I’m A Granger


What on earth is a Granger, I can hear you ask. Well don’t reach for your dictionary as you wont find it there.

Granger: A very angry grannie

 Quiet a few things have got me going lately but the events of this week with the budget, its aftermath and the dawning of its implications has really hit a nerve.

I never bought the “budget emergency” spin which became more hysterical with the approaching budget.

However the Abbott government has used this to introduce one of the cruelest budgets of all time. It will have a devastating impact on everyone except those who occupy the top economic domains of our society. No one will be spared and those at the bottom tier of society will be hardest hit.

IMG_0004_2As someone approaching retirement, I am particularly concerned about the budget ‘hit’ to older workers, retirees and pensioners. Joe Hockey informs us the Age of Entitlement is over.

Sorry Mr Hockey I missed that one…never realized I was living with any ‘entitlement’ I remember the Age of Aquarius more myself.

It is an absolute affront to regard people who have worked all of their lives, paid their taxes, raised their families, contributed to communities, supported our nation though good times and bad as ‘entitled’ welfare recipients.

Many older people have lived through hard times and prior to the Keating Labor Government introducing compulsory workplace superannuation in 1992, many did not have any superannuation. By 2007, the average super for men was $87,000 and $52,000 for women. 19% of men and 26.5% of women had no super at all. (ABS: 2007)

The notion of Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, that retirees are ‘squandering’ their superannuation on cruises and other luxuries in not only insulting, it demonstrates just how out of touch this government is. There are many, many pensioners who live from one pay-day to another. I know how difficult this was for my own parents. If people do have some money for cruises, caravans or whatever else then good luck to them. They have earned it and do not deserve the ridicule of politicians.


The television interview with a 85 year old pensioner Vilma Ward and PM Abbott captured the nation, going ‘viral’ on face-book and twitter. If anyone can speak to the issues for pensioners it would be Vilma. She is president of the local senior citizens. Her request to the PM to meet with local pensioners was met with a nervous laugh.

So how does this government reward our older citizens?

  • Work until you are 70
  • Decrease the pension by $76 for single people and $96 for couples with the withdrawal for the pension supplement
  • Impose a co-payment for doctor, pathology, radiology, eye checks plus increases for prescriptions

Workers will now be required to work to 70. Something that will be nigh impossible for many, with weary bodies and jobs beyond their physical capacity. If the government is so keen to keep people engaged in the workplace, odd that the older worker tax break has been scrapped. So has the tax rebate for dependent spouses aged over 60

While Australia is rated one of the best economies in the world with a credit ratings of AAA, it is unfathomable that the government would bring such a budget . Several well-respected economists have endorsed our financial stability as has 3 credit agencies and the IMF.

The attack on the elderly is unjustified and unwarranted.

I thought Paul Syvret summed up the issue quiet well


Our self entitled patronising politicans need to remember..no-one got rich on their own:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” Elizabeth Warren US Congress

Grey power will rise to fight this and we will see a brigade of

Grangers Marching







Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Tony Abbott A Feminist …Delusional Thinking

Delusional: Having false or unrealistic beliefs or opinions

I have to wonder if the public announcement by Prime Minister Tony Abbott that he is a “feminist” was a ploy to win over women or a ‘stuff you’ moment to the many women who have challenged & criticized him. That such a statement was made at an International Women’s Day Event was breathtaking in its arrogance.

Either way, it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of both the purpose & history of International Women’s Day as well as a lack of understanding of the basic principles of feminism.

While espousing his new-found feminism, Abbott declared that Australian women have “smashed the glass ceiling”. Further stating that  “Anyone who is in Australian has won the lottery of life and if you look at our country and the deal that it gives to women; it is obviously pretty good”


What a ridiculous statement. Abbott refers to a handful of women who have had various measures of success in attaining prominent public roles. The success of a few women does not mean that gender equality has been achieved for all women. Abbott also fails to acknowledge his own role in the public abuse & humiliation of Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. When one woman is abused and degraded, all women become vulnerable targets.


When he chose to associate himself with Ditch The Witch mantra and stood under those offensive signs on at least two occasions he well and truly earned himself the title of Australia’s Prime Misogynist.

As for smashing the glass ceiling, there are tens of thousands of Australian women who can’t even see the glass ceiling let alone smash it.

So much work still needs to be done in this country to further advance the social, political and economic status of women. So many women are still being left behind including Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Women, Migrant Women, Women with Disabilities, Homeless Women and Women as Single Parents. So much work still needs to be done to address violence against women in both public and private spaces.

Lifting women out of poverty still presents many challenges.

Many things here that Tony Abbott could have spoken to.

