Give Us Shelter: Why New Domestic Violence Funding Isn’t Anywhere Enough

In this post, published at No Place for Sheep earlier today, Dr Jennifer Wilson makes a scathing attack on pm turnbull’s “new” money to combat the scourge of domestic violence. Thank you, Jennifer.

The Turnbull government’s announcement last week of $100 million worth of funding to address domestic violence is better than than silence, and goes to some small way towards acknowledging the enormous problem this country has with male violence against women.

But what it does not do, and for this appalling omission the government should be unrelentingly and loudly pilloried, is fund the urgent immediate need for frontline services such as refuges and community legal centres, both of which are a woman’s first stop when she’s forced to flee a dangerous domestic situation.

What this says to me is that safe, secure, un-threatened people such as politicians have absolutely no idea what it is like to be in a situation of such extreme danger that you have to flee, or risk injury or death to yourself and your children by staying.

And flee to where, exactly?

Not only do these fortunate politicians have no idea what this situation feels like, they apparently don’t care. Neither do have they the imagination to picture such a scene, and how they might feel in it.

Legal services are outraged at Minister for Women Michaelia Cash’s apparent spin on funding cuts that will directly affect women suffering domestic violence, and will see the centres in dire financial straits by 2017.

If politicians had the capacity to imagine themselves in such a situation, they would perhaps begin to understand that providing refuges for women and children must be the first priority in any plan to end family violence, in conjunction with some of the other options funding currently covers.

As I write this and as you read it, there will be women, alone or with their children, trying to get out of a house which is not a safe environment for them because it’s inhabited by a violent male intent on doing them harm. They need somewhere to go. Right now.

This ought not to be a difficult situation for a government to remedy. Providing funding for women’s refuges and legal centres is not going to break the budget. Yet, after decades of feminist activism we are going backwards: closing refuges, threatening the funding of community legal centres, handing over the refuges that remain to religious organisations who have little or no experience with the repercussions of domestic violence, and whose workers are primarily trained to deal with homelessness, not specifically with traumatised women and children fleeing abuse.

Solutions to domestic violence can’t be a one size fits all. Some women will be able to stay in their homes. Others will absolutely not. The period when a woman attempts to leave an abusive situation is well-recognised as the most dangerous for her, and for children involved. It is when she is most likely to be murdered, or severely injured, as the perpetrator’s rage escalates at the prospect of abandonment, and loss of control over his partner. Nothing will help in such situations if first-off, the woman has nowhere to go.

This is not complicated. Why will politicians not act to save women’s lives in the most pressing, the most obvious way, by adequately funding and staffing refuges and legal centres for the increasing numbers of women and children who have to get out, and have no place to which they can flee?

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Slightly Fatigued Friday

(Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Sorry I’m late. It’s been a busy week.

Monday – doing some much-overdue house-cleaning and tidying up, then collected a friend from the airport.

Tuesday – going to the glorious Hermitage exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, preceded and followed by lots of talk (friend and I haven’t met for two years), then the final class for one of my subjects (friend played quietly in the lab), then dinner.

Wednesday – going to the totally amazing Orry Kelly exhibition at Federation Square, followed by a quick lunch, a consultation hour with students (to my surprise about forty turned up), then off to the airport through peak-hour traffic and a birthday dinner for OH at the airport opposite the terminals. Then goodbye to my friend, and back home.

Thursday – two amazing women from an organisation called Moving Angels arrived to pack the china, glassware etc. because my shoulder is playing up again. While they wrapped and packed with exemplary efficiency and good humour, I culled more of my mother’s books. Because they were finished way earlier than they had expected, they very kindly took the cartons across the road to my house. Afternoon – delivering seven bags of books to the Brotherhood.

Today – marking assignments (to be done by Tuesday). Then OH decided he wanted to move the little refrigerator out of the flat down to the carport. I supervised. Somehow we continued doing flatty things: more book sorting, gathering up all the pictures and remaining ornaments and taking them home, doing the final clearance of the kitchen and discarding things that we don’t need and that are not good enough to be given to other people. Then, the latest cull of books went to the Brotherhood. Finally, visited me mum and now I’m home.

The wonderful PJF has put me in touch with one of his friends who does voluntary work with refugees. Here’s a little bit of his (the friend’s) email:

We would be very happy to accept the goods mentioned. They would be welcome for our refugee house in East Hawthorn. Present occupants (Eritreans) are about to move out and we invite them to take what they need for their move to public housing. The next family (Kurds from Iran) will need the type of goods your friend has to offer. I would be able to collect from her at any time.

