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The victim mentality

When Julie Bishop appeared in Harper’s Bazaar in December last year she said women should “stop whingeing and just get on with it.”

“Please do not let it get to you and do not become a victim, because it’s only a downward spiral once you’ve cast yourself as a victim,” Bishop told the fashion magazine.

Is this woman who has come from a very privileged background, who has never faced hardship in her life, who jets around the world at our expense “living the dream”, telling women that it is their own fault if they become victims?

She seems to agree with Joe that we should just go and get a good job.

If people are poor it’s their fault for not working harder or being smarter or being born in the right place. They are leaners. People with disabilities are all potential rorters. Asylum seekers are economic migrants who have no right to seek a better life. Women in abusive relationships should be more independent.

Some believe that Adam Goodes is casting himself as a victim. Andrew Bolt says that he gets called lots of names and it doesn’t trouble him so why should Goodes be upset. Aside from the fact that Bolt gets paid a lot of money to be deliberately controversial, he patently has no idea what it is like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia.

None of us can understand what that is like unless we have lived it.

Over the past week we have heard many successful Indigenous Australians pouring out their hearts about the hurt they still carry from childhood experiences, about the discrimination they still face today. Stan Grant’s very moving article in the Guardian, Warren Mundine’s recounting of the humiliation his family faced, Charlie King’s passionate plea – Aboriginal people have been ostracised and vilified in their own country. They have been routinely humiliated and disempowered.

And when someone has the courage to show pride in their Aboriginal heritage, to call out the racism, they are slapped down for daring to speak up.

We’re not racists. We just hate uppity abos who already get given too much. We’re not racists. We just refuse to live under sharia law and eat halal food. We’re not racists. We just don’t want all those Asians taking our jobs.

It’s time for white Australia to stop booing and start listening. Face the ugly truth that we have become a selfish, uncaring society who doesn’t want to hear about other people’s problems. Be like us or piss off. Get a job ya bludger. Toughen up. Assimilate.

Greed, racism, selfishness, ignorance, fear, suspicion and violence are dictating community attitudes and political policy.

How many symptoms do we need to see before we address the illness that is creeping into our society? When will we draw the line and say enough? When will we remember that it is in everyone’s best interests to help vulnerable people?

In times of natural disaster we see the best of Australia. People pull together, communities rally to lend support, strangers stand side by side offering what help they can.

The death of empathy in this country is becoming a national disaster. Let’s drown out the racists and the fearmongers and the greedy. Let’s offer a helping hand to those in need. Let’s feel compassion rather than fear and resentment. Let’s show respect and tolerance and celebrate our diversity. Let’s build this nation together rather than ripping it apart.


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  1. M-R

    Today’s vileness began with John Howard: before him, we were pretty ordinary. It was he who sowed in us the seed of this mentality.
    That being said, I can’t actually blame him for the way in which we leaped eagerly into the row he was hoeing.

  2. miriamenglish

    Very well said, Kaye.

    This needs to be on the front page of every newspaper, at the beginning of every news broadcast, and prefacing every talkback radio show in Australia.

  3. Ricardo29

    As MR said, this began with Howard. It’s a problem requiring a solution from the top and we won’t get it from today’s political leadership. Indeed I wonder if this is a ship that can be turned around at all. Still, Kaye Lee, you keep drawing attention to such issues and that’s a good thing.

  4. miriamenglish

    M-R, unfortunately we had the “White Australia Policy” for a long time before him…. I think up until Whitlam. Wasn’t it he who got rid of that?

    Of course, it remained in a lesser form, with new entrants to Australia (if they didn’t have white skin) needing to answer questions that almost no Australian-born person could answer correctly. The point of those questions was purely to make it very difficult to live here if you were not white. As far as I know these questions are still asked of non-whites.

    I have a British friend who never had to pass any tests. He is a good friend and a lovely person, but I have to say he is not very smart, and is barely literate. He has had mostly unskilled jobs and spent much of his time on the dole, contributing not much more to Australia than his sweet nature and willingness to help his friends and his over-generous support of the alcohol industry.

