aid.

This has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with our subservience to the US coupled with a desire to deflect attention from our government’s inability to do their job.

Tony Abbott’s first significant act as Minister for Women

Tony Abbott’s first significant act as Minister for Women – let’s make everyone aware that we’re doing something about domestic violence!

“Federal and state governments will spend $30 million on a national awareness campaign to stop domestic violence as Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament he will meet with Labor to discuss a bipartisan approach to the issue.”

The Sydney Morning Herald, March 5th

 

“Violence is violence. It’s a crime. Full stop.”

Michaela Cash. Minister Assisting the Minister For Women, While Assisting The Minister For Women Announce That He’s Spending $30 million on an awareness campaign.

 

“What are these blinkin’ bleeding heart Labor lawyers from hereonin, screaming bloody hypocrites they are… they ought to out there kicking her (Julie Gillard) to death.”

Graham Morris, Liberal Party Strategist, suggesting strategy for the Labor Party.

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

Yep, everyone. Even Gillian Triggs with her partisan report. Though we may not agree with we still think she has the right to resign on her own terms. In fact, we’re sure of it, because we had a good hard look at the ways in which her resignation could be forced.

But for those of you who thought that Abbott was being sexist in his attacks on Professor Triggs, I think that it’s only fair to point out that he attacks anyone who fails to acknowledge the god-given mandate that his government has been given.

Let’s not be distracted by a silly report, written by a silly person, who didn’t have the sense to take on a new job when it would have been offered, but certainly wasn’t offered because that could be considered breaking the law, so let’s be clear that there was no inducement, just the possibility of a job, had the person in question decided that she’d rather resign before her partisan report led to the entire country losing all confidence in her. Let’s move on to something more positive and exciting on IWD (that’s International Women’s Day, and not to be confused with IMDs which we all agree were very confusing in the days leading up to our invasion of Iraq.)

It’s really exciting that the Abbott Government is spending $30 million on making women – and, of course, one or two men  – aware of domestic violence. Because, after all, a woman who’s being attacked by her partner may not have been aware that she was a victim of domestic violence unless there was a government advertising campaign. She can remember the ad she saw on TV and think that she seek help, if only most of the help hadn’t been closed down in the 2014 Budget.

Now, I notice a lot of bleeding hearts – it’s just an expression, people, I mean if Graham Morris can use it, so can I – are complaining about this very thing. I read a piece where a person argued that it was ridiculous that the government is spending money creating awareness of the problem, when they’ve also saved money by closing down many of the places where a victim of domestic violence could go to seek help.

This, of course, overlooks the excellent approach to economic management that the government has. I mean, the money for the campaign had to come from somewhere, didn’t it? And while a place in a refuge would only help one person, an awareness campaign helps everyone… from advertising executives to media companies to Prime Ministers wishing to show how much they care about women.

And, of course, it also helps the women. The trickle down effect of this spending means that everyone should eventually have more money, which means that the women can afford to build and pay for their own refuges without relying on men’s taxes to pay for them. Let’s not forget that men earn more than women, so they’re paying more income tax, so why should their taxes be spent on something that they’re never going to use?

It’s part of the whole user pays system that the current government has a mandate for. Sorry, should that be a persondate; I have no wish to use politically incorrect language on IWD. It’s just like Medicare and the whole refuguee problem. And let’s be clear people, a refuge is only an “e” away from being a refugee.

But perhaps, I’m misunderstanding the government’s approach. Perhaps, the domestic violence campaign won’t be about making victims aware. Perhaps it’ll be directed at the cost of domestic violence, and try to convince the perpetrators to stop because like intergenerational debt, it’s something we just can’t afford. An ad campaign that says that like Medicare and Old People, it’s something that we just can’t afford any longer, maybe that’s what they have in mind.

Whatever, I’m sure it’ll be much better spent than if Labor had wasted it on services and that the campaign will be thoroughly worth the money, because, well, Tony’s back on top of his game, when just a week ago, we all thought that he’d hit the wall. Metaphorically, I’m not refering to any incident from his uni days.