International Women’s Day presents an opportune time to reflect on the many achievements of women in advancing equality, justice, and the political & social advancement of women. It is also a time to reflect on where women still remain disadvantaged and shackled by violence, poverty, sexual harassment and injustice. The first International Day was held in 1911 and formally recognized by the United Nations in 1975. The theme for 2014 is “Inspiring Change”

The political, social and economic advancement of women has been at the core of the women’s movement for over a hundred years. This work has many faces and dynamics. The work of feminists may differ in causes, goals and cultural context but the essences is always the further advancement of women.

One of the recurring themes of the women’s movement has been Putting Gender on the Agenda

Within the first six months in office, PM Abbott has been busy taking Gender off the Agenda, when we consider that:

1)    Only one women was appointed to Cabinet. At the time Tony Abbott said that “ he was disappointed that more women weren’t appointed to Cabinet but there are some very good and talented women knocking on the door”.  At the same time he thought it appropriate to appoint himself Minister for Women

2)    A pay rise for 30,000 child care workers was axed. The predominately female workforce had lobbied for increases which ranged from $3 per hour for childcare workers to $6 per hour for early childhood teachers.


3)    A promised pay rise to 350,000 workers in the aged care sector was also axed Again an industry which employs a large number of women in part-time positions.


4)    Changes have been made to the workforce gender  reporting requirement to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Move from workplace with more than 100 employees to corporations with more than 1000 employees

5)    Nothing has been done to address the 17.6% wage gap between male and female workers

6)    Nothing has been done to address the enormous gender gap within superannuation which sees women retiring with 33% of the amount payable to men.

7)    Nothing has done to address the enormous social, political and economic disadvantage of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women as well as Migrant Women.

8)    Nothing has been done to alleviate the suffering and degradation of women in detention centers both on shore as well as Christmas, Nauru and Manus Islands

These are by no means an exhaustive list of the gender inequities with Australian society. Violence against women in all its manifestations continues to be a largely untold story. The fact that “one punch can kill” is the reality for women in the home not on the streets is seldom mentioned in the current discourse on violence. We would rather speak to young women about their drinking habits than speak to young men about respect & sexual consent. Women are dying from domestic violence in what should be preventable deaths.

Of course there are male politicians and male community leaders who are working to address these and many other issues. And yes many men have been walking alongside women for decades in their struggle to gain justice and safety.

However when a man very publicly proclaims himself to be a feminist, then my expectation is that he has earned the right to do this. He has stood beside women, stood up for women, taken up their cause and defended their rights and provide a space for their voices to be heard &

imageTony Abbott has not earned that badge. By appointing himself Minister for Women and announcing himself as a “feminist”, Abbott has taken ‘charge’ of women’s issues shutting down and shutting out women’s voices. Patronising in the extreme.


Maybe he should consider some of the many readings of John Stuart Mill 1806 to 1873 including the Subjection of Women. Mill was a political leader who earned the right to call himself a feminist.

I have always been proud to call myself a feminist. I honor the women who went before me & the struggles they had to achieve so much for women. How easy it is to take for granted many of these hard fought gains & benefits. I applaud the work of today’s feminists who still continue to  work to make society a fairer, safer & more just society for all. IWD provides an ideal time to reflect on what we are doing to make our corner of the world safer and fairer.


Have a wonderful International Women’s Day

Posted in Feminism, Politics, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women, war on Women | 7 Comments

Nauru …What the hell is going on?

imageWe all know that Australia has a partnership with Nauru which allows the government to export all our unwanted asylum seekers into a prison facility on the island. The Detention Centre was first opened under the Howard Government in 2001 and has continued to operate as a “processing” centre since. The fact that we are still sending people there 13 years on might indicate to any reasonable person that it is not the deterrent many lauded it to be in stopping desperate people boarding leaky fishing boats to reach Australia.

The history of how Howard exploited the dire financial situation of Nauru to establish a detention centre, is best documented in The Economist…http://www.economist.com/node/884045

imageConditions within the detention centre have been severely criticised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The UN agency found conditions in the detention centre fail to meet international standards. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/un-refugee-agency-condemns-nauru-detention-centre/story-fn9hm1gu-1226536984103 The fact that Australia fails to meet our obligations and responsibilities under United Nation Conventions, hardly raises an eyebrow in Australian media.

I don’t know of any other country that moves their responsibility for managing asylum seekers to another independent third world country. So much secrecy surrounds the partnership with Nauru and PNG who also has a detention centre on Manus Island. How much is the Australian Government “paying” these countries to be the dumping ground for our unwanted?

Current Crisis on Nauru

If Nauru was considered to be unsuitable by the United Nations in past visits, they must certainly be alarmed at the current situation on Nauru. At present the entire judicial system has broken down.