    I have another friend who came from the Philippines and who had to past very strict and difficult tests. She is also a lovely person, but is extremely smart and has become a great asset to Australia, working in the medical profession.

    Australia has always been very racist. We were simply trying to change for the better. Now large parts of the country appear to have settled back on their ugly haunches with a great sigh of relief and surrendered to their racist proclivities. Our “leaders” have convinced the country that we don’t need to stop racism, but that racism is somehow a good thing… a part of free speech. Ugh!

  5. Kaye Lee

    Here are some example questions from the citizenship test….

    1) Which arm of government has the power to make and change the laws?
    A. Executive
    B. Legislative
    C. Judicial

    2) Which city is South Australia’s Capital city?
    A. Adelaide
    B. Melbourne
    C. Brisbane

    3) After which war did a wave of non-British migration come to Australia?
    A. World War II
    B. World War I
    C. American civil War

    4) What does the yellow circle in the Australian Aboriginal Flag represent?
    A. The Sun
    B. The Queen
    C. The moon

    5) What do we remember on Anzac Day?
    A. The landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove
    B. The arrival of the first free settlers from Great Britain
    C. The landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli, Turkey

    Can you imagine yourself going to another country who speak a different language and being asked those type of questions? And how will knowing those answers make them good citizens?

  6. Glen

    Sick of this endless dribble from self righteousness journo.have u ever been to a community ,
    It’s time some people made use of all the advantages they have that the rest of the white working class don’t .
    Eg Housing schooling health Education ,dental and weather they want to work or not .
    There are enough options and money to help all not completely hand feed everyone.
    Also why doesn’t the royalty money get used for something beside grog and gambling ,
    No unfortunately you are just another journo on the bag wagon trying to make a name by tut tutting the people who are keeping the country going and would like to have some money too and opportunities for there kids as we don’t all make millions and time with family is important to employed people too .

  7. corvus boreus

    There has, over the past years, been a sustained campaign of screeching tantrums by a bunch of (mainly) rich white men snivelling, bitching and moaning about what they perceive as an erosion of their basic human right to publicly slander and vilify (with falsehood) other people (mainly those who aren’t rich, white and male).
    Thanks for your efforts, whingers, but I for one feel no great lack or loss in the denial of my ‘right’ to yell bigoted bullshit.

  8. Kaye Lee

    We call ourselves the Lucky Country yet Indigenous Australians’ life expectancy is ten years less than white Australians. One in seven children live in poverty. Domestic violence is rife. People walking along the street are killed by alcohol or drug crazed coward punchers.

    Despite our comparative wealth and abundance of land and resources we baulk at the idea of a few thousand refugees. We turn children adrift in life rafts, we incarcerate them and ignore the sexual abuse to which they are subjected.

    We give money to wealthy private schools while saying we cannot afford needs-based education funding. We buy squadrons of fighter jets and fleets of navy/border force vessels while putting tertiary education out of reach of many and slashing money for research.

    We defund refuges, community groups, legal aid and crime prevention programs while, since 1989, the imprisonment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has increased 12 times faster than the rate for non-Aboriginal people.

    We have problems that, as a society, we must address.

  9. Kaye Lee


    When I was born my family lived in a small town on the mid-north coast of NSW which had a “mission” on the outskirts of town where the Aboriginal people lived. In those days they were not allowed into the pub and they had a special section down the front of the cinema. My grandmother had a wonderful Aboriginal woman to help in the house and she acted as nanny to both my mother’s generation and mine and was a valued member of our family. I recently went back to visit so I do have some first-hand experience. When you take away people’s pride and hope there are inevitably consequences. We are dealing with the repercussions of the apartheid regime we imposed on Indigenous Australians.

    Can you show me how I was “tut tutting the people who are keeping the country going”?

