• 03Jul

    Funding announcement for domestic violence – is it about violence against women or another chance to vilify other cultures?

    Last week the Federal Government announced $100 million dollars to address violence against women and children.
    A most welcome announcement.

     

    There is some sad irony that  this announcement is being made when women’s shelters in NSW are closing down due to lack of funding – and the Queensland government are planning to do the same.

    SOSwomen's services

     

    Nevertheless it is good news that the major focus of the new funding is on developing and testing

    “a prototype for a National Domestic Violence Order (DVO) Scheme, to strengthen the identification and enforcement of DVOs across state and territory borders.”

     

    This is indeed important news.

    How then is this being reported in the media?

    The media focus has been on forced marriages and genital mutilation.

    These are certainly serious and concerning issues, although not reflective of the media release from the Government.

    The Australian started this way:

    “PROTECTION against genital mutilation is one of the measures to safeguard women under a new $100 million domestic violence plan announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.”

    Further down in the report Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews

    “We need to respond to harmful cultural practices in woman and their children.”

    The other focus of media coverage is on women with disabilities, women from culturally diverse backgrounds and indigenous women.
    It certainly is true that these women do have additional barriers within the current system in achieving safety from violence. (For more information about these barriers check out Women’s Safety After Separation website under Violence and Abuse).
    For example, women who come to Australia on temporary visas to either partner with an Australian man, or with a partner who is also on a temporary visa do find it difficult to separate from an abusive man, given their temporary visa status. Developing better systems to help these women and lessen the barriers to safety is worthwhile.

    There is always a dilemma when reporting on male abuse of indigenous women, migrant women and women from culturally diverse backgrounds.
    It can feed into racism and cultural imperialism.

     

    We risk sending out the wrong message

    – that domestic violence is not a problem for white middle-class Australians

    – that the problem lies in ‘other’ cultures – in cultures that not our norm.

     

    I am suspicious that these headlines perpetuate this myth and feed into racism that is far too evident in Australia today.

    And I wonder if this is a deliberate tactic on the part of the government and mainstream media.
    The Coalition Government’s Immigration policy certainly points to the racism and cultural imperialism that exists.

    And a news report from February 17, 2011 tends to confirm the tactics of the Coalition government, where the suggestion is that Mr Morrison is trying to pursue an anti-Muslim political strategy.

     

    In NSW, under Going Home, Staying Home reforms, women-only refuges are being given to other organizations, most of them large religious charities:

    “The other big change is that the ”big four” religious charities (Salvation Army, Mission Australia, Wesley Mission and St Vincent de Paul) are now the main non-government providers of services for homeless people. Of the $16 million handed out for inner-city services, $11 million has gone to the big four via an invitation-only tender process, according to a document prepared by a women’s services advocate. Another person close to the scene has calculated that 62 per of the tenders have gone to these charities, either as lead agencies or as partners.” Anne Summers

    index

    So let’s put them together

    • anti-Muslim strategies,
    • a focus on “other cultural practices” in relation to domestic violence,
    • and women’s shelters in NSW being run by large Christian organisations.

     

    What is the real agenda here?

    Suspicions about the Liberal-National party’s statements about addressing domestic violence are also confirmed when we see the budget cuts and their impacts on women.

    Cutting support to single mothers, cuts to women’s legal services and GP co-payment are all strategies which will reduce women’s abilities to escape from violent relationships.

    Senator Larissa Waters from the Greens in her media release has stated:

    “… the proposed budget cuts were “insensitive” to victims of domestic violence and could trap women in these violent relationships by cutting support for single parents and women’s legal services, and the GP co-payment would mean women in violent relationships may not be able to see their doctors without their partners knowing.”

     “The Abbott Government’s abolition of the National Rental Affordability Scheme will force women back into violent homes and increase the pressure on already under-funded women’s shelters.”

    The Greens have initiated a senate inquiry into domestic violence.

     

    You can understand my skepticism that this current government is serious about bring about any significant change for women subjected to male violence.

  • 02Jun

    Shame, Rage –  and a great sadness.

    This is what I felt after watching John Pilger’s ‘Utopia’ on Saturday night on SBS.

    utopia

    Shame, for myself and all Australians, that our First Nation’s people live in such poverty and degradation.

    Shame for my apathy and ignorance, for Australia’s apathy and ignorance.

    Rage at the inhumane, racist treatment that our First Nation’s people are subjected to.

    And a great sadness not only for our First Nation’s people but for all Australians.

    For the dehumanisation, degradation and humiliation that we subject indigenous people to, dehumanises, degrades and humiliates us all.

    It would be beyond me to do justice to the power of this film, but I do want to document some impressions I gained from the film.

    History

    The film shows a number of ironic juxtapositions.

    One of them is at Rottnest Island W.A.

    I was ignorant of the fact that Rottnest Island was used as a penal settlement in the 1800’s and that thousands of Aboriginal men were imprisoned there.

    Pilger shows around the luxury hotel which was once the prison compound – with little indication of its dark past.

    We fail to acknowledge in our history books, our museums the horrific history of white invasion of Australia and the treatment that our First Nation’s people have been subjected to since the invasion.

    If there is no acknowledgement of this history, of these harms, how can we ever expect healing and reconciliation?

    Poverty and Housing

    On the news we often see the horrific conditions under which remote Aboriginal communities live. And so often the inference is that it is their fault.

    Pilger highlights how negligent consecutive governments have been in providing adequate living conditions for these communities.

    Another ironic juxtaposition – the luxury hotel at Uluru – and out of tourists’ sights – the asbestos-filled, derelict houses that the Aboriginal people are forced to live in.

    The Northern Territory Intervention

    Allegedly in response to ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report the Howard government instituted the NT Intervention.

    Rather than following the report’s recommendations – they sent in the army.

    An ‘invasion” as experienced by the communities.

    Pilger also underscores the role that ABC’s Lateline on 21 June 2006 titled “Sexual slavery reported in Indigenous community”. He interviews Chris Graham, founding and former editor of the National Indigenous Times who shows how this report was based largely on fiction.

    So it was all based on lies and more lies.

    One of the interesting facts highlighted by ‘Utopia’ was that the Northern Territory has the lowest rates of child abuse in Australia.

    For more information see Myths and Facts about Intervention

    Pilger shows clearly that the NT Intervention was really about controlling the people and their lands and highlights the powerful interests of the mining industry.

    And the impact was described as “Collective despair” and sense of betrayal – yet again.

    And State child protection agencies continue to discriminate in specifically targeting Aboriginal children and their families.

    There is a new stolen generation  happening today – in our time.

    Tamworth-2014-April 11

    cropped-GmarMcGrady

    Indigenous Incarceration and Deaths in Custody

    Most heart wrenching were the pictures of police brutality of aboriginal people and incidents of deaths in custody.

    No charges laid; no convictions for such atrocities.

    As stated in the film: “There can be no reconciliation without justice.”

    Connections were made between Australia’s treatment of our First People with the apartheid regime in South Africa – but there is no international condemnation.

    And there was the statement: “We are refugees in our own country.”

    Thank you John Pilger for your courage and passion in speaking out.

    And thank you to all those First Nations people who told their stories.

    We must ensure that these voices are not wasted.

    But in this current political climate this is unlikely given that the Coalition government is about to cut $534 million from the budget from Aboriginal programs.

    Abor budget

    Shame! Shame! Shame!

    UPDATE

    Read more about the continued removal of Aboriginal children from their mothers

    forced adoptions