So I now have exactly the home I wanted for an everyday dinner service (Royal Crown), glasses, mugs, some cooking equipment, a dozen very good SB sheets, a dozen pillowslips, a dozen towels, mostly new or near new, three doonas, four blankets (all drycleaned) – and maybe some handmade patchwork quilts . . .

Thank you, PJF!

Moi shall now sit back and relax, while you, my friends, ply me with liquids and viands . . .

(Image Credit: We Heart It)

The Same But Different . . .

Today’s Guest Author is Victoria Rollinson, with a splendid piece first published at The AIM Network. Thank you, Victoria! And hat tip to Puffy and Leone for their recommendations.

(Image Credit: Angus Mordant; Fairfax)

When Turnbull ‘knifed’ Abbott a week ago after publically shaming Abbott’s terrible government on national television while announcing his intent-to-knife, I wondered how the mainstream media would treat this story. I couldn’t help but worry this would be yet another example of a Liberal story being treated with a completely different narrative to the same Labor story. A sitting PM is replaced by a member of their own cabinet. A late night coup. A first term Prime Minister. Abbott lasted a shorter time than Rudd and had already been challenged 6 months earlier. By my reasoning, the white-anting, destabilising activities of Turnbull and his supporters over the last 6 months was far more bloody and underhanded than Gillard taking the opportunity to lead the Labor government when it was offered to her within hours of her colleagues’ decision that Rudd’s chaotic leadership was not going to improve, second chances or not. However you argue it, overall a fair observer would see great similarities in the two situations. But these similarities are clearly ignored by the media and it turns out my worry was well founded. Low and behold, the Turnbull/Abbott story is being treated completely differently to Gillard/Rudd. Of course everyone in the mainstream media is very busy mansplaining to little-old-us the voters why the two situations are apparently completely different. But I don’t need this situation explained for me, because I can see with my own eyes that Turnbull just did to Abbott the same, if not worse, thing Gillard did to Rudd.

If you haven’t already noticed for yourself the differing tone of the stories about new-PM-Gillard with new-PM-Turnbull, take a look at this apple-with-apples comparison.

Here is a transcript of Gillard’s ABC 730 interview with Kerry O’Brien the evening she became PM on 24 June 2010 and Turnbull’s ABC 730 PR campaign interview with Leigh Sales a week after he became PM.

If you can’t be bothered reading these transcripts, take it from me that Gillard was interrogated about her ‘knifing’ of Rudd for the entire interview, and framed as the ‘villain’ who couldn’t be trusted, a tone which continued throughout her time as PM. Gillard was also hectored about what she would do about the mining tax policy, not forgetting she had become PM that day. Turnbull, on the other hand, was treated like a ‘hero’ and provided with the invaluable opportunity to outline his vision for the country on an unchallenged soap box where he was allowed to sell his government’s refreshed credentials. He wasn’t even tested when he claimed Direct Action was working to reduce emissions when there was no evidence backing this claim. Two interviews in similar political circumstances, yet chalk and cheese in their treatment and tone.

A simple word count showed Gillard spoke for 65% of her interview with O’Brien. Turnbull spoke for 77% of his interview with Sales. Sales even apologised for asking a question Turnbull might ‘find offensive’ and then again said sorry for cutting him off. Soft doesn’t even come close to describing this cringe-worthy excuse for journalism. But it gets worse. Check out the word clouds of both interviews and see if you notice the same thing I did.

Here is Gillard’s interview, where the most used words were obviously Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. So the main topic of the interview were Gillard’s villainous replacement of Rudd.

Now here is Turnbull’s interview.

Can you see what is missing amongst all the positive words? Yep, that’s right. The word Abbott. You can do a Where’s Wally search for it if you like, but I’ll save you the trouble and tell you it appeared twice in the interview. Hardly there at all. Abbott’s already gone and the media aren’t dwelling on the part Turnbull played in his demise. Unlike Gillard, who had to put up with the media’s obsession with the Rudd leadership spill throughout her entire tenure as Prime Minister, even after she went straight to an election to prove her legitimacy in the role. Yet Abbott has been erased and shiny-Turnbull-with-a-sly-grin has got off scot-free. See what I mean about same story but very different treatment? How do you even begin to explain this other than to say Labor is always bashed by the media, and the Liberals always excused? Sadly this is the only explanation that makes sense.