  10. Harquebus

    As the economic and environmental situation continues to deteriorate, I believe that Australia’s nasty and selfish nature will prevail. It will be every person for themselves and if you have or show any sign of weakness, you will most probably be taken advantage of and/or excluded in some form or another. It has already started.
    Politicians and the wealthy who, set the example, will then find out just how many friends they really have.

  11. Lesley Skewes

    I grew up in a small town and went to a very small school, when I was around 12years old I came across a book in the school library called Yagan of the Bibbulman by Mary Durack and it was a true story. I was educated from that moment about Australia’s terrible history regarding the first Australians. As I grew older I read more books many written by Indigenous people, the last I bought a week ago called Warrior a Legendary Leaders Life and Violent Death on the Colonial Frontier by Libby Connors.
    Instead of studying old English novels perhaps schools could study early Australian history after Captain Cook landed and how this impacted on the people already living here.

  12. keerti

    “Greed, racism, selfishness, ignorance, fear, suspicion and violence are dictating community attitudes and political policy.

    How many symptoms do we need to see before we address the illness that is creeping into our society? When will we draw the line and say enough? When will we remember that it is in everyone’s best interests to help vulnerable people?”
    These symtoms are creepinginto australian society?
    When were they not part and parcel of it? blaming howard for it is just finding a scapegoat for values that have been entrenched in australia, but which we pretended to ourselves were not ours. Aboriginals were certainly not fooled!

  13. Kaye Lee


    Christopher Pyne’s review of the history curriculum recommends ramping up the focus on Western civilisation and Australia’s Judaeo-Christian heritage and scaling back emphasis on indigenous history and Asia.


    Good point. Are we ready yet to look at the damage apartheid has caused Australia?

  14. Margaret McMillan

    These are exactly the kinds of thoughts I have been having Kaye. How, though, do we convince people like Glen that Aboriginal people prospering and thriving would be a benefit to the whole country? How to get them to see that on all indicators, they are way behind white Australians, even migrants? His claim that they have so many free services and are somehow ‘spoiled’ is not borne out by the facts.

    To me, the issue is ignorance. There is no strong, ethical leadership in this country to correct the wrong-headed ideas of those who see the first Australians as somehow ripping us off. There is no ready media access to the truth for those who listen to shock jocks and read Murdoch papers.

    If we think back a couple of years, our country was not so divided. The current mob is thriving on the selfishness and lack of understanding in certain parts of the community. While we fight a rearguard action against bigotry and ignorance, Abbott et al are rubbing their hands with glee. All they have to do is wait for further polarisation in the community, dog whistle to their hearts’ content, and then call an election. The whole scenario is extremely frightening.

  15. Florence nee Fedup

    Time we stopped telling all victims of abuse, how they should feel or behave. Not only talking about racial discrimination. Talking about survivors of sexual and DV abuse. Those who suffered from parents and partners who are drug addicts and alcoholics. Yes they were victims. How dare one tell victims how they should behave.

    Telling them to get a life to get over it, is futile and cruel. Yes one gets on with life, but one never forgets. Why should one.

    People demand this, because they are uncomfortable having victims around them. would rather ignore problems of society, bury their heads in the sand.

    Victims are waking up. Waking up to the fact, by hiding, not talking about how they feel, allows the abuse to continue for others, for those who come after them.

    It is not the victims that have the problem. It is those who are uncomfortable with victims. Never quite worked out by. I had this funny idea if I shared how I felt and how I allowed the abuse to occur, others would have a better understanding of how to prevent abuse continuing.

    Silly me, many don’t want to know. Know why, because they believe they know the answers. Victims just need to toughen up and put it behind them. Got news for these people. That does not work.

    What works is what we are seeing with Gillard’s RC into Institutional abuse of children. Victims, many now aged are washing their dirty linen in public, Yes, proving toughening up and getting on with life, heals nothing.

    This is what we heard last night on 7.30report, The Drum and Insight. This is what we are hearing from Rosie Batty.