Resident Magistrate Peter Law, an Australian, was deported post haste, earlier this month. Chief Justice Geoffrey Eames also an Australia who was visiting Melbourne at the time, has had his visa cancelled and cannot re- enter Nauru. Following this,  the government of Nauru has hurriedly amended the Immigration Act to allow for the immediate expulsion of Rod Henshaw also an Australian who was a media advisor to the former government. .http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21595508-problems-australias-pacific-solution-aussies-out?zid=306&ah=1b164dbd43b0cb27ba0d4c3b12a5e227

Now reports that the government of Nauru is drafting laws to impose emergency rule. They are being assisted by lawyers from Fiji, hardly the epitome of democracy. Against this backdrop, Nauru has increased the visa application fee for journalists to $8000, payable whether the application is successful or not. Hardly an enticement for any journalist to apply.

There are approx 900 asylum seekers imprisoned on Nauru. They were sent there by the Australian government and I believe remain our responsibility. Minister Scott Morrison has stated the internal politics of Nauru are not our concern. I beg to differ.

We have had 3 highly regarded Australians thrown out of Nauru and the government say nothing…that is a major concern right there.

Questions need to be asked about how much involvement Australia has had in this entire sorry saga? Is our government complicit in a veil of secrecy descending on Nauru to protect our own agenda of inhumane treatment of asylum seekers? If we have nothing to hide, then don’t  hide it. If the Australian government is opposed to the current situation on Nauru with emergency rule then they need to articulate this strongly, terminate the partnership and bring the asylum seekers and their children back to Australia. 900 lives depend on us doing the right thing by them.

We either stand strongly for democracy or we all lose.

Posted in asylum seekers, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged | 8 Comments

Stopping Home Grown Terrorists: Domestic Violence Re-defined

Screenshot 2015-02-03 06.05.36Yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed the National Press Club. Predictably his speech contained warnings of ‘Islamic death cult”, terrorism, downed planes and the ongoing need for increased surveillance. Scare & fear politics at its best. There were many important issues missing from his speech. One glaring omission was any mention of domestic violence. All rather odd given less than a week earlier, the courageous Rosie Batty was awarded Australian of the Year for the work she is doing to address domestic violence. Rosie painfully knows the devastating impact of domestic violence and its tragic consequences. Her beloved son, Luke, was beaten to death by his father. Many other mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers across Australia also know and share such pain. Given that Tony Abbott had invited Rosie Batty to participate in a panel to advise COAG on domestic violence matters, it seemed rather odd that a few days later the matter is ignored…

On the same day, in a quiet corner of Gold Coast suburbia, a young, pregnant women died following an attack with a tomahawk. Sadly little is known of her except she is the latest victim of ‘home grown terrorism’ which continues unabated within Australia resulting in 8 women killed in the past 5 weeks. Most people simply call such events “ a domestic’…certainly more palpable to the ears than ‘home grown terrorism’


The recent Queensland election campaign barely mentioned domestic violence prompting me to write Silence on Violence, urging political parties to again put a focus back onto what is happening within our homes and families.

Silence on Violence

The biggest focus of the election campaign on the Gold Coast was a dire warning that the election of a Labor Government would see the return of the dreaded bikies to our streets. Just in case people may have underestimated how real this threat was, election booths across the Gold Coast and most parts of Queensland were adorned with enormous banners reminding us of the ‘bikie peril’.

IMG_0278The banners were nothing more than cheap opportunistic politics…an enormous amount of money wasted to score a few points against political foes. It is unclear to what extent The Courier Mail was involved in the production of these LNP banners but the fact remains it was a reproduction of a front page of their newspaper from January 3rd.

I have stated many times, that the risk to women of violence and abuse resulting in death, injury, rape, and ongoing mental torment is from men with whom they have an intimate relationship. It is a cold hard fact that we, as an Australian society, struggle with. We need to address men’s violence to women without becoming defensive …#notallmen. We can appreciate that not all men are violent while at the same time acknowledging many men do commit horrendous crimes against their female partners. Australian women face greater threats within their relationships than from any ‘Islamic death cult’

As previously reported in Silence on Violence:

“During 2011-2012, Queensland Police Service responded to 36,856 domestic violence and family violence call-outs, 22,332 applications for protection were made to Queensland Magistrates Courts under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. (Dept Communities, 2014) There were 58,600 calls to DV Connect the State-wide domestic violence telephone service. (DV Connect Annual Report 2013) “

If there was ever a need for a comprehensive, multi disciplinary domestic violence death review board in Queensland, it is now. Many of these deaths could in all probability have been prevented with enhanced police, court and probation interventions. Urgent action is needed to ensure that more lives aren’t lost and the matter isn’t filed under ‘just another domestic ’

Maybe we need a front page of the Courier Mail highlighting domestic violence which is then reproduced as banners and strung across every school and community hall in the State.  So would a mention from the Prime Minister during an important speech to the National Press Club.