 

Who do you trust to address domestic violence?

On International Women’s Day both the major political parties delivered telling, yet contrasting political statements on pertinent policy issues. Only one, the LNP’s, received any media coverage.

Their decision to host an International Women’s Day celebration luncheon at an exclusive Brisbane club that only allows men to be members has been met with universal ridicule in both the mainstream media and social media.

This decision has surprised nobody. It fits in with their policy narrative when it comes to women’s issues. Complete misunderstanding.

All day, minute after minute, somebody somewhere has been writing about the LNP luncheon and the deserved condemnation with the choice of venue being the dominant talking point.

Labor, meanwhile, have been trying to shout above the noise but it appears no one is listening.

The only forum they have an audience is through sending out emails to the party faithful (and other interested parties).

Today Bill Shorten sent an email that – although far more important an issue than the LNP’s luncheon farce – has not been given one breath of oxygen in the media. And the subject matter – violence against women – has sadly been given not one breath of oxygen by the government.

We in the social media consider it important. And we demand it be given importance.

This site is not a policy platform for the Labor Party but Mr Shorten’s email deserves wider coverage than it has been given and this site, hopefully, can provide it with a good start. Bill wrote:

There is no clearer symbol of continuing gender inequality in our society than the epidemic of violence against women and the chilling statistics that go with it.

1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

17 per cent of Australian women have experienced violence by a current or previous partner in their lifetime.

20 per cent of Australian women who have experienced current partner violence reported it to police.

Family violence is the number 1 cause of homelessness amongst women in Australia.

The biggest risk factor for being a victim of family violence is being a woman. 

And so far this year, we’ve seen an average of two women have been killed each week at the hands of their partners or former-partners. 

This is not acceptable. 

That’s why I’ve called on the Prime Minister to hold a national crisis summit on family violence as soon as possible. Failing that, Labor will hold a summit within 100 days of being elected and invest in interim measures — because it is the responsibility of every one of us to end this.

We must change these awful statistics and you can read Labor’s plan to get started on that work here.

The nightmare of family violence is a reality for far too many Australian women. No one should have to face this ordeal on their own. This is a crisis for our nation. We cannot waste another day, we must start work now.

Thank you for standing with every Australian experiencing family violence.

Bill

The link in the email is worth following. It leads to something that many people believe Labor have ignored since the 2013 election: a policy! And a policy that has been and will be unheralded in the mainstream media yet one that should be shouted from the rooftops. I’m sure the Labor Party won’t mind if I replicate it here (after all, social media is the only media friend the ALP have).

Labor will make a series of critical investments in services and programs that directly support women and children escaping family violence.

Labor’s interim package will deliver more than $70 million over three years in targeted funding to ensure those suffering from family violence can access critical services.

$47.4 million for targeted legal services

Labor will invest $42.9 million in frontline legal services to ensure women threatened by violence are not alone in going through the legal system. $4.5 million will also be invested in Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children experiencing family violence:

  • We will invest in community legal centres (CLCs) and frontline services to better support people affected by family violence going through the court system including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services. The new funding we are announcing for community legal centres will be targeted at providing assistance in family violence and related matters.
  • Embedded within support services will be the diverse needs of victims from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, migrants, refugees and people from a non-English speaking background, people with disability, older women and other vulnerable groups.
  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services provide more frontline and holistic legal assistance for the past 15 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims of family violence, currently providing services in 31 regional and remote locations. Labor will provide support for additional capacity to FVPLS to share best practice with other legal services on culturally-specific-training and build capacity within the organisation.

$15 million for a Safe at Home grants program

Labor will provide an initial $15 million in grants to community organisations, local government or other appropriate providers that help people affected by family violence stay safe in their own homes and in their communities. This could include infrastructure such as:

  • key changes and lock upgrades to doors and windows;
  • sensor and security lighting;
  • security screen doors;
  • external CCTV cameras, training and monitoring;
  • alarm systems.