  16. Wally

    I hate to admit it but John Howard did one good thing for indigenous communities, removing alcohol and making them dry zones has had a positive effect. This wass a very small contribution for 10 years in power. Towns like Tennant Creek were much better in the early 1980’s when mines and a local abattoir were operational. As well as providing employment the influx of workers to the town changed its demographic and the lifestyle was much better for everyone than it is for those who still live there today.

  17. Florence nee Fedup

    “Judaeo-Christian heritage ” What is this? Means little. Creation of the Tea Party politics in the USA.

    Google it. One gets interesting results.

  18. Florence nee Fedup

    It suits a government whose ideology is neoliberalism to create the perception that all that fail are to be blamed for their own situation. All one needs to fix the ills of society, is tough love, forcing people to stand on their own feet.

    We now have the situation where a large number of long termed unemployed are disabled people. Disabled, who can’t work or get work, through ideology are forced to survive on Newstart. A benefit that is not meant to support people on a long term basis. In fact, I believe one of the regulations now is, no matter if one is diagnoses as being unfit for work, one only qualifies for Disability pension after applying for jobs, I think for three years. This leaves those in their sixties in a bad situation. Have to use savings until they reach pension age. Yes, another cruel policy of this government.

    Cruelness seems to be the basis of all their thinking.

  19. Florence nee Fedup

    Wally, do you really believe the alcoholics stopped drinking? Suspect they moved to the outskirts shanties of the nearest large town, Are their less people drinking now? If so, where is the evidence, There has been huge increase in those in prisons. Maybe that is where they ended up.

  20. Florence nee Fedup

    I watched yesterday, a programmes about towns losing mining employment in the north. They were talking about how great life was when all were employed. Top of the list, was the pride they had and decrease in drinking. Now that they are unemployed, many once again, sitting around, drinking all day, That tells us, providing employment is probable the best and easiest way to cut down drunkenness.

  21. Andrew Dumas

    Thanks Glen, no article here would be complete without at least one LNP troll showing up and making bigoted remarks. Its especially funny how you genuinely believe that indigenous people have more money and rights than you.

  22. Wally

    @Florence nee Fedup if you were to ask the indigenous woman in places like Fitzroy Crossing you would get an overwhelming reply that it has saved there community from so much domestic violence words cannot describe. Ray Martin did a 3 episode documentary on SBS and it was a real eye opener especially for people who have never visited remote places. A friend of mine and his wife who live in FX were interviewed, she is a child protection officer and with first hand experience she thought the documentary was very factual.

  23. Wally

    @Florence nee Fedup and sorry I missed a direct answer to your question. You are probably right the alchos are probably drinking elsewhere but the communities they were adversely protecting are better without them. As one fellow said in the documentary about Alice Springs “you white fellas bought the problem into town so you should take it away”. Here is the problem us white fellas want to be able to drink anywhere we like and people with vested interests don’t want to stop making money.

  24. kerri

    There’s an old truism that applies to this government and increasingly to this country!
    It relates to fields of employment and attitudes to others!
    A person walking through the hallway at work sees a friend, Chris, and says hello!
    Chris does not respond but walks on head down.
    If the first person is a business person they will think “Jeez Whats up Chris’s nose?”
    If the first person is a care worker (teacher, nurse, etc) they will think “Oh What have I done to upset Chris?”
    This divides our nation into those who feel for Adam Goodes and those who think he should harden up!
    We are a country being run by business people. Capital is more important than humanity.
    I believe we need to drop the nomenclature that categorizes “isms” racism, sexism, etc
    Why not just care for all people? Don’t hit people. Don’t vilify or ridicule people. Be nice to people. All people.
    My nephew taught me this. He has Bi Polar.