I guess that is asking the impossible…

Posted in Domestic Violence, Feminism, Politics, Queensland Election, Violence Against Women, war on Women | 4 Comments

Silence on Violence

DVholdhand-1Well the Queensland election is now in full swing with both major and minor parties out on the hustings with promises and counter promises announced daily. Asset sales/ leases, new roads, schools, extra teachers, extra nurses, gas & coal mining, saving the Barrier Reef and a plethora of other issues.

Our leaders are busy I know but I cant accept that no-one has mentioned domestic and family violence and the fact that 2 Queensland women have been killed in the first two weeks of 2015. This together with another 4 women killed across Australia and we have a national tragedy. 6 women killed in 2 weeks and no-one is talking about it.

Late last year, Campbell Newman launched a Domestic & Family Violence Taskforce headed by Dame Quentin Bryce to review responses across the State. This Taskforce is not due to hand down its report until late March, well after the election. Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, has stated she will consider recommendations from the Taskforce Report.

All good but not good enough. The silence in Queensland can be contrasted with the successful No More Deaths campaign in Victoria which has seen the newly elected Labor Premier appoint a Minister for Family Violence Prevention as well as a Royal Commission into family violence.

A one year snapshot from available data for 2011-2012

During 2011-2012, Queensland Police Service responded to 36,856 domestic violence and family violence call-outs, 22,332 applications for protection were made to Queensland Magistrates Courts under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 and there were 58,600 calls to DV Connect the State-wide domestic violence telephone service.

Diane Mangan, CEO DV Connect informs “ the calls to the centre have been relentless this summer, exceeding 200 calls a day”. The rate of calls to police, hospitals and community services is increasing with many stretched to breaking point.

The Personal Safety Survey 2012 (ABS, 2012) reported 34% of women had experienced physical violence and 19% of women had experienced sexual violence from the age of 15 years. Overall 1 in 6 women in Australia have experienced some form of violence from their partner.

Domestic violence and sexual assault are considered the most pervasive forms of violence experienced by women across Australia (DSS, 2009). Women’s experiences of intimate partner violence is acknowledged as a serious and significant public health issue by the World Health Organisation. With studies showing that domestic violence is a leading contributor to death, illness and disability in women aged 15-44. It is estimated violence against women and their children costs the Australian economy $13.6 billion each year. It is also estimated, without appropriate action, an estimated 750,000 Australian women will experience and report violence during 2021-2022, costing the Australian economy an estimated $15.6 billion

In Queensland over the past twelve months, there has been considerable focus on legislation and interventions to reduce both bikie crimes and public acts of alcohol related violence with claims they are making a difference in reducing crime and improving community safety, At the same time, there is a shroud of silence over the increased reported incidence of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.

It is not enough to wait out the release of yet another report. The evidence is already there that reported incidence of domestic violence in Queensland has reached crisis point. One can only imagine what the true nature of abuse “behind closed doors’ is as many suffer in silence too afraid to seek support and speak out. Their silence should not be ours.

The government’s $44.5 million Safe Night Out strategy is laudable however there would be many Queenslanders living with violence who would welcome A Safe Night In.

We need our politicans and candidates to speak out and put domestic violence to the forefront of this election…you never know you just may save someone else from Dying To Be Heard 

Posted in Domestic Violence, Politics, Queensland Election, Violence Against Women | 12 Comments

“It’s Time for Women”…Gough Responds

10388183_842612932436627_2554886689021804236_n1972: “It’s Time”…I still remember the ALP television ads featuring Alison McCallum, Col Joye, Little Pattie, Judy Stone, Bobby Limb and a host of others. Even before Gough Whitlam and Labor were elected, there was a sense of expectation and excitement that change was coming…not just a change of government but also social change…although none of us could have envisaged at the time just how expansive and inclusive this change would be. And so it was with incredible euphoria that Edward Gough Whitlam became the 21st Prime Minister of Australia.

Much has been written in the past 24hrs about the times and legacy of the “Whitlam Era”. What this time of social change meant for women was enormous and best captured by Eva Cox   http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/gough-whitlam-was-a-prime-minister-for-women-20141021-119bao.html

It is now almost impossible to imagine how segregated and submissive the lives of women were in those times. Unequal pay, giving up paid employment on marriage, limited study and career options, almost impossible for women’s to get a bank loan, few women in parliament, on boards, heavens we weren’t even allowed in the public bar, segregated off to the ‘ladies lounge’. Basically there was limited or no choices for women except those ascribed to them.

