We’re Dying To Be Heard

I have often found it interesting to see what grabs media attention and what doesn’t. All sorts of “trivia” can be elevated to the status of “current affairs” while other more serious issues hit the cutting floor. In recent times, we have seen the role media has played in our recent federal election, promoting one party over another, promoting fear of “boat people” which has translated into an increase in racism in Australia. (http://www.humanrights.gov.au ) and now singing along to the “nothing to report” song sheet of government.

Similarly we are now seeing a heightened media focus on bikies with Premier Newman informing  that Criminal Motorcycle Gangs pose the greatest threat to Queensland today. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/opinion-strong-antigang-laws-vital-to-shield-the-innocent-in-bikie-battle-says-cmc-boss/story-fnihsr9v-1226750041912

The hurriedly passed VLAD Laws have divided the community, receiving widespread criticism from many within the Judiciary and beyond. Media have almost become consumed with bikies and the government’s response to them.

Now I am no fan of bikies and I don’t like to see guns in my favourite shopping centre. However, I don’t agree bikies pose the “greatest threat” to Queensland. For thousands of Queensland women, the threat is so much closer to home. Family violence is still the silent ‘crime’ that steals the security, health and social well being of those who live with the reality of such violence. Tragically at times it ultimately ‘steals’ their life.

 Domestic Violence DeathThe “get tough on crime” paradigm promotes the notion that we are all at serious risk on the streets. I am not down playing community safety, but we also need a reality check. Between 2008 and 2010 there were 520 homicides in Australia: 36% of these were classified as family violence and a further 37% were classified as acquaintance homicides. Only 13% were homicides committed by strangers against someone unknown to them. In Queensland the scene is even grimmer where 41% of homicides were classified as family violence…5% above the national average. This trend for Queensland is not new. In 2004, some of us who were concerned about this homicide trend formed the Queensland Domestic Violence Death Review Action Group. Our goal is to advocate for the establishment of a death review board to review each homicide in an attempt to form better responses and interventions.

 In 2008 I wrote a discussion paper Dying To Be Heard. http://www.wdvcs.org.au/files/D315135830.pdf

 A quote I used in Dying To Be Heard sums up the risks many women face.
“ I thought he would kill us. He threw my son into the back of the van and dragged
me into the front seat. He punched and punched me until I passed out. He bit my
face like a ravenous animal. ……….He said he would hunt us down and kill us
both if I tried to leave again. It was no idle threat.”  (Beyond These Walls, p.17  1988)

 This women’s frantic plea for help is mirrored in the thousands and thousands of calls made to domestic violence services across Queensland every year.

Each time there is a death, we hold a Red Rose Rally to highlight this travesty within our community.

photoLast Thursday, we gathered outside the Brisbane Supreme Court to remember 5 women, 1 man and 1 child who had died in recent months. At the same time, within courtroom 16 of the Supreme Court the murder trial continues for Noelene Beutel’s “alleged killer”. It is reported that Noelene was killed, stuffed into a wheelie bin, dumped in the boot of her car, driven to bushland and the car then set alight with Noelene’s body in the boot. http://www.news.com.au/national/queensland/wayne-mcclutchie-accused-of-punching-partner-noelene-beutel-to-death-before-dumping-her-in-the-boot-of-a-car-and-setting-her-body-alight-in-bushland-at-tanawha-sunshine-coast/story-fnii5v6w-1226750178703

On the day of her death, Noelene wrote on her Facebook page “time to leave”

This is the end result of family violence. Women die for loving the wrong person and then having the audacity to leave. For families shattered by homicide, it brings a lifetime of grief and agony.

There were several journalists outside the Supreme Court awaiting “news” on the outcome of an appeal application to revoke bail for a bikie. This court case is certainly seen as controversial given the government’s approach to judiciary regarding VLAD and media were gathering on the scent of a “story”.

Journalists gathered outside the Supreme Court were asked twice if they were interested in picking up a story of domestic violence deaths. On both occasions, we were told that we were too “passive”…not news worthy. Just a group of 30 people gathered to say we do not want women and children dying in our community.

One journalist who did pick up this issue of late has been Paul Weston of Gold Coast Bulletin who has written a comprehensive investigative special ‘Fatal Family Fisticuffs: Why the violence in Coast Backyards can be more threatening than bikies” Couldn’t agree more. It is not bikies that are posing a threat to women & children (unless they are partners of bikies who are violent towards them) Violence lurks in the homes of the rich & well to do as well as within homes of those of the lower end of the economic scale. It is widespread and pervasive. Access economics estimates it costs the Australian economy $13.5 billion every year.

Those who endure abuse, grow up with abuse and survive abuse carry scars for a lifetime.

But not to worry no story here…carry on.

About Bettsie

Writing on things important to me... Feminism Australian Politics Social Justice
This entry was posted in Violence Against Women, war on Women and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to We’re Dying To Be Heard

  1. pleased you’re continuing to get the word out re violence against women & children Bett,because Abbott & his media cohorts aren’t interested ….really alarming the facts Bett,and you have once again plainly painted the grim picture – the war on women in our own homes & streets! Excellent piece!