In addition, we will map and understand best practice of existing state safe and home strategies, including risk assessments, for implementation across Australia.

$8.4 million to improve perpetrator interaction mapping

Labor will invest $8.4 million into research on mapping perpetrator interactions across family violence, law enforcement, justice, child protection and related systems. This investment will aim to:

  • Identify and monitor opportunities to interrupt forthcoming violent behaviours through information sharing and specific accountability strengthening measures.
  • Research to increase our knowledge of how perpetrators track through these systems
  • Better understand the role and effectiveness of risk assessment systems to build a comprehensive understanding of perpetrator behaviours, including a longitudinal study.

So who do you trust to address domestic violence? Today’s messages alone would suggest that we can rule out the government.

 

Australia and public safety

Domestic Violence

According to the most recent National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) annual report, there have been more than 6,200 homicides in Australia since data collection began in 1989–90, with one in every four cases involving the death of a victim killed by his or her intimate partner (see Chan & Payne 2013).

It is quite difficult to find a list of deaths due to domestic violence on the internet.

This one authoritative reference shows that, on average, over the past 25 years, 60 people have died every year due to domestic violence.

There is no reference to the terror and fear felt by the victims and by those who have escaped such situations. No reference to the research which shows that this is just the tip of the iceberg with statistics revealing that over 20 per cent of women have suffered from domestic violence during their lives.

There is no juggernaut of Governmental policing, investigation and information gathering to deal with this ongoing human tragedy.

There are no screaming headlines, no great election announcements, no hysteria.

Simply an acceptance that “These things happen.”

Workplace deaths

There are more workplace deaths and injuries than Domestic Violence deaths and injuries. There is a consequent larger proportion of our national wealth spent on combating these problems.  I will not make any comment about the fact that there are more men involved in these statistics than in domestic violence statistics.

The lastest key ststistics I have found are in the 2014 Work Place report. To summarise – in 2014, 184 people died at work.

So we are looking at near 200 people who leave home for work in the morning and do not return that night.

Yes, there are Governmental departments which look into work-place safely and breaches of safety regulations. Yet they are always being subject to cuts in Government funding.

There are no screaming headlines, no great election announcements, no hysteria.

Simply an acceptance that “These things happen.”

Mesothelioma

Then there is the epidemic of asbestos-caused diseases:

“Recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data show that there were 606 deaths attributed to mesothelioma in 2011. It has been estimated that this number will not peak until after 2014″.

However, this epidemic was caused by one man who happened to be the father of Australia’s richest and most litigiousness woman.

There are no screaming headlines, no great election announcements, no hysteria.

Simply an acceptance that “These things happen.”

Terrorism

In 2014, New Matilda posted an article Death Down Under: A History Of Muslim Terrorism In Australia  By Chris Graham. Graham says:

Real or imagined, the threat of Muslim terrorism can’t be ignored. In this NM exclusive, we bring you the shocking death toll of Australians on Australian soil at the hands of Muslim terrorists.

Zero.

This was not quite correct. There was the Broken Hill shooting in 1915 which left 6 people dead, including the two Muslims who started the killing spree.

Since then four people have died in terrorist events inside Australia.

So in 100 years, an entire century, ten people have died in Australia from terrorism.

One person a decade, or .1 of a person per year.

Billions of our dollars are being spent to stop these overly common and completely unacceptable events. Political leaders are in a lather. Millions of words are being spewed by the Main Stream Media. We are all being taught to fear the vague possibility that we may be close to such a happening. Yet we are not being taught to fear being killed at work or at home.

No! For terrorism things are different . . .

There are screaming headlines, great election announcements, hysteria.

Simply an acceptance that “These things MUST NOT happen.”

This article first appeared on Ærchies Archive – Digital Detritus and has been reproduced with permission.

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