In the late 1960s, many Australian women began to question the restrictive roles that society had assigned to them. They felt that there was more to life than raising kids and taking care of the home. Others were dissatisfied at being confined to traditionally ‘areas of work and study where women were assigned to female’ occupations like teaching, administration and secretarial work. Women were paid under a different pay structure to men, had limited study and workplace opportunities, limited political participation, no protection from violence and abuse and most of important of all, no redress, financial assistance and service supports when women left an abusive relationships.

The catch cry was “ Women’s Rights are Human Rights”

The Whitlam government embraced the demand for social change that was occurring in the wider society. For women, these changes were significant. As Cox says, it was recognising that women were equal, not a sub class within society. The reform agenda introduced by Whitlam included:

• Women’s Advisor to the Prime Minister: The Whitlam Government was the first in the world to appoint a women’s advisor to the Prime Minister. Elizabeth Reid was appointed to this role and played an important role in advising government on all aspects of the impact of government policy on women. 1975 was the International Year of Women and Australia played an important role on the international stage in working to develop a framework for the development of the advancement of women in all aspects of their lives.

• Establishing pay equity…ensuring that women would be paid the same pay for the same work. The Whitlam government passed legislation to ensure women were entitled to the same minimum wage as men. However, the fight for wage equity still continues with women receiving 77% of the male wage. Women retire with only 33% of the accumulated superannuation of men.

• Established the Family Court and introducing the Family Law Act to ensure that women were given access to ‘no fault’ divorce. Prior to this, divorce matters were held in the Supreme Court with the applicant having to ‘prove’ desertation, cruelty or adultery. While many barriers still remain for women in receiving justice and fairness within the Family Court System, things have certainly come a long way for women since 1975.

• Single Parent Benefit was originally introduced in 1973 as the Supporting Mother’s Benefit. It has since been extended to all parents. This was a critical factor in allowing mothers to keep and care for their own babies without the pressure for giving them up for adoption. It was also a vital support for women who left relationships for a range of issues.

• Maternity leave for public servants was introduced in 1973 allowing for 52 week total leave of which 12 weeks was paid

• Removal of university fees allowed many women to gain a university qualification. Self included. Women began to enter what was seen as non- female areas of study…women began to see they could become the doctor or the nurse, the pilot or the ‘air hostess’. In 1975 Ansett became the first Australian airline to employ a woman pilot. This era also saw the expansion of the vocational skills sectors women could be a hairdrsser or a mechanic…women began to break free from stereo-types.

  • Funded child care and after school care were established and allowed women to have greater workplace participation.

• Establishment of Medibank to ensure universal health care. Women’s Health Services were established, where abortion, contraception and women’s reproductive health could be openly discussed.

• Support and services were funded to ensure that women who had been raped and abused are supported in a range of services run by women for women.

As Gough Whitlam said in 1974:

“For the first time Australia has a government seriously concerned to give equality of opportunity to women.

For the first time Australia has a government determined to make the conditions of life more equal for all Australians, wherever they live in Australia.”

It is amazing that 40 years on we can still reflect and celebrate this amazing time of social change within out country. The challenge now is to ensure that what has been gained is not lost…so many of these reforms are now under threat: women’s crisis services, universal health care, university access, welfare supports, women’s legal aid ……

Women still have not gained equal political representation, equal wages, equal representation on boards and courts, equal justice, peace and freedom. And tragically women are still been raped, abused and murdered….

Maybe Its Time for another revolution…that would be the best tribute to Edward Gough Whitlam ….

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Another Woman Died To-day



Remembering women who have lost their lives to domestic violence.



Another Woman 

Today another woman died

and not on a foreign field

and not with a rifle strapped to her backand

not with a large defense of tanks

rumbling and rolling behind her. 

She died without CNN covering her war.

She died without talk of intelligent bombs

And strategic targets.

The target was simply her face, her back

her pregnant belly. 

The target was her precious flesh

that was once composed like music

in her mother’s body and sungin the anthem of birth. 

The target was this life

that had lived its own dear wildness,

had been loved and not loved,

had danced and not danced. 

A life like yours or mine

that had stumbled upfrom the beginning

and had learned to walk, and had learned to read,

and had learned to sing. 

Another woman died today,

not far from where you live;

Just there, next door where the tall light

falls across the pavement. 

Just there, a few steps

awaywhere you’ve often heard shouting,

another woman died today. 

She was the same girl her mother used to kiss;

the same child you dreamed

beside in school.

The same baby her parents

walked in the night withand listened and listened and listened

For her cries even while they slept. 