  2. Marie Hume says:

    Great piece Betty – really highlights the inaction around women’s deaths and the politicizing of safety issues. Thank you

  3. The use of ‘us and them’ by politicians to keep us afraid at the negligence of real and present danger to women in their homes is well penned here. Thank you for putting the priority back in order for the case of safety for most of us. Newman ( and now Napthine) are missing the real dangers facing women in Australia.

  4. Amanda Mack says:

    Wonderful post, Betty. It breaks my heart that all the interest revolves around an issue that accounts for so little actual crime.

  5. Pingback: What’s missing from ‘law and order’ rhetoric | What's the State of Queensland

  6. Phil says:

    Betty,

    I, like most, am appalled by any form of domestic violence but you can’t ignore the fact that drugs play a huge part in mental health disorders which in turn increase ALL violence in our society.

    I assume most people know that bike gangs (read organised crime gangs) are responsible for a very large percentage of drug importation and distribution, so it only seems logical to me that if you decrease the amount of (and public acceptance of) drug use in society then you also decrease the amount of violence, including family violence.

    The way I see it, the new “anti bike gang” laws are really “pro better society” laws that should benefit us all, but hey that is just my opinion. I do however agree with your view of the imbalance of what should make headlines, versus what actually does, a bit like the fact that stroke kills many more people than breast cancer but hardly receives any publicity, strange world we live in.

    Great post, I have daughters and anything to shine a light on keeping women, children and all people safer, as well as encouraging respect has my full support.

    Phil

    • Nic says:

      I have read a lot of news on drug busts. None of them were even indirectly related to bikies. Examples: http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/organised-crime-raids-seize-4kg-methylamphetamine-380000-cash-four-charged/story-fnhocxo3-1226935480962 or http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-15/police-implicate-qld-public-servants-in-drug-syndicate/5391340 but feel free to believe what the media is trying to forcefeed the general public. I’ve been in an abusive relationship myself years and years ago and yes, that partner was a drug addict, but AGAIN no bikie involvement to be found there either. I have had my hands on my back and a knife up my throat from the person who told me that he loved me oh so very much. Neither that partner nor any of the connections he had, had any bikie involvement whatsoever. At that point in my life I had never even met “a bikie”.

      Afterwards I was “fortunate” enough to be with a real square, who had his nine to five job and believed that staying up late on a Saturday night could interfere with being bright & shiny for work on a Monday morning. My parents absolutely adored him. He was “the perfect son-in-law to be”. After 4,5 years with him, I was left paranoid and had started to believe that no one could ever love me, I should be grateful that he still did, being the horrible and “ugly” person I am. A friend of mine, a psychologist, said that, I had gone from a physically abusive relationship into a mentally abusive relationship. It took me years to recover mentally from what I had experienced. Nowadays, I am old enough to know, that I was / am neither ugly nor unloveable, I just happened to be with the wrong partner. Again, no bikie connection whatsoever.

      If you want someone to treat your daughters with respect and care, don’t look for bikie connections or no bikie connections. That does not tell you anything. Look at how they treat your daughters. Look for the shiny sparkle in your daughter’s eyes showing that she is being truely loved for the person she is by a partner, who does listen to her sorrows, cares for her needs, and who is willing to love and cherish her every minute of their relationship – No matter if they are angry with each other or not. No matter if she has gained weight and lost her figure after having their kids. It does not matter how someone displays themself in public, as a bikie or as a square or as a church goer, lawyer, doctor etc. – it does not tell you anything about how they treat their partner.

      It annoys me that people who are so little informed, have never been through such a threatening situation that Bettsie is writing about as well as those misguided by the common media think they have to speak up for a government who is openly discriminating a group of people, and thereby violating basic human rights! But as it looks like, human rights don’t seem to be all that important, neither for women nor for “bikies”. And since they don’t matter… didn’t we just recently get rid of another Human Right’s commissioner (http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/you-wont-believe-what-theyre-slashing-and-spending-in-the-federal-budget-2014/story-fn84fgcm-1226916439095 , see 7)?

      Furthermore, whilst focussing on a “fake problem” because it just fits so well with the common prejudice about bikies and makes for such a colourful media theme REAL problems like the one Bettsie is writing about are put aside. As so many solicitors have said: there have been more than enough laws before the VLAD act to prosecute those who have committed crime including drug matters. And even though the bikie community has been put under constant supervision and including all the “association in public” charges, they only account for 1.2% of crimes committed (http://www.bikeme.tv/index.php/success-mr-dempsey/). So, how about the Government as well as their Policemen focus on what the real problems of their communities are and for example help those women that Bettsie is writing about instead of trying to support a colourful propaganda scheme?

      If you still feel like trusting the main stream media after what Bettsie wrote, and after really reading up on the subject feel free to do so. Everyone has the right to have an opinion. I would prefer it though, if everyone would stop looking at the glossy, shiny main stream media world which paints a governmentally biased picture of reality and start opening their eyes towards what problems the communities really have.

      Have a great weekend everyone anyway 🙂

  7. Team Oyeniyi says:

    Brilliant piece. Hope it gets shared as much as possible.

    Very annoyed re the journalists outside the court.

  8. Team Oyeniyi says:

    Reblogged this on Love versus Goliath : A Partner Visa Journey and commented:
    I really want everyone to read this. Trigger warning for survivers of domestic violence.

  9. Angela Rubin says:

    Media letting politicians set their agenda. While real crime, like family violence is ignored.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s