  25. eli nes

    the power of the ignorant under ‘sharing’ has overcome any common sense.
    I read a post from a man on a community who gets called ‘fatso’ in the community language and he can cope so tells goodes to take it. This typifies the lack of understanding of racism’s effect in most of the booers that this 145 kilogram fat balander can lose weight and not be ‘gumbador’. Adam will always be an Aborigine – that is racism.
    ps kerri you should join the labor party they don’t ridicule people who make ridiculous assertions or who sign ridiculous FTAs, or who use ridicule(…trust them to build a canoe) to justify sending billions overseas or who stumble through a press conference in front of the UN, etc etc. me I can forgive anyone who can learn and racism is learnt but the rabbutt, pynenut, and hockey are fixed by belief and they cannot learn without being exposed to the ridicule of their peers.
    If ever labor had thought the gillard negativity that captivated Australian media was a one off the goodes have shown that find a ‘bishop’s chink in a lib pollie that is not endemic and the media will go wild.

  26. miriamenglish

    I wonder if the despicable Bronwyn Bishop would have been subjected to this media feeding frenzy if she’d been an equally despicable man, or a despicable, but attractive, younger woman.

    The mainstream media are really quite disgusting. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey should be the target of similar accusations by them, since they’ve embezzled similar amounts of taxpayer funds. The fact that they only attack a bad person who is also an older unattractive woman speaks volumes.

    I prefer the term “embezzle” for what these politicians do: “to steal or misappropriate (money placed in one’s trust or belonging to the organization for which one works) fraudulently for one’s own use.” It communicates a far more condemnatory meaning than “misuse” which sounds far too polite for what these mongrels are doing.

  27. Pingback: Andrew Bolt says that he gets called lots of names he patently has no idea what it is like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia. | olddogthoughts

  28. corvus boreus

    Probably true to some degree, but there are a number of other factors in play as well.

    There is the scale and obviousness of her rorts, and the prolonged and obstinate refusal to see them as a transgression.
    Tony obviously rorted the system on numerous occasions (including a tour to promote a profit venture; ‘Battle-lines’),but was able to defuse and divert from the impact by prompt repayment (with attendant blame laid upon anonymous staff).
    There is also a greater perceptional justification for the PM whizzing around at public expense (the ‘statesmanship’ thing), but the speakership is a largely ceremonial role confined to dealing in procedural minutiae of parliament, with little call for the international jet-setting.

    I, for one, am glad that inappropriate spending at public expense has attracted sustained attention, if frustrated at the lack of coherent dialogue on the subject of practical means to reform such an obviously flawed system
    To paraphrase the bronnie-copter, these rules currently allow claims that are ‘unacceptable’, ‘inexcusable’ and ‘ridiculous’.
    Some independent senators have proposed inquiries and reforms, but the PM’s office has publicly poo-pooed the need (funny that), and Bill has vowed (surprise, surprise) to work it out in house with Tony.
    The spotlight has a clear point of focus, and is reflecting and illuminating some of the surrounding dodginess.

    Personally, I am unwilling to spend the tiniest drop of sympathy upon the self-inflicted woes of the speaker of the house.
    There are too many blamelessly suffering sisters far more worthy of my tears.

  29. miriamenglish

    Oh, I have absolutely no sympathy for Bronwyn Bishop. I’m just annoyed that the transgressor has to be older, female, and unattractive (or gay, in the case of Slipper) to attract the anger of the mainstream media. It means those who are younger, male, heterosexual, and not unattractive tend to be let off the hook. That’s a great injustice as they are far more numerous and have spent on perks around $170 million dollars in the past financial year.

    I don’t understand why politicians should be able to claim perks above their very generous wages anyway. Where is the sense in such a thing? It beckons fraud. Surely they should be able to divvy up their accounts responsibly like the rest of us have to. If they can’t afford to charter a special flight between capitol cities then they should take a normal passenger airplane like the rest of us. They should not have a bottomless well of luxury they can dip into at whim.

    I like the tactic GetUp took recently of asking all senators and MPs to sign onto a system of more strict rules regarding perks. The first ones who signed on would get a publicity media opportunity. Those who refuse will be listed in their local papers and radio as wanting to continue such fraud.

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