And someone has confused his rage

With this woman’s only life

-Carol Geneya Kaplan

Posted in Feminism, Violence Against Women, war on Women | 2 Comments

I’m All Right Jill or Stuff The Sisterhood

Are women’s voices, once powerful and united (I am woman hear me roar) becoming quieter, quieted, singular and self focused.

There has been much discussion of late on who is and who isn’t a feminist. While some (self included) have pride in naming their feminism others shun such ideologies and values claiming feminism is just another ‘label’ women hang on themselves. Others see feminism as outdated as maybe individually they believe they have achieved ‘it all’ and can’t see what it has to offer them.

Last week the Guardian sought the opinion of four women on whether they identify as a feminist or not in a very superficial article entitled Am I Feminist: 4 Women Reply in the Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/14/feminism-liberal-women-australia

My initial response was one of extreme crankiness at some of the simplistic nonsense expressed in the article including the ridiculous notion the feminism is not a ‘value system’. The very essence of feminism is the promotion of equality, equity, justice, peace, fairness, non-violence and freedom. Some fairly strong values there I would think.

The article continued with opinions expressed as to whether feminism has lost it relevance in today’s society or whether ‘feminist’ is a label women don’t feel the need to hang on themselves. Interesting that Senator Michaelia Cash, one of only 2 women in cabinet gets support for her denunciation of feminism. Love the “I’m all right Jill attitude”. Not too much focus on the ‘sisterhood’ and our collective responsibility to look to the advancement of all women not just ourselves.

In summary, the reader could be left with the impression that feminism is a left wing socialist movement, not something embraced by women on the conservative side of politics or ‘everyday’ women for that matter.

When the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women is quoted as saying “I have never been someone who labels herself. In terms of feminism, I’ve never been someone who really associates with that movement. That movement was a set of ideologies from many, many decades ago now.”Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/minister-for-women-doesnt-have-to-identify-as-feminist-says-senator-michaelia-cash-20140307-34ata.html#ixzz2zUGfDpjf

‘That movement’ is as relevant today as it was 30 /40 years ago. Patriarchy is alive and well and full functioning in all levels of government across Australia. It affects women in the public and private spheres of their lives in a myriad of ways.What concerned me most about the Guardian article was, how will the portrayal of feminists as left-wing socialists play to the conservative federal & state governments as they go quietly about cutting funding to women’s health, women’s legal, women’s migrant & ATSI services, rape crisis and domestic violence services? In some case, it is the out right dismantling of services. Women working at the ‘front line’ of these services have been extremely concerned for some time at the direction of conservative state governments and their relationships and views of women’s services.

It is 40 years since Elsie, Australia’s first women’s refuge opened its doors. It was only possible through the collective action of women working for and with abused women. Since then hundreds of women’s refuges across Australia have opened their doors to provide shelter & support for thousand of women and children fleeing domestic violence. The awful reality is there is never enough….most are continually full with motel accommodation playing a critical part of providing an immediate crisis response. We also know that domestic violence is the major cause of homelessness for women with many women sleeping ‘rough’ rather than returning to an abusive partner. http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/women/publications-articles/reducing-violence/women-domestic-and-family-violence-and-homelessness-a-synthesis-report?HTML#5d

Violence remains a major risk factor for women impacting on their health, safety and well-being. Women continue to experience high levels of physical, sexual & psychological abuse in the home, in public and in the workplace with #everydaysexism

Over this Easter week-end, 2 Queensland women have been murdered brining the total to 5 women murdered in Queensland alone during the past month.http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/police-investigate-murder-of-woman-26-at-bingil-bay-and-stabbing-death-of-woman-27-at-woree/story-fnihsrf2-1226890348192

I think of that saying “ if you are not outraged by this, you are not paying attention”.

It doesn’t matter how those women voted, their political leaning or if they called themselves a feminist. What does matter is that they were all killed by men, some of whom they were in an intimate relationships with. All but one of them were young women in their 20’s. More women who have died in the War on Women.

As a woman this outrages me. This is the face of patriarchy.

The survival of specific women’s services is vital to ensure that women can access safety and support when most needed. Most of these services survive on tight budgets already and certainly don’t need to face the prospect of funding cuts.

Individual opinions are one thing but without collective action they count for nothing.  If Senator Cash and others don’t want to identify as feminists fine, but you do have a collective responsibility to go beyond your own views to see the reality of other women’s lives. Feminist individualism may be fine for some women but leaves too many women at the margins of society. I fear of the recent commentary is a new form of victim blaming..if I have made it why cant you.

Together we must be part of the collective scream that says “enough”…

The Personal Is Political










Posted in Feminism, Violence Against Women | 13 Comments

Language of Exclusion

I was dismayed to read a blog by Kate Galloway referring to moves by the Queensland Government to revert to gender specific language within the Crime and Misconduct and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014. Apart from structural legislative changes to the Crime & Misconduct Commission itself, it is the reverting to gender specific male language, which is also of concern.

Changes to language within the Bill includes:

Section 35 Amendment of s 224 (Qualifications for appointment as the chairperson)

(1) Section 224, heading, ‘as the chairperson’—

omit, insert

chairman and deputy chairman

(2) Section 224, ‘chairperson if’—

omit, insert

chairman or deputy chairman if


These changes are sexist in defining specific roles as those belonging to men with the exclusion of women. Over the past 30 years so much has been achieved to ensure that Queensland develops and maintains a gendered agenda. Ensuring women are equal within law is a critical part of this. It seems unbelievable that we are now having to reclaim inclusive language within law and accompanying policy & practice.



Language is a powerful tool. The old arguments that women are included in male specific terminology no longer washes, we have long moved on from the ridicule that encountered feminists who first argued for the case of inclusive language.

Dale Spender 1980 wrote in Man Made Language

One semantic rule which we can see in operation in the language is that of the male-as-norm. At the outset it may appear to be a relatively innocuous rule for classifying the objects and events of the world, but closer examination exposes it as one of the most pervasive and pernicious rules that has been encoded.”


Initially efforts to stop the “manning” of everything as inclusive of women, mankind, manpower, chairman etc., was met with defensiveness and scorn.

Many couldn’t understand what the big deal was. How does gendered language affect gender equality? It is recognizing that man in the ‘abstract’ and men in the ‘reality’ are privileged over women. Language reflects the status quo. When women are left out of language and policy, the reality isn’t far off.

Caroline Jacobson talks about gender – neutral language.

“The practice of assigning masculine gender to neutral terms comes from the fact that every language reflects the prejudices of the society in which it evolved, and English evolved through most of its history in a male-centered, patriarchal society. material was written.”


A policy reform agenda to promote policies beneficial to Queensland women was part of the election campaign of Wayne Goss who was elected Premier in 1989. The Goss government established the Women’s Policy Unit, introduced Anti-Discrimination Legislation, Equal Opportunity in Public Employment Act, various consultative mechanisms, improved responses to domestic violence, established a Gender Unit within the Department of Public Prosecutions to name a few.

There has been either an axing or watering down of many of these gains over the past few years. The Women’s Policy Unit no longer exists nor does the Domestic Violence Council, a body I chaired for two terms. There are now concerns about the survival of ‘women’s’ services. Those which provide assistance to abused women.

There are many examples within Australia society where women still struggle for equality.

  • There is only 1 woman in cabinet (although some good women are knocking at the door). If this situation were reversed it would be deemed to be completely outrageous.
  • Women while comprising of 51% of the population are under-represented in parliament, on Boards and amongst Australia’s CEO’s.
  • The gender wage gap is well documented with women still only receiving 71% of the male wage.
  • 1 in 4 Australian women are victims of domestic violence & and 1 in 5 will be sexually    assaulted across their life span.
  • Women still mostly work part-time in low paying jobs.
  • Women receive only 33% of the superannuation that males do on retirement.
  • The added disadvantage of Indigenous and migrant women is largely ignored

Any effort to revert to making women ‘invisible’ is of concern. Whether that be within language, laws, policy, political representation, programs or education. Words are tools of thought. We can use words to maintain the status quo or to think in new ways — which in turn creates the possibility of a new reality.

Obviously the changes to the gender neutral language within the above Act are done for a specific reason, we are left wondering why.  Excluding women in language can certainly further impact negatively on their reality.







Posted in Feminism, Law, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Dear Minister Morrison Part Two

Well, if I thought things weren’t going so well when I wrote to you in November, they have really gone to hell in a hand-basket now. Many commentators talk about a “race to the bottom”.  Well, I think the bottom has well and truly been reached. The murder of Reza Berati on Manus Island on February 17th assured that. The only thing worse now, is you trying to spin it to save your job.

Much had been said and written over the past week, of events which occurred on Manus Island which resulted in the murder of Reza and the injury to another 67 asylum seekers. Truth will finally out and we will know what really happened that dark evening….same as how the truth of  “children overboard” eventually came to light and will forever be a stain on the political records of John Howard & Peter Reith.

ImageIt seems Reza’s murder has become a watershed which galvanised a complacent public. Tens of thousand of people turned out to more than 700 plus #LightTheDark events across Australia organised by GetUp. Incredibly sad it took a murder to do this. Great it has happened but so many other atrocities have gone barely noticed.

I have to be honest Mr Morrison and say it is not just about Manus for me, disgraceful as it is. It is how you treat women & kids in all detention centers.

Last November, I wrote of Latifa who had been transferred to Brisbane from Nauru for an emergency caesarian. Remember her, the woman your staff  were keeping from her seriously ill baby.


Your plans to send Latifa and a very ill baby Farus back to Nauru post haste were ‘interrupted’ when lawyers, acting pro bono, gained a court injunction to allow them to stay in Brisbane ( in detention of course) so that both Latifa, a diabetic and Farus could continue to receive ongoing medical treatment. To any reasonable person this would seem fair and right. Not to you it seems, as you are still fighting this in the courts. You are disputing the “legal” status of Baby Farus who was born in the Mater Hospital Brisbane. A birth certificate was issued for Farus. His parents are stateless Rohingyan who have spent 10 years in a refugee camp in Malaysia. Rather than do the humane thing and allow this family to stay in Australia, you are spending tax payer’s money appealing to the High Court to overturn the injunction and have them returned to Nauru. Your legal argument is that baby Farus “arrived” by boat as an “illegal maritime arrival” and is therefore not entitled to a Protection Visa. It now seems the unborn are counted in your pathetic definition of “illegals” Unbelievably pathetic. The matter is still before the courts.

And now to  Salima whose story is heartbreaking beyond belief. Salima is also Rohingya. She was sent to Nauru with her husband in early December 2013. Salima was 6 weeks pregnant at the time. She had her pregnancy confirmed by a medical officer on Nauru. Salima made the heartbreaking decision to terminate her pregnancy because she and her husband could offer “no hope” to their unborn. They both portray life on Nauru and the appalling conditions in which they exist. They both believed their baby would not survive Nauru, both the horrendous conditions as well as the  lack of hope. Salima was brought to Australia for the termination. Her weight has dropped to 35 kgs following the termination of her pregnancy. She is now in detention in Darwin where she is receiving psychiatric care. The depths of despair we are driving people to….is this the Australia we want.


ImageAnd what about kids…Your “no exceptions” policy has recently seen 13 unaccompanied minors sent to Nauru. This adds to the numbers of unaccompanied kids already sent off shore. You had better check on your colleague Joe Hockey. He said in the last parliament that it would be ‘over his dead’ body that unaccompanied minors would be sent off shore. The trafficking of children across international borders is appalling and is well articulated in this compelling article.


The safety and wellbeing of children should be the highest priority of any government. We now see at the Royal Commission into the institutional sexual abuse of  children, what happens when the oversight of the safety of children falls off the radar. How much harder this will this be when we place children in detention in a foreign country with all the “secrecy” surrounding detention centres. You informed us last week, that you could “guarantee” the safety of asylum seekers who stayed within the compound. I would like some clarification on “safety”. Are you just talking about physical safety or are you humane enough to advocate for emotional, sexual, cultural & spiritual safety…bit to think about there. I am seriously concerned about what is happening to children particularly unaccompanied minors…you are after all their legal guardian making these decisions on their behalf. Second thought, I would feel a whole lot better if you appointed a specific Refugee Children’s Commissioner who could do this. Your track record with pregnant women, babies and kids isn’t doing so well.

ImageStill on the topic of women…I hear your office is being inundated with tampons. I know you described the campaign by Destroy the Joint as “juvenile” but the thing is Mr Morrison, many of us woman were appalled to hear that women in detention were not being provided with adequate sanitary supplies and were having to ask male security for these products and were then provided with them 2 at a time. Just one of the many ways in which people or in this case women, are degraded and dehumanised in detention centres including those within Australia as well as those in detention on Christmas, Nauru and Manus Islands.

The world is watching and judging us badly. The United Nations have condemned conditions within detention centres on Manus & Nauru. Likewise so has Amnesty International. Indonesia have rebuked us for our military operation and tow backs where people are “forcibly” removed from boats, put into life boats and towed across the Indian Ocean.  We now have a ‘show’of faux sympathy for those who perished at sea when it was yourself who publicly complained about the cost of bringing family members from Christams Island to Sydney for the funerals of their loved ones who perished in the ship wreck off Christams Island.

For the thousands in detention and the many thousands in the community facing visa cancellations, I say enough.

For Reza, Latifa, Farus Selima and the tens of thousands nameless asylum seekers, my heartfelt apology. This has never been about you, it is about shameless politicians who are appealing to the worst of human nature to gain and maintain political power. Thing is, the vast majority of Australians are decent people who may have been misled but once informed are appalled

We can all do our bit in our own way to end this madness by saying enough. I personally encourage everyone to March in March.

You Minister Morrison can do your bit by resigning and leaving the parliament.

Posted in asylum seekers, Children, Manus, Nauru, Politics, Scott Morrison, Violence Against Women | 